THEY may all be pushing 70 or more – but they can still rock and roll with the best of them.

That is what members of a reformed 1960s band say as they prepare to perform in Southampton for the first time.

The Hustlers split in 1965 and lost touch – it was even wrongly thought that one of their members had died. But now they are back together and reliving their misspent youth.

They believe they could be one of the country’s oldest rock and roll groups with all its original members.

The band features two pensioners from Southampton – drummer Ken White, 67, a part-time electronics engineer from Shirley, and bass guitarist Richard Pearce, 69, from Netley.

Lead singer Tony Burchell, 72, is a retired oil pipeline programmer from Brighton, Barry Gillam, lead guitarist, 73, of Lancing near Worthing, a retired graphic designer, and 70-year-old Pete Dresch, a retired master bricklayer, from Worthing.

Formed in Brighton in 1960, The Hustlers played at youth clubs around Sussex but split five years later as they felt it had run its course and several members were getting married.

Over the years the friends lost touch. When Tony celebrated his 50th birthday, his family tried to contact members of the group through a local radio broadcast, only to be told that drummer Ken had died.

However, 22 years on, the band found each other on a 1960s Brighton bands website only to realise that Ken was very much alive and well. They met up and decided to get back together.

“We just started laughing because 45 years had gone and we remembered it all,” said Richard, an upholsterer.

“Nobody had changed that much – we’d all grown older, but we hadn’t changed a great deal in looks. We were all instantly recognisable to each other.”

They have been performing gigs mainly in the Worthing area, some for charity, and fans from the old days have come back to see them.

Richard joked: “Most of our applause comes from the fact that we can stand up for two hours unaided.

“We enjoy ourselves and hope the audience does.”

The band performs covers of classic rock and roll hits of the late 1950s and early 1960s, such as songs by Cliff Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.

They said that, although there are other older bands like the Rolling Stones, they believe it is unique to have the same line-up as they did before.

As well as restoring friendships, the men say playing and having to memorise nearly 70 songs keeps their minds active.

“The fact we can still do what we do is great,” said Tony. “We may be old, but we can still rock and roll.”

The group will perform at the Master Builder pub, Swaythling Road, Southampton, on May 18, from 8pm to 11pm. Entry is free. They will also be performing at Netley Social Club in June.

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