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How sax man Rico got to number one

By Herne Bay Times  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

NUMBER ONE:  Sam And The Womp

NUMBER ONE: Sam And The Womp

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John Nurden

FORMER Bay schoolboy Tony "Rico" Richardson is celebrating after ending up with a number one hit.

The dad of two, who is normally more at home playing saxophone with 70s ska band Bad Manners, is part of Sam And The Womp, which has topped the charts with Bom Bom.

The tune sold more than 107,000 downloads in a week, knocking Rita Ora's How We Do (Party) off the top spot.

Tony, who lives in Hoath with his wife Helen, daughter Dottie and son Liam, said: "It's a mad time. I have been with the band for three years and suddenly it has all kicked off.

"But it is pretty cool being 40 and having a number one record. I even went to Gatefield Sounds in Herne Bay to buy a CD of the single and they looked at me as if I was mad. Apparently they don't sell CD singles any more!"

Despite being number one in the charts, Tony still honoured a commitment to friend, X Factor finalist Ben Mills, to play at Faversham's Hop Festival on Sunday.

He said: "Ben made an announcement on stage and did a bit of rapping."

But Tony said he may have to cut work with his other bands.

At the last count he was playing as a session musician with 25 groups including Kent band Cut The Funk, which releases its album on September 28, and his own outfit the Tony Rico Cartel, which supported Doctor Feelgood at Whitstable's East Quay.

Sam And The Womp are set for a string of university fresher shows and then have a European tour before embarking on a 12-date UK tour starting in Birmingham on November 21.

Tony said: "They are great people and still down-to-earth. It hasn't affected them at all.

"People think I'm Italian because of my nickname Rico but I actually come from Herne Bay. Rico is short for Richardson.

"I went to Herne Bay High when it was the old Greenhill School. It was a bit rough and I left without any qualifications. But I'd always wanted to be a musician.

"Our music teacher was really good and my late dad played drums in a jazz band. He introduced me to the saxophone. It's less to carry than a guitar and amp."

Tony has played with reggae legends Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker and even appeared on stage with Amy Winehouse.

He has played on albums by Seal and Pixie Lott and live with Doctor John and Eric Clapton.

Sam and the Womp is an eight-piece band fronted by Sam Ritchie, Lady Oo and DJ Aaron Audio. It was founded in 2009.

The band – which has devised its own dance called The Womp – mixes traditional Balkan music and Jamaican ska with drum and bass. Bom Bom is their first single. It was released on iTunes on August 19 and after heavy promotion on Radio One soared to the number one slot within a week.

It is also being used on TV adverts for Southern Comfort.

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