Metro 29

Richard Herring: Jimi Hendrix on a British sitcom? Quite Likely!
A cosy chat with former Likely Lad Rodney Bewes leads Metro's Richard Herring to a shocking revelation about Jimi Hendrix.

The Edinburgh Fringe finally ground to a halt yesterday – it’s been a tough month and I’ve had to battle through flu for the last week. I’d say I was getting too old for this shtick… except that there are plenty of performers three or four decades older than me who all seemed to cope with the demands.

Jimmy Cricket is one of them, but there’s more (that’s a reference lost on anyone born after 1980): Mick Miller, Barry Cryer, Nicholas Parsons and Rodney Bewes were all strutting their stuff.

I was lucky enough to meet the former Likely Lad in a bar one evening and had a quick chat with him. Some stars don’t like to talk about the show that made them famous but Bewes didn’t even wait to be asked. I’m always delighted to listen to actors’ anecdotes, even though nearly all of them end with Laurence Olivier saying a very bad word.

Bewes was waxing lyrical about the seminal sitcom that made his name but then he said something that made me gasp and utter one of the swear words that Laurence Olivier was fond of using – but with a ‘me’ after it.
Bewes claimed that Jimi Hendrix had played on the theme tune to the Likely Lads. Pull the other one, mate; it’s got Bob Holness playing the saxophone solo from Baker Street on it.

Bewes has something of a reputation for exaggeration and I expressed disbelief. However, he stuck to his guns. He said that they’d been recording the theme tune at a studio with Mike Hugg (the drummer with Manfred Mann who also wrote a few TV theme tunes), when Jimi knocked on the door. He’d been recording in the room next door and had liked what he’d heard and asked to join in. Bewes said that he went home that night and told his wife he’d been jamming with Jimi Hendrix and she said: ‘Oh Rodney, why do you keep making this rubbish up?’ Bewes looked at me with his wide and innocent eyes saying: ‘But this time it was true.’

He was admitting that he was known for his bull shtick but was this a clever ruse from a practised weaver of yarns or the truth from a man hoist with his own petard? ‘Why were you in the studio?’ I queried. ‘That wasn’t you singing the theme tune, was it?’

Bewes smiled and said that it was. It was just surprise after surprise.
Of course after I’d spoken to him, I went straight on to Twitter to see if this ‘fact’ could be verified. It was quickly established that Hendrix wasn’t in Britain when the original Likely Lads series aired and was unfortunately dead by the time the follow up, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, was on TV (and Bewes had not sung on that theme tune). I was crushed.
It seemed that Bewes had ‘misremembered’. What an amazing fact this would have been to bring to the world and what a top quiz question it would make.

Yet there’s still hope that he wasn’t taking the pith. Bewes was in a sitcom called Dear Mother… Love Albert, which first aired in 1969 (Hendrix was in Britain and breathing), and Bewes did sing the theme tune, which was written by Mike Hugg. It’s psychedelic, too. Might Hendrix’s guitar be on that track?

Let’s say that it is. Stick it up on Wikipedia, using this article as your citation. It’s too good not to be true. Hendrix and Bewes in a musical double act – that’s an Unlikely story.

See Richard Herring’s Talking Cock 2: The Second Coming on tour from Oct 7.

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