Arthur in his home town, Whitby

Narrowly missing running over your interviewee is never the greatest way to start your Monday morning.
Thankfully, crisis was averted as this former chart-topper caught up with his hat rolling across the road and to the safety of the pavement on a blustery winter’s morning in Whitby.
But for flamboyant singer-songwriter Arthur Brown, this latest dice with death was nothing new for him in the seaside town.
Born in 1942, he “died” along with the rest of his family in their guest house during a German bombing raid.
So, that would have put paid to his career in the music business, which saw him share billing with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and the Small Faces.
Of course, he wasn’t dead at all, as you’ve no doubt already guessed, despite a report in the Whitby Gazette at the time.


Thankfully for Arthur and his family, they had a cellar and all managed to scramble to safety after the direct hit.
Unsurprisingly, the shock hit the family hard and they left Whitby seven years later.
Arthur was soon to head to cities including Leeds, London and Paris before trying his luck in the States and then returning to the UK in 1996.
Now the seventy-seven-year-old, most famous for his 1968 hit Fire which sold more than one million copies from his Crazy World of Arthur Brown album, is back to the place he calls home – Yorkshire – which has helped inspire him to release his new album Gypsy Voodoo.
So with album launch gigs done and dusted in the capital, dates on the road announced, Arthur has also just become a great-grandpa to his granddaughter Lily, daughter of his son, Julian.
Then there’s keeping up to date with his legions of fans – young and old, via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And if that’s not enough, Arthur has the little matter of his marriage to partner of four years Claire Waller, so the God of Hellfire is very much alive and kicking and in for a busy year.
What is the best thing about Yorkshire? The heritage, the variety of sceneries and the people.
The people of Yorkshire are very real and without pretension.
And wherever you go in England, there is a very good chance you’ll meet a Yorkshire person.

Arthur with Alice Cooper. Photo: Matthew North

What is your favourite Yorkshire view? Coming into Whitby there is “the big punchbowl”. The views are amazing.
Then there are the harbour views in the town, especially when there are a few fishing boats in.

What is the most inspiring thing about the county?
The most inspiring thing about Yorkshire is that it was once the capital of England.
The history is strong and evident, you feel it in the land, the space, the sky, the sea, the tales and the strong attachment still to farming and living with the land.
Is there a local phrase, or piece of dialect that you find you lose a lot, or you particularly like? “Where’s there’s muck, there’s brass!”

Arthur with Jimi Hendrix

Do you find you spend a lot of time singing the praises of the county? Yes, because it is such a beautiful place.
What, for you, defines a Yorkshireman or woman? A bit bold. They are real and stick to the same values throughout their life.

Do you have a favourite Yorkshire pub, restaurant or shop? My favourite shop is Beadlam Grange Farm shop where we buy our meat, produce and gifts because it is all local and homemade and does the best sausages!
My favourite restaurants would be Helmsley Spice, which has an amazing menu which is authentic and delicious, while I also love Tui Thai in Malton, thanks to the fabulous owner who cooks everything!

Arthur in action last month. Photo: Simon Dunkerley, Red Spektor

What is the one place in Yorkshire you would recommend others to visit? Malton, it’s a foodie centre. I love the whole-food shop Grain2gain and food market.
Also the fact there is an interesting group, talks and action in line with sustainability.
I would love to organise a “happening” in Malton Town Hall too.
Do you have a particular memory of Yorkshire that stands out? I remember a man called Captain Webb (also known as Professor Twigg).
He would stand on the end of the pier and get a cigarette, light it and put it inside his mouth and drop into the water while hundreds of people would watch. He’d disappear for two or three minutes under the water and suddenly appear and take the cigarette from his mouth, which was still lit!

Arthur at Nells Jazz and Blues in London in January.
Photo: Mehmet Yildirim

Do you have a favourite Yorkshire walk? My favourites would be those in the valley and woods around Ampleforth.
You walk every day and never tire or see the same things… the sky, the leaves, the creatures. They are ever-changing, ever-giving beauty.
What is your favourite Yorkshire book? Wuthering Heights.

Is there a Yorkshire event that you particularly enjoy? Being musical I think I would say Whitby’s Musicport, which is really lovely.
I would also bring gymkhanas back. They always involved a lot of people who still work the land and they were very enjoyable.

Captain Webb prepares for a dive. Photo: Whitby Memories Facebook Group

Is there a Yorkshire foodstuff or drink that you are particularly fond of? I like kippers and gin. There are also some cinnamon buns we get in York.

Who would you describe as the greatest Yorkshireman or woman? There are so many, but I would say people like Robert Palmer, Captain Cook and Freddie Trueman, who all broke the mould.
Do you have a favourite Yorkshire singer, band, or song? As well as Richard Hawley (whose score was enjoyed while watching Funny Cow at Malton picture house), I must mention Joe Cocker.
I knew him and performed with him and had a love and respect for him.

Arthur’s new album, Gypsy Voodoo

If you had a time machine, which Yorkshire person from the past would you like to meet? I would travel to meet Hilda of Whitby. I’d like to ask her the question: “Do you think the world would be a better place now, had the Celtic form of Christianity taken hold?”

Is there a building or landmark in the county that you are particularly fond of? Whitby Abbey.

Do you have a favourite Yorkshire film or TV programme? This Sporting Life.

Can you sum up Yorkshire in one sentence? It is a rough diamond and shines in its natural beauty.

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