June 1, 2007 / 11:28 AM / in 13 years

Rock star in line for aristocrat's mansion

LONDON (Reuters) - An eccentric aristocrat with no heir said on Friday the lead singer of an American rock group was a “hot contender” to take over his 7 million pound country estate.

Isaac Slade, lead singer and pianist of alternative rock band "The Fray", performs at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Pop Music Awards in Hollywood, California, in this file photo from April 18, 2007. An eccentric aristocrat with no heir said on Friday American singer Slade was a "hot contender" to take over his 7 million pound country estate. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

“He is my new best friend,” Sir Benjamin Slade said of Isaac Slade, frontman for the rock group The Fray who could be in line to take over his 13th century mansion.

The baronet was swamped with applications from 15,000 would-be relatives when his quest for a Slade heir was made into a Discovery Channel documentary.

Among the applicants were Canadian, American and Australian Slades. A convict even applied from an Indian prison.

“Isaac is definitely one of the hot contenders. It is looking good,” Slade said after entertaining him for two days at Maunsel House, a rambling stately home in Somerset that has nine bedrooms, a ballroom, library and bar.

The estate also boasts a herd of 430 cattle as well as 13 peacocks, four dogs and six pigs.

“We would put (the estate) in a trust. That is the only way to protect these assets. I would not be selling it to him. We want an heir for this place who would take it on and look after it,” Slade said.

The 60-year-old baronet thoroughly approved of the 26-year-old Isaac from Denver, Colorado, and said he certainly did not fit the popular image of rock ‘n’ roll excess.

“He is in a Christian band. He learned his music playing in church for years. He doesn’t take drugs and is in bed by 9.30. He doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t drink much,” Slade told Reuters.

“He seems to be a very focused young man and wants to have lots of children. We will get the genealogists working on it to see how closely related we are. I would love to hand it over.”

The title track from The Fray’s debut album “How To Save A Life” sold over five million copies in the United States and reached number four in the British charts.

“We stage weddings at Maunsel House and he could play at them. I would love to have a massive pop concert here too.”

But the hunt for a Slade heir has left one of the baronet’s dogs in a foul mood.

Jasper, a black cross between a Labrador and a Doberman, was dubbed the country’s richest hound after inheriting a hefty bequest from Slade’s ex-mother-in-law.

The dog hit the headlines again in March when Slade, ever on the lookout for a publicity stunt, offered up Jasper to act as “best man” at same-sex weddings conducted at his country estate.

“Yes, Jasper is in a big sulk now. He thinks he should be the big star and has lost the limelight,” Slade said.

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