I have worked on both BBC and Commercial Radio and also as a performing musician for most of my life which has given me the opportunity to meet and appear with many artistes who I have always admired and respected.
These are some of them-including the odd anecdote...I'm only trying to impress you really.
Leapy Lee ("Little Arrows")
I met him back in the 70's through a friend...he introduced me to Evolution Records where I signed a publishing deal and wrote songs for Diana Dors and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Leapy was a very interesting guy - to say the least.Runs a bar in Spain now,as far as I know.
I submitted a song in the 70's to The Opportunity Knocks Songwriters Show and it got through to the final (sung by a Denise Day as I recall).I found Hughie to be very courteous to us "non professionals"...which is more than I can say when he spoke to the programme crew.Mr.Green's language was loud and choice when he wasn't happy...a totally different bloke to when he's on the telly.The prog was recorded and I had to watch myself on Boxing Night...It's a long way back from the bottom of the clappometer!!
What a name dropper eh...I met Paul at his brother's wedding (Mike).He was with Linda and they were a delight - with time for everyone - yep a great guy...wouldn't mind him in my band.
Mike McGear (McCartney)
I met Mike through a mutual friend and worked on several projects with him (handy because he doesn't live that far from me).Mike is a very generous man with a big talent and considering he doesn't play an instrument makes it more impressive that he has written several top tenners.
I found it a bit surreal when we were having a coffee at his and he'd pick the phone up and it was "our kid"...a lovely inoffensive guy.
Angie & Ruth McCartney
The stepmother & stepsister of the above.I met them when I wandered into a local publishing company in the late 70's with the intention of pushing my songs.I was signed up for an exclusive publishing deal which included me writing songs for acts like Cannon and Ball and the ill fated Gary Glitter.
I learned so much about the music business during my time with their company ... which eventually led to me into forming my own record label and publishing company.I owe a lot to this dynamic duo.
Angie and Ruth now have a business in the States and still keep in touch and I love 'em!!
Adrian was a professional wrestler who I met in a recording studio in Chester in 1980.He fancied making a record and was looking for a song.His gimmick was to camp it up with his long blonde locks and face make-up so I came up with an A and a B side ..."A Mighty Big Girl" and "I'm In Love With Me!!"
He recorded the songs which to my surprise sold very well considering he couldn't sing!!
They were purchased mainly to throw at him in the wrestling ring - but we had their money!!
I went on to write and produce two albums for him which included titles like "I'm Only Happy Breakin' Bones"..."Imagine What I Could Do To You"..."Merchant Of Menace"..."Violence Is Golden"..."King AND Queen Of The U.S.A." and so on.
I went over to the States to put the finishing touches to one of the albums and he insisted I had to be his "Barrister from London"...Sir Cedric Everhard Hathaway - and I reluctantly went on the circuit with him around the southern states...in pink tights and glittering gold waistcoat (HIS idea not MINE!!)...having to make legal (and totally biased) decisions on certain aspects of a wrestling match was a very frightening experience - as the Yanks thought I was REAL!!...we promoted the songs on TV and radio and got airplay on MTV no less...and four of the songs were featured in a Hollywood movie called "Grunt - The Wrestling Movie".This all proves you don't have to be able to sing to sell music.
The wrestlers over there were terrific blokes and it was a great experience to look back on.
Last I heard Adrian was running a wrestling school and enjoying his retirement and hopefully not singing.
Adrian with "Miss Linda" his valet...(his wife really,thank goodness!).
I once wrote a song for Cannon and Ball who rejected it so I sent it to The Krankies who were appearing locally.Never heard any more until I was watching the Royal Command Performance and on they came and sang the song!! I nearly fell over.This was in the early 80's and it wasn't until the late nineties that I evetually bumped into them as we were on the same show at a local theatre.I made myself known and we have been friends ever since.Since then I have been writing songs for them for Christmas Pantos and cruises.
I recently went to spend the day with them in Blackpool and catch their show...which was great.
However I got done for speeding on the way home!!...DOH!!
Janette and Ian are an absolute fandabidozi delight.
I had the pleasure of backing his act on a local theatre.I found him a quiet thoughtful man...and a gentleman.That Emu is definitely real.A really nice man and a sad loss.
James was Elvis's guitarist throughout the 'Vegas years and also played those wonderful solos on Ricky Nelson's records ("Mary Lou".."It's Late"...etc) and has always been a hero of mine. ..so to share the stage with him was a big moment for me as he was the one we all tried to copy.
