Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp on Chichester stage

Martin Kemp reprises the role of legendary record producer Sam Phillips as Million Dollar Quartet heads to Chichester Festival Theatre from November 7-11.


The Spandau Ballet star said: “I did a few weeks last Christmas at the Royal Festival Hall down in London, and I had such a brilliant time in it. It was everything I could have wanted, working with a live band on stage doing songs I love and doing a bit of acting. It was all the things I loved.

“Over the last few years there have been a number of people doing the role. Jason Donovan did it at a certain point, and they asked me to come back for a few dates that I could do.”

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Sam Phillips is the man who brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins for a famed recording session which created music history.

The show brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits which bring you inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ‘n’ roll band for one unforgettable night

The point is that Sam Phillips was the kind of guy Martin recognises from his own experiences in the music business: “Sam Phillips was pretty much the equivalent to when we were all growing up and there was Malcolm McLaren. Sam Phillips picked up on the music that was happening at the time and turned it into rock ‘n’ roll. There was the blues, and electric guitars were coming in. He put it all together and made rock ‘n’ roll, and Malcolm McLaren did a similar thing with the bands on the edges of the pub scene when he made punk. He was someone who was all-controlling, and he knew what he wanted. He turned it all into a sound that was just happening and just needed that final push.”

Martin rose to fame as the bassist in Spandau Ballet, with more than 25 million records sold worldwide and a string of number-one hits. No stranger to the screen, Martin became a household favourite playing loveable rogue Steve Owen in EastEnders, for which he won a number of awards.

Out of music and acting, it was definitely the acting that came first, Martin recalls: “I was nine years old when I was at the drama club as a kid. My mum and dad put me in because I was a super-shy little boy. They weren’t looking to turn me into an actor, but wanting to get rid of my shyness.” And that’s how his personality emerged, Martin believes: “Before that, I didn’t have one!”

As for success with Spandau Ballet, Martin sees it as all part of the same world as the acting. He doesn’t make the distinction. It is all entertainment: “The band was part of the same package. All entertainment for me is all the same one big balloon. It doesn’t matter if you are presenting or singing or acting in the movies or on the stage. It is just painting with a different medium. It is like painting with oils one day and then painting with water colours the next day. It is all the same thing. I lived in LA for a few years in the middle of the 90s, and that’s the way they looked at it, and I think that’s right.”