IT COULD have been his sisters, filling the house with musical theatre tunes when he was a wee boy growing up in the East End of Glasgow – or his inspirational guitar teacher at St Andrew’s Secondary in Carntyne.

But Alan Sweeney – internationally renowned guitarist, currently playing in the spectacular live band for Mamma Mia! At the King’s - reckons that ultimately, he owes his love of music to his dad.

Glasgow Times: Alan and his dad, Patrick

“My dad plays guitar all the time – Christmases, birthdays, all the family gatherings, there's a point in the night when out comes the guitar and the Beatles songs start,” he grins. “When I was wee, I’d sit on his knee and listen, and eventually I learned a few chords.

“I seemed to take to it quite quickly, so I got guitar lessons in school and my teacher was brilliant. I went on to study applied music at university.”

Glasgow Times: Alan Sweeney

Alan, 34, who now lives in Dennistoun, also recalls “helping” his dad, Patrick, after gigs in local pubs and clubs.

“There are definitely photos of me, at a young age, helping lug speakers and equipment into the back of the car at midnight,” he laughs. “I knew I wanted to be in a band, even then. I didn’t want to be a rock star, though – I wanted to be the guy playing guitar in the background.”

After graduating, Alan started to land roles in musical productions in his native Glasgow and beyond.

Glasgow Times: Alan Sweeney

“Because I could read music, I started getting asked to play at amateur theatre productions, and then my reputation grew a bit,” he says, adding that he could be playing at a church hall on a Sunday afternoon one week, and a big Glasgow theatre the next.

In 2017, he joined the UK-wide tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and a year later, he successfully auditioned for the live band on Mamma Mia!, the hugely successful stage show based on the music of legendary Swedish pop group ABBA.

“The audition was nerve-wracking,” he admits. “It was basically me, playing the whole show, in a room in front of the creative team. But I got it and it has been an amazing experience.”

Equally nerve-wracking was taking on the responsibility of playing a collection of world-famous, universally-loved tunes.

“It’s funny, because of course, I knew the songs, I loved the songs when they came on the radio when I was growing up, but until this show I’d never really understood exactly why they are still popular, and still loved all over the world,” says Alan.

“Once I started to delve into them, from a musician’s point of view, I realised how good they are. ABBA songs seem so familiar, they are embedded in there, then and now. I listened to them constantly during rehearsals, played them all the time in the house – and I still do. I’m not sick of them either, which is the thing – it’s still enjoyable to have them in my head, which shows you how good they are.”

His sisters, Julie and Donna, are particularly jealous of Alan’s current job.

“They listened to musical theatre all the time when I was growing up, which is why, I think, I’m so familiar with all the tunes,” he says, adding with a laugh. “They’re always saying they can’t believe I get to do this as a job.”

Mamma Mia! receives a rapturous welcome, wherever it goes, adds Alan.

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“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Jakarta or Dublin, people know and love ABBA,” he smiles. “It’s such a feel good show. I’m incredibly lucky to have travelled the world with my job – Hong Kong, Paris, Sri Lanka, Dubai….although I’m really pleased to be back in Glasgow.”

He laughs: “I love the touring side of the job, but it’s great to be back in my own house, having a roll and sausage and a proper, strong cup of tea…”

Mamma Mia! Is at the King’s Theatre until Saturday, June 11.