South Yorkshire’s two-time World Superbike champion James Toseland is still living life in the fast lane - in his new career as a rock star, writes Graham Walker.
These days you’re more like to see him playing a Yamaha keyboard than riding one of their superbikes, after rekindling his first love, for music.
He’s fronting his own rock band, Toseland.
They are special guest of Status Quo, along with the Strawbs, to launch a three night star-studded music festival when they rock all over Clumber Park, in Sherwood Forest, on Friday, August 15.
Ticket details and links below.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch the official Toseland music video for Life Is Beautiful
LISTEN TO INTERVIEW: Hear James Toseland’s full chat with digital editor Graham Walker - CLICK HERE.
But he’s not hung up his motorcycle keys just yet. He’s planning to ride himself in to the history books and smash the motorcycle land speed record, by clocking up 400mph. Not that his beautiful pop star wife Katie Melua likes talking about it.
In an exclusive chat - listen to it in full on our web site at thestar.co.uk - 33-year-old Toseland told how music has helped him to cope with the devastating wrist injury that forced him to quit the sport he loved three years ago.
He was playing with covers band, Crash, when his piano playing won the hearts of the British public as he performed on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show, where he came fourth, in 2007.
Following his forced retirement from superbikes he formed Toseland and spent eight months holed up in a Scarborough hotel working on his debut album, Renegade, with former Little Angels chart star, now record producer Toby Jepson.
He couldn’t have done it without the support, encouragement and help he’s had from his superstar wife, who helped him in his transition from injured sports champ to rock star.
There are no plans to record together, because he’s rock and she’s pop folk. He never says never.
But, in terms of convincing some to take him seriously at his second bid for stardom on a different world stage, being married to the The Closest Thing To Crazy star has not been helpful, he says.
He said: “Being a professional sportsman, to then have a music career has not been really helpful, if I’m honest. And being married to Katie Melua is not really helpful, when it comes to people that just have the assumption that you’re riding on top of that.”
He’s proving them all wrong.
His new album, featuring singles Life is Beautiful - download the track here for free - has been critically acclaimed and he’s got a growing new fan base of music lovers, with concert dates which have already included support on Status Quo’s Frantic Four tour.
Doncaster born and raised in Kiveton Park, Rotherham, he started playing piano aged eight and is music’s real deal. At one stage he was destined for London Royal College Of Music. He said: “I would have loved to have done that but motorcycles came into my life. I was very good at it, I don’t know how, but I had a natural talent. I was a professional at 16, which made my career choice for me.
“I retired from racing three years ago through an injury, which was devastating. But I knew then that I wanted to go back to my first love - which was playing the piano and singing.
“I studied the piano for four years before I got introduced to motorcycle racing through my mum’s new boyfriend. That’s how it all shifted. It’s just been a bit of a therapeutic thing as well, having to give up something I loved doing for 17 years.
“I always had my piano to relax to but it was a real saviour when I had to retire from racing.”
He added: “When I was riding, all of a sudden the two worlds came together with Yamaha motorcycles and musical instruments. That was a lot of fun and nice that I could do both things together. I’ve realised how similar the jobs are. The only difference is the time difference. Music is the night shift, racing the day shift.
“We’ve got such a busy summer, on the road with Status Quo. We’ve just done a few gigs with Sebastian Bach , from, Skid Row. We went over to Italy with Michael Monroe. We’ve been invited to Austria for a gig. It’s great to be able to go over seas to start things there. We’re touring all over the country in the autumn.”
Amazingly, the former world champ revealed: “I never owned a motorbike in my life, on the road. My only passion for motorcycling was racing. I just loved getting the leathers on, cocking my leg over that bike and being able be an absolute idiot.”
And he’s planning once last hurrah. In September next year he wants to break the motorcycle land speed world record on the Bonneville dry salt lakes in Utah.
“The world record is 376 mph on a motorcycle and we are going to try to be the first to do 400mph. I’ve just been sorting out my molded seat fitting. I don’t mention too much about it to Katie and the family.
“I’ve not really thought about going 400mph too much myself, if I’m honest,” he laughs.
“I’ll just put my helmet on, get in there and ring its neck. We’ll see what happens. But the technology behind it is really fascinating and hopefully we’ll get to do a TV documentary on it and everyone will be able to see what happens behind the scenes, as well as the record.
“I signed up to it because when I had to retire from motorcycle racing at world level, this kind of came up and it just gave me another opportunity.
“I couldn’t ride at the same level any more with the wrist injury, but this gave me another opportunity to be the world’s best at something on a motorcycle. That’s what excites me about it.
* Toseland and The Strawbs suport Status Quo at Clumber Park on Friday, August 15. Saturday is a Flashback Festival with 80’s stars Billy Ocean, Kim Wilde, ABC, Jimmy Sommerville, Go West, Midge Ure, Katrina and The Doctor (of Dr & The Medics). Sunday is a Last Night of the Proms event with Aled Jones, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and guests.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Get James Tosleand’s album track Life Is Beautiful - CLICK HERE.
TOSELAND TOUR DATES
September/October UK Headline Shows
Dates and ticket links, plus shop, music, biography, news and more, visit (http://www.toselandmusic.com.toselandmusic.com|visit toselandmusic.com}.
Sun 21st September 2014 - Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Mon 22nd September 2014 - The Fleece, Bristol
Wed 24th September 2014 - Stereo Cafe Bar, Glasgow
Thurs 25th September 2014 - The Tunnels, Aberdeen
Sat 27th September 2014 - Rock City Basement, Nottingham
Sun 28th September 2014 - Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
Mon 29th September 2014 - The Portland Arms, Cambridge
Tue 30th September 2014 - Academy 3, Manchester
Thurs 2nd October 2014 - The Roadmender, Northampton
Wed 8th October 2014 - 100 Club, London