MACKEM musician Dave Stewart has defended himself against accusations of abandoning his roots.
The rock legend sparked a Twitter storm last week, when he announced he would play his first gig in Sunderland for 40 years in September.
But after a reader took to the Echo website to accuse the singer/songwriter of having a “total lack of interest in his home town to date”, Dave spoke out to defend himself.
Writing on sunderlandecho.com, he revealed how he struggled to make a living as a musician on Wearside, forcing him to chase his dreams elsewhere.
“I left Bede School and was torn about where to live as my parents had already split up and my mother had moved to Cambridge, then London,” he said.
“I was miserable at school because of the situation at home and was a hopeless student.
“All I could do that was any good was play the guitar, so I played as many places as I could in and around Sunderland: The Londonderry, The Rose & Crown.
“I went and played in pubs in Newcastle or Seaham Harbour, but it was extremely hard to make a living as a musician, so when there was a chance to go to London with some band mates and possibly make records etc of course I grabbed it with both hands.”
Dave also lamented the demise of Sunderland and its independent traders.
“What has happened to the town centre over the years is a travesty,” he said.
The rock icon, who was raised in Ettrick Grove, Humbledon, has not lived in the city since he was 17, but said there was no place like home.
The former Barnes Infant pupil wrote: “I do have a strong interest and affection for Sunderland.
“Hence my decision to play at the Sunderland Empire.”
Dave, who shot to fame alongside Annie Lennox with The Eurythmics, is in talks with the Empire for a gig on September 3.
Though he announced the date on Twitter, the High Street West venue is yet to confirm the date and tickets are not yet on sale.
The proposed gig will mark the launch of his latest album, The Ringmaster General.
There are also plans to release a feature-length rock-umentary on the making of it, and The Blackbird Diaries album.
From his humble roots as a Bede Grammar School boy, Dave is now recognised as one of the most respected and accomplished talents in the entertainment industry.
His career spans more than 30 years and more than 100million album sales, plus a Lifetime Achievement Award with Lennox.