A legendary rock and roll icon who shot to fame after winning the “original X Factor” in the 60s, is set to make a special appearance in Dartford.

Star of stage and screen Jess Conrad OBE will be rocking the crowd at The Orchard Theatre in Buddy Holly – a Legend Reborn on Thursday night (February 23).

The former chart topper and close friend to Cliff Richard is joining a line-up of impersonators as the only bona fide star to appear in the show.

He will be closing the first half of the musical tribute with his favourite Buddy Holly numbers.

Jess told the News Shopper: “When I asked who else was performing and they said Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

“I said ‘they’re all dead!’ “They are all look-alikes and I think they wanted an original 60s icon in the show and thought it would be a great gimmick.”

Jess became famous after Jack Good, the “Simon Cowell of the 60s”, spotted him on stage at the London Palladium and asked him to appear on his talent show Oh Boy!

He added: “It was just the same as X Factor only it took longer to vote because people had to write in.

“The show was so strong – there were no teenagers out on the streets when it came on because it was rock and roll.

“Their parents wouldn’t let them listen to it – we were playing this music that was called devil’s music.

“It was before The Beatles and everything came from America.”

News Shopper: Rock and roll star Jess Conrad to sing in Buddy Holly tribute show

Jess, who was voted the country’s favourite singer in 1961, enjoyed chart-topping success with songs including Mystery Girl, Cherry Pie and This Pullover before forging a career on the West End and the silver screen.

His latest film appearance in Telstar – The Movie, starring Kevin Spacey, sees him play Larry Parnes alongside former EastEnder Nigel Harman who actually plays a young Jess Conrad.

But Jess, who is constantly on tour, believes the music of his era is still very popular.

He added: “The young people now like the fashion of the 60s and the music is everlasting.

“They are songs that will never die.”

Jess took a young Cliff Richard under his wing when they were filming together on Serious Charge and they have been good friends ever since.

He added: “I’d gone to see Cliff at The O2 recently when the producer of the Buddy Holly show spotted me and must have thought ‘he’s taller than Cliff and looks better too’ so he asked me to be in it.

“It pays to go and see your friends in concert.

“The show’s amazing.

“I think me being in it makes it more authentic and it was a really good idea.”

Buddy Holly – A Legend Reborn stars Marc Robinson, the UK’s number one Buddy, and brings to life classic hits such as Peggy Sue, That’ll be the Day and Oh Boy.

He is joined by John-Simon Rawlings from West End musical Buddy as The Big Bopper and the Fortt Brothers as the Everly Brothers.

Backed by a band reminiscent of the Crickets in their 50s heyday, Buddy Holly – A Legend Reborn is an authentic slice of rock and roll nostalgia that ensures Buddy’s incredible legacy of unforgettable hit songs lives on.

For bookings and more information visit www.orchardtheatre.co.uk or call the ticket office on 01322 220000.