IN the 1960s Joe Brown liked a laugh and got up to some crazy things - but now, as age creeps in, he admits he has mellowed a lot.

The 63-year-old chirpy Cockney, one of the pioneers of UK rock 'n' roll in the 1950s and 1960s, is still rocking away. He is in Liverpool next month as part of a major UK tour with his band, 'The Bruvvers'. Seriously into his music and entertainment, he has never lost sight of life's funny side.

Among his jokes were one or two pranks at a Eurovision Song Contest, which earned him a five-year ban from the BBC. Speaking to me from his home in Henley-on-Thames, Joe said: "I used to get up to all sorts of silly pranks in the '60s, just having a laugh. But I've mellowed a lot, since then."

His new album, 'Hittin' The High Spots', is released on Monday and a musical he has co-written with Roger Cook is due in February.

They are the latest projects in a career that had humble beginnings in his mum's pub. Over the last 42 years, Joe has earned numerous awards and the respect and admiration of fellow guitarists. As well as music, Joe's work has covered film, TV, theatre, radio and books. He was first spotted playing guitar in 1959 which led to an appearance on the 'Boy Meets Girls' TV show.

Joe has played with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and the late Bill Haley and Johnny Cash. The Beatles were the support act in Joe's early 1960s Northern shows. Looking back, Joe told me: "I've always thought the Beatles were a great band. When they started out, the boys sounded great and I knew that they were destined to go somewhere."

Joe's Beatles' connection lasted more than 40 years and in 2002 he performed what he regards as the highlight of his career - the closing act in a tribute concert to his friend, George Harrison, at the Albert Hall in 2002. George's wife, Olivia, asked Joe to perform 'I'll See You In My Dreams'.

Joe said of the former Beatle, who died from cancer in 2001: "George was a very good friend, so it was a great honour to be asked by Olivia to do this. George was just a normal working guy, a great gardener and musician - and a very pleasant man. What more can I say?"

Joe started out in a skiffle group, playing in East End pubs and at Butlins' holiday camps. In 1960, he formed his own group, Joe Brown & The Bruvvers, which scored numerous Top 10 hits, including number one 'Picture of You'.

In the early '70s, he formed the band 'Brown's Home Brew', which included his late wife, Vicki, an ex-Tiller Girl, and singer Joe Fagin. The country rock and gospel group secured a deal with Vertigo and released two albums. His book, 'Brown Sauce', published the following decade, lovingly chronicles these early years.

Looking forward to his return to Liverpool - Joe was at the Empire early this year with Marty Wilde - he told me: "I just love Liverpool, it's my second home. My first wife, Vicki, came from there and I visit whenever I can."

The Millennium saw Joe working as hard as ever reaching a wider and younger audience with his live work - a testament to this was his runaway success at the 2002 Glastonbury Festival. Dates included the first of several shows for The Roy Castle Appeal to fund a purpose-built specialized cancer treatment unit in Liverpool.

"I can't say too much about today's music because when I started out people knocked me. So, I have to be careful," he said.

Joe, who's biggest hobby is carpentry, is appearing at the Neptune Theatre in Hanover Street, Liverpool, on Sunday, November 14 (8pm). Tickets are available from the box office on 709-7844.

The Globe has teamed up with the show's organiser to give away two copies of Joe's new album, 'Hittin' The Hi Spots', which can be yours in a simple-to-enter competition. To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:-

Joe Brown sang which song at the George Harrison tribute concert?

Answers on a postcard to 'Joe Brown Contest', Wirral Globe, Globe House, Catherine Street, Birkenhead, Wirral CH41 6HW. The deadline is Wednesday, October 27 - do remember to include your own name and address and daytime telephone number. Good luck!