Marti Pellow: Former Wet Wet Wet singer is coming to Yorkshire with an orchestra

Former Wet Wet Wet singer Marti Pellow started penning songs while just a teenager. Now, heading towards 60, he is back on the road and coming to Yorkshire with an orchestra. Lorraine Wylie reports.

Considered one of the most iconic bands of their era, Wet Wet Wet got their first taste of success in 1987 when their single Wishing I was Lucky soared to number two in the UK charts. They went on to enjoy a smorgasbord of hits, culminating in their pièce de résistance, 1994’s cover version of Love is All Around which dominated the British charts for an incredible 15 consecutive weeks and went on to become the soundtrack for the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

By 1999, however, relationships within the band had soured and, in 2001 lead singer, Marti Pellow decided to pursue a career as a solo artist. It proved a fortuitous move. As well as music, the Scotsman discovered a talent for theatre, appearing in performances in both Broadway and the West End. Now ahead of his, Popped in Souled Out Arena Tour 2024 in which he will be accompanied by the Love to Love Orchestra, the singer reflects on his journey, sharing his recipe for success and his appreciation for his fans and reveals why a Scottish stew with dumplings, shared among friends, is his idea of heaven.

Pellow was just a teenager when he started writing songs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Marti Pellow performs during 'Thank You For The Music - A Celebration Of The Music Of Abba' at Hyde Park on September 13, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)Marti Pellow performs during 'Thank You For The Music - A Celebration Of The Music Of Abba' at Hyde Park on September 13, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
Marti Pellow performs during 'Thank You For The Music - A Celebration Of The Music Of Abba' at Hyde Park on September 13, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

“Let me tell you something”, he says with a pronounced Scottish burr. “When I was a wee boy around 17, I remember telling my ma that I hoped I’d never run out of things to inspire me. My ma gave me some wise advice, she told me that I had to be one of life’s good listeners. She explained that, as the decades unfold, and emotions such as love, joy, hurt, and pain reveal themselves. It’s human nature for people to share, and if you can listen to these powerful emotions, you’ll have all the inspiration you need.”

It seems incredible that boys of 16 or 17 would have had the emotional gravitas to write with such sophistication, touching on controversial subjects, like the mass unemployment which, at the time, was the scourge of working-class Britain.

“That’s a chapter of my life that I’m incredibly proud of,” he says. “I was growing up, writing about my world view, about my first interpretation of love, or at least what I thought it was. You know people think Angel Eyes is just a love song. But really, it was inspired by Martin Luther King. Now, at close to 60, when I look at the body of work I wrote as a teenager, it resonates differently. As each decade of my life unfolds, I see the songs from another perspective.”

Having missed the memo from Pellow’s PR telling me that drugs and his battle with addiction were off the menu, I ploughed on, dredging up the unwelcome topic. To his credit, Pellow responded with grace and candidness.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“You must understand that addiction is a disease,” he explains. “It lives in and fills every fabric of your body. It is only through knowledge and being open to the concept of accepting help, that you can beat it.”

People often talk about the necessity of reaching ‘rock bottom’ before recovery can begin. Pellow doesn’t agree.

“Everyone’s ‘rock bottom’ is different and to be honest, I don’t think you necessarily have to reach a ‘rock bottom.’ Addiction is a complicated, multifaceted disease with many different degrees and faces. It’s not fussy who it breaks bread with. For example, it could be a housewife addicted to Valium or a postman with a nasty whiskey problem. Its not specific to any one group of people. For me, addiction is part of the fabric of the man but it doesn’t define the man. Recovery begins with taking away its power and it’s only through knowledge and understanding and the help of good people, that you can begin to get your life back. To be fair, it isn’t just the person affected that suffers. This disease affects the whole family, it grows many arms and it touches everyone. We all get hurt. But, having said that, once the light dawns and the individual finally gets it – well – what a gift!”

Now 25 years sober, Pellow is rightly proud of his achievement and grateful for those who supported and helped him along the way.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Beating addiction and being sober is the best thing that ever happened to me. I mean, you get so much back. The love of family, all that good stuff that makes life so worthwhile – it all comes flooding back. Amazing!”

Addiction has undoubtedly woven many dark threads but his journey to sobriety and beyond, has become a source of inspiration.

“I’ve taken from it and been able to give back something positive. Whether it’s through my music, books or simply this little interview, there’s always a ray of hope.”

Conversation shifts to the upcoming tour.

“You know, I just love when I do a show and look out and see the same familiar faces that have been coming for years. It’s amazing and I appreciate them so much. I think, when we’re teenagers and beginning to explore and discover our musical tastes, many of the artists we like, will appear for a while but then, as we get older, they’ll naturally fade and drift away. But sometimes, an artist and their music will really resonate with you. They will weave their way into the fabric of your life and grow with you. My fans have even followed me into theatre! I love the fact that, although, some have never been interested in the stage but because Marty is there, they’ll come along. I think its great that I can help introduce them to other mediums that they enjoy and appreciate – every day’s a school day! It’s great when I meet one of my long-term fans and they introduce me to their sons or daughter. They are the next generation of fans and mine are the best.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Over the years Pellow h as developed a special rapport with his audiences and is often greeted with shouts of ‘No Marti, no Party!

“I love it!” he laughs. “It’s all good fun. I always look forward to meeting up with fans. I’ve performed in many places but some, like Yorkshire are a real pleasure. For example, Leeds (he plays the Firest Direct Arena on March 23) is a city that really responds to artists and loves being entertained. I think that’s true of Yorkshire folk -they work hard and play hard too!”

Who are the singers and musicians that have won Pellow’ s admiration?

“Oh, there are so many, I couldn’t list them all! Although, I did enjoy music from the 70’s. I watched programs like the Old Grey Whistle Test and was fascinated by artists like David Bowie. They had such swagger and beauty, back then, like something from another world. I liked a lot of different music but more recently, I saw Mary Black’s daughter Roisin, perform and she really blew me away. Boy can she sing! I happen to like her mum, Mary Black too!”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the interview winds down, I ask Pellow how he plans to spend the evening.

“Relaxing!” What’s his favourite way to unwind?

“I like to cook! Tonight I’m making Scottish stew with dumplings, which is hard to beat. I’ve a few friends coming round later so we’ll have dinner and enjoy the evening together. My idea of heaven.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.