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Tom’s golden career began with a few coins in the hat – and as Stevenage fans will find out, he’s still happy to be making a living from music more than 50 years later

PUBLISHED: 15:20 29 May 2016

The Manfreds.

The Manfreds.

Archant

Tom McGuiness has a crystal clear recollection of the first time he got paid for playing music, even though it was a very long time ago.

He says: “I was in a skiffle band with two school friends. My friend Frank’s dad told the landlord of his local about us and they wanted us to play on New Years’ Eve. We were in our mid-teens.

“We turned up and played the 10 songs we knew, and then we played them again.

“At the end of the night, one of the guys in the pub passed a cap round. We got about five shillings (25p) each. We couldn’t believe it – we were getting paid for strumming guitars!

“I never thought I’d still be here, more than 50 years later, making a living at it.”

Tom is one of the mainstays of The Manfreds, who will be playing at Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre next Thursday, June 2.

The band is the 21st century descendant of one of the most successful chart acts of the 1960s, – although frontman Manfred Mann, whose gave the band his name, has long since left the line-up there’s still an enthusiastic audience for hits like Do Wah Diddy and Mighty Quinn.

Along with Tom, there are two other original members still playing in the band – lead vocalist Paul Jones and keyboard player Mike Hugg, who originally played the drums.

Occasionally, they are joined by Mike D’Abo, who stepped in as lead singer in 1966 when Paul went solo, while drummer Rob Townsend, bassist Marcus Cliffe and woodwind player Simon Currie complete the 2016 line-up.

Tom, now 74, says the golden oldies in the group are all in fine fettle.

They play around 60 dates a year, and the Stevenage set list will feature blues-influenced material as well as those iconic hits.

This year sees the 50th anniversary of one of the their biggest hits, Pretty Flamingo, which came at a troubled time for the band – they finally split up in 1969 and didn’t return to the stage until 1991.

But these days there’s not much that can take the smile off Tom’s face. “I’m having a good time and I’ve never really come to terms with the fact that I’m having fun and getting paid for it,” he says.

Visit www.gordon-craig.co.uk or call 01438 363200 to check on availability for next week’s gig.

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