Speaking to him after the show I found him to be so modest and humble considering the level he has played at.I asked him why he wasn't on Elvis's comeback tour and he told me that he was playing for Sinatra at the time and Frank wouldn't let him go....had to turn Elvis down...how cool is that!! Now as I watch footage of Elvis on the tele in Vegas I can proudly say - "There's my mate there..." May not mean much to the majority but it does to me
Since this initial meeting with James he returned to this country to perform at the International Guitar Festival in November 2008….and Doug Darroch,the oraganiser,asked me if I would sing Ricky Nelson’s hits...backed by James.
The event took place at The Pacific Road Theatre in Birkenhead to a full house.
To sing my all time favourite songs backed by my all time hero defies description...talk about living the dream.
To turn around in the middle of a song and say “Play it James”...and get the exact solo which he played on the record was somewhat surreal to say the least.
I found him to be the easiest and most humble man to work with...an absolute delight.
He has backed Ricky Nelson,John Denver,Roy Orbison,Bobby Vee,Jerry Lee Lewis,Frank Sinatra and of course Elvis...and I don’t care how boring I am but I can now add my name to these.
This was definitely my greatest musical moment...yep…Play it James.
Me with James and bass player Derek Green.
On November 22nd 2009 James came over again for the international guitar festival at the Floral Pavilion,New Brighton.Again I was asked to appear with him and sing some of Ricky Nelson’s and Roy Orbison’s hits.The night was a sell-out and the band which consisted of local musicians was as good as it gets….and with the Burton magic it was a great sound.Long live the legend.
On stage with James and The Passionettes.
backstage at the James Burton concert…left to right Me,P.J.Proby,James Burton,John Gorman (Scaffold),P.J.’s mate,and Mike McCartney,
Tommy Allsup played most of the guitar solos on Buddy Holly’s records.Although he is a highly respected session man and has featured on numerous hits he is best known as the man who flipped the coin to see who got the last seat on Buddy Holly’s ill-fated final flight...it was between him and Richie Valens...Richie won the toss
and the rest,as they say,is history.
Tommy still carries the coin.
Mike was a 60's popstar with his band "The Outlaws" and was a great guy to work with.He still has it and can belt out a song.He is also known for playing Mr.Spooner in "Are You Being Served"...recognise him?...A really nice fella.
I met Patrick in Tromso,Norway,while working with Monty Lister of Radio Merseyside.He is unbelievably larger than life,and tells hilarious anecdotes.He is not only interested in what YOU have to say but asks questions about you!! I casually asked him whether the Moon landings were genuine and he said"I WAS THERE!!..PART OF THE TEAM...OF COURSE THEY LANDED ON THE MOON!!"
...which is good enough for me.My pleasure to have met this delightful chap...a one-off.
Not one of the most famous faces in showbiz but he is one of the best session drummers around. Pictured here backstage after a show with me and my son Steve he was telling us that he was presently topping the charts as he was the drummer on "Show Me The Way To Amarillo" which had just been re-released thanks to Peter Kay...He has also drummed on countless other chart toppers.He was an original member of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and featured on the classic "Shakin' All Over". I told him we always have a bit of a problem with the drum break when we play that song...and he informed us that HE hadn't got it right on the record but they left it in!!...great time to tell us!!...We love Clem.
What a lovely man...everything you would expect.It was my pleasure to compere a show he was in and he was an absolute delight as indeed was his wife.I would work with him any time.
He had the crowd in pleats.Should be Knighted.
I met Con & Dec Clusky when I compered one of their shows.It is always nice to meet people who were part of your past and I found these two fellas to still have that Irish charm and a glint in their eyes.They were really nice to me and I think we would make a good trio...especially with that young bloke in the middle...Hey!!..I heard that!! One of my early girlfriends used to really fancy Dec...if she could see me now!!..that'll teach her to chuck me.
I met Donny when I was working at Radio Merseyside and he was visiting.What can you say about this fella...he would look like a star in a diving suit!! He looks exactly as you would expect and is as nice as you expect...time for everyone.I couldn't resist the photo (by the way I'm the one on the left...no comments please).This goes out on my Xmas cards "Happy Christmas from the two Donny's"...A great guy.
Speaking of great guys this is one of the best.I had the pleasure of opening for him on The Floral Pavillion on Merseyside and the North Wales Theatre Llandudno by which time I had got to know him quite well.I have always been a fan of his great songs and over a coffee we discussed Carole King who wrote most of his hits and for my money is one of the best ever songwriters...and Ricky Nelson,Elvis etc,...and he told me he did the gig Buddy Holly never made it to,which made his name.I even taught him to say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantisiliogogogoch!!...An absolute gem of a bloke then again the one's who have been up there generally are.
