Bo's going big time and I said it first

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Indy Lifestyle Online
TO TELL you that Bo Walton is the most beautiful boy in Hereford city probably won't convey much to you, or do much good to him. But I think it stands a fair chance of being true, and I want to be the first of the journalists who may well soon be queuing to write about this amiable, talented youth.

Bo is a rock'n'roll singer. Well, rock'n'roll going on country and western might be a better description. He has also been co-writing some pretty good material with John David, who works with the record producer Dave Edmunds and therefore has strong credentials. No one thanks you for making comparisons, but it's the only way of conveying the sounds of music, so I will risk saying that Bo's songs, so far, are in the Billy Ray Cyrus sort of mode.

I am fascinated by Bo because I have often written about young country, rock and reggae stars, once it was fairly obvious that they had what it takes. When I turned 30 in 1976, I decided it was time to have a wasted youth, and I spent night after night making up for usefully spent time.

I saw and wrote about the great warhorses, such as the Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hot Tuna and Bob Marley. It was impossible to miss the well- promoted young turks such as the Ramones, Cheap Trick and a dozen others. I am glad to say that I realised early on that The Police were a wonderful band, and soon after that I decided that Sting was as tiresome as he was talented.

I remember loving Meal Ticket and Clover (whose Huey Lewis and other members struck Mrs North as being comely lads). I was quite early in seeing that The Teardrop Explodes and Tears for Fears and Doll By Doll and - even more - the Only Ones were doing things that might last. I got drunk in the middle of the night and pogo-ed till I thought I would drop, and exhilaration kept me going.

But while I met or listened to many of these people in time to look mildly prescient in the adult press, they had usually been trumpeted months before in the music press. I was struck and bemused by the processes that brought young proto-stars to the forefront. I knew well enough that Britain's terraces and semis and high rises were stuffed to the gables with boys and girls driving all and sundry mad with their strumming and singing, and dreaming their hearts out of a record deal and performances at the Rock Garden and all the rest.

I knew, too, that the young star manque is in the same position as a Third World country: there is only one thing worse than exploitation by capitalists and that is the absence of exploitation.

Bo was, I think, lucky that the idea of performing seemed more important than anything in the world to at least one of his parents. Bo's father has all the hallmarks of being a great older rocker, just as his son has of being a young one.

Ron Walton is a short, chubby man who smokes quite a lot and paints houses for a day job. By night he has been a singer in a local band called Life. Theirs is the story of thousands of pro-am, mostly am, bands. Photocopier repairmen and accountants and all sorts, they had a van and a decent repertoire of songs made famous by Dire Staits and Springsteen and Thin Lizzy, and in general all sorts of people whose music is part of everyone's wallpaper without ever having been what I would cross the road to hear live.

Ron is a song-writer and a bright man, and I think he is like so many English people: the workaday world doesn't command too much of his attention because he is really devoted to the life he has at the microphone.

Anyway, Ron's band and Bo's band have knocked about Hereford and hereabouts and most people who go out to hear live music will have heard at least one of the two. Ron's voice is gravelly and goodtime and I'm not sure the band's PA has ever given him a chance to shine much.

Bo's voice, on the other hand, is much lighter, but still fierce, and seems to come over even a bad PA better. I have heard him in front of a mediocre band in a mediocre room and thought he displayed the right stuff.

The other day, Ron rang up and said that Bo was in line for an audition to play the young Elvis in the West End. An old family friend was in the business and had made the introductions. And - wonder of wonders - the connection with John David, made by another friend, has led some people in Nashville to say they think they want him over to record an album.

So we may be a bit past the beginning of a typical popular music legend. Bo has songs, he has a demo tape of them which has real class in it, he has a great voice. The West End audition went really well, apparently. Everyone is on tenterhooks. This could be it.

And what about Bo? As I say, it will do him no good to say that he is beautiful and knows how to be courteous without being soapy to his mum. Better to say, which is as true: he is tall, has killer looks, a dramatic quiff, and the quiet good manners of any down-home country boy. He's got good shoulders. I think he's got maybe two ear-rings too many, but that's just me. There isn't much city alienation about Bo.

I think he's 22, so if things don't fall right this time, that'll just add to the blues in his writing and singing, and he'll be even hotter on a later outing. But if success comes now, it couldn't happen to a nicer lad. I think his dad is so proud he doesn't even mind that it isn't his turn yet.