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A career that's hard to beat; As North East music legends Lindisfarne prepare for a pair of Christmas shows at Newcastle City Hall, DAVE MORTON chats to their drummer Paul Thompson who previously played for 1970s art rock favourites Roxy Music.

Byline: DAVE MORTON

If it's true that behind every great man there's a great woman, then it's a fact that behind every great band there's a great drummer.

Paul Thompson is the most successful rock drummer to come out of the North East.

Born in Newcastle in 1951, and brought up in Jarrow, Thompson is currently flexing his drumming muscles with Lindisfarne.

As we speak, the classic Geordie band is gearing up for a string of gigs, culminating in a pair of now traditional Christmas shows at Newcastle City Hall.

But Paul's musical pedigree stretches way back.

After paying his dues and refining his craft in the smoky music clubs of Tyneside, he hit the jackpot, landing the drummer's job with one of the biggest and most influential bands of the 1970s, Roxy Music.

If you've ever danced to the classic Roxy singles Virginia Plain or Love Is The Drug, or Bryan ferry's Let's Stick Together, that's Paul Thompson cracking out the irresistible beat.

But, coming up to date. What of Lindisfarne, 2015? "We're all really looking forward to the City Hall shows on December 22 and 23.

"We'll be playing some new stuff, but all the classics will be there, Run for Home, Meet Me On The Corner, Lady Eleanor and fog On The Tyne, of course.

"As for my drum parts, there's obviously a bit of me in there, but also there'll be a nod to the band's original drummer, Ray Laidlaw."

This will be Thompson's third set of annual Christmas City Hall shows with Lindisfarne, but his lengthy playing CV dates way back to the 1960s, a very different musical world to the X-factor, downloads and manufactured acts of 2015.

"In the very early days, growing up in Jarrow, I was playing in youth clubs with a band called The Tyme. Years later, Prince nicked that name," laughs Paul.

"Then there was The Urge with John Miles (who would also later find fame and fortune) and we were working seven nights a week.

"It was hectic. I was working in the shipyards during the day and actually falling asleep on the job. Something had to give.

"I was earning just over PS3 a week in the yards but PS35 playing the drums, a huge amount at the time. There was only one winner and it was goodbye to shipbuilding."

When, in 1971, gigs in the region began to dry up, the drummer decided to move to London to find work. It was an inspired decision.

"There was an advert in Melody Maker for a band looking for a drummer. I rang the number, and the guy who answered had a North East accent. It was Bryan ferry."

The rest is history. Paul became part of Roxy Music one of the most Turn to Page 22 From Page 21 critically and commercially successful bands of the 1970s.

A string of hit singles, classic albums and high-profile tours would follow.

Over the years Thompson has drummed everywhere from New York's Madison Square Garden to The Budokan in Tokyo, and from Wembley Arena to, naturally, Newcastle City Hall.

"It was intense, seemingly neverending but hugely enjoyable," he recalls.

"Working with Bryan is always fun too," says Thompson. "He's a great talent, very hard-working, and actually quite down to earth."

Along the way, Thompson was even able to acquire the first drum kit his musical hero, John Bonham, used with the mighty Led Zeppelin.

"It's safely under lock and key," grins Paul.

Thompson left Roxy Music in the late 1970s, returning to the reformed band in 2001.

In between there were stints with everyone from North East punk group, the Angelic Upstarts to Irish guitar great, Gary Moore.

Since 2001, Thompson has worked with Ferry on the singer's solo efforts, and returned to his Roxy Music drum seat for festival tours in 2010 and 2011.

Now he's part and parcel of the new Lindisfarne.

"It was always in the back of my mind that I would join the band one day," he says.

"Now I'm there, I'm with a bunch of really good blokes and good players. I've had a good career and now I'm delighted to be with Lindisfarne, and looking forward to the City Hall shows."

| Lindisfarne: The Legendary Christmas Show, 2015. Tuesday December 22, and Wednesday December 23. Newcastle City Hall. Tickets available. Box Office: 0191 277 8030.

It was intense, seemingly neverending, but hugely enjoyablePaul Thompson

CAPTION(S):

<BRoxy Music with drummer Paul Thompson, right, in the early 1970s

Paul Thompson, drummer with Lindisfarne

Roxy Music with drummer Paul Thompson, right, in the late 1970s

<BLindisfarne, 2015, with drummer Paul Thompson, far left

Paul Thompson, drummer with Lindisfarne

<BYoung Jarrow lad Paul
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2015
Words:785
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