Jet Harris has a sensational new album called The Journey. Ironically, it was a permanent one way journey to the Island in 2000 that saved his turbulent life.

If he had not changed his lifestyle he would not have been around to even record it. Now he’s playing as well as at any time in his fifty year career in pop music.

“I am so settled here now and have no plans to move back over there. I’m now a different kind of person and so many nice Islanders have really helped me. I’m also surrounded by wildlife, which I love,” revealed a very contented Jet.

A wild life of a different kind had taken its toll on one of Britain’s most successful and influential bass players of all time.

“My drinking years were bad. In the end my own body told me to stop. I was on the way out if I hadn’t. My alcoholism certainly wasn’t planned. I think it’s something in your genes.

“Gradually my life got back on an even keel and I began to enjoy things again and started to make records. The jigsaw finally came together.”

Back in the 60s thousands of young men dreamed of playing in the Shadows and Jet, alongside Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Tony Meehan, was a world icon. The famous blonde quiff and his unique playing style made him such an integral part of the group.

Over fifty years on from the 60s, he is still revered in Japan, Uruguay, Peru, Holland and so many other countries. He’s a major draw at Shadows’ conventions all over the world.

As the most experienced bass player in early British rock ‘n’ roll, having had a background in jazz, he was in constant demand and it was no surprise when he joined Cliff Richard’s backing band, the Drifters. Their early success changed the face of home produced pop music. Later when Apache came on the scene, with their new name of the Shadows, chosen by Jet, they became as big an attraction as Cliff himself.

When Jet left to go solo he enjoyed hit records of his own and then number ones with another ex-Shadow, Tony Meehan. His long-time drummer pal died recently and on Jet’s new album is a very moving track called Song for Tony, written by the legendary former Radio Solent presenter Richard Cartridge.

A car crash in 1963, when his girlfriend of the time, singer Billie Davis, was also a passenger, almost claimed his life. He recovered but the after effects lasted for many years and could well have fueled his need for alcohol.

There were many lean Harris years when he took virtually any job going. Being a bricklayer, hospital porter and fisherman were far from the glamour of showbiz. The Sun newspaper found him and managed to take a most disheveled picture of him in an old duffel coat. How times had changed!

When he came back into the business he did himself few favours. His playing had lost its edge and often he failed to turn up for gigs or was too drunk to play. He was at a low ebb but gradually took a hold of his life and the rest is so much more positive.

Last year he did a thirty date British tour as guest star on the Marty Wilde Show. Jet went down a storm and it’s possible it could happen again in the future. The fans gave him such a welcome and Marty was heard to enthuse about his special guest. Recently I met up with Hank Marvin in London and he was raving over Jet’s performance on the show. He could also not believe how his old pal had turned into quite a comedian.

There is always talk of a fifty year reunion tour of Cliff and the Shadows. The fans want it and what an attraction that would be. I have the feeling Hank might be interested and Jet certainly would be. It will, of course, depend on Sir Cliff. Some suggestions say he might be and others reveal just the opposite.

Meanwhile Jet Harris is still touring Britain wowing audiences with tracks from The Journey. This album is produced by trumpet star Nigel Hopkins, who played many times in top summer shows at Sandown Pavilion. He enjoyed a concert by Jet and persuaded him to record the new album. He has managed to achieve Jet’s 60s style in a modern concept. For the man from Bembridge it’s a dream come true. He plays a mean six string bass and returns to playing lead guitar.

The album can be bought on Amazon, via Jet’s website, or from Groovy Records in Shanklin.

The studio in Portland, Dorset, was a far cry from EMI’s palatial Abbey Road. “Today its all so different. They are only small places. It’s all beyond me and I just do as I am told.” Thanks to the Island and it’s people Jet Harris is a survivor and enjoying an unexpected new lease of life. That didn’t look possible back in the 90s.