Soul music legend visits Clitheroe's The Grand

Geno Washington.
Geno Washington.

“Hello. Is that Geno? Hey man, who else would it be on this beautiful, beautiful morning,” he replied, with a roar of uncontrollable laughter, writes Tony Dewhurst.

He adds: “Well, I have to tell you that I’ve been like a fat rat in a cheese factory lately. Everything is cool and crazy and I’m going to rock the joint with the Ram Jam Band in Clitheroe. I’ve heard it is a jumping place, man. I might even come and live there if I like it. Definitely.”

Washington is a soul legend, celebrated in Dexys Midnight Runners’ 1980 number one hit Geno.

He has been performing his road show, a wild amalgam of blues and soul, since the sixties when he arrived here as a United States airman.

The band’s name was taken from the Ram Jam Inn, an old coaching house on the A1 and a couple of their albums – Hand Clappin, Foot Stompin’ Funky Butt and Hipster Flipster Finger Poppin’ Daddies - provided two of the biggest selling LPs in the 1960s.

Geno’s 73 now, but between spells of manic laughter, he recalls his extraordinary life in a deadpan Louisiana drawl and sentences that mostly finish with, “Ye-e-ah man. I love you crazy people."

Geno’s an accomplished actor too, appearing in the award winning 2010 movie A Bit of Tom Jones, and episodes of Midsomer Murders and The Axeman Cometh.

He said: “Never in a million years did I think that I’d last this long, doing the stuff I do, but the beat of the music keeps me young and every day I open up a new can of beans and embrace the groove.”

“I’m so in love with what I do – dance, groove, boogie, laughter – making people happy. It seems to be my life’s work.

“I suppose that some older fans will show up together with some young dudes, perhaps who will never have seen this type of show before. And let me tell you, this isn’t cabaret – this is going to be a soul on the bone show. You’ve got to be there on the night for some funky finger poppin’ sounds to make your body groove.”

Geno disappeared from the music scene for many years, studying for a degree in hypnosis and meditation, but he later recorded with the Beach Boys and released several highly acclaimed solo albums before hitting the comeback trail with the Ram Jams.

“I lost all my confidence, I struggled for a while and I found some help,” he said. “I went to see a hypnotist and that was great for my mind and spirit.”

Geno and the Ram Jam Band will headline the Rock and Soul Christmas Show at the Grand next week and Geno added: “When punk and disco happened nobody wanted to know about soul anymore, but everybody has got a piece of the soul action again.

“What’s in the pot brother? Soul action, that’s what.”

Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, December 16th, 01200 421599 or www.thegrandvenue.co.uk