INTERVIEW: Unstoppable Andy Kershaw

ANDY Kershaw.

ANDY in mid-flow on his time with John Peel.

First published in What's On

AN UNSTOPPABLE rock ’n’ roll journalist who has done everything from reporting from the thick of civil war to presenting Live Aid steps on to Bridgwater turf this May.

Andy Kershaw, former BBC Radio 1 DJ, Today Programme correspondent, and regular One Show reporter, has travelled to 97 of the world’s 194 countries.

Yet it’s to Bridgwater Arts Centre he’s headed next on Thursday, May 29, with his gripping one-man show and autobiography, ‘No Off Switch’.

Kershaw’s CV reads like a gonzo journalist’s dream. He worked for the Rolling Stones in ’82, was banned from Malawi by the Dr Hastings Banda dictatorship, and covered the 2010 Red Shirt Revolution in Bangkok for The Independent.

He was also an eyewitness to the hell of the Rwandan genocide, whose 20-year anniversary is marked this year.

He reported, he says, “until he could stand it no more”.

Whatever the subject is, “what matters to me above all else in journalism is the truth, of course,” Andy tells the Mercury.

“And in those extreme situations particularly, getting across to listeners or readers back here what the impact is like for ordinary folk.

“I’m not really interested in interviewing politicians – there are those who would be hanging around the presidential palace.

“It’s the humanity of the situations that I want to get to.”

Then there’s music; that other bright pigment. With his LP collection scaling a weighty seven tonnes, Kershaw is an insatiable music magpie, credited with bringing world music to UK eardrums.

He spent 12 years sharing an office with revered radio DJ John Peel, was political artist-activist Billy Bragg’s roadie and tour manager, and succeeded in securing the first ever Brit TV interview with Bob Dylan (winning him over with a jar of jam).

Writing his autobiography was a mission in itself, and “20 years late handing in”, he says.

Manuscript finally pinned down, he called Pete Townshend from The Who to give it the once-over.

“I’ve got huge admiration for Pete. He’s a very sophisticated and well-read person – he used to run his own publishing company.

“I just sent him a copy of the proof. He came back with very kind remarks.”

So, any trepidation, stepping on to new, Bridgwater soil? As if.

“I’m always excited to do my one-man shows; we have great fun, and there’s a lot of laughter,” says Andy.

“There’s only one thing that scares me, and that’s landmines. The last I checked, Bridgwater is landmine-free.”

TICKETS to see The Adventures of Andy Kershaw cost £12 (£10 for concessions). Book by visiting bridgwaterarts centre.co.uk or calling 01278-422700. The event starts at 8pm.

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