ENTERTAINER Max Boyce is still at the top of his game some 43 years after the release of his debut album.
His current tour, which begins on Saturday (April 6), is already selling out across Welsh venues and he has added a date at Ebbw Vale’s Beaufort Theatre on April 28 to meet with popular demand.
“The tours are amazing, it’s as big for me in Wales nowas ever,”says Max. “Every tour has sold out, the other theatres want more as well, but I can’t fit them in”
Glynneath-born Max needs no introduction to those familiar with his comical poems and songs of mining communities mixed with a passion for Welsh rugby since the 1970s. “I’m everything,” he says when asked howhe defines himself.
“I’m not a comedian as such, it’s always been difficult for people to categorise me, which is good.”
Much of Max’s inspiration is drawn fromhis first-person experience of working in the mines during the 1960s. “It certainly inspired some ofmyearly work,” he says. “I’ve always thought it best to write frompersonal experience, you can never get it right if you write it secondhand.
It gave me a real insight into the industry that made Wales what it is.
“People can identify with the songs all over, the North East, Lancashire, Yorkshire, all these places have huge mining communities, and it struck a chord with everybody.”
Incredibly however, Max didn’t set out to be a performer: “I never had any ambition to be an entertainer or to perform. It was that time in the late 60s, early ’70s where everyone seemed to have a guitar. I bought a guitar for £4, something just formy own amusement really and started singing folk music.
“I’d always loved folk music and poetry and that went handin- hand. Gradually I started writing what I knewabout, never thinking it would touch so many people’s lives.”
Max came to national prominence following the release of his Live in Treorchy albumin 1974, but the recording of that groundbreaking LP wasn’t straightforward. “Of course noone had heard of me,” he laughs.
“No-one would buy the tickets and they were only 50p.
“They gave them to the choir and the rugby club, saying, ‘There’s this lad fromacross the Valleys coming to record an album, will you come?’ They came and that was the audience.”
In 1975, his follow-up album We All Had Doctors Papers shot straight to number one. “It was the only comedy record ever to go to number one.
“I was up there with The Beatles and The Stones and it was just incredible to seemy name above them albeit for only three weeks.”
Max’s popularity has continued to endure since the heady days of the ’70s, his personal highlights including personal appearances at rugby ceremonies in Cardiff andWembley and a sell-out showat Sydney Opera House.
Max will a be adding some old favourites to the mix: “I tried at one time to change the whole thing and people come up to you and go ‘why didn’t you sing that?’ They have become like old friends some of the songs!”
●Catch Max Boyce at The Beaufort Theatre and Ballroom, Ebbw Vale on Sunday April 28 at 7:30pm. Call 01495 355 800 for ticket details.