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Local tailor has big rock'n roll past

Billy Fairley takes the Roxy stage tonight with Clapton Tribute band
roxy theatre inside
Reclections of Clapton is live at the Roxy Theatre tonight. Photo Admiral Creative Group

From opening for the Rolling Stones to touring with the Irish Rovers, drummer Billy Fairley has got talent and stories.

Lots of stories.

The Simcoe County rocker has also toured with Genesis, Supertramp and Golden Earing.

The last time he toured in Canada was with the Rovers 

"Not my kind of music but the jokes were good and the money was good. But a boring job as a drummer," said Fairley, who clearly enjoys telling stories as much as he loves playing drums.

"I tend to talk too fast and people don't know what I'm saying," laughs the veteran musician, who speaks with a distinct burr of a Scottish accent.

On Friday night, Fairley takes the stage at Barrie's Roxy Theatre downtown to perform in the Eric Clapton Tribute Band, Reflections of Clapton.

Fairley hails from Scotland, moved to Canada in 1980  and now lives in Meaford where he operates a tailor shop from his basement called The Sewing House. 

During his time in England, Fairley used to sew stage gear for bands like Yes, the Moody Blues and roadies in Genesis.  

That was a lonely existence. 

"When you quit music you lose all your friends because they're all musicians," said Fairley, again with a laugh. "I was stuck in a flat in north London making jeans and nobody to talk to."

The current band started out as a British Hits Act but another band member wanted to do Eric Clapton songs.

It was decided with a coin toss and has evolved into a new respect for Clapton from Fairley, who was never a die-hard Cream fan but always liked Clapton as a song writer.

He has a few favourites, including Crossroads.

"I didn't realize Clapton had a lot of songs - 700 recordings," said Fairley.  "He's writing about real things that happened to him in every day life, nothing's made up."

The evening at the Roxy will start off with the best of Cream and then the best of Clapton mixed in with some other British tunes.

The band's singer/guitarist lived in Nashville before settling in Collingwood and the other guitarist has been a dealer at Casino Rama for 20 years.

The percussionist is called Bambalamb and has played all over the U.S. with Isaac Hayes and a female vocalist rounds out the group. 

"It's easier to find good musicians in any major city but north of Barrie it gets more difficult because you become more fussy," explains Fairley. "You need a certain type of musician who's interested in the material and is talented enough to give the time.

In the early days, Fairley says rock musicians were called rebel rousers but now they're gentleman and lords thanks to the Queen. 

The band hopes to play casinos, festivals and theatres and plans to make a video Friday at the Roxy. 

Fairley says the audience can expect to have a good time with a good band. 

"High energy, a lot of sweat, good vocals and good guitar work." 

Doors open at 8 p.m. at the Roxy Theatre at 46 Dunlop Street West.

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Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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