Chris was on the same two Bobby Vee shows famous for his hits "Let's Dance" and "The More I See You"...and he can still rock.He was very popular with the ladies in the audience and when he jumped off the stage I thought we'd lost him.He really is a good laugh and a great character..again a pleasure to work with...one of the lads.(always seemed to have a pint in his hand)
Johnny Preston (Runnin' Bear)
Again on the Bobby Vee show this fella proved he can rock with the best of them,and on stage as he belts out his hits(Runnin' Bear...Rockabye Baby...I Feel So Fine)..his voice is still as good as ever...yet offstage he is the quietest and gentlest bloke you could meet.Unassuming and modest it was a pleasure to meet him...these fellas can do it LIVE...which is what it's all
about...long may they reign.
The Bobby Vee Show is pure high quality nostalgia...If you get the opportunity to see it - take it.
Scotty was Elvis's original guitarist in the 50's and was responsible for the guitar work on "Jailhouse Rock"..."Hound Dog"..."Blue Suede Shoes"...etc...etc.I went along to an interview Monty Lister (Radio Merseyside) had organised with him and had the opportunity of thanking him for pioneering Rock & Roll..because if it wasn't for the likes of him there would not have been the likes of us.Again a charming man and I can now say,when the guitar solo in Jailhouse Rock comes on the radio,..."I've shook that hand..." Nice touch to impress people at a party...or around a juke box.
Sir John Mills
It was my pleasure to be the soundman for Monty Lister when he interviewed this delightful Knight of the Realm.I was amazed at how,despite being in his 90's,he looked like he always did.He was very witty and when I asked him about the scene in "Ice Cold In Alex" where he drank the beer ,he was very quick to correct me..."Lager...it was Lager...and we did fifteen takes...by which time I was totally pissed"...A sad loss to the world and I feel privileged to have met him.
Monty was a presenter on Radio Merseyside from its beginnings in the 60's.Apart from interviewing everyone from Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and hosts of popstars like Cliff Richard,Tommy Steele,Roy Orbison etc etc, and sports stars...even the first man on the moon,he travelled the world and gave his many listeners an insight into a thousand different cultures.There is little he doesn't know and few places he hasn't been...he was in fact the first person to interview The Beatles.I regard Monty as a good mate and I was privileged to be his assistant presenter for over 5 years on Radio Merseyside.
As soundman for his 30 minute travelogues I visited places such as Marakesh,Rome,Venice,Norway,Holland,Satlzberg,Ireland...and watched an expert at work.I will be eternally grateful to Monty for all the places I have been (which I possibly would never have seen otherwise) and all the people I have met ...Due to other committments I missed out on Pat Boone and Christal Gayle(you can't have everything) who I admire greatly but met many other personalities from all walks of sport and showbiz.Monty now writes for a local magazine and is much missed by his listeners ...as I keep getting told all the time...a good friend and a great guy.
Not the fella to compete with in a name dropping session...he's met 'em ALL!!
The Dynamic Duo...(Monty trying to get my autograph...happy days)
Gerard was booked to play at a special night at a restaurant I also used to play at.As he is a world class songwriter I didn't quite know what to expect as I met up with him in the afternoon to sort his sound out.He was a great bloke and we chatted about his music and he serenaded me with a selection of his hits...coming out with stuff like..."Don,This one furnished my house"..as he went in to "I Could Be So Good To You"(Theme from Minder)...and "This one paid for my house"...going into "I Made It Through The Night"(a massive hit for Barry Manilow)...we did a duet with "New York,New York ...so good they named it twice"...all in an empty room which changed,later on,to a full house of specially invited guests...who were entertained by one of the best in the business...a class act and a class bloke a pleasure to know.
I once wrote a song about Blackpool...which nobody wanted to know about,so I changed the words to make it about the Isle Of Man...and sent it on a whim to Norman.To my surprise he rang me at home and said he liked it and was going to record it (whether he did or not I don't know)...but we chatted for about 20 minutes about his life and his films...a very strange experience and what a lovely man.Some years later I met him on a Monty Lister interview and he actually remembered me.He was about to go on stage and seemed very nervous but gave a really good interview.Always been a fan and still am.
Pauline is not only one of the funniest comediennes on the circuit she is a superb singer and actress...for my money the ONLY Shirley Valentine.Pauline was the first artist I recorded and released on my newly formed record label in 1980...the song was called "You're No Good To Me If You Can't Boogie" and is something she has had to learn to live with over the years.
She has always been a good friend and deserves all her success.I'll always be a big fan.
I met David in the 80's and we became good friends.I wrote two songs for him which he recorded "Let's Keep It Simple" and "I Love You".The latter was a single and was Radio Merseyside's record of the week and also the title track of one of his albums.
I was delighted to play at his wedding with my band and to back him on a short set (try keeping him down!!).Sadly he is no longer with us and I am proud to have played a small part in his life.His big voice will be missed.
