The Real Thing are back on tour to mark the 40th anniversary of their tremendously successful career. The band whose hits include You to Me Are Everything, Can You Feel The Force and She's a Groovy Freak call in at Millfield Arts Centre this month.

However singer Eddy Amoo, who also penned the Philip Bailey track Children of the Ghetto, recalls the struggles of a mixed race family in Liverpool and trying to make it in the music industry.

He says: “I grew up in a multicultural family in a multicultural street and to be honest I didn’t even realise there was a difference between blacks and whites or immigrants because there were people from so many different backgrounds, the families were so diverse and we all played together.

“This all changed when we moved to Liverpool 7. That’s when I first heard the racist words, we were the first black family on the block. My background is Irish, African, British; my granny was Irish and she married my grandad who was African.

“As was the norm back then all my gran's siblings lived in 16 Tennyson Street and I grew up listening to the likes of Nat King Cole and later on with the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll came Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis.

“I loved the doo-wop bands like Frankie Lymon & The Teenager's. My mam took me to see them at the Empire and that’s when the first little gem of what I would like to do took root. I was mesmerised.”

Eddy and four others began to emulate the sounds of this music. They soon realised they were pretty good at it and so formed Eddy’s first band, The Chants in 1962.

Despite never making it big like The Real Thing, the band spent 13 years together and rubbed shoulders with Liverpool's most famous Fab Four.

“We met Paul McCartney at a Beatles and Little Richard concert at the Tower Ballroom," recalls Eddy. "We managed to 'blag' Paul telling him we were an a capella group. For whatever reason Paul took an interest in us and invited us down to the Cavern for an audition.

“We very sheepishly turned up at one of the lunchtime sessions, waited for them to finish and as they came out of the dressing room approached them, praying they would remember us and not have us kicked out; they were high in the charts with Please Please Me at the time.

“Paul told us to get up on the stage and do our stuff. They loved us, so much so that they invited us to appear with them that night and rehearsed four songs with us. They brought us on halfway through their show after overruling Brian Epstein who tried at first to stop it, we were terrified but we went down a storm.

“I see that night as the birth of my music career. The Chants would go on for 13 years without getting a hit but this was in a sense my apprenticeship.”

Eddy believes that The Chants never gained huge success because it just wasn’t the right time for black groups in the UK. I wondered what had changed by the time The Real Thing formed roughly a decade later.

He explains: “The heavier message songs from the freedom movement and the whole Vietnam protest era in The States was happening, sadly though the black groups that were happening in the '60s were the American groups, there just wasn’t the structure or pathway for British-born blacks.

“In 1972 I helped my brother Chris to form a group which became The Real Thing, this led me to be introduced to The Real Thing's manager Tony Hall who would become our mentor, the missing link The Chants had lacked.

“On hearing my songs, Tony encouraged me to stick with my ideas and this led to Chris and me coming up with a trilogy songs based on our street experience The L8 Medley featuring Children of the Ghetto, eventually this would be covered by artists as diverse as Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire, Mary J Blige and Courtney Pine.”

The Real Thing hit the number one spot with their single You To Me Are Everything, which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary along with the tour. The Liverpool based trio boast three million in sales with other singles including Can’t Get By Without You and Whenever You Want My Love, making them the UK’s best-selling black group of the late '70s.

Together they have had an unbelievable career with ups and downs along the way and Eddy had some words of wisdom to offer aspiring musicians: “What I’ve learnt about being a musician is this: music is subjective! “In the end it’s the success you have with the public that decides how high you climb and not how good a musician you are.

“I don’t know what I would have become if that special night at the Cavern hadn’t happened.”

Millfield Arts Centre, Silver Street, Edmonton, Saturday, April 16, 7.45pm. Details: 020 8807 6680