Tony was born and brought up in the small village of East Aberthaw, near Barry in the lovely Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, population at the time – one hundred and sixty. Youngest of a musical family, with mother and father both being accomplished pianists, and his brother, Peter and his sister, Peggy, both being fine piano accordion players, Tony grew up with music around him and he was playing the accordion (not very well) and the piano (a bit worse) from a very early age. Singing was his strong point even then and he was a frequent prize winner at the local Eisteddfod.
Tony attended Rhoose Junior School and Barry County Grammar School. He joined the RAF straight from school at the age of seventeen. Tony qualified as an electronics technician servicing and repairing Radar equipment on bases in the UK, Europe and in the Middle East. Between the time he joined up at R.A.F. Locking in Somerset and leaving the service in 1968 at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Tony’s postings included being stationed at RAF Weston Zoyland in Somerset, RAF Ternhill in Shropshire, RAF Goch and RAF Uedem in Germany, RAF Marham in Norfolk, RAF Honington in Suffolk, RAF Holbeach in Lincolnshire, RAF Khormaksar in Aden, several stations in the Persian Gulf and a number of other bases for short stays. During all this time, Tony subsidised his service pay by entertaining in various bands and as a solo singer and musician.
In 1957, whilst stationed at Ternhill, and while singing in a skiffle group in Market Drayton, Tony met Jean. They were married in March the following year and they have a daughter, Lynne, who is married and divorced with two daughters of her own, Michelle, who has a lovely daughter, Edith and twin baby boys, Hector and Ernest, and Beverley, who has two delightful daughters, Adelaide and Zara. Lynne’s youngest is her son, Thomas, who is married to Gina and lives in Bristol. They recently presented Tony and Jean with their sixth great-grandchild, their new son, Dillan. Jean and Tony also had a son, Mark, a year younger than Lynne, who tragically died in an industrial accident at the age of twentyone.
After leaving the RAF, Tony spent periods as a social club manager, publican, music shop proprietor, entertainment agent, whilst all the time working semi-pro as an entertainer. At Christmas 1975 he made the decision to do what he had always wanted to but had never had the courage, and that was to become a fully professional entertainer. The family were still living in Anglesey at the time, so in order to be more central for travelling to engagements, they decided to move house to Jean’s native Shropshire. They settled in Shrewsbury, and that is where they have lived ever since.
1976 was the leanest year ever for the Best family. Being an unknown entertainer in a completely new area, bookings were few and far between, mainly small pubs, always small fees, but Tony grabbed every offer that came along in order to be seen and to become established.
By the end of 1977, Tony had become one of the most popular artistes in the local area, singing mostly country songs and always including in his act an element of comedy and audience participation. He had completed a season as court jester at medieval banquets at the Bear Inn, Hodnet in Shropshire, and he had taken in as much variety of work as possible to gain the widest possible experience.
It was at this time that Tony decided to specialise in the music which was closest to his heart – Country Music. He had always been a fan of country and the musical content of his stage act was predominately country songs sung in his own style. In March 1978, Tony launched the Lazyacre Country Music Club in Shrewsbury, and since then everything has happened. The club has gone from strength to strength and is still going strong today. Tony’s personal career also went from success to success. Although he continues to run the country music club, he retired in July 2015, and immediately got down to writing his life story in his amazing autobiography, “The Best 80 Years,” which was published to coincide with his 80th Birthday in March 2016.