It was the kind of summer's day that makes you resolve to go abroad next year spots of rain coming down from an overcast sky that was threatening worse to come. I came away from the Swanage beach-side promenade into a road where holiday-makers were passing to and fro, paying little attention to the busker who was singing and strumming on the pavement. I wandered up and saw painted on his drum the name 'Don Partridge'.

Now that's not a name you hear often nowadays, but in the late Sixties everyone knew it. DonPartridge102Amongst the many great pop acts, Don Partridge was different. For one thing he was literally a one-man-band with his elbows he would pound a huge drum strapped to his back, whilst playing the cymbals with his feet, singing, and playing the guitar and harmonica. For another thing he was a busker, playing outside London tube stations until chased off by the police. Thirty-five years later he is still a busking one-man-band, but his drum is no longer on his back. Years of having 80 pounds of weight on his back have taken their toll, and now he sits, with his right foot playing the drums while his left foot controls the cymbals.

His hit song 'Rosie' was a Sixties classic I asked him to play it. He said no, he had spent years playing it a hundred times a day and he doesn't play it any more. Within a couple of minutes two more passers-by had made the same request and received the same answer.

When he took a break I said to him that the Sixties was a great time to be growing up in, and he said 'Yes, even the criminals went around with smiles on their faces'. DonPartridge2Did that mean he was an East-Ender? 'No, but I played in the West End, outside the stations, outside the Raymond Revue Bar, and I saw them all there. I made a lot of money then. I used to get chased by the police, but the fine was only two pounds. They used to say that the funniest sight in London was if I hadn't packed all my gear up and still had the drum strapped to my back, running down the street being chased by the police'. I asked him if he had consciously turned his back on the paths followed by most pop stars. He said 'After a time I came to realise that anonymity is something you don't value until you lose it. I hated going down the road with everyone knowing who I was but me not knowing who they were'.

And then he went back to playing his wonderful music, as now and then a few children dropped coppers into his cap; a man who chose not to win the world if that meant losing himself.