PENSIONER Jim Watt has gone from rocker to choir boy.
Jim was a member of swinging sixties band The Strangers and they went down a storm every time they played Paisley Town Hall.
They regularly won talent shows at the iconic town centre venue – but Jim received a knockout blow when he was told he couldn’t sing.
The 67-year-old Barrhead man recalled: “We were playing at a pub in Argyle Street, Glasgow, and I decided to have a blast on lead vocals. I always enjoyed singing, although I’d never tried it live.
“I sang Wooden Heart, an old Elvis Presley song, and was booed off by the audience AND members of my own band.”
Jim carried on playing bass for The Strangers but is now back in front of the microphone as a member of Paisley Philharmonic Choir.
And he is looking forward to the choir’s next ‘gig’, which takes place at Paisley Town Hall this Sunday.
Jim said: “I enjoyed life with The Strangers but work commitments took over and I quit.
“It wasn’t because they wouldn’t let me sing – honest!
“My dad and I operated a mobile grocers, so you had to be up at the crack of dawn.
“I wasn’t getting in until late from gigs and it really started to take its toll.”
Jim, who is married with two grown-up sons, hooked up with Scottish Opera in the 1970s for a production of The Trojans, a particular Gilbert & Sullivan favourite of his.
It was 20 years until he sang again though and it was Paisley Philharmonic Choir that revived his interest.
He explained: “A friend was singing in the choir and we went along to the town hall for the concert. It was really beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable.
“They made an appeal for new members and I joined there and then.
“I just haven’t stopped singing since.”
The retired bus driver added: “It’s a far cry from my days with The Strangers.
“Then, I would launch myself off the stage and skid along the floor on my knees while still playing the guitar.
“And our costumes? We had maroon jackets with black fronts and red collars.
“They must have looked hideous, although we thought we were the epitome of cool.”
It’s 21 years since Ian Anderson, then Principal Teacher of Music at Stanely Green High School in Paisley, was asked to form a choir to give a charity performance of Handel’s Messiah.
The Paisley Philharmonic Choir was constituted on a permanent basis shortly afterwards.
Today, the choir has approximately 90 members and stage three concerts each year at Paisley Town Hall – in March, May and December – as well as many charity gigs.
Jim is looking forward to this Sunday’s gig, when the choir is planning to present a varied programme.
This includes numbers from Carmen, the Skye Boat Song, Scots Wha’ Hae and many more.
He said: “It should be a great concert. I’m really looking forward to it.
“We have two soloists singing with us and they are both just sensational.
“It’s different from my time with The Strangers but I enjoyed that while it was on the go.
“I’m loving every minute of singing with the choir, back where it all started.”
Tickets for Sunday’s concert, which begins at 7pm, are priced £9 for adults and £7.50 for concessions.
They can be bought at the door at Paisley Town Hall on the night.
l Were you in The Strangers with Jim? He’s looking to catch up with ex-members Mick Reilly, Michael Dougela, Jim Wallace and John McLaughlin. If you are able to help, then call Jeff Holmes on 0141 847 8638.