Singer Steve Ellis is showing fighting spirit as he recovers from a knee operation ahead of a Sixties Gold. Joanna Davis chats to the 60s legend.

STEVE Ellis, the voice behind one of the most covered songs in pop, is hobbling across his Brighton living room to take a seat for our chat.

Steve, 69, former lead singer with Love Affair, best known for their number one hit Everlasting Love, is recovering from a knee operation which will require a lot of physiotherapy to get him back on stage in time for a national tour.

The tour will see Steve and other big names from the 1960s play to theatres up and down the country, including a date at Weymouth Pavilion on Friday, October 25.

But if anyone can meet a challenge, Steve can.

This is the man who had his feet crushed by two-tonne forklift blades while working as a docker when he was rethinking his next musical step.

It took eight years for Steve to regain his mobility but after bouncing back from that there is no uncertainty about him making the tour.

"With that accident at the docks I was in hospital for longer than I care to remember.

"But I got fit and I took up karate. I think I have the attitude that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. As long as I can sit on the stage and sing I'll be there. But I don't think I'll be doing a Val Doonican. I've been bouncing off the walls at home for about two months and I can't wait to get back to it."

While Sixties Gold will see superstars from the era sing hits from their heyday, Steve is keen to showcase some of his new material. Just last year he recorded the album Boom Bang Twang featuring some of his friends in the industry, including Paul Weller.

"I will do some stuff off the new album, it went down well last year and I'm going to rotate into doing the hits which is what a lot of people want to hear," Steve says.

I ask him if it's true he heard the news that Everlasting Love had entered the charts when the band was in the dock of Bow Street Magistrates Court!

Steve explains: "Someone said 'let's climb up the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus. It was November and it was freezing cold. I managed to get up the top and I couldn't get down.

"The fire brigade was called and we had a little singalong while we were in the cells. They weren't impressed. We were fined £12 and bound over to keep the peace for a year.

"Our bass player said to the policeman from Westminster Central Police Station 'that'll buy you a year's worth of truncheons and whistles!"

"You couldn't do that sort of thing these days," Steve says wistfully.

"The 60s were a bit of an innocent time. But the upshot of it all was that it made the front page of all the newspapers. The record was loitering about in the bottom end of the charts but people then started to become more aware of it and the pirate radio stations started playing it.

"We then went from playing pubs and clubs to playing some of the biggest venues, we were 16 and we were playing anywhere and then we started to get better."

At the time the band were in their teens and Everlasting Love went on to become a number one hit and over the years has been covered by numerous artists.

Steve said: "A lot of people say to me 'have you heard this version of it or that version?' I know U2 did it, Gloria Estefan and some boyband. Sometime you hear it and you think 'that's a good version'. I've walked into shops on occasions and heard a new version!"

By the time Love Affair had become one of the most successful British pop acts of the late 1960s, Steve walked out in the autumn of 1969 and decided to re-think his musical direction. The record company CBS retained him as a solo artist and his future looked decidedly rosy. Without him, Love Affair floundered, while Steve seemed to have the world at his feet. But it didn't work out that way. His career was cut painfully short in 1981 when he suffered the aforementioned horrific accident after retiring from the music business to work as a docker.

"I don't have any regrets," Steve said. "I don't look back. I think you can end up parodying yourself. I'm always looking forward to doing new stuff."

Steve, who also sang on the soundtrack of 1970 film Loot, says he has toured to so many places he doesn't have any memories of Weymouth.

"I know I've been there a bit and played there. When we toured the US we went to every state in three and a half months. We'd get to the venue, then back to the hotel and then it would be on to the plane and the next place. "I always try and get to the venue early and do my soundcheck so for this tour, the only thing I really mange to do is wander round and find a record shop."

No stranger to 60s tours, Steve tells me he always looks forward to them as 'everyone has been around for so long there are no big egos about the place.' And with him going on to tell me about the different characters in this Sixties Gold group of musicians, it sounds like there is plenty of camaraderie.

So much so that Steve, who has been teetotal since 1978, invites me to enjoy a mug of tea with him backstage. This amiable sixties legend, who has bounced back on more than one occasion, is such a warm and friendly interviewee that a cup of tea - and a biscuit - with him would be an honour.

*Steve Ellis performs as part of Sixties Gold at Weymouth Pavilion on Friday, October 25 at 7.30pm. The concert also features Herman's Hermits, The Marmalade and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. Contact the box office for tickets.