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Rhinestone Cowboy returns to the Costa

Johnny Westwood brings his new country and western show to the Costa del Sol this month.
Johnny Westwood brings his new country and western show to the Costa del Sol this month. / SUR
  • Johnny Westwood has appeared in a Madonna video, had acting roles alongside Penelope Cruz and Ray Winstone, and was a friend of Sir Christopher Lee

One of the Costa del Sol's most popular performers, Johnny Westwood, has returned to live and work on the coast after a two-year absence. Johnny is an accomplished stage, television and film actor, and a renowned country and western singer.

Declared 'Best Solo Country Artist' by the UK's leading magazine, Cross Country, the 50-year-old entertainer, who is probably more remembered on the coast for his Camp Cowboy act, has a new tribute show, Legends of Country.

Johnny worked all over Spain with his risqué musical act, but he has now toned down his show, concentrating on a more traditional country and western set.

The new show pays tribute to some of the greatest country and western singers, including Jim Reeves, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Garth Brookes.

Johnny grew up listening to country music on his grandparent's old record player and by the age of ten knew nearly all the words to the most popular country hits. However, at this time, he had no idea the influence this music would have on him later in life.

“I feel very privileged to be able to make a living singing music that I love. I began singing country music more than 15 years ago and I never realised in the beginning how popular this music is,” Johnny explains to SUR in English.

He had previously lived in Fuengirola for twelve years, until 2016, when he returned to the UK to concentrate on a script for a sit-com that was originally intended to star John Inman and Norman Wisdom.

“Unfortunately, following the death of both actors and also my agent, the script was put on the back burner, but we are still waiting for someone to have a bite at the cherry,” the singer says enthusiastically.

Musical theatre and television

He first ventured into musical theatre and pantomime, working with household names like Syd Little, Darren Day and Jean Ferguson. He also appeared in Sunset Boulevard at the Centre Stage Theatre in Covent Garden, singing Seize the Day alongside Petula Clarke - “the nicest person [he] ever met”.

Along with this, Johnny enjoyed a productive television career, appearing with Martin Shaw in The Chief, and in Without Motive, with EastEnders hard man, Ross Kemp.

Meeting Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee, one of Johnny's heroes, was to make a big impact on his acting career and Johnny declares that meeting him was an important stage in his life.

“Meeting Christopher Lee was like a dream come true, because it was he who influenced me to become an actor. It turned out that we had a mutual friend who owned a book shop in Covent Garden. I first met him at a book signing and the rest is history. We met each other many times after that. He was very funny - nothing like his characters,” Johnny says.

“However, he did not suffer fools and demonstrated this one day when I couldn't remember the name of a writer whose play I was appearing in. He was an incredible man and a great influence to me,” he adds, remembering his friend with fondness.

When last in Spain, Johnny appeared in several films, two of which premiered at the Marbella and Hollywood film festivals. These include The Sea Change with Ray Winstone, and the comedy drama, Twice Upon a Yesterday with Penelope Cruz.

Dinner with Madonna

He also appeared in the video for Madonna's 1998 hit, A Substitute for Love. Johnny was persuaded to take part in the video, although he did not know it was Madonna until he turned up on set. Although he was paid just 50 pounds for two days' shooting, he claims that it was worth doing for the experience and his résumé.

“I had dinner with Madonna; she was lovely. She's not a bitch like everyone makes out; she was really sweet. I didn't get much of a fee, but everybody wants to include a Madonna video on their CV,” the charismatic entertainer points out.

Johnny admits he has never been one to turn down work, although he sometimes has to falsify his ability to secure a part, even if he knows he stands little chance of succeeding.

“If someone asked me if I can ski I would say yes. I once told a producer that I could speak German, even though I could not. Thank God I didn't get to the auditions, that would have been embarrassing,” he explains, bursting into laughter.

Back on the Costa

At the moment, he is preparing for the first of his gigs on the coast, which will include the Almadina Restaurant in Alhaurín el Grande on Friday 23 March. The show begins at 9pm.

Johnny can also be seen performing his Ladies and Gentleman of Country show with PJ Angell at the Ginger Pig Bar in Coín on Saturday 31 March. He will be announcing several more dates on the Costa del Sol and has already been booked to appear at the Salon Varietes Theatre later in the season.

The new show is said to be the best of its kind and it is sure to appeal to the lovers of country and western music.

“I love all types of country music and this reflects very clearly in my shows. You will always get great country classics from Willie Nelson to Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson, but also some of the more up-to-date-stuff like Garth Brookes,” the singer concludes.