Mark King getting into the royal mood ahead of the Jubilee Garden Party. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
MUSICTHIRTY million record sales across the world, 18 albums and 20 top 40 hits don’t lie. Level 42 are without doubt the biggest musical thing to come out of the IW.
The jubilee weekend sees them coming back to their roots in a very special cause and also to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
On Monday, June 4, Level 42 take to the stage at Northwood House as headliners of a bill that also includes The Bees, a host of other Island bands and, hopefully, a big name for the future.
Level 42 frontman Mark King, who has been back on the Island for more than 20 years now, is looking forward to the Jubilee Garden Party but hopes to achieve something more from the gig.
About 18 months ago, a friend of his, Nicky Wooldridge, who is a trustee at respite centre Beaulieu House, asked him to get involved.
"I knew nothing about it and initially thought she was talking about the place in the New Forest," said Mark.
"But then she explained it was this fantastic centre in Newport that offered respite to families of children with all sorts of conditions.
"I went along and had a look and since then have become a patron, spreading the good word about a place few people know much about."
He enthuses about the good work they do there and only last week was a jovial host at a thank-you evening for Beaulieu House staff and volunteers, generously put on by the Tamarind Indian Restaurant in Newport.
"It is amazing how few people know about Beaulieu House and what they do, so it is great to help out.
"They do get funded by the council, but in these tough times, if they want the little extras for the kids, then these have to be fund-raised for."
Mark is hopeful the jubilee gig will give a considerable top up to the funds
Up to 4,500 people can be accommodated in the grounds of Northwood House and Mark envisages a great party, celebrating the obvious anniversary, enjoying great music and helping out Beaulieu House.
But what sort of set can party goers expect to hear from Level 42?
Mark King is keen fans hear all the favourites, such as The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up), Leaving Me Now and Running in the Family, and the set is being prepared with that in mind.
He is also working to arrange a slot in the line up for his 15-year-old daughter, Marlee, a singer and guitarist who people are saying good things about.
"I have persuaded her to give it a go, to show Island people her talent, so hopefully it can happen." said Mark.
He is still in love with his birthplace and lives in the heart of its countryside, with his wife, Ria, and the Good Life trappings of vegetable gardens, chickens and some fields.
And one of the things he speaks fondly about is the "Island vibe", which he believes is a hothouse of creativity.
"There have always been great musicians here and I believe that is one of the reasons we ended up with the original festivals.
"It could be why Bestival and the IW Festival have become so successful here now.
"People think some Islanders are a bit laid back and lazy but I prefer to think of them as creative.
"Sure, they have to get off their backsides and go out into the wider world to achieve things in music or whatever, but I think if they do then they can make waves."
Mark himself left the Island in his teens and worked in a London guitar shop. Although he is now world famous for his slap-bass style, he originally started his musical career as a drummer.
"I went to Austria for some gigs and had to leave my drums there after we didn’t get paid. That prompted me to take up the bass and the rest is history."
Level 42’s Island origins are well documented but for those not well versed in rock ancestry, the Gould brothers, Phil and Boon, and Mark King were all Island boys and were joined by keyboardist Mike Lindup for a 1980s assault on the charts that included a host of top 20 hits.
The Gould brothers are no longer with the band but the other two have been joined by Mark’s brother, Nathan, on guitar, saxophonist Sean Freeman and drummer Pete Ray Biggin, who is the baby of the band.
"Pete’s story is a great one. His mum and dad were members of our fan club and he grew up listening to us. I met him when he was 11 and he knew all of our songs.
"Later on, when he joined the band, he showed me these pictures of me and him his parents had taken."
So, if you want to support a great cause, enjoy a snapshot of the best Island music, and wave the Union flag for the jubilee, get yourself a ticket for one of the biggest events the Island will be hosting over the holiday.
• For your chance to win tickets to Isle of Wight Radio's Jubilee Garden Party with Level 42 and The Bees see the Friday, May 25, County Press Weekender to enter.