VIDEO: Shanty man Peter, 79, takes Top 20 crown
Retired Cornish fisherman Peter Rowe is gearing up to celebrate the historic achievement of being the oldest group member on record to score a top 20 album.
At 79 – and turning 80 in a couple of weeks' time – he is the elder statesman of the Fisherman's Friends sea-salty singing gang whose new LP, One and All, is set to enter tomorrow's Official Album Charts at around number 14. The others range in age from 41 to 62.
"I'd rather be the youngest, but beggars can't be choosers, can they," says Peter, who has been singing with his pals for the past 20 years in the harbour village of Port Isaac, where he was born and bred, and where he now lives with his second wife, Liz.
"At first I thought it was a joke; it certainly sounds like one. I am delighted, of course. I shall never be better, I suppose," he muses.
Peter, who has two daughters, one son, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, sings lead vocals on the beautiful Mollymauk about an albatross, and harmonises on the other 13 tracks.
He loves the camaraderie of singing with the chaps, most of whom he used to coach at football. But when fame came knocking three years ago in the form of a major record deal with Universal, radio broadcasts and high-profile shows all over the country, Peter was considering hanging up his Fisherman's Friends boots in favour of the quiet life tending his garden. It was Trevor Grills, who tragically lost his life in an accident while on tour earlier this year, who persuaded him to remain in the close-knit gang. "He really encouraged me. He said 'You've been with me since I was a toddler, you can't clear off now.'
"What happened has taken the enjoyment out of it, but it has brought us even closer together. I do feel very comfortable; I don't think I'm just there to make up the numbers, even though they take the mickey a lot and call me a 'silly old fart'," says Peter, who will be even more sprightly after his second knee replacement.
Ironically, he says it's his wife who has real musical talent – she's the county's official deputy harpist. "That's the funniest thing about it all," he laughs.