“I don’t have many crazy stories, as this is the band’s 30th anniversary tour,” said Dave Wakeling of the English Beat. “To me, a nice time is hot chocolate with a few friends. But speaking of food on the road, I’m a vegetarian, and that’s very difficult to find on the road or at the venues. So, I’ll find a good Indian place and buy enough curry for the next two or three days. I stick them in Tupperware and they’re in the fridge for the next three days. I’m known as the man with the traveling curry.”
I asked Wakeling if he’d ever reunite with Ranking Roger, his old “toaster.” “I’ve invited him endless times, and we’ve gotten very close. I think he’s interested, but it may be the people that represent him. Always two or three weeks before it’s supposed to happen... I think they feel they’ll lose their central position in his career. So, it never comes off. One time in England, it had even been advertised and it didn’t happen. There was lots of pointing fingers and nobody taking responsibility. But I have a new toaster now, a guy from New York who lived in Jamaica. After the shows, the crowd doesn’t even ask about Roger anymore. The last time we played together was about three years ago. And it was fantastic. Rog even admitted the magic was still there. I think when people ask me about him with reunion talk all misty eyed…it’s like expecting to make a dinner party with the first five girls you ever kissed.”
I’d seen Wakeling sign autographs after shows and asked him what was the weirdest thing he’d ever signed.
“Lots and lots of body parts. But thankfully and gracefully, with fans in their 40s and 50s now, they’re not as willing to flop one out as they used to be.
“My mom and dad came to a show in Birmingham. There were 2000 people, and it seemed like they all were asking for autographs. My mom would start to talk with me, and we’d be interrupted to sign a note for someone’s friend that wasn’t there or another person who wanted to make a Christmas card. My mom asked if I ever get tired of it, and my dad quickly said, ‘It’s when they don’t want his autograph that he’s got to worry.’ ”
Plenty of opportunity to see Dave Wakeling perform and ask for his autograph at the Belly Up Tavern this weekend, February 27 and 28.