Eddie Jordan is undoubtedly one of Formula One's most colourful characters. He's outspoken, controversial and always ready to tell fascinating tales to whoever will listen. But there's a side to the man that many are unaware of. Actually, make that two sides, for he sidelines as a musician in his band, Eddie and The Robbers, and he works tirelessly in the aid of charity - the two facets often going hand-in-hand.
I've personally witnessed these two sides, having spent time in his company on a charity car rally known as the Beaujolais Run. This event is geared up to provide entrants with five days of fun, fast motoring and entertainment aplenty, all for a good cause - raising money for a number of charities, one of which is the UK's CLIC Sargent, something close to Jordan's heart. CLIC helps families whose children suffer from cancer, and the range of things they get involved involve sourcing specialist treatment and arranging rehabilitation, to sorting out family holidays and lending financial support. This is a charity organisation that does a tremendous amount of good, and Jordan is one of its patrons.
"It all started 20 years ago," Jordan tells me just before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he'll be commentating for the BBC and no doubt raising plenty of eyebrows. "A neighbour of mine got involved with CLIC Sargent and asked me to help out if I could. So I looked into it and, when I saw and spent time with the kids it gave me a massive moral jolt. I've been very fortunate in my life and I felt compelled to do what I could for those less so. My wife got involved with it, too, so it's been part of our lives ever since."
But what about the music? Jordan, looking pretty good for a 63-year-old, says it's something he's always been involved with. He remarks that it's a great stress reliever and a way of escaping some of the insanity of F1. "When I was in school in Dublin, I reasoned that being in a band would help me attract a better class of girl. That didn't always turn out to be the case," he laughs. "But I really got into it and that had to take a back seat once I got involved in motor racing.
"Being in F1 brought me into contact with lots of celebrities and rock stars, though, and I began to think about starting a band again. So I did." Jordan's band, named after F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone told Jordan he was "a thief," has a fairly transient line-up. "It's always changing, dependent on where in the world we're performing, but all the guys on stage are classically trained musicians - even though we only play rock 'n' roll. I'm easily the least talented member."
Despite the self-deprecation, Jordan is an accomplished percussionist and, by his own admission, brings more to the party than just a backbeat. "I'm a frontman," he says, "and I can ad-lib and engage a crowd. I've spent so much time in the company of so many great drivers and personalities that there's always a story to tell. All the proceeds from the gigs we play go straight to CLIC Sargent, too. It's a fantastic way to help out."
Eddie and The Robbers are scheduled to play at the Chequered Flag Ball on Friday and will be appearing upstairs at the Yas Hotel on Saturday. Catch them if you can, and remember to dig deep.