X Factor hopeful Luke Friend, who grew up in Shipley, is getting used to being mobbed by screaming fans after reaching the semi-final of the hit show.
The singer-songwriter will tomorrow compete against Sam Bailey, Nicholas McDonald and Rough Copy for a place in next week’s final.
Luke’s father Steve Friend told the T&A the teenager is under “huge pressure” but relishing his X Factor experience. The 17-year-old, with trademark shaggy hair, has a loyal fanbase which includes singer Adele and footballer Rio Ferdinand who have both tweeted him.
“We went to see him in X Factor and he came to our hotel afterwards - it was a five-minute walk but took an hour because he was mobbed by fans wanting photos,” said Mr Friend.
“It’s been fantastic experience. He keeps raising the bar – first he wanted to reach the live shows, then it was the quarter-final. Now he’s in the semi-final and will be on the X Factor arena tour next year. We couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Mr Friend said that while Luke hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye with his mentor, Louis Walsh, he respected him. “He’s learned a lot from Louis,” he added. “Luke and the other contestants are all friends, they get upset when someone gets voted off.”
Despite impressing judges during last weekend’s quarter-final show, Luke landed in the bottom two, leading to a ‘sing-off’ against Tamera Foster.
His powerful delivery of Snow Patrol’s Light Up was praised by all four judges but there was a judge’s deadlock, resulting in Tamera’s exit via a public vote.
“We were in the audience, the atmosphere was amazing,” said Mr Friend.
Luke, who lived in Shipley until his family moved to Devon four years ago, attended Beckfoot School in Bingley, winning ‘Beckfoot’s Got Talent’. Aged ten he joined Shipley’s Debut Theatre School of Performing Arts, where principal Jacqui Drake recalls he had star quality. “He was a lovely guy. We’re very, very proud of him and wish him lots of luck,” she added.
A keen footballer, Luke played for Salts FC junior football club and supported Bradford City. “Luke was in a sports bar recently with Robbie Williams and Olly Murs, but was more impressed with (former City manager) Chris Kamara being there! He sent footage of them singing together to my phone!” said Mr Friend.
“He grew up listening to music and has vast influences; including Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, U2 and Jake Bugg. He’s done well at festivals in Devon and still has friends in Shipley. We’d love everyone to support him by voting this weekend.”