Sweetpea Atkinson 1945 - 2020— Craig Lowe -
The date is 13th June 1992, and a little 10 year old me and my little sister are bundled into our family car and we begin the long long drive up to Gateshead, to meet a group of my Mum and Dads good friends. Once we get there we head straight over to the Gateshead International Stadium. We stop at the back gates and my parents give our names to a security guard and we are handed a large sticker with Backstage Access written all over it. As we make our way past a whole lot of people hurriedly carrying around large pieces of equipment, we are ushered over to a small cabin set up and in we go. We are greeted by a man with a large fedora and even larger smile, who says to my parents “This must be Craig”, he gets down on his knee and starts talking to me and the shy and very nervous 10 year old is instantly put at ease. That man was Sweet Pea Atkinson, and that memory is forever burned into my mind. Thus began one of the greatest summers of my childhood, as my parents and I followed Sweet Pea and his band around the UK, as they supported Dire Straits on their “On Every Street” world tour. In reality it probably lasted no more than a week, but to me it will always be the summer I spent on tour with Was (Not Was), the summer spent with a bunch of real goofy guys, more than happy to chat and play with a very shy and awkward 10 year old. The memory that stand out most from that summer will always be when Sweet Pea offered me a Coke and I shyly replied that I didn’t like fizzy drinks, he paused for a second, disappeared briefly and then handed me a bottle of Jack Daniels say “Don’t worry, this has no bubbles”.
I won’t go into I full history of Was (Not Was) here, or the reasons for my connection to the band, that’s a story for another day, probably on the next podcast. Needless to say, Sweet Pea’s voice has always been timeless, and in the years and decades to come, I’m sure it will remain as such. As most people don’t have much experience of his work past Walk The Dinosaur, the bands big 1988 hit, here’s a playlist of Sweetpea’s finest work, so pour yourself a JD, relax and enjoy one of the last great soul men. Rest In Peace Sweetpea.