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Stars of 60s play at village wedding

PUBLISHED: 09:54 21 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:29 22 October 2010

Sorrel May and her father Phil, lead singer with The Pretty Things

Sorrel May and her father Phil, lead singer with The Pretty Things

SUE SKINNER

They enjoy cult status and have been entertaining their legions of fans around the world for more than four decades. But the venue for the latest gig by sensational rock band The Pretty Things could hardly have been more off the beaten track - a remote barn in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.

The Pretty Things in action at the reception

They enjoy cult status and have been entertaining their legions of fans around the world for more than four decades.

But the venue for the latest gig by sensational rock band The Pretty Things could hardly have been more off the beaten track - a remote barn in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.

The audience was not the usual assortment of die-hard supporters and new-found fans, either, but friends and family celebrating a very special occasion.

Lead singer Phil May's daughter Sorrel married her fiance Mike Bradley at St Mary's Church, Beachamwell, near Swaffham, on Saturday at a ceremony attended by an eclectic mix of guests from the worlds of music, TV and politics.

The Pretty Things in their 60s hey-day

And who better to play at the reception than The Pretty Things, who are still working 42 years after her father formed the band with ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Dick Taylor.

“She actually asked if the band would play - I never even thought of it,” said Mr May, 61.

Sorrel's mother, Electra May, is the daughter of renowned sculptor Oscar Nemon and Patricia Villars-Stuart, whose family has lived in Beachamwell since the 1860s.

On Saturday, villagers leaned over the churchyard wall to savour one of the more glamourous chapters in the history of the ancient building.

Spotted among the arrivals were Mrs May's brother-in-law, North-West Hampshire Conservative MP Sir George Young and the purple-bearded Arthur Brown, best known for his 1968 hit, Fire.

A beaming Miss May, 30, a freelance TV producer, arrived only a few minutes late in a left-hand drive Chrysler Windsor, wearing an ivory, full-length designer gown and carrying a posy of roses and freesias.

The organist at the service, conducted by the Rev David Pomery, priest-in-charge of the Barton Bendish and Fincham group of parishes, was conductor and music director and arranger Nic Raine, whose string of film and TV credits includes the orchestration for the Wallace and Gromit films, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave.

As the newly-weds left the church, the congregation laughed as Mr Raine broke into a refrain from the much-loved animation series.

Another musical interlude was provided by Mr Taylor, who played blues guitar while the couple signed the register - and admitted afterwards to a bad case of nerves.

“I was terrified and I'm never scared of playing,” he said. “Sat there by myself plonking away - it was a really bizarre feeling!”

The bride and her new husband, who is an ergonomic designer and university lecturer, were whisked away to their reception at a barn at nearby Oxborough in a helicopter piloted by local businessman Tony Abel.

The Pretty Things, consisting of Mr May, Mr Taylor on lead guitar, Jon Povey on piano, bass player Wally Waller, drummer Skip Allen and guitarist Frank Holland, are currently working on a new album.

“People have come and gone,” said Mr May. “The line-up we have at the moment is the line-up from 1966, plus one other member, so it's the same people who made a lot of the albums.

“Dick and I formed the band at art school but he had a 10-year sabbatical. We had done about five or six years of the screaming and being pulled off the stage and the madness and I think by then Dick felt he wanted a break from it. It was exciting when you were 18 or 19.”

They are booked for eight gigs in Europe next month but touring takes up less of the band's time these days.

“Being on the road is not as much fun as it used to be and people don't want to be away from their families for that long,” said Mr May.

“I enjoy performing and I actually like travelling but it depends what and where we're going. I think once you're on the stage it doesn't matter, but sometimes the 18 hours to get there and the hassle and the breakdown or whatever can be a bit wearing.”

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