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The Stylistics Airron Love on touring, reunions and that Prince cover version of Betcha By Golly Wow

PUBLISHED: 11:20 27 October 2017

The Stylistics

The Stylistics

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Original band member speaks to us prior to show in Chatham next month

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of when The Stylistics formed - and to prove you can’t keep a good thing down, the soul legends are on the road yet again, with a tour which takes in the county next month.

And it’s certainly been a career of highs and lows with a string of huge global hits fuelling a popularity that allows the now fractured band to perform in two distinct - and very separate groups.

The Stylistics which perform at Chatham’s Central Theatre include original members Airrion Love and Herbie Murrell - but are not to be confused with the New Stylistics, fronted by former lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr - he of the distinctive falsetto voice. And it would appear there’s little chance of the estranged former friends rebuilding bridges sufficiently to reunite.

“There’s no relationship at all,” explains Airrion Love to KentNews, when we ask if fans can ever hope to see the original band members reforming.

Clearly there’s some bad blood between the two camps, despite Airron and Russell touring together just a few years ago.

But that won’t stop fans being treated to a set-list including the likes of You Make Me Feel Brand New, Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love), Sing Baby Sing and Na-Na is the Saddest Word.

“We’ve never had a desire to stop performing some of our best known songs for new music. We would never do that,” says Airrion. “We understand that’s why the people are in the seats. Now if we had a new product out doing well, we would feature a couple of songs to showcase the new CD. But I myself hate when an artist showcases a new CD and doesn’t do any or very few of their hits.”

Among their big hits was Betcha By Golly Wow - a song covered by Prince in 1996 - one of the very few cover versions the late superstar covered and released.

Did they have any dealings with the Minneapolis maestro at the time of its release?

“We didn’t have any contact with Prince at all,” says 68-year-old Airrion. “The first time I heard it I was shocked and proud. Any form of imitation is a form of flattery and having Prince doing one of our songs was an honour.”

With the band’s greatest hits albums whipping up new interest from younger fans, their touring popularity remains undimmed. “It seems every year our fan base gets younger and seeing that interest keeps everything fresh and new. We have fans who have been with us for years, and their children who were raised on that music,” Airrion reflects. “I still get that buzz from performing.”

But surely there must be part of him that wants to put his feet up on the gold records and just enjoy a more relaxed retirement?

“Well, one of the main reasons we keep touring is that there’s still an interest in our music and with that we are kept pretty busy. But we’re not touring every day so when there’s a week or two off I use that time to sit back and enjoy other interests.”

The Stylistics perform at Chatham’s Central Theatre on November 11 and tickets for the show are on sale now.

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