Robbie Williams wasn’t even a twinkle in his dad’s eye when Frank Sinatra ruled the roost.
But a show by Finedon performers Mel Peake and James Reynolds brings the spirit of the two singing superstars together.
Mel and James’ act, When Frankie Met Robbie, is best described as a variety show, with Mel singing in the style of Sinatra and James as Robbie. But the set also includes some classic swing tracks and some Take That numbers, as well as sketches, comedy and dance routines.
Mel said: “It’s not just two blokes singing, it’s a real production. James’ set is based on Robbie’s Royal Albert Hall and Knebworth shows and mine has the Vegas Rat Pack feel to it.”
When Frankie Met Robbie was the Evening Telegraph’s winner in the recent Local Business Accelerators initiative.
This nationwide campaign was launched in October by local and regional newspapers to find small businesses who need a helping hand in 2012.
The 1,500 firms across the UK received a share of £15m of free advertising and mentoring from local business experts.
While James works as an activities co-ordinator with dementia sufferers, Mel has devoted himself full-time to promoting the show and developing a brand.
During their season performing in Blackpool last year, the pair would leave Northamptonshire as early as 7am and as soon as they arrived in Blackpool they would spend all day giving out leaflets on the streets publicising the show. Then they’d do the show and drive back home that night.
Promoting the show is a full-time job and never-ending battle.
Mel said: “Recently we sent out over 100 marketing packs to as many agents as possible. Their websites all said they were looking for new acts.
“We had two replies, one from a company that said they had ceased trading and another from someone saying they only take acts that do original material.”
James, 28, has been singing since the age of four when he became involved in local amateur dramatics.
He couldn’t afford to go to stage school so at 19 he joined the entertainments team at Butlins in Skegness where he spent three years as a vocalist and choreographer.
In 2006 he spent a summer performing in Spain, which is where he first began performing Robbie Williams tracks.
He said: “My manager in Spain said they needed a Robbie act. He said, ‘Here’s 10 tracks, learn them, you’re on tonight at 10pm’.
“I wasn’t a big Robbie fan but I started learning his style, watching his DVDs and reading his books. I’ve spent a lot of time learning his mannerisms.”
Mel, now 53, began singing later in life at the age of 30 as the frontman of a local band.
When he moved away from the area he stopped singing but when he came back to Finedon in 1998 he joined another band, getting selected when the group got a booking based on his audition performance.
He later began performing as a solo act, singing in pubs and clubs, and added some Frank Sinatra tracks to his act at the request of one of his bookers. The pair began singing together about three years ago.
James said: “I was working as a postman and one Saturday morning Mel shouted out of his window to me, asking what I was doing that night.
“I went out and did four or five numbers during his break. Just before he went back on he asked me if I knew Mack The Knife and it all went from there.”
They did their first proper show together in June 2009 at the Star Hall in Finedon and since then they’ve performed all over the country.
Mel said: “Performing the show is great but also very humbling. Some of the reviews we have been getting from audiences have been amazing.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else now.”