‘I want to see people fall in love with music again’: Hi-fi Sneakers release charity Christmas single

Tich Turner has been playing gigs in South London for nearly 40 years.

Over time he has experienced the changes of the music industry and felt the strain of fewer live music venues first-hand.

Mr Turner, 60, of Lewisham Park, Hither Green, said: “I’ve always loved performing – it’s a wonderful feeling being able to put together music and play to a crowd that enjoys it.

“It gives people pleasure. When you follow a band it’s something you remember all your life and a wonderful way of meeting people.”

Trying to get back on their feet again after being “decimated” by Covid, Mr Turner and his band – the Hi-fi Sneakers – have released a Christmas charity single called Catch a Falling Star – with their staple 1960s soul twist.

The Christmas song was originally written by American songwriters Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, and became famous in the late 1950s with Perry Como’s hit version.

Mr Turner said: “Our bass player actually thought of the idea of having the charity single.

“It was a song I’ve always liked, and when he mentioned the Shooting Star Charity it all seemed to fit together.

“It’s not music I’ve ever been involved in – I’ve always played R&B or soul – but I had an idea of how we would play it our way.”

Mr Turner said as soon as they agreed, the band went straight to their studio in Shooters Hill, Greenwich, and recorded it.

Headed by Mr Turner on vocals, the Hi-fi Sneakers are made up of Matt Percival on guitar, James Britton on the drums, Bob Kelly on bass and Derek Sumption on keys.

Mr Turner said: “In the 1980s I had a really hot band called the YaYa’s. We played to thousands on one of the main stages at Glastonbury in 1985.

“Years later the drummer and guitarists came round to me and said they wanted to get back together and play soul music. 

“We managed to kick things off, just the three of us, and got an album out very quickly.”

The Hi-fi Sneakers’ most recent album, Dive Right, was released in May 2018. But just a year later the pandemic hit.

Mr Turner said: “Covid decimated us – we were rehearsing regularly, halfway through our third album and had a good number of gigs lined up for 2020. We were looking forward to a good year.

“Suddenly, no gigs, no rehearsing, no recording.

“It was a real pain that affected everyone differently. It was pretty horrific.”

The group were also struggling with other aspects of the music industry.

Mr Turner said: “It’s changed completely. Gigs are so much harder to find and get.

“There’s nothing for mid-range groups – it’s either pubs or Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and there’s no chance of getting on the radio unless you have a record deal.

“I feel for the kids – the pay is much less – it’s a real struggle.”

The Hi-fi Sneakers have now completed their third album – which Mr Turner said they will be releasing soon.

Their Christmas single is now on all streaming platforms, and all proceeds from the sales will be given to the children’s hospice – Shooting Star Charity.

Mr Turner said: “I’d like to see people fall in love with live music again.”

Pictured top: From left, Matt Percival, James Britton, Tich Turner, Bob Kelly and Derek Sumption (Picture: Kelly Morrell)

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