He was the turban-wearing Elvis impersonator who came from behind his family’s clothing stall in Swansea market to play the Royal Albert Hall and support punk legends The Clash.
And now tributes are flooding in after the announcement that Peter Singh – AKA The Rocking Sikh – has died, aged 74.
Hundreds of fans of Peter’s infectious, sequined jump-suited performances have taken to social media to pay their respects after the singer’s relative Amarjite Singh Chobdar broke the news late last night.
“Peter was larger than life and he’ll be badly missed by everyone who knew him,” said the postal worker and trade union rep who lives in Cardiff.
“He was much loved and a proper gentleman – he brought people joy and was a born performer.”
“He was definitely a Swansea legend, always stole the show,” posted one well-wisher in response, while another added, “The guy was class – a true entertainer.”
Meanwhile, Newport rocker Jon Langford of The Mekons said, “Very sad. I’ve had a picture of him on my studio wall for 25 years – cut it out of the New York Times.”
Born Narinder Singh, on the Pakistani side of the Punjab in 1946, his family had originally come to settle in Birmingham.
And, after seeing the film Jailhouse Rock there as a child, he became instantly hooked on rock ‘n’ roll.
Listening to the songs of Elvis helped him to master English, and his history of performing began after the family had moved to South Wales.
It was in a pub there one night that he gave the crowd a rendition of The King’s Blue Suede Shoes and, amazed at the response, never looked back.
He was helped early on by music promoter Paul Durden (who went on to co-write the film Twin Town) who arranged for him to support The Bureau, a band made up of ex-Dexy’s Midnight Runners members – while Llanelli-born Pembrokeshire Murders actor Keith Allen assisted in setting up one of Singh’s formative London shows.
“My phone didn’t stop ringing after that,” said Durden in a 2019 interview.
“I was getting calls from colleges, from television, they all wanted a piece of Peter.
“A record company in Birmingham wanted to get involved.
“Then we did two nights with The Clash in Bristol. I knew Joe Strummer and their manager Bernie Rhodes. They wanted something different as their support act and asked me if I knew anyone.
“They loved him.”
Singh recorded his single, Rocking With The Sikh, at singer-songwriter Nick Lowe’s studio in Hammersmith, with former Man member Micky Jones, while Micky Gibbons of ’70s favourites Badfinger was also drafted into his band.
The record was played on Radio One’s breakfast show by DJ Mike Read – with Soft Cell singer Marc Almond nominating the track as his song of the week.
The ’80s also saw appearances on daytime magazine programmes like Pebble Mill and Des O’Connor’s evening chat show, which were then followed by a turn at The Royal Albert Hall.
Two tours of Kenya followed – a country which had a large population of Sikhs, following their expulsion from Uganda by its dictator president Idi Amin.
His success there was such that one tour lasted an entire three months, during which band members elected to take their families on the road with them.
He sang songs with titles such as Turbans Over Memphis, Who’s Sari Now? and Elvis, I’m On The Phone, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics which included such gems as ‘I don’t smoke dope, I don’t like bourbon, all I want to do is shake my turban.’
At one point Peter also ran a takeaway restaurant in Waun Wen named Gracelands, the menu at which included different takes on Elvis songs, such as a curry meal for one called Are You Lonesome Tonight?
A dad-of-five, he tragically lost one son at a young age, which caused him to take time out from performing.
But, with the blessing of his family, he eventually returned to the stage.
Health issues, however, meant his performances became less frequent before he eventually retired from the spotlight altogether to live a quiet life in his adoptive Swansea.