When the talent shows like X Factor and Britains Got Talent start there is usually someone taking part that we recognise.The entertainment world is fairly small and obviously many of the “talents” that enter are already making a living in pubs,clubs and events out in the real world.LMM have been around for a while so we have often come across some of the talents in our travels.
There have been a few faces we have recognised in this years Britains Got Talent (including “Twinkle” from Girls Roc who was singing backing vocals with Adam Ant just last week) but there was only one contestant we could have claimed we knew as a friend.
Back in the 1990s I spent a great many nights playing alongside Herbie Armstrong in the Slug And Fiddle on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield.Herbie had arrived in town after many years playing sessions and touring with the likes of Van Morrison and the Slug was a business venture which combined hospitality with entertainment (two things he excelled at.)
Such is the charisma of the man (much commented upon by the Britains Got Talent judges) that he soon attracted every young,aspiring musician (see Red Hot Band ) to the Slug for their weekly music nights where jam sessions ensued and everyone had a great time.These sessions often carried on long after the pub had closed allowing for covers of everything from the Everly Bros to Dinasour Jnr to be bashed out on an acoustic guitar.
As is often the case with TV talent shows the true genius of Herbie Armstrong was not seen by the general public.
Herbie is the only person I have come across who could fill a room with sound just using a battered acoustic and his bare fingers.His style,which often involved little more than three chords,was to strum an acoustic chord riff and to raise and lower volume,intensity of strumming and to create a wall of sound which was fantastically effective.It suited Van Morrisons music perfectly and there was no wonder he was in demand for tours and recordings.
Herbie had played with Yellow Dog and Fox and made hit records and several appearances on Top Of The Pops.It was,perhaps though,always his dream to be the front man.Despite this he often took the side man role when playing at the Slug and maybe this is his true calling or his curse.
Wildly charismatic with a brilliant strumming guitar style and a unique whisky soaked voice he was not really given the chance to shine on Britains Got Talent but for those people who have seen him close up either at his new bar The Fountain or at places like the Slug And Fiddle I guess the talent will not be in doubt.