They say don’t meet your heroes because you’ll just be disappointed, but a quick phone call with Geno Washington disproves all that.

Now 75 he still comes across as a ball of energy with a lust for life and a desire to have fun.

His heh-heh-heh cackle is frequent and you can’t help but join in.

A boring ‘how are you?’ becomes hilarious: “I’m like a fat rat in a cheese factory, heh-heh-heh.”

Why’s that?

“I ain’t tellin! Heh-heh-heh.”

He became a legend more than 50 years ago because of the soul tunes he and his band played, but especially because of the all-action stage show they performed night after night across the country.

There’s just him now. He still loves to perform, but he’s burnt off all his former band members.

“I love it, I just love it!” he calls, like a Baptist preacher.

He’s best known for the 1980 tribute song by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, but you can see the man himself when Geno Washington comes to Cumbria this week.

Geno was the second single by Dexys and their first UK number one, telling the story of how the legendary Washington was an inspiration and the song captured the big brass sound that had made Washington so popular.

Washington was a US airman stationed in the UK in the Sixties when he formed his Ram Jam Band and became huge stars on the live circuit in the Sixties and early Seventies.

Their big dance soul sound was popular with mods and two live albums were amongst the biggest sellers in the Sixties.

Hand Clappin, Foot Stompin, Funky-Butt ... Live!, was in the UK albums chart for 38 weeks in 1966 and 1967, peaking at number five on the chart. The other album was Hipster Flipsters Finger Poppin’ Daddies, which reached number eight on the UK album chart.

The band broke up in the autumn of 1969 and Geno Washington continued as a solo artist before returning to the United States, where he disappeared from the music industry for a while.

He returned to the UK in the eighties and admits he’s not been back to the US for 25 years.

Now 75 he’s still producing foot-stomping soul and still enjoys cult status on the soul, blues, R&B and Northern Soul scenes today due to his reputation as a live performer, his magnetic stage presence and his love of performance.

He even has two bands - the Ram Jam band for the funk and soul and the YoYo Band for playing the blues.

He has seen massive changes in the music industry over the decades and blames the power of TV companies for starting what he sees as a decline.

But he still enjoys performing: “I constantly tour. With the YoYos I have the blues, it keeps it real.

“It is fun, you drink, you smoke, you talk...rubbish... and you play music. That has not changed at all. That is what keeps me going, heh-heh-heh.”

He finishes with: “Can you mention my gig at the Old Fire Station,? It will be smoking when I’m there, heh-heh-heh.”

He plays the Old Fire Station, Carlisle, tomorrow. For tickets, go to or call 01228 598596.