John Waite has enjoyed multiple eras in music, as lead singer for The Babys from the mid-1970s to start the ‘80s, and in Bad English in the late ‘80s to usher in the ‘90s, and with solo work after each of those tenures.
This British son, probably best known for such hits as “Isn’t It Time?” with the Babys, “When I See You Smile” with Bad English, and his biggest individual smash, “Missing You,” will play Saturday afternoon in North Myrtle Beach’s “Mayfest on Main.”
With a set scheduled for about 2 p.m., between Ross Coppley and the Little River Band, Waite said he’s so fortunate to have “met everybody” and worked with many artists in rock ‘n’ roll, an industry he has found “very tough and very fun.”
In 2003, Waite toured with Paul Carrack, Sheila E., Colin Hay and Mark Rivera for the eighth edition of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, which also was commemorated on CD and DVD.
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Waite said he never wants to look back with regrets about anything. Composing songs, he writes as the experiences happen, giving him different meanings with every song, an outlet to channel his feelings and any misgivings.
“That probably saved me a gigantic amount of money in psychiatric bills,” he joked, in an easy-to-laugh phone interview from home in California.
Awake since 4 a.m., six hours before this impromptu phoner, Waite quipped, “I will sing for food.”
He just returned from a 12-day visit to England, where he said goes about three times a year. Since his father died about four years ago, “I make a good point to visit my mum,” he said.
Every return to Lancaster excites Waite, who gave a concert there last year for the first time since age 17.
“Everything comes full circle,” Waite said, now 62. “I love my hometown. You never really leave it.”
Also, playing to “a packed house” to the oldest working theater in Birmingham, thrilled Waite, honored to entertain where he said Charles Dickens once performed, orating his stories.
Asked about Tina Turner recording “Missing You” in the mid-1990s, more than a decade after he co-wrote it with two other men, Waite spoke in what he called “surreal” terms. He remembered the honor of succeeding Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” atop the charts in 1984, and the way life played out since his days of listening to her earlier hits on his bedroom radio when he was 7 years old.
Waite said he also later recorded a song she had written for her performance with her late, former husband, Ike Turner, “Sweet Rhode Island Red.”
“She’s a tremendous and gifted singer and writer, a strong writer,” Waite said.
With plans of releasing a live album later this spring, Waite called most of the material new, especially because he has never cared for repeating just former hits on his concert circuit. This CD showcases just “a three-piece band and no keyboards.”
“It’s the kind of stuff I was raised on,” he said, “a throwdown record.”
With such an outdoor festival as North Myrtle Beach has on tap, Waite sees an advantage from not having the luxury of a sound check.
“You just show up and play,” he said. “It’s a bit like walking a tightrope, but in an interesting way ... and I really like that. It’s really as good as it gets. Every show, you should bring it.”
Waite said after his marriage ended, he lived in Westchester, N.Y., for about 25 years, but that the Big Apple remains home to everything “that matters to me,” but that “living for the city” took some juice out of his motivation to pen music, so he relocated to the West Coast.
“Any man who says he has no regrets is an idiot,” said Waite, truly happy with his life.
“English football,” or soccer, games carried on “big screens” in two Santa Barbara, Calif., pubs “within in four blocks” gives Waite more tastes of his homeland, especially to relax and sip on a beer.
Waite also complimented what he called “the seaboard,” from Maine down to the Carolinas. He remembered one Myrtle Beach gig, a private show “years ago,” after driving from New York from Myrtle Beach” mainly on Interstate 95.
The U.S. South never lost its high impressions with Waite, who voiced his love of the landscape of “inland rivers and long grass.”