Andy Kershaw returns to his ‘Leeds roots’ for one-man show

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He once went on holiday to North Korea, has filed a story to The Independent while being shot at by a sniper in shop doorway in Thailand and has a record collection which weighs seven tons.

Welcome to the multifarious life of radio DJ and broadcast journalist Andy Kershaw, who has spent a lifetime breaking the mould.

Despite being born in Lancashire, he kick-started his career in the music industry right here in Leeds, which is where he will be returning this Saturday for a one-off performance of his one-man show.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the veteran broadcaster said: “On my first day at the University of Leeds in October 1978, I walked straight up to the social secretary of the students union and asked very politely if I could have his job when he’d done.”

It’s fair to say his career in the music industry - and journalism in general - began here. Starting as an usher “manning distant and far flung doors around the building”, just over a year later he found himself in the position he coveted and booking some of the biggest bands in the country.

“It was amazing,” says Andy with typical zeal. “There I was at 19 booking some of the biggest bands in the world. It was all done by volunteers back then - we used to convert the refectory into a gig venue and then clean everything up so that by the time the staff came in in the morning, they had no idea there had been a rock and roll gig there the previous night.”

The memory is typical of Andy’s uncompromisingly unorthodox approach to life in general.

In May 2010 he found himself in the middle of the Red Shirts Revolution in Bangkok. He recalled: “Foreign journalists were saying it was difficult to get in there but within half an hour of landing in Bangkok, I was in the middle of the city and at one point I was being fired at by a sniper - I took refuge in a shop doorway and watched as the road surface was shot up about eight feet in front of me. At that point, I dialled the foreign desk at The Independent to ask if they wanted a story.”

Over the years, Andy has worked with pretty much all of the greats, from the Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop to Billy Bragg and Bruce Spingsteen.

He was one of the first presenters on The Old Grey Whistle Test and a host of Live Aid, which had an audience of over 1bn.

As part of the Student Union’s 75th anniversary celebrations, he will perform at The Refectory, Leeds University at 7pm. Tickets are available online and on the door.

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