ORIGINALLY formed in 1991 to celebrate guitarist Tom McGuinness’ 50th birthday, The Manfreds show no sign of stopping.

They're made up of four members of the original Manfred Mann, who had hits with Mighty Quinn, Pretty Flamingo and Do Wah Diddy Diddy among many others.

Guitarist Tom McGuinness, keyboard player Mike Hugg (who formed the Mann Hugg Blues Brothers in 1962 with Manfred Mann), original singer Paul Jones and the man who replaced him in 1966, Mike D’Abo are all part of the band today – along with Marcus Cliffe on bass, Simon Currie on sax and flute plus Rob Townshend on drums.

The band is about to depart these shores for a tour of New Zealand, but before they go, they will be warming up with a handful of shows at home.

Mike D’Abo, who co-wrote Build Me Up Buttercup for The Foundations and Handbags And Gladrags for Chris Farlowe, doesn’t always undertake The Manfreds’ tours, but will be on this particular tour.

“I’m not involved with everything they do,” he says of his bandmates. “I’m more associated with the ‘hits’ show.”

“Without me, there’s more emphasis on jazz and blues, which is what they were more used to playing, so there’s the option for two different shows.”

There are a couple of reasons why Mike doesn’t tour with The Manfreds all the time.

“Yes, I have a young family. I made the decision to spend more time at home with my family when my twin boys were born. I wanted to be more of a dad to them. They’re 11 now.”

Mike himself seems to be in good form.

“Yes, thankfully. Everybody in the band is fine, but we’re all getting older. Me, Paul, Tom, Mike and Rob are all in our 70s, so Marcus and Simon bring the average age down a bit.”

“We have what is sometimes called ‘stage fitness’. If you play on a regular basis, the fitness is there – but we couldn’t run a four-minute mile.”

The band just seems to keep going.

“No-one can predict when we’ll call it a day. Paul and Tom will work till they drop – they both tour with Rob in The Blues Band, Paul also tours with Dave Kelly and does Evangelical tours with his wife – he’ll never stop.”

“Personally, I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to it. Paul has a saying – ‘The ‘R’ word is banned in our household.’. He loves what he does. And last year was my most active for years.”

The Manfreds, with all the hits at their disposal, have been touring for nearly 30 years and keep filling venues.

“We’ve worked hard at it. we’ve been on the road since 1992 and we do have a body of fans who keep coming to the shows. And that’s great.”

He continues. “We have two audiences, one for the jazz/blues side and one for the pop. When I’m not there, the rest of the band have more of a free rein on the songs.”

“Also, we have a fair proportion of original members – more than most bands of the era. The audiences want to hear the music and having original members is a bonus.”

“The ‘authenticity’ is still there and we put on a great show.”

Mike remembers the first song he recorded with Manfred Mann, when he joined after Pail Jones’ departure for a solo career.

“It was Just Like A Woman,” he says. “A fantastic Bob Dylan song.”

“I also like Mighty Quinn, another Bob Dylan song and the first Number One with the new line-up.”

“Manfred (Mann) and Tom (McGuinness) were contacted by Feldman & Co, who were Dylan’s publishers. By this time, we were known as good interpreters of Dylan’s songs. The guys were given a tape called ‘The Basement Tapes’ and told they could have first crack at any of the songs.”

“One of them was called Quinn The Eskimo and we picked that one. We worked on it and improved it. But in the end Manfred wanted to shelve it, but I had an acetate copy of it.”

“I was having dinner with Lou Reizner, the head of Mercury Records in America and he asked me if we had any new songs and I played him the acetate. He loved it and it got released and was a Number One hit.”

He laughs. “The ironic thing is that of the songs on that tape that Manfred and Tom listened to, I wanted to do one called Wheels On Fire, the one that Julie Driscoll did.”

And Mike is looking forward to the upcoming dates.

“Yes, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had a nice break since the last tour. We like to keep things fresh and it’ll be fun. We’ll play all the hits and hope that all the audiences will have a great time too.

The Manfreds will be bringing their hits and more show to Weymouth Pavilion on Thursday, March 14 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available from the box office and all the usual agencies.