Wigan singer Lee's big break thanks to Joe Longthorne's best mate - and Covid!
Wigan entertainer Lee Cadman says that Covid ruined him but then offered him a golden new career opportunity.
For were it not for the singer’s gigging online after all his concerts were cancelled due to the pandemic, he wouldn’t have been noticed by a showbiz big-hitter who has landed him a dream engagement on Blackpool’s prestigious North Pier and the chance of a UK tour.
For two decades the 46-year-old Swinley dad was best known from Dubai to Finland as the Robbie Williams impersonator Lee Michaels.
But all that is behind him now after Mick Johnson, the influential best friend of the late, legendary entertainer Joe Longthorne, heard one of the Facebook shows Lee was putting on for NHS workers and offered to become his manager.
With the further backing of Joe’s widower Jamie Moran, Lee has been given an exclusive gig on September 11 in the Joe Longthorne Museum Theatre for which almost all 100 tickets at the Covid-safe event were snapped up in the first two days of going on sale.
Without a Williams hit in sight, the music will feature classics by Elvis, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rodgers, Matt Monro and Lou Rawls to name but a few.
The gig will have playback accompaniment but the plans are to follow it up with a 2022 tour with a live band. And some of the songs being performed are appearing on a new album from Lee called For Now & Forever which comes out next month.
Lee says that this is looking like the biggest moment in his career to date and he is enjoying the completion of a family circle. His dad Vinny, now retired, was also an entertainer who won the ITV talent show New Faces as part of a comedy double act called Walker and Cadman. He went on to appear alongside the band Black Lace on Blackpool’s Central Pier in 1988.
Lee said: “My career has entered an exciting new phase and I am so grateful to Mick Johnson and Jamie Moran for giving me this big chance.
“In March last year my professional world came crashing down. I was doing a show in Cheshire when it was suddenly cancelled and I was told to go home because the venue was closing. Everything on the diary was cancelled and £60,000 worth of Robbie Williams tribute gigs vanished.
“I saw other musicians were taking to performing online to keep people entertained and to maintain their profile so I thought I’d give it a go and I developed quite a Facebook following. I ended up performing for nurses at Salford, Newcastle and Chester hospitals and received an NHS letter of thanks for keeping staff spirits up.
“Sometimes my four-year-old son Harley has joined in the songs too and become a popular feature of what I do.
“If it wasn’t for all the online stuff, Mick Johnson wouldn’t have heard me and got in touch. He asked if I would like to sing at the Circus Tavern in Essex.
“I couldn’t believe my luck. He was Joe Longthorne’s best friend and a man with a lot of influence. He and Jamie Moran clearly thought I had talent and suggested I could perform at some of the venues where Joe was such a success.
“I’d always been a huge admirer of Joe because he was a great singer and impersonator. In fact he once spoke to me after hearing me sing in Blackpool and asked if I would like to sing on his latest album.
“But what I am doing now is definitely not a Longthorne tribute. Mick asked me why I was limiting myself to impersonating Robbie Williams because people will only go to see me if they like his music. He wanted me to be myself and expand my repertoire, singing classics by all sorts of big names without impersonating them.
“So there you are: Covid ruined me and then opened a new door for me.”
Lee’s first performance door opened when he left Thomas More High School in Newtown to become a Pontins Blue Coat in Bournemouth, following in the footsteps of the likes of Shane Richie and Bradley Walsh.
While at school he had been DJ-ing at locals clubs and had a habit of singing along with the hits. That was the sum total of his musical education to that point although entertainment was in his blood from an early age acting as a junior roadie to his dad. His stepfather Alan Dunn was also a singer and Lee would go to watch him too.
At Pontins he was expected to do a bit of everything entertainment-wise, so it wasn’t just singing. In fact he took some of Vinnie’s props with him to help with comedy routines.
From there he began on the cruise ships doing Robbie Williams and Neil Diamond impersonations and it was with the former’s hits that he made his mark, particularly in Scandanavia. It had been suggested he focus on Williams because he had a similarly impish side to him.
In the meantime he had taken singing lessons from Sheila Gott who had been a backing singer with Van Morrison and had helped to bring on the talents of a young boy band called Take That.
And so the Williams performances continued until the fateful arrival of Covid and a new showbiz chapter opened.
To snap up any of the few remaining tickets for the Blackpool concert ring Viv Dunn on 07868 592556.
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