Chris Norman is best known to us as the original lead singer of Smokie.

From 1975 onwards into the 80s, the band were almost ever-present in the charts with their unique, easy-going and catchy singles.

However, Chris left the band in 1982 and has since enjoyed a very successful solo career as a performer and songwriter.

He has worked with the likes of Agnetha from ABBA, Cynthia Lennon and Donovan, as well as creating the England football team’s World Cup hit from 1982, This Time.

Bradford-born Chris, whose recognisable voice helped Smokie notch up sales of over 20 million albums, is back to tour the UK and is coming to Watford Colosseum on Sunday, June 9. Not only that, he has a new hits collection about to be released – The Definitive Hits – Smokie and Solo Years.

Speaking at his Isle of Man home, Chris begins by telling me how they came to record one of their biggest hits – a reworking of The Searchers’ hit Needles and Pins.

“We were in the studio recording an album when I just started playing the riff on a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar and the rest of the guys said, ‘That’s great! We’ll put it on the album!’, and the rest is history.”

The original Smokie band members met at school in the 60s.

Chris said: “We all got into music very early. For me, it was when I was about six or seven when Elvis Presley came on the scene, and we all got influenced by The Beatles and all those groups.

“We started professionally in 1968 and had a couple of names such as The Elizabethans and Kindness. We were learning all the time, playing blues clubs, rock clubs and working men’s clubs.”

But success didn’t come straight away.

“It took a while. Success always seemed to be just around the corner.

“Then we signed with Mickie Most’s RAK label and he assigned Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman to write some songs for us and it went from there.”

However, in the mid-80s, Chris decided to leave the band.

“We were writing a lot of the album tracks, but the record company always picked the Chinn and Chapman songs for the singles, which grated a bit.

“I’d already made a couple of solo singles and when Midnight Lady was a hit I decided to leave.”

And how is the relationship with the band nowadays?

“We’re all fine now. Alan lives in Germany, Terry still tours in a new version of the band and I see Pete quite often. But before you ask… I don’t think I’d go back.”

Eve though Chris’s solo career has been very successful, especially in Germany, the success didn’t reach the UK.

“I was a bit naïve when I started my solo career. The Smokie stuff was released all over the place and I thought it would be the same for my solo stuff.

“That went on for a long time and people forgot about me. And as for tours, if you’re not in the public eye, the promoters don’t see you.

But things soon improved.

“I started doing some stuff in the UK, some small tours, but this is the first real British tour I’ve done in ages.”

And what can we expect?

“Well, I’ve got a great band with me, I’ve had the same band for about 15 years.

“There’ll be quite a few Smokie songs as people know more of them than my solo work.

“It’ll be a good proper show, a bit rocky and great fun. The band is sounding fantastic and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Watford Colosseum, Rickmansworth Road, Watford, Sunday, June 9, 7.30pm. Details: 01923 571102