Two years after undergoing life-saving heart surgery, Jasper Carrott is back fitter and funnier than ever on his new stand up tour and on the golf course, says David Johns
Jasper Carrott is back doing what he loves best – making people laugh and playing golf. Two years ago to the month after a ‘piece of pure luck’ saved his life, the Brummie legend is fighting fit again and testing his body and mind in two of the most stressful environments, on the stage touring and on the tee swinging.
We last interviewed Jasper in Birmingham Living in early 2013. Back then, he was on the road with his Made in Brum tour which celebrated Birmingham’s rock and pop scene. This summer and autumn he is touring again, criss-crossing the UK with fellow Brummie, best mate and rock legend Bev Bevan, of the Move and ELO fame, on their Stand Up and Rock gigs. The tour – which sees Jasper back with a new stand up show alongside the Bev Bevan Band and with special guests including 60s star Geoff Turton from the Rockin’ Berries – has received rave reviews from the critics.
This month, Jasper will be in the Midlands indulging his other passion for golf when he joins a glittering line-up of stars from the world of entertainment and sport at the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship at Nailcote Hall, Warwickshire. Until his illness two years ago Jasper was a regular at the celeb-am tournament which runs alongside the pros’ Par 3 Championship. He says he is delighted to be back on the course and he is sure of a huge welcome from the 10,000-plus spectators who pour into Nailcote Hall for the tournament each year.
As well as Jasper, the line-up at Nailcote includes British world champion athlete Kriss Akabusi, former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman and iconic boy band members Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy. Also taking part is news presenter Dan Walker, ex-England cricketers Steve Harmison and James Taylor, Strictly professional and Dancing On Ice champion James Jordan and Coronation Street actor William Roache. Hosting the tournament is golfing legend Tony Jacklin.
Returning to the golf course seemed impossibility back in 2017 after Jasper decided to get what he thought was bad indigestion checked out at his GP after over-the-counter remedies failed to ease his chest pains. He underwent two lots of emergency surgery to clear an artery in his neck and a quadruple heart bypass at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Ever since, Jasper has been using every opportunity he can to urge people to “get checked out” by their GP if they think they have a health issue, no matter how minor they believe it to be.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
“I’ve been a very lucky person,” he said. “I was fortunate that I went to the right place at the right time. If anyone has doubts about a bit of pain, don’t ignore it. Even though the NHS is under so much pressure, they will still get you checked out. My heart bypass came completely out of the blue because playing golf and having run marathons I assumed I was as fit as a fiddle. But health can change as quickly as turning a light switch on and off.”
A career that has spanned five decades first started when Jasper became resident compere at the Boggery Folk Club in Birmingham in the mid-seventies. There he discovered his talent for comedy and his inability to sing. The rest is history.
A stalwart of the British folk club scene, his comedy single Funky Moped shot to the top of the British pop charts in 1975, establishing him as a household name overnight. The flipside was his take on the legendary Magic Roundabout, a record still sought out today by a whole new generation of fans.
WALK OF STARS PRIDE
Jasper’s career has seen him earn awards and accolades, including one his most cherished – his own ‘Star’ on Birmingham’s Walk of Stars. “I was incredibly honoured and very humbled to be acknowledged,” he said. “I am so proud to be a Brummie. We live in the greatest city in the world.” He has also won BBC TV Personality of the Year, a gold medal at the New York TV and Film Awards and been named Midlander of the Year. He has received a British Comedy Lifetime Achievement award and was presented with an OBE by the Queen.
Two years after his heart surgery, and now aged 74, Jasper shows no real sign of easing up. He admits he still loves gigging 50 years since he was hosting and performing songs at the Boggery. When he’s not performing, writing material or spending time with his family, you’ll likely find him at the gym or on a golf course somewhere.
A Brummie who has always chosen to stay in Birmingham, he is immensely proud of his daughter Lucy Davis’s achievements alongside Ricky Gervais in The Office and in the blockbuster movie Wonder Woman. He admits that his health scare has made him reassess life in his seventies. “It made me take stock of everything I’ve done in the last 20 years and how there’s a load of stuff I can still do in the next 20,” he says.