1970s pop star helps hospital home

Rocky Sharpe and the Replays, from left, Eric Rondo, Helen Highwater, Jan Podsiadly as Johnny Stud and Rob Podsiadly as Rocky Sharpe
Rocky Sharpe and the Replays, from left, Eric Rondo, Helen Highwater, Jan Podsiadly as Johnny Stud and Rob Podsiadly as Rocky Sharpe

A pop star of the ‘70s has used his old record company contacts to help raise thousands of pounds for the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing.

Brighton-born Rob Podsiadly experienced stardom as lead singer of rock and roll band Rocky Sharpe and the Replays.

The group was made up of Rob as Rocky Sharpe, Helen Highwater, Eric Rondo and Rob’s brother, Jan Podsiadly, aka Johnny Stud.

They first enjoyed commercial success in 1978 with their cover of the Edsels’ Rama Lama Ding Dong, reaching number 17 in the UK singles chart. They scored another top 20 hit in 1982 with Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out), a cover version of Ernie Maresca’s 1962 hit, and appeared five times on Top of the Pops.

The band continued touring throughout the 1980s but Rob had to retire from the music business and a promising acting career after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Rob has been a resident at the Boundary Road home for disabled ex-servicemen and women for two years and his efforts have seen £6,750 donated to provide vital speech and language therapy there.

Jan, Rob and Eddie Podsiadly with the cheque from the Spanish concert

Jan, Rob and Eddie Podsiadly with the cheque from the Spanish concert

Part of the money came from a Spanish tribute concert, to which Jan was invited.

Out of the blue, Spanish band Velvet Candles, which is based on Rocky Sharpe and the Replays, made contact and asked Jan to join them on stage.

The Podsiadly brothers discovered that, unbeknownst to them, their band had built a large following in Spain, thanks to their high energy, playful costumes and fun dance routines.

Jan said: “I was surprised but honoured to be invited. I went to Barcelona and we did a full gig, playing about ten songs, after one rehearsal together in the afternoon. It was incredible.

“We played to a sold-out crowd, who were all singing along and dancing. Some were even crying. It was crazy.

“After the gig, people were coming up to me and asking for autographs, telling me how the band had changed their life. It was really emotional as I had no idea how much Rocky Sharpe and the Replays had touched their lives.”

A total of £1,750 was collected at the gig from ticket sales and the sale of signed photos.

Jan said: “As lead singer of the band, Rob should have been there with me on that stage but couldn’t be because of his illness. The money raised really belongs to him, so I asked him what he would like to do with it and he said he wanted to donate it all to The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home.”

Rob said he wanted the money to go specifically to speech and language therapy, to help more residents like himself following a brain injury or other condition, such as MS.

Rob said: “Speech and language therapy makes such a big difference to people’s lives and will help many people here at QAHH. I know this money will be really well spent and its benefits will last forever.”

Rob then contacted Ace Records to tell them about the gig and the money raised. Directors Ted Carroll, Roger Armstrong and Trevor Churchill were so inspired by the story, they donated an additional £5,000.

Ted said: “We are very pleased to be able to make this donation to the charity caring for Rob, especially as the group made such a contribution to the early success of Ace Records.

“Ace enjoyed a first-class relationship with Rocky Sharpe and the Replays, who were always a great pleasure to work with.”

Jan and brother Eddie visited the home to present the funds to Rob.

Elizabeth Baxter, head of fundraising, said: “Rocky Sharpe and the Replays continue to provide musical entertainment for their fans all over the world and the £6,750 donated will provide vital speech and language therapy for our residents, enabling them to learn to communicate again and greatly improve their quality of life – what a fantastic legacy the Replays have provided.

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