The SAS Band hope to crown their headline appearance at the Wickham Festival with a special tribute to the music stars who have died in 2016.
Already this year fans have mourned the passing of David Bowie, Prince and Maurice White from Earth, Wind and Fire among others.
Spike’s All Star Band is made up of varying big name artists who play their own and other musicians’ hits for a great party atmosphere and Madeline Bell, who will be appearing with them on August 6, is planning a fitting send-off.
She said: “We want to do something big for this show. I would love to do a tribute to the people we have lost because there have been too many already this year.
“I have spoken to Spike who asked what I want to do in August. I said: ‘Let’s do something different. We have lost some big names so let’s do a tribute’ so that is something we might look at doing.”
One of the great joys of playing festivals for Bell – and for Fish who will also be part of the SAS line-up at Wickham – is the chance to meet up with old friends in a happy environment.
Fish: “I got very excited when I saw the Wickham line-up. To be honest, I did not know too much about the festival when Spike rang and asked if I would do it. Then I saw the line-up and thought: ‘Wow!’ I said yes straight away.
“There are some fantastic artists there and it will be great to see a lot of old friends. It will be great to meet them away from funerals!
“Festival bills like this are the only real chance we get to meet up and see people we have not seen for years.”
Bell added: “The only other time we see them these days is at funerals – we don’t get too many weddings now! And it really has been a bad year for funerals.”
The pair will be joined at Wickham by Toyah Willcox and Queen drummer Roger Taylor for what is sure to be a magical night.
The band was founded by Spike Edney who has worked with such giants as Queen and the Rolling Stones and it has featured legendary names as diverse as Roger Daltrey, Lulu, Bob Geldof, Bruce Dickinson, Leo Sayer and Tony Hadley who headlines Wickham on Thursday August 4.
Fish said: “I met Spike when he was playing keyboards with Queen on the Magic tour in 86. Marillion played with them and when Spike set up the SAS Band, he contacted me about playing a few shows with them.
“I had no hesitation getting involved; I thought it was a great concept. It did not quite work at first. We found the one-off gigs were better. We did try a tour but the fun went out of it a little, it became more like work. Changing things around a bit kept it fresh.”
This will be a special night for Spike who comes from Portsmouth and whose first venture with the SAS Band was at the Gosport Festival.
Fish added: “I played that very first gig. I remember it well, we had a great time. I remember our dressing room was in an old school. But it was a great gig. So, this will be a bit like a homecoming for us, especially for Spike who comes from down here.
“I think the last time I played with the SAS Band before this summer was back in 2006. I normally can’t do it because I am so busy with my own stuff. Usually I am either writing or touring an album and have so much other work on that I can’t fit the SAS Band into my schedule.
“But I am taking a year off before I do my last album which will come out next year and then I will retire in 2018. That will give me a bit more time to do things like this which is great because it is so much fun.
“I love this band. It is a really interesting challenge. When you are with your own band it is a bit like falling off a log. I would not say it is easy but you are comfortable, you are in control, you know what you are doing.
“You are in control so you can concentrate on other things but it is a good rush to have when you are not in control; it keeps you on your toes. But working with different musicians with different sounds and approaches is brilliant; you really have to work at it.
“For instance I often only find out the running order when I get to the show. The set-list largely depends on the singers and the line-up on any given day.
“But often I won’t know who is going to be there until the sound check or the rehearsal. I will just turn, up see who is there and we go from there.
“At Wickham I guess we won’t have chance for a rehearsal but that’s fine; we all know what we are doing. And once you are in the groove, you just go with it. That is part of the attraction for me.
“You know there are going to be the odd mistakes – that’s why we wear brown trousers! But if you don’t show it then the audience thinks it is part of the show.
“We have a laugh about it after the show. There is no finger-pointing, no blame. It is just fun. We enjoy it and that transmits to the audience who enjoy it too. So we are all really looking forward to Wickham. I have heard a lot of good things about it so it should be a fun night.”
The SAS Band will be supported by the Trevor Horn Band who are likely to perform a range of hits produced by the legendary frontman who worked closely with Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Yes. Also on the bill are Oysterband plus Chas & Dave.
The Wickham Festival, voted best Festival (Under 15,000 capacity) at last year’s Live UK Music Business awards, has Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley topping the bill on the opening night on August 4 with the Stranglers and Bruce Foxton’s From the Jam as the main attractions 24 hours later.
Lindisfarne close the four-day event on Sunday August 7 with strong back-up from Steeleye Span, Hayseed Dixie and festival favourites the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
Weekend tickets are £160 or £80 for Under 16’s with Under 10’s admitted free. Day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday can be bought for £60 (£30 Under 16’s) while evening tickets (after 6pm) are £40 (£20). Details at www.wickhamfestival.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org