IT’S a long, long way from the Dolphin pub in Weymouth’s Park Street to the Sydney Opera House.

Just ask piano ace Ben Waters, because he’s made that trip.

It’s taken him some 30 years and some 6,000 gigs, but, what a trip, eh?

The boogie woogie behemoth has completed another epic year of non-stop touring with dates in New Zealand, America, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Ireland and only this week finished a punishing but enjoyable series of gigs across Canada.

And just a couple of weeks ago, Ben and his band sold out two nights at Ronnie Scott’s in London’s West End with A-list celebrity guests including Sir Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, Imelda May and Johnny Depp all keen to join the Weymouth-born musician to pay tribute to Chuck Berry in front of an equally stellar audience, with Noel Gallagher, Stella McCartney, Kathryn Jenkins and Terry Gilliam all showing up.

It all seems a very different world to the smoke-filled back bar of the Dolphin when a 14-year-old Ben had his first paid gigs before leaving college at 17 and joining Shakin’ Stevens’ band, taking over from Chris Holland, Jools’s brother, on the keys.

But it’s come at a huge price to Ben who will be retiring from touring from next year because, as he puts it: “I’m quite frankly knackered.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but something I need to do. I have been doing 250 shows a year and I just can’t keep doing it. There are several reasons why I am giving up and will tell you when I see you.

“I want to thank you all for your kindness and support and coming to so many gigs over the years

“I will really miss it and all of you, but have great memories of 30 years of gigging,” he adds.

Ben has a full diary for 2019 with shows across America, Australia and Europe but that’ll be it with a final show at Under The Bridge in Chelsea, London, next November.

Local boogie-woogie fans have a chance to experience the force of nature that is Hurricane Ben with a show at Weymouth Pavilion next Saturday, December 29.

Tickets are £20 from the box office on 01305 783225.