Pop star Danny says Sheffield saved him after knife attack horror

“The environment of Sheffield is the key to my recovery. The people here are second to none, they are so friendly.”

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 1:59 pm

The words of singer songwriter Danny Burton who looked like he had it all as he rubbed shoulders with rock legends but almost lost his life in an attack by a knife gang.

He put the pieces back together in Sheffield and is now on the comeback trail. Danny, aged 47, can’t praise the city highly enough.

“I grew up in London and thought the park was the countryside. Then I came here.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Singer songwriter Danny Burton

"Blacka Moor in Totley is one of my favourite places. It is so calm and tranquil. Freedom, the countryside, fresh air, the peace and quiet. I love it.”

It’s a million miles away from the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of the early ’90s which almost killed him.

In a highly rated band with Zak Starkey, son of Beatles legend Ringo Starr, Danny had also just been offered the lead role in Tommy by Who star Pete Townshend.

Talk about rock ‘n’ roll royalty, Danny felt like a king. But his reign was short-lived. As he celebrated his good fortune with pals, a gang circled them, armed with Stanley knives.

Danny came to Sheffield as youth team coach for Sheffield Wednesday

“We were set on by six or seven blokes. I remember trying to get away, going underneath the table, but one guy cut me across the face.

“Bassist Ronnie Thomas was being stabbed in the back. I was grabbed and stabbed in the head before we finally got out of the bar.

“I had been stabbed about seven times, they had cut the artery at the top of my head. Blood was squirting from the top of my head, I nearly died.

“When the police went to my house they said they were investigating an attempted murder.

Mean and moody, Face looked like they were going to make it big

“Luckily the cuts were thin. Someone called an ambulance and that’s all I can remember.”

What followed was anxiety, an on-going battle with alcohol and watching his dreams of stardom disappear.

Sheffield changed that, eventually. He first lived in Dore after moving here because he got a job as Sheffield Wednesday youth team coach. Danny is the son of Terry Burton, who started his career at Arsenal and was the captain of Arsenal's FA Youth Cup winning team in 1971, before later beginning his coaching career at the club.

He followed his dad’s lead, getting on Arsenal’s books. It didn’t work out but after the stabbing, football called again and Danny worked with the Owls when Dave Jones was manager. Sadly, some demons re-emerged. Father-of-two Danny admits alcohol got the better of him in Sheffield.

With anew single, Danny Burton is looking back on track

“I was out of my depth, I was going through a divorce and was single parenting. I lost the plot, lost my job. But I never wanted to leave Sheffield.”

It was 2012, time to be honest. “I’d always had a battle with alcohol and it became apparent that I couldn’t drink. I’m a recovering alcoholic. My mum and dad helped me.”

Music never stopped buzzing in Danny’s ears and after a period of playing in various bands across the UK he returned to recording, writing and performing in his own right.

Sheffield played a huge role in rehabilitation.

“From a music point of view, there so many open mic nights in Sheffield, just meeting like-minded musicians, being made to feel welcome got my confidence back up. There was no fear like London, Sheffield helped me get back up, it played a massive part in that.”

So let’s go back to the start of this remarkable story. Born in Camden Town, Danny was brought up near to Tottenham Court Road. “I was a proper London boy, although I haven’t lived there since 2000. I couldn’t think of living there now.”

Danny Burton and Face were on the verge of the big time.

He went to school in Islington in the late 1970s and early ’80s when Islington was rough. “It was pretty bad round there, before the redevelopment had happened and the yuppies.”

Danny left school at 16 with dreams of being a footballer. He was on Arsenal’s books but then suffered an injury went another way. “I said I wouldn’t play anymore, like a kid, I cut off my nose to spite my face.

“Music was the other big thing in my life and had been since 14. There was a choice between football training and rock ‘n’ roll. The choice was rock ‘n’ roll.”

He dabbled with a few bands before being picked up by a manager who Danny says ‘put things together’.

Danny fronted a band called Face who started doing well and recorded at a house owned by Who bassist John Entwistle.

He was there for three months when the drummer and bassist left. A problem? Hardly, as a producer came up trumps, hooking Danny up with a certain Zak Starkey.

The breaks kept coming. Another producer introduced him to Pete Townshend, who was auditioning for the stage show of Tommy. Danny was offered the part. “As a massive Who fan, I was in heaven. It was quite a time.”

What a dilemma. The Face boasted Danny on guitar and vocals, Starkey on drums, Gary Nuttall on guitar and Ronnie Thomas on bass.

They were a new London sensation playing sell out shows all over town and strongly tipped by DJ Steve Lamacq. The tabloid press were hailing them the next big thing to come out of Camden. Then he was offered the lead role in Tommy by an idol. But what happened next was the nightmare.

“I was with Zak and my dad, we were having lunch, discussing what to do with the band. I had to phone my manager and he told me I’d got the part in Tommy.

“We were celebrating, I was thinking about doing two shows a day which would mean leaving the band.

“Zak left, my dad left and before I knew it we were surrounded.”

Why does he think the attack happened? “We were celebrating. We were young, good looking, rock starry lads and they took a dislike to us.”

So Danny decided to focus on Face. Ironically, some weeks later Zak was asked to replace Kenny Jones and join The Who.

Not long after, another blow came when Gary and Zak’s replacement drummer Smiley left to join Robbie Williams band. Fate had dealt a harsh blow leaving Danny to seriously consider his future in the music industry.

“It took the wind out of my sails. I was on the crest of a wave, now I couldn’t do Tommy and we couldn’t recapture the magic without Zak, who is one of the best in the world.”

But the music didn’t leave him.

“Music couldn’t go away, I met my second wife and things settled down. I want to fulfil my ambition, there is stuff I need to do.”

He has a new single called Suicidal Vampire which follows work from earlier this year called The Way. The video was filmed in the Peak District and features his second wife Kat.

He’s also putting together a new band from Sheffield and Chesterfield, is managed by a good team and sounds pretty happy.

“The new stuff follows my self-therapy. I’ve put that to bed now, the new stuff is story based, testing my abilities as a songwriter.”

Reasons for optimism. “I’ve got a platform. Whether you’re nine or 70 you can get your music out on YouTube. It’s not about being a millionaire, it’s about getting music to as many people as possible.”

To hear Danny head to Spotify: DannyBurton or Youtube: thisisDanBurton

Older and wiser, Danny Burton is rebuilding his career
Cutting from the Daily Star, 1996, tipping Danny's band Face for the big time