LONG hair, tight trousers and loud music where the amplifiers must |go all the way to 11 – it has to be Rock of Ages.

Anyone who remembers putting up their lighters to I Want To Know What Love Is or raising a fist in the air to We Built This City will revel in the show.

For the leading man in the stage production which comes to Southampton next month, it was an era which resonates deeply with him.

Ben Richards has been fitting into the role of Stacee Jaxx for several months now, but those classic rock ballads still sound as good as the first time he heard them.

And for the former Footballers Wives star, it meant more to him than just spandex.

He said: “The songs are just fantastic. They’re great tunes one after the other.

“I used to listen to this stuff. I would be hanging out with my mates and we would listen to music by AC-DC and Def Leppard. I remember the first concert I went to was Whitesnake in Brighton.”

Set around the fist-pumping era when glam metal ruled the world, Rock of Ages tells the story of a city boy and a small town girl – like those in Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing pursuing their dreams of Hollywood after meeting on Sunset Strip.

During the show the misogynistic lifestyle of Stacee Jaxx is laid bare.

But it wouldn’t be the first time Ben has played someone with a dark streak.

He said: “It interests me. As a human being we have a bit of a bad streak inside all of us, apart from the Dalai Lama. We’ve got a bit of edge. The Prince Charming character is boring. 

“Stacee Jaxx is so misogynistic, he’s so wrapped up in himself, he’s so self-centred it was fun to play him.

“I don’t think he’s a bad boy, I think he’s a naughty boy. He’s so used to everyone saying yes to him, to getting what he asks for, and women falling over him.

“I think it’s the ego – if you’re standing out there you have got thousands, millions of women screaming at you, it’s quite hard to keep that ego in check.”

Although the plot does get as heavy as the music at times, Ben likes to remind audiences that really it’s about rocking out to the music.

He said: “If you’re looking for something like Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, something very high brow, then this show isn’t for you.

“If you want to party and have a great time we will take you to the party, I can guarantee it. You’re going to be laughing and singing all the way home.”

Rock of Ages is on at The Mayflower Theatre from September 9 to 13.