He’s a national treasure, and he’s not even from this country. Rolf Harris (who is now 82!) will be returning to the UK stage for An Evening with Rolf Harris at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday February 8. As if you needed reminding, here are ten great reasons why we love the Aussie polymath…
1. An arty inspiration to a generation of kids, our favourite import from Down Under is perhaps best known for introducing three odd instruments into our musical lexicon – the didgeridoo, the Stylophone and his ubiquitous wobble board.
2. Despite his evident art and music smarts, Rolf struggled at university and left after two years. He then enrolled at teacher training college. His first job was teaching kids how to swim.
3. He once recorded a version of his 1957 skiffle hit ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’ with The Beatles, including new lyrics that rhymed ‘dingo’ with ‘Ringo’.
4. He played didgeridoo and sang vocals on two Kate Bush albums, ‘The Dreaming’ (1982) and ‘Aerial’ (2005).
5. He painted the Queen – not all-over with body paint, but in portrait form. Astonishingly, his has been voted the third-best portrait of Her Majesty ever.
6. He covered ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at Glastonbury in 1993 – a version which mischievous online commenters still insist is the definitive version of the song.
7. Rolf’s also had a chart dance hit. In 2000 he teamed up with music producer Steve Lima to release the track, ‘Fine Day’ which entered the UK Top 30. He was 70 at the time.
8. As a child Rolf had a dog named ‘Buster Fleabags’. He later wrote a successful children’s book about the mutt.
9. He solicited more ‘ahhhhs’ than a massage parlour as host of BBC1’s cute-gasmic ‘Animal Hospital’, adopting a bull terrier called Dolly in the process.
10. All of the above facts (and more achievements besides) mean that, quite simply, Rolf’s second only to Da Vinci in ‘renaissance man’ rankings.
Oliver Keens and Luke Holloway
Buy tickets to see him now at southbankcentre.co.uk.