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Post subject: Charley 'Aitch' Bembridge / Interview (02/10/2014)
15 minutes with The Selecter drummer Charley 'Aitch' Bembridge ahead of new Three Minute Heroes show
Original drummer of classic Coventry band, who is starring in new 2-Tone production at Belgrade Theatre, talks to Catherine Vonledebur
“I’ve known Elizah (Jackson – actor-musician in Three Minute Heroes) since she was a month old. Her parents ran The Queen’s pub in Hillfields. I was working with social services in the late 1980s/early 1990s and started up a music workshop in the backroom of their pub.
"The first time Three Minute Heroes came around I was in the States and missed it completely. But I got reports it was outstanding.
"I was in Sante Fe, New Mexico. I set up my own business doing concrete staining and was working with a Native American band, Native Roots, who played reggae music. I went on tour with them and I ended up being given an eagle feather, which is a great honour.
"I came back to Coventry from the States to bury my mum.
"Many years later I was in Bob Eaton’s Recreation Quartet at Coventry Mysteries Festival 2013. I spoke to the musical director Tayo (Akinbode) on Three Minute Heroes and it’s a cliché but it all just came together.
"I thought: 'OK let’s give it a try'. I am really enjoying it, but some bits are really emotional. Missing Words is one of those songs I find has such a deep irony to it.
"I was aged 24/25 when I was in The Selecter. You were swept off your feet, I took it in my stride. You could feel the really good moments and the really bad moments. I always watched the Old Grey Whistle Test and when we appeared on that show I was like ‘Wow, we are going places’. It’s crazy, we were tipped by The Daily Mirror as the most original 2-Tone band and a year later they were saying ‘where are they now?’.
"Back then I really thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a wonderful experience, but you find out more about the people you are working with. When you have nothing you eat off the same plate, but when money and fame are introduced ego’s kick in. I tend to speak the truth, rather than beat round the bush.
"I have built up my own clientele teaching steel pan drums, Djembe drums, bass guitar, drum kit and vocals in schools across Coventry and Warwickshire including children in Year One who can’t reach the bass pedal. I love teaching. There’s some talented young people out there.
"My eldest daughter, Reaba, runs her own business, Roots Hairdressing in Leamington, my son Samuel is an accountant, my daughter Sorchia has her own beauty and hair salon and my youngest Jameira is at University of Birmingham on a health worker’s course, she wants to work with children.
"My family is from Manchester, Jamaica. I went to the reggae singer Dennis Brown’s funeral. He was buried at the National Heroes Park in Kingston. It was a wonderful burial. People started to write messages in the concrete before it set.
"There’s been a lot of books written about 2-Tone. I have not read any. That’s their version. But I have been working on my own autobiography.
When I came back to Coventry I couldn’t recognise anyone I knew in Hillfields. There are all these different nationalities. It hit me: ‘wow, there big changes’, and racism still exists...’’
Three Minute Heroes runs from Saturday (October 4) to Saturday, October 25, in B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Tickets start at £9. Ring 024 7655 3055 or go to
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