WHILE he was heading for a career as a pop star a matter of months after leaving school, many of Sam Beeton's friends were joining the Army.
It's one of the reasons that the 22-year-old from Carlton, who signed to major record label SonyBMG at the age of 16, is lining up on the main stage at Victoria Embankment on Saturday for Armed Forces Day.
"The majority of my friends from school are now in the Armed Forces," says Sam, who went to Carlton Le Willows School and appeared on national TV and radio, toured with James Morrison and Scouting For Girls, and modelled for Burberry while still in his teens.
"Phil Booth, who was the drummer in my very first band, is currently serving in the Navy and my next door neighbour returned recently from Iraq.
"So I know quite a few people who are connected to the Armed Forces. If friends and people close to you are in peril you naturally want to support them."
Sam will be playing a mix of old and new songs on Saturday.
"I'm currently working on a new album with producers Fraser T Smith and Livingstone Brown," he says.
For his set just after noon he'll be joined by Joe Strange.
"I'm supporting Armed Forces Day as I feel it's important to show respect to the individuals who are prepared to sacrifice so much for our country," says Joe, who grew up in Hucknall but now lives in Sherwood.
"It's not about the politics," he insists.
"You'll never see a politician on the front line would you?"
Joe's dad was in the RAF and served in Cyprus.
"I'm very proud of him," he says.
He and his band, who have been regulars at The Southbank and The Approach for the past six years will be playing original material from a forthcoming album due out in August.
"There are a lot of soldiers who come to see the band and they are great guys," says Joe.
ABBA tribute band Arrival UK will close the show with a set at 5.30pm.
"We have performed for our Armed Forces many times over the last 17 years throughout the UK and across Europe and it is with great pride that we find ourselves performing at AFD," says Mark Pemberton, who plays as Benny Andersson from the Swedish supergroup.
"The families of these brave Service personnel are the ones who live the day-to-day reality of having a member of their family so far away, always hoping they are safe."
He adds: "Sarah, who plays Agnetha, has three generations of Servicemen in her family; her great-grandfather was awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry during the First World War. Her grandfather was among the code-breakers at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, for which he received an MBE."
Also on the main stage are Erin Parker's Sounds Of The 1940s, the Band of HM Royal Portsmouth and Military Wives the Marham Bluebirds.
The Community Stage at Victoria Embankment will include performances from Carlton & District Royal British Legion, Nottingham Theatre Dance School, Nottinghamshire Army Cadet Force Band, Sinners Highway, The Establishment and Velvet Divine, among others.
"I don't feel that our troops and Armed Forces get the recognition and thanks they deserve for doing the job they're required to do," says Steve McGill, 34, an acoustic singer-songwriter from Arnold.
"I have friends in the military who, despite their darkest fears, particularly during Government cutbacks, remain incredibly proud to serve."
Steve, who is planning a new album in September, will be playing a mix of original songs and covers on the Community Stage.
He says: "This event is a way of saying thanks to them and their families."