IF there’s one song Slim from top British R ‘n’ B band The Hamsters aims to get right it’s Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing.
“It has a special resonance for me,” said guitarist Slim, “as he wrote it for his mum whom he lost early and my mum died when I was young too.
“It means a lot to me and I always find it a particular challenge to get it absolutely right.”
Slim, aka Barry Martin. was speaking on the eve of the band’s gig in Solihull, part of a farewell nationwide tour by the three-piece outfit after 25 years on the road.
Together with Zsa Zsa (Andy Billups, bass) and Rev Otis (Alan Parish, drums) they’ve built up a formidable reputation as a great British band showcasing their own material as well as interpretations of the greats like Hendrix, Clapton and ZZ Top. As Slim puts it, they play ‘rock music for grown ups’.
“The way we do Hendrix’s material is always appreciated because we pay his songs their due respect and as a result we’re regarded in the UK as his leading interpreters,” said Slim.
“However we are not a tribute band, we don’t dress up and do all the actions, we show our respect and treat the songs with delicacy.”
Nevertheless 25 years on the road and 4,500 gigs have taken their toll and the band will be packing up their kit at the end of March.
“It may seem like a dream come true to do what we’ve been doing but it is exhausting, we’re nearing 60 and we’re doing 70 to 80 hours weekly; mentally and physically we’re shattered,” said Slim.
“Forming the band was just something to do between jobs, we had families and mortgages and never set out to be stars, just enjoy ourselves but it gradually took over.
Now, 25 years on The Hamsters are winding up, with only the odd gig or festival planned - including one in Portugal - in June.
However fans can catch them at Solihull Arts Complex tonight, Thursday, February 2 at 8pm. Tickets cost £14.50 on 0121 704 6962.