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Accountant turned crooner pays tribue to Bethnal Green roots

PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 June 2019

Joe performing. Picture: HELEN MEISSNER

Joe performing. Picture: HELEN MEISSNER

Archant

An accountant who realised his singing talents after turning 60 has paid tribute to his East End roots.

Joe Rose, whose real name is John Froggett, was born and bred in Bethnal Green spent most of his working life crunching numbers as an accountant, but a chance encounter on a dating website helped him launch a singing career.

The father of five, from Royston, said: "To be honest, I am at a stage of life where you can't afford to put things off.

"A life time of procrastination and playing relatively safe has not done me much harm, and I am very good at it, but with my singing, I really feel an impetus, a motivation and excitement which is new and energising."

Growing up, Joe lived in Vallance Road with parents John and Joyce but didn't take much of an interest in music aside from listening to 45s on the family's record player.

And there were no opportunities to learn music at St Jude's school in Old Bethnal Green Road which John left with few qualifications.

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After a stint selling detergent at a Bethnal Green Road market, Joe gained an apprenticeship at the firm RW Barrow and Co where he trained to be an accountant before setting up his own company.

For most of his life, Joe's singing was confined to the shower, but after meeting his partner Helen Meissner, who ran her own record label called Folkstock Records, things changed.

At his 60th birthday party he performed pop group Radiohead's single Creep and his voice immediately caught Helen's attention.

Soon after she asked him to join her daughter, singer-songwriter Lauren Deakin Davies, in the studio where the pair recorded tracks. This led to a recording of 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' from John's favourite musical Les Miserables.

The self-styled crooner explained that his singing talent comes from his granddad, Joe, who inspired his stage name.

Paying tribute to his Bethnal Green roots, he said: "It gave me a toughness and a resilience. There's a kind of respect given to people from East London now, especially my generation."

The Tom Jones fan, who traces his links to the East End as far back as the 1850s, hopes to appear at a Bethnal Green stage soon.

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