Mr. BIG frontman Eric Martin opens his heart on number one song and English idols ahead of his acoustic duo's live gig in Chesterfield

Eric Martin brings his BIG acoustic show to Chesterfield on August 31. 2022 (photo: Kevin Nixon)Eric Martin brings his BIG acoustic show to Chesterfield on August 31. 2022 (photo: Kevin Nixon)
Eric Martin brings his BIG acoustic show to Chesterfield on August 31. 2022 (photo: Kevin Nixon)

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Thirty years ago American rock band Mr. BIG topped the charts in 15 countries around the world with their song To Be With You.

Frontman Eric Martin, who wrote the song when he was a teenager, said: "We toasted champagne when we were in the top 100, we didn't have a clue it would jump to the top 20 and eventually on top of the charts."

Mr. BIG were catapulted into the stratosphere, playing to 100,000 people on Santo Beach in San Paolo and selling out the Budokan arena in Tokyo Japan twice.

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Eric said: "We have toured the world many times over and sold millions of records."

The good times bring back happy memories for Eric but the band also suffered a devastating blow after Mr. BIG last toured England five years ago. Eric said: "The worst time was the passing of our beloved drummer Pat Torpey in 2018."

While the line-up brought together by the band’s co-founders Billy Sheehan and Eric 34 years ago is no more, the music of Mr. BIG still lives on.

Eric is currently touring the UK with his friend David Cotterill from the band DEMON. Together they are performing Eric Martin's BIG acoustic, with Eric singing and strumming and David accompanying him on guitar and vocals.

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Ahead of their visit to Real Time Live, Chesterfield, on August 31, Eric gave an insight into what's in store....

"It's mainly Mr. BIG songs done with a country rock and soul feel," he said. "I will definitely sing some of my songs from solo records as well. Occasionally I'll dig through the old treasure chest and sing one from my first record....only the die-hard fans ask for a golden oldie.

"No agenda on this tour, no record to promote, I just wanted to get up off the couch, out of the USA and entertain my fan friends in the UK. I've been dreaming about coming back to the UK for years. British audiences appreciate good singing....all my idols are from England.

"I have great fans and I love singing for them. I absolutely love making them BIG acoustic concert is like a storyteller’s show."

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After the UK tour ends on September 2, Eric will be heading home to California to wash three months of clothes. "Trust me, I've already done a tour of Europe," he said.

Then he's off on a 22-city USA tour with Michael Schenker. "I'll be accompanied by bassist PJ Farley (TRIXTER, FOZZY, guitarist Paul Pesco (Hall & Oates) and drummer Jason Hartless (Ted Nugent)....all acoustic....what I like to call Box Rockin."

Aside from Mr. BIG, Eric has been part of a hard rock and metal opera called Tobias Sammet's Avantasia for nine years in Europe. He said: "I'm singing on the new AVANTASIA record, it comes out in October."

Eric was 16 when he came up with the idea for Mr. BIG's smash-hit To Be With You. He said: "I was inspired by this beautiful soul I went to high school with, her name was Patricia. She was my best friend, we would sit on her back porch and watch the sky through these glass crystals she had hanging up and I'd listen to her read me poetry that she wrote.....and I was crushing on her.... she was not having it. She didn't want to ruin the friendship - you're supposed to live and learn. I can't seem to get that right. I'm hopeless romantic."

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Mr. BIG took their name from a song by the rock supergroup Free. Eric said: "Pat (Torpey) suggested it and we all agreed that it would look good on a T-shirt and it defined the band's BIG live sound."

Theirs was truly a band that was big in Japan, where their first headline tour made them one of the nation’s favourite rock groups. Eric said: "We've had a special connection with our fans in Japan. Way before the internet and emails we used to get hundreds of fan letters..... after every show I'd sit on the floor and write each and every one of the fans back....this went on for years. Year after year we'd stay in touch with everyone through these letters....our fan friendship grew. We sold out pretty much every tour. We even wrote a song called 'I love you Japan' to show how much we appreciated all of our Japanese fans. We have 14 live records and most of them were recorded in Japan."

When asked how success in the music business changed his life, Eric said: "I can put my children through college which was always a dream of mine. I have enough credibility to make a little more money than I did when I was starting out.

"I always wanted to be a musician since my father taught me how to play drums when I was 10 years old. My father, Frederick Lee 'Pepper' Martin, was a drummer in the 1940s, played with Doris Day for a hot minute and countless bands that came through Cincinnati, Ohio. I quit playing because I was never going to be as good as him....a fluke accident was from a singer that I was playing with in a band never showed up for practice, so I sung and drummed on a cover by the Temptations and the band Rare Earth called 'Get Ready' and they kicked the guy out. I couldn't do both so I chose the singing position.

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"I learned how to sing by listening to my mother...she had a soulful voice and great vibrato. My parents listened to all the great singers like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday...later on Sam Cooke, Otis Redding (he was my favourite).

"I bought all the Motown and Stax Volt records I could get my hands on....soul music gave me the musical spark. Later on in Led Zeppelin, FREE, Rod Stewart and another one of my heroes Steve Marriot from Humble Pie."

Tickets are now on sale for Eric Martin's BIG acoustic show at Real Time Live, priced £22. Go to

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