Taken from The Scottish Sun (Oct 26, 2016)
Music runs in the family for Wet Wet Wet star Graeme Duffin
COUNTRY band Ashton Lane will have a famous face join them on stage this weekend - Wet Wet Wet star Graeme Duffin.
by MATT BENDORIS
That's because the legendary guitarist also plays in his daughter Esther O'Connor's cult group, who have been nominated for two prestigious British Country Music Awards.
Graeme, 60, shot to fame in the chart-topping band with Marti Pellow and Co, playing on all 27 of their major hits including Love Is All Around which was No1 for 15 weeks in 1994.
But now with his daughter and son-in-law Tim O'Connor, they will join country music giants including The Dixie Chicks and The Shires at the BCM Awards in London in October.
Here, Graeme and Esther speak to Chief Features Writer MATT BENDORIS about their festival debut at Party At The Palace and the surprisingly grounded home-life of a pop star.
McEwan's Party At The Palace takes place this weekend with headliners The Proclaimers today and Billy Ocean tomorrow. Ashton Lane perform tomorrow. Tickets from partyatthepalace.co.uk
Graeme on Esther
GUITARIST Graeme has performed at sold-out stadiums across the world with Marti Pellow and the crew - but his family life always brought him back to earth with a bump.
In fact the musician can remember being driven straight from the airport by wife Pamela to watch Esther's dance recital.
He says: "I had come back from a tour and was extremely jet-lagged.
"But I stepped straight off a plane only to be dragged to one of Esther's tap dancing displays.
"My suitcase was still in the car as I had to listen to what sounded like hailstones on a tin roof for five hours.
"So I was always there for all the good - and bad."
Graeme and Pamela raised Esther and son James at their home on Glasgow's southside.
Both their kids have chosen careers in the same industry with James, 29, now working in music management.
Graeme says: "It's good to take opportunities where you find them in life.
"I spent seven years working in a hospital biochemistry lab when Pamela told me to give up my 'proper' job or I would regret it all my life.
"Shortly after that I was hired by the manager of The Wets."
However, he saw his own glittering career come to a shuddering halt in 1997 when the band split, only to reform seven years later.
But the break-up allowed Duffin to tackle his life-long stammer, which was so debilitating that he could sing for hours on stage but was barely able to ask for his hotel room key afterwards.
Graeme confronted his demons through the revolutionary technique called The McGuire Programme which also helped ITV's Pop Idol star Gareth Gates.
He says: "Off stage I would struggle just to say my own name."
The star also set up the Foundry Music Lab recording studio in Motherwell.
And he insists he wasn't worried about Esther entering the topsy turvy music world. He says: "We always recognised in Esther a strength of character that we weren't overly concerned for her whatever she decided to do."
But despite The Wets being one of the biggest bands in the UK he believes their failure to crack the lucrative US market HELPED his home-life.
Graeme says: "The band was fairly intense and full-on in its heyday.
"But it seemed to only happen in short bursts, partly because they never took off in the States.
"If that had happened, I would have had to have been on the road a lot more.
"This industry can drive people into the ground from pressure to produce more hits and make as much money as they can.
"That can be destructive. So it was a blessing in disguise."
He adds: "It's still hard to believe we have had such an extended career.
"It's the 30th anniversary of the debut album Popped In, Souled Out next year.
"I have actually been part of the band for nearly 32 years though - and I am still the new guy.
"But the band seem to get on better than ever now.
"I think that's possibly because everyone has other interests away from the group.
"The pressure is off us and we feel we can enjoy it more now."
But now Graeme's gearing up for his family affair.
He says: "Performing with Esther is entirely different from The Wets.
"On Sunday there is nothing else I would rather be doing and no one else I'd
rather be gigging with than my daughter.
"She is an extremely talented writer as well as a singer and performer.
Esther on Graeme
ESTHER has nothing but good memories growing up with her dad in one of Scotland's biggest ever pop groups - even if she had trouble escaping the chart-toppers.
The talented singer/songwriter had been visiting an orphanage in Zambia with hubby Tim through fund-raising work they had done with the Queen's Park Baptist Church in Glasgow.
But even in the middle of the African wilderness she wasn't immune from the Wets.
She says: "We had run a charity night for an orphanage in Zambia which we ended up going out to visit.
"We were then invited to a place in the back of beyond where they had used old magazine covers to wallpaper of their shanty.
"One of the magazine covers was a Smash Hits front page with Wet Wet Wet.
"Here I was thousands of miles away in the most basic building in the middle of Africa with my dad's face staring back at me.
"It was an amazing moment."
Growing up she knew dad had an "unusual job" but says they all quickly adapted to his life on the road.
She recalls: "When I was young someone phoned for my dad one day.
"I answered then asked Mum 'Is Dad around?'.
"She replied, 'No - he's been away for FOUR weeks.' But that was just normal to me."
Despite that, she insists she benefitted from Graeme's life with The Wets.
Esther, who has two kids, Belle, three and six-month-old Joshua, explains: "When parents are in full-time work they don't get to spend that much time with their kids.
"My dad could be away for a few weeks, but when he was back home, he would be around all the time and we could hang out."
One of her earliest memories was meeting Elton John at the group's five sell-out nights at Madison Square Gardens in New York, when she was aged just five.
She says: "There were some really incredible experiences, like getting to travel on tour with the band and be at amazing gigs.
"I met Elton John backstage in New York when I was five.
"That whole trip really stuck in my memory, as we were eating in diners, and everything was so out of the ordinary.
"It was probably quite a tall order to have young children running about when you're on the road, but the whole band were always great with us."
As a kid she also barely noticed her dad's debilitating stammer.
Esther shrugs: "That was never a big issue for me.
"What I really loved to see was the way he's worked with it.
"He showed real courage in the way he went about it."
Esther and her hubby are so close to her parents they are next door neighbours in Glasgow's southside.
Her mum Pamela even goes on tour with her to babysit.
And earlier this year, Esther helped spring a surprise on Graeme for his 60th birthday when he was playing a gig in Nottingham with The Wets.
She says: "Belle was shouting 'Happy birthday Papa', from the side of the stage. He said it was his best birthday ever.
"It was also Belle's first Wets gig and Dad said seeing her dance along brought back memories of me doing the exact same as a kid."
Now Esther can't wait to perform tracks from her new album Nashville Heart with her dad at Party At The Palace.
She says: "My dad has been so involved in my band, with everything from performing to recording and producing.
"He's been there for me my whole life."