How playing the blues gave Kris his mojo back
Kris Dollimore has played guitar on some of the most prestigious stages in the world alongside some of the biggest names in the business.
The Godfathers, The Damned, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders and Adam Ant have all harnessed Kris's virtuoso skills on electric six-string, and he can count Johnny Depp, David Bowie and Chrissie Hynde on his long list of professional admirers.
And next year he's thrilled to be going back on the road with Del Amitri when they break a decade-long hiatus to head out on tour.
"It was totally unexpected and I'm really excited about getting back on those big stages again with big PA systems... and someone to tune my guitar," says Kris, 47, who settled in Polperro three years ago with his wife, Mandy, and their two young daughters.
In the meantime, though, you will usually find Kris performing in more modest venues in his guise as a solo artist, wielding and acoustic guitar and purveying the old school blues that is the musical love of his life.
He was raised on the Isle of Sheppey listening to his mum and dad's Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves records and his older siblings' choice of Top 40 and classic rock tunes. It was his brother who first taught him a few chords on guitar.
"I found myself wanting to play every hour of the day," recalls Kris.
He became a massive fan of the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards in particular, as well as Led Zeppelin and his other idol Wilko Johnson.
"I was obsessed with these bands and when I read interviews with them they would always talk about blues players – guys like Robert Johnson.
"As a 15-year-old lad I would listen to a scratchy 78 RPM record and think 'this doesn't sound like the Stones'. But I persevered because Keith liked it, and what he liked, I liked."
It was an early introduction that gradually began to make sense and established a stronghold in Kris's heart. And it helped to revive his passion when, after years working at the top of his fame, he grew tired and uninspired by rock and roll and the mainstream music world.
"I had done fantastic things and fulfilled my dreams, really," he explains.
"I'd got to be in a successful band, go on Top of the Pops and Jools Holland's show. It was great, and I loved it, but then it became like a treadmill and I lost sight of what sparked it all in the first place.
"I would go weeks without even picking up my guitar at one point," adds Kris. "I was determined to get back to it."
Over the years he had always gone back to the blues to soothe his spirit, but this time he took it a step further and decided to try his hand as a solo artist.
"I love it now, but I never had the bottle to do it until about 10 years ago," admits Kris.
"All the eyes are on you and I was uncomfortable about that for a long time. But it can be quite therapeutic; you have to be yourself – if you're not you look like an idiot."
Over the past seven years he has toured relentlessly, travelling the length and breadth of the UK and Europe, earning a hardcore of loyal fans. And his three albums 02/01/1978 and Now Was The Time and the recent No Ghosts In This House were all acclaimed by the music press.
It was gigging that first brought Kris, 47, from Kent down to the Cornish seaside.
"I used to play at the Crumplehorn Inn at Polperro and bring the family to stay for a few days," he explains. They enjoyed their trips so much that they decided to move lock, stock and barrel to Cornwall. "We love it here. Once you've got the bug there's no question of leaving... ever. That's how we feel."
He still travels, troubadour-style, all over the UK and abroad, but is particularly chuffed to be playing a show tomorrow at the Devoran Acoustic Sessions at Devoran Village Hall, near Truro.
Opening the show are The Tides, a vibrant, female trio, featuring Claire Ingleheart, musical director of the Ingleheart, Riverside and Suitcase Singers.
Tickets on the door or in advance tickets from the Hall for Cornwall box office on 01872 262466 or visit hallforcornwall.co.uk.