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It feels like Yesterday for busker John as he marks 25 years

By Donna MacAllister


INVERNESS’S best known busker is celebrating his 25th year performing on his own private pitch six days a week with his dog and acoustic guitar.

Beatles fan John Casey is a regular sight at the Victorian Market singing hits from the ’60s and ’70s while nine-year-old dalmatian Emily either snoozes at his feet in her fluffy teddy-filled dog basket or snacks on carrot and cucumber slices – after a pancreatitis diagnosis forced a biscuit ban.

The 62-year-old Merkinch bachelor, who has been engaged four times, saw his one and only single, Stella’s Baby, flop when it was released in 1985. He has never had a bank account, but continues to make a living out of busking with no plan to stop any time soon.

"I love doing this and I will keep going as long as I can," he said.

"I don’t drink and smoke and go out so I don’t need as much money as I used to. This is my only income and I survive. It’s my social life as well, I suppose, because I meet so many people here."

John has been a fixture in the market since 1993 and in that time has earned a specialplace in the Queensgate wing with his own special wall plaque hung by traders stating he is the only busker authorised to perform there.

Strumming with his right hand due to a problem that remains undiagnosed despite tests, he uses a pick nowadays, but it has not hampered his performance.

Born in Blackburn, he spent a decade in Edinburgh and came to Inverness by train in 1992 where it is fair to say his life has been one of ups and downs.

He bought a one-man tent from someone in the city’s Market Bar shortly after his arrival in Inverness and slept under the stars at Ness Islands for months.

His guitar was stolen and another one which was donated has been carrying his tunes ever since. It still plays well despite a patch-up job with sticky tape.

Back in 2004 two men robbed him while he was making a call in a phone box, making off with his money pouch.

He then lost his singing voice after a vocal chord infection. It came back six years ago, around the same time his strumming hand began to fail him.

But despite this he continues to enjoy serenading shoppers and is grateful to the traders, his regulars and everyone who stops for a chat.

"They have been brilliant to me over the years," he said.

Market trader Nancy Rattray, who runs Rattray’s Jokes Novelty Fancy Dress Seeds and Plants, said: "John brings a lot of people into the market.

"He sings the old smoochy songs and he’s still going strong after 25 years – good on him."

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