A HARTLEPOOL pensioner credited with bringing country music to the North East has celebrated his 91st birthday.
Johnny Larkin is the oldest member of the British Country Music Hall of Fame, after being inducted at the age of 87.
Now living at Queens Meadow Care Home, on Stockton Road, staff, friends and family threw a country themed party to celebrate his birthday.
Live music was performed by country singer Dave Weston.
Johnny said: “I’d like to thank everyone who came to celebrate my birthday. I enjoyed singing along with Dave Weston and seeing everyone for a slice of cake.”
John Tallon, friend of Johnny and former organiser of country music festivals in the region, said: “Johnny brought country music to the North East when he was asked to sing around local pubs and clubs. He is my hero, I have a lot to thank him for, so it is a real honour to celebrate his birthday with him.”
Another friend who attended Johnny’s birthday celebrations, Sylvia Boran said: “He is a lifelong fan of Hank Williams and we once travelled to Nashville together – the home of country music.”
Johnny is a former mechanic with a 40-year career at B Line Busses in Hartlepool.
He first started performing in 1948 and went onto become an agent, promoter and charity fundraiser.
He has helped raise thousands of pounds for the Parkinson’s Disease Association, Help for Heroes and RNLI over the years.
Johnny has released several albums and EPs and still enjoys performing today.
Julie Armstrong, home manager at Queens Meadow Care Home, said: “Johnny is quite the character and still has a huge amount of passion for country music.
“Through his fundraising and long career in music, he has made a lot of friends in the area, all who wanted to come and celebrate his 91 st birthday. We were delighted to see so many visit the home and wish him well.”