Newhaven-based newly-wed Elton John tribute plays Crawley
It’s a home-grown newly-wed Elton John tribute that The Hawth in Crawley are offering when The Elton John Show – A Tribute To The Rocket Man plays the venue on Saturday, August 21 at 7.30pm.
Sam Wilson, aged 33, who grew up nearby in Haywards Heath, performed at The Hawth as a boy in the chorus of the operas Nabucco and The Magic Flute alongside his father.
“I actually lived in Crawley for about five years until last year,” says Sam. “I now live in Newhaven.”
So his Crawley date is definitely something of a homecoming – and among his first as a married man, hot off the heels of returning from honeymoon.
“We got married near Lewes, at a place called Cooksbridge. There was a really good village hall which we used, and we could do what we wanted. We had a massive DIY wedding. We decided to do everything ourselves. We did actually have to cancel our wedding last year, but it was something we had decided right from the start, that we would do as much as we could ourselves.
“But it did mean because of the pandemic delaying everything that we were actually getting married with a young baby. The baby is now 13 months and she was at the wedding. Actually she did have to go home during the afternoon because she wasn’t 100 per cent.”
But that wasn’t the biggest trauma of the day.
The marquee they set up the day before blew away and ended up on the village hall roof. Fortunately everyone was in the village hall getting food at the time and no one was hurt: “So it was quite funny, but it could have been disastrous!”
Not even Elton John had such drama at his own wedding…
Talking of which: “I have always been a big fan of Elton John ever since I was really young and I have been to see him a couple of times. I have been a pianist since I was really young.
“I started when I was about five, and I have always loved his music.
“I went to see him at Hove cricket ground a couple of times, and over a couple of years I have always thought that I should do something. I have always been singing his songs around the house and trying to impersonate him.
“And I ended up working for a guy who was running a rock show called History of Rock and I was offered the Elton John bit.
“I think I was trying to work up the courage to do something for a long time. It is quite a bit deal fronting a big show like that. I have been playing in bands but never the front man. Really this was my big break.”
Sam managed three gigs before the lockdown: “We had only just started and then everything had to stop. It was quite frustrating from that point of view. We had just got into the swing of it. The words were imprinted in my memory, and I had good muscle memory on the keyboards.
“So yes it was frustrating but I did get to spend a lot more time with my family and with my baby than I would have done otherwise if I had been out on the road, so it was good in that respect.
“It was great to spend more time at home getting to know the ins and outs of being a parent.”