A best-selling songwriter, who is the musical genius behind Handbags and Gladrags, has rejoined his old band to celebrate 50 years of hits.

Mike D’Abo, one of the singers from Manfred Mann, is hitting the road with six of his former band mates in a 35 date tour, stopping at The Orchard Theatre in Dartford on October 14.

Now known as The Manfreds, the group has reformed minus its namesake member Manfred Mann.

Mike told News Shopper: “We were unable to persuade Manfred to join us so the rest of us got together.

“In 1991 we reformed and it was meant to be for one night only but the offers came flooding in.

“We’ve been doing a UK tour every 18 months for the last 15 years.

“This time they’re allowing us to do the tour on our own because it’s our 50th anniversary – normally we’d be touring with guest artists.

“Being the 50th anniversary, obviously we will do something different to our usual stage show and bring in an element on chronology to make the audience aware of how we evolved.”

The Manfreds greatest hits include 5-4-3-2-1, which became the signature tune to popular TV show Ready Steady Go, Pretty Flamingo and Do Wah Diddy – which at its peak was selling 80,000 copies a day.

Manfred Mann formed in 1962 and Mike took over as the singer in 1966 when Paul Jones left to pursue a solo career.

Mike added: “We were famous for doing Bob Dylan songs.

“He once said: “Of all the bands that have ever done my songs, including The Byrds, Manfred Mann does them the best of all.”

“And he was absolutely right – we did them really well.

“We took out the bits of his songs which were long winded and we’d concertina them and knock them into shape.

“We did him a favour because we made them sound more appealing than his original versions had.”

The group disbanded in 1969 and Mike moved to New Mexico and then LA to concentrate on songwriting.

He penned huge hits Handbags and Gladrags (which was recorded by Chris Farlowe, Rod Stewart and the Stereophonics) and Build Me Up Buttercup, recorded by The Foundations.

He added: “Handbags and Gladrags has been pretty good to me and it updated my credentials when it was used on The Office.

“There will be an awful lot of familiar material on the tour.

“People always walk out saying ‘that was the best show I’ve ever seen.’”

Mike, who also worked a stint inlocal radio, at BBC Gloucester and Bristol, never imagined the band would still be together in 2012.

He said: “I remember John Lennon saying in the early 1960s, ‘I’m certainly not going to be singing She Loves Me past my 30th birthday’.

“Now I’m the wrong side of 70 and I’m still enjoying it and finding fresh ways of performing our old songs.”

The show starts at 7.45pm.

Tickets are priced between £24 and £26.

For bookings visit orchardtheatre.co.uk