At the age of 67, pop Svengali, railway enthusiast and passionate supporter of Walsall FC Pete Waterman isn’t showing much sign of slowing down.
In fact the man who brought Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Bananarama into our lives has signed a new artist who he is tipping for pop stardom. He says that 16 year-old James is “unassuming and hugely talented.”
James Graham was one of the artists who performed at the Pete’s Hit Factory Live spectacular at the O2 Arena – a once in a lifetime event which featured a roll call of Pete Waterman’s stars.
He is probably best known as a member of the hugely-successful Stock Aitken Waterman trio which became a factory for chart toppers in the 1980s and 90s. He can chalk up 22 UK number one singles to his name and well over 500 million record and download sales worldwide.
While Pete Waterman Entertainment More recently he turned to television appearing on the panel of Pop Idol and the various talent shows which followed it. He recently survived a public grilling by Piers Morgan.
He has a lifelong passion for railways, both real and model. His first job was as a fireman on British Railways and today he is the owner of a significant collection of commercial and historic locomotives which at one time included the legendary Flying Scotsman. He has what is reputed to be the largest O-gauge model railway in Europe and owns his own model railway company – Just Like The Real Thing.
Since founding the Crewe-based London & North Western Railway (LNWR) in 1993, he has continued to make a major contribution to railway preservation, even leading the successful campaign for a National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering. Unsurprisingly he is a vocal supporter of HS2 and is a member of the Government task force to promote the project.
As well as a railway enthusiast he also enjoys cars and it was rumoured that he once bought 18 Ferraris in a single day. He rubbished that rumour, saying “That would have been impossible. I bought them in a week.”
He was born in Stoke Heath, Coventry and attended Whitley Abbey Comprehensive School. His first jobs included grave digger, an apprenticeship at GEC, and DJ at Coventry’s Locarno Club. It was there he met Specials vocalist Neville Staple who he would later manage.
He was awarded the OBE in the 2004 New Year Honours for services to music. He has two honorary doctorates from Coventry and Liverpool Universities, and has a star on Coventry’s Walk of Fame.