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Feature: Nigel Kennedy on Lambert, Benteke and Weimann
Celebrity fan Nigel Kennedy gives his verdict on claret and blue matters.
3rd Apr 2013
Feature: Nigel Kennedy on Lambert, Benteke and Weimann


Bishop

Nigel Kennedy's life is inexorably painted claret and blue, even on the rare occasions he doesn't plan it that way.

He discovered as much when he saw the cover artwork for his new album.

The virtuoso violinist commissioned the design from 86-year-old artist Dora Holzhandler, but never mentioned his devotion to Villa.

"I didn't say anything to her but it was destiny," he insists. "The album cover came out in claret and blue. Genius!"

It's possible, of course, that the Paris-born artist was subconsciously influenced by the artwork on previous Kennedy CDs, which have frequently featured Villa's colours or photos of Kennedy is replica shirts.

The club now have an extensive and impressive list of celebrity fans, including Prince William, David Cameron and Tom Hanks, but Nigel Kennedy is the original super fan.

His support has endured for more than four decades and he regularly promotes Villa when he is interviewed on TV, as well as wearing replica shirts when he is performing.

Now, like the rest of us, he is anxious that Villa remain in English football's top flight.

He believes Paul Lambert - "a proper football man" - can keep us in the Barclays Premier League with the aid of some talented young players.

"Benteke is really effective for us because of his physical presence and willingness to put himself in there," says Kennedy.

"He's good in the air, physically strong and can hold the ball up.

"And what Weimann adds to the team is fantastic. He has scored some great goals, and he was so distraught when Arsenal scored their winner at the Emirates because he felt he was at fault. That's the attitude we need.

"Villa shouldn't just be a club fulfilling fixtures with teams like Chelsea and Manchester United. It should be the other way around. We brought football to the world."

Nigel Kennedy

Kennedy started following Villa in 1968, when the club were on a slide which came to a halt in the old Third Division.

Even so, he recalls those days with great fondness.

"I was so lucky," he insists. "Tommy Docherty took over as manager and the crowds started flooding back to Villa Park. I was one of those.

"My first game was a goalless draw against Charlton but Docherty started a new regime and even though we went down to the Third Division, he was such a personality.

"He brought some great players into the club - people like Chico Hamilton and Bruce Rioch. It was an amazing time and here was a great feeling around the place."

For years, Kennedy watched his favourites from the Holte End, but for the past 15 years he has had a season ticket in the Trinity Road Stand.

He misses standing on the terraces with his mates but has developed an affinity with supporters who sit near him on matchday.

And he is delighted that they treat him as one of their own, rather than as a musical megastar.

"Aston Villa are more important than every person who goes there," he says.

"We're all there supporting the Villa and going through the same euphoria or misery. It's nice when people comment on my music but at Villa it's a totally different thing."

Nigel has even featured Villa supporters on one of his compositions.

I Believe in God, from the 1996 album Kafka, is a driving instrumental interspersed with chants of "Ooh, aah, Paul McGrath..."

"It was great to have Villa fans chanting on one of my tunes," he says.

"I was too embarrassed to go on the Holte End with a microphone so I got my sound man to do it. He was able to go almost unobserved to record everyone chanting."

The new album, Recital, is a more peaceful offering which includes compositions by people as diverse as J.S.Bach and jazz legend Fats Waller, plus some new Kennedy tunes.

"Quite a lot of my friends who go to the game are not interested in Fats Waller and Bach," he acknowledges, "but they are interested in the fact that the album cover is claret and blue!"

There was a time, of course, when even his Jaguar was painted in Villa graffiti but the vehicle was written off after his Polish wife Agnieszka had an accident in it.

But he now has another Jag which he and his 16-year-old son Sark are "customising" as a Villa car.

"It had better happen soon because it's embarrassing turning up at the Villa in a plain car! Everybody should have claret and blue graffiti on their cars!"

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