Former Bromsgrove School pupil and founder member of Dire Straits, John Illesley went back to his roots in November for two sell out concerts held at the School’s state of the art Performing Arts Centre, Routh Hall to support Bromsgrove School Foundation, a registered charity established to promote and advance the School’s charitable purposes and philanthropic aims. The Foundation raises vital funds to provide bursaries for Bromsgrove School and it aims to foster a life-long relationship between the School and its alumni (Old Bromsgrovians), parents and friends.
The musician and front man was interviewed on stage by fellow Old Bromsgrovian and celebrated author Nicholas Evans, who wrote “The Horse Whisperer”. John recounted humorous anecdotes of his school days and it is rumoured that his Housemaster at School told him that if he didn’t knuckle down and work for his A levels, he would be in dire straits….. As a pupil at Bromsgrove, John joined the School's rock band and it was here that the bass became his instrument of choice. He was Lance Corporal in the CCF and a House Monitor in his final year. Sport figured significantly in John's School career as well - he was on the team for water polo, athletics and gained his rugby colours whilst playing for the 1st XV. He was awarded the 'Green-jacket cup' in 1964, a year after he joined the School.
Nicholas Evans left Bromsgrove School to study law at Oxford University, graduating with first class honours. He then worked as a journalist for three years on the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle-upon-Tyne before moving into television and producing films about US politics and the Middle-East for a weekly current affairs programme called Weekend World. Nicholas wrote and produced a number of films for television and the cinema. In 1993, he met a blacksmith in the far South-West of England who told him about people who have the gift of healing traumatized horses. Nicholas started work on what was to be his first novel. Published in the autumn of 1995, The Horse Whisperer has now sold around fifteen million copies worldwide. It has been the number one bestseller in about 20 countries and has been translated into 36 languages. Since then, Nicholas has written four more novels: The Loop, The Smoke Jumper, The Divide and his latest, The Brave.
The first set from John and the band didn’t disappoint, with many great classics from Dire Straits’ repertoire, including Brothers in Arms, Wild West End, Money for Nothing, Romeo and Juliet and Sultans of Swing.
The second half opened with a further interview by former Dire Straits Manager Paul Cummins who led the audience on a journey of the band’s life from their humble beginnings in South London, to playing all over the world to millions of fans.
There were some great comments from guests on the night:
“Brilliant Dire Straits front man – still got it”.