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New lease of life for Sheppey band Sapphire

Sheppey family band Sapphire are playing the generation game.

The four-piece was popular in the 1970s performing in Island holiday parks and clubs across Kent.

Sheppey band Sapphire in the 1970s with Paul Johnson on lead guitar with Phillip Evanson rhythm, Kevin Simpson on bass and Geoff Gillmore on drums (21121890)
Sheppey band Sapphire in the 1970s with Paul Johnson on lead guitar with Phillip Evanson rhythm, Kevin Simpson on bass and Geoff Gillmore on drums (21121890)

In those days the line-up featured Paul Johnson on lead guitar and vocals, Phillip Evans on rhythm guitar, Kevin Simpson on bass and Geoff Gillmore on drums.

But now the next generation has taken over and Paul's four children are all in the band.

Son Mark said: "We asked our father if we could carry on using the original name as it meant a lot to us and he agreed. It is a privilege to keep the name Sapphire alive."

He added: "We have been overwhelmed by the response. We have our own unique sound with our own sound and light show. We have had a very busy 2019 and next year is already filling up with bookings."

They are at the Ypres Tavern, West Street, Sittingbourne, on Saturday.

Sheppey band Sapphire now with the Johnson family comprising Sean onrhythm and lead guitarist, Maria on vocals, Mark on bass and Shane on drums drums (21121887)
Sheppey band Sapphire now with the Johnson family comprising Sean onrhythm and lead guitarist, Maria on vocals, Mark on bass and Shane on drums drums (21121887)

Mark said: "Our dad had always been in bands so we grew up surrounded by music. In fact, sometimes practising took over from our school homework! We soon realised we would all end up following our dad onto the stage."

The family ended up performing together for more than 20 years under the name of Family Connection.

But when Paul retired from live work in April 2017 to concentrate on writing his own songs and producing albums the band folded.

Mark. a 41-year-old welder from Minster, said: "We took a break for a year to gather our thoughts but realised we missed performing so we decided to start a new band."

Sister Maria, a 31-year-old hairdresser from Halfway, agreed to join full time as lead singer. The rest of the line-up is Mark on bass, Sean, 32, also a welder, on rhythm and lead guitars and forklift truck driver Shane, 44, on drums. All also sing.

The band performs songs from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Status Quo, T-Rex, Steve Harley, Abba, ELO, Beach Boys, Wilson Pickett, Dire Straits, Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac, The Kinks andElvis.

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