Craig goes from troop to Jackson tribute act

Michael Jackson to play Legends at the Sands Venue for the first time

Michael Jackson to play Legends at the Sands Venue for the first time

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From squaddie life to receiving standing ovations at Blackpool’s Sands Venue, Craig Harrison’s life has certainly taken an interesting turn.

This summer he’ll be on the roster of top tribute stars appearing in Trevor Chance’s Legends, performing as Michael Jackson.

He made a preview appearance in three shows during the Easter weekend, and proved popular with the audiences, winning standing ovations each night.

And he reckons the discipline he learned as an infantry soldier in the 22nd Cheshire regiment (now known as 1 Mercian) serves him in good stead in his tribute to Jacko.

But his love of the King of Pop started long before he took to the stage.

“My parents say that when I was four years old I saw him on television and instantly became a fan,” Craig said. “Every spare moment I got after that I was trying to practise his moves and sing like him.”

But it wasn’t until about six years ago that he started his professional tribute to his idol, keeping up his job with a building company.

“I worked on various sites as a machine driver but I don’t intend to keep the two jobs side by side,” Craig said. “Performing as MJ is my real passion and I will be doing this full time very soon.”

He served in the Army from 2002 to 2006, including a seven-month tour to Basra in Iraq, and his alter-ego has proven a happy surprise to his military friends.

“A couple of my army friends have surprised me and turned up at my theatre shows but I think in the end they were more surprised than me,” Craig said.

“But all my friends and family are very supportive and come to watch me perform at every opportunity. They are great!”

He classes himself as one the country’s biggest MJ fans.

“There’s not a lot I don’t know about the King of Pop – and I couldn’t perform the show with the same authenticity if I wasn’t such a huge fan,” says Craig.

“I don’t have a favourite Michael Jackson song to listen to because I love every piece of music he ever created.

“But if you were to ask me what my favourite MJ song to perform is, then it would either be Smooth Criminal or Billie Jean.”

His skills have even seen him invited to perform as a live guest of the Romanian version of The X Factor, televised across Eastern Europe.

The new season of Legends starts tomorrow and runs until Saturday. October 31.

Also featuring for the first time will be John Fisher as Gary Barlow while Hamilton Brown makes his The Sands debut as Lionel Ritchie in a return to Legends. Karin Bello as Tina Turner and Elly Jemain as Cher are also new to the line-up.

For tickets call (01253) 625262.