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Bungay musician hits top spot

PUBLISHED: 09:32 26 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:55 01 August 2010

HE grew up in a musical family at a Suffolk hotel and got his big break after babysitting Peter Gabriel's son.

And now Charlie Winston's music is très en vogue after his latest single and album topped the iTunes digital download charts in France.

HE grew up in a musical family at a Bungay hotel and got his big break after babysitting Peter Gabriel's son.

And now Charlie Winston's music is très en vogue after his latest single and album topped the iTunes digital download charts in France.

The singer/songwriter has moved to Paris where he has become an overnight sensation following appearances on French television and the release of his album Hobo and single Like a Hobo.

It is a long way from the King's Head Hotel in Bungay where Charlie grew up with his folk singer parents Geoff and Julie and his brother Tom Baxter and sister Vashti Anna, who are also both acclaimed singer/songwriters.

Speaking from France at the weekend, Charlie said he was thrilled with his success.

“The single Like a Hobo was released at the beginning of this month and in three days it went straight to number one on the iTunes chart. We released the album last Friday and it went to number one on iTunes within a day, which was amazing. I have worked very hard, so this feels great and it is flattering to know people are actually listening to my music - that is the exciting part.”

Charlie said appearances on French television, particularly the popular music programme Taratata, which he described as similar to the BBC's Later with Jools Holland, had helped him win fans.

But the 30-year-old is not keen to pigeonhole his style of music, saying: “Any artist who makes music or art does not want to be put in a box, me especially. My background is in all kinds of music including the theatre.”

And despite his success Charlie has no plans to become a celebrity. “I am not interested in fame or being a celebrity,” he said. “I am just interested in making good music.”

Charlie is signed to Peter Gabriel's Real World Records label. The pair met after Charlie recorded bass in his brother Tom's band.

Charlie became good friends with Peter's daughter Melanie and Charlie and his girlfriend were invited on holiday with the family.

Two months afterwards at an awards ceremony in London Peter needed someone to babysit for his son and Charlie offered to step in.

Afterwards Charlie gave Peter a CD and a couple of months later he phoned the young musician to say how much he liked his music.

Charlie, whose theatre projects include work with Rambert Dance Company, Sadler's Wells and the Almeida Theatre, supported Peter Gabriel at Blicking Hall in 2007.

Hobo has been launched on the French label Atmosphériques after Charlie impressed record executives across the Channel who offered their support. He hopes to release the album in England later this year.

His band Charlie Winston and the Oxymorons are probably best known for their cover of I'm a Man which appeared on an advert for Volkswagen Polo last year. The advert, which featured a dog miming the words, was banned after complains from the RSPCA and viewers.

Charlie's father Geoff Gleave said he was proud of his son's achievements. “Charlie was always very musical, but it is not his ambition to be a pop star,” he said. “We never pushed them but all three have done really well. Charlie has been doing music since he was 17 and he is 30 now. It is overnight success after 13 years, but it has been hard work.”

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