Penny was David's wife and,again,a good friend.I met her in the late 70's when we were on the same gig.She had a puppet act and was then known as Peppi and the Poppettes...but one puppet stood out...a duck called Googi.I told her I would write a song for the cheeky duck and came up with "Googi The Liverpool Duck"...yes that was ME!! she was to record this a few years later and it became a local hit...Penny performed it several times on TV...I went on to write all Googi's songs including Christmas one's which all sold really well.Penny now runs her own company which still promotes David's work.
She is a great girl and good friend.I think Googi has retired.
Another blast from the past.Jet was the original bass player in The Shadows and I met him during an interview on Radio Merseyside.Gone were the blonde locks but what a great bloke with many a tale to tell over a pint or two or three.I had a rare insight into the lives of early Cliff and The Shadows...very interesting.He reminded me of Michael Caine...and not a lot of people know that...Last I heard he was making a comeback as a solo artiste.
I have been in Doddy's company on several occasions but got a chance to chat with him at my mate Monty Lister's birthday.Although Ken is the funniest man in the world he is quite serious on a one to one basis.He quite rightly wonders where the joy has gone out of comedy and I reminded him of his hilarious radio shows in the 50's and 60's and asked him if he would ever consider radio again."If they ask - I'm available" he told me.Great fella...when it comes to comedy - simply the best.
Great singer,great songwriter,great bloke.He used to live close by.Deserves all his success with that wonderful voice.Birkenhead lad through and through.
Vince was a DJ on Local Radio in the 80's and also did the clubs which is when I got to know him. At the time the German Embassy in Liverpool criticised the City for its scruffiness..and itso happened at the time that I was promoting one of my songs extolling the virtues of the area.So Vince suggested we march on the German Embassy and give them the record and a piece of our minds...which we did-to a rather bemused bloke behind the desk. We then went round to Radio Merseyside and the late Bob Azurdia gave us a spot on his show and played the record...which was my first introduction to radio.
Recently I saw Vinnie's name on the internet and contacted him and discovered he is now a radio presenter in Spain with his own show.I asked him if he would be interested in playing some of my local songs which may be of interest to the ex-pats out there which to my delight he did...and to top it all has me on his show on a live link up.I also get to chat with Paul Melba who is also on the show...which is wonderful because for my money Paul is the best impressionist ever...and I am a big fan.
Vince can be checked out on his website ... click on this link
If you go into his podcast library you will hear interviews with many local celebs...great stuff.
Every road you travel on you are bound to be confronted with an Eddie Stobart wagon and you simply HAVE to know which girls name is on the front of it...such is the allure of this famous familiar name.It was therefore quite an event when I met the man himself while assisting Monty Lister on one of his many interviews.
In my mind I had a vision of this huge muscle-bound lorry driver with jeans and rolled up shirt sleeves and tattoos.The exact opposite was true...Eddie was a slight man of advanced years,very well dressed in a smart suit and very religious.I chatted to him about his business which he told me his son had taken over.The names on the wagons were originally his idea.
A charming gentleman of whom I now have the privilege of saying,when spotting one of his wagons..."I've met him...".....a nice touch to relieve the monotony on the motorway.
Back in the 70's Paul would appear on "The Comedians" on telly,with his great impressions and wonderful delivery.I have also seen him live on several occasions and have always been an admirer of his work.Recently I got in touch with Vince Tracy,an old friend,who now has a radio programme in Spain (see above) and who should also be on the programme - Paul Melba.
Each monday Vince has been ringing me and having a chat live on his programme about things going on in this area and of course all three of us chat (as Paul is also originally from Merseyside)...although I haven't actually met Paul face to face I feel like he is an old friend.
What a delightful guy he is...looking forward to the day we shake hands.
Chris is the top Elvis impersonator…in fact he IS Elvis.We met at rehearsals for James Burton’s concert on the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton in November 2009.
We were both appearing on the show…I did Ricky Nelson and Roy Orbison classics and Chris did the Elvis Vegas years…both of us being backed by our hero.
Chris was a great guy and we had a lot of laughs and became good mates.If you ever have the opportunity to see Chris…take it – he is the real deal.
P.J. was the original wild man of rock & roll. I have always been a big fan of his great voice and his antics (not to mention the trouser splitting incident back in the 60’s),so when I met him backstage at The Floral Pavilion I was delighted.To my surprise he was one of the nicest blokes I have ever met…great sense of humour – great guy.
He shared several of his memories with me and told me he was a carpenter by trade and when he was appearing on the Wooky Hollow in Liverpool he sang at night and built the roof in the day….pure rock & roll…I am now an even bigger fan.
Eric was one of The Bay City Rollers back in the 70’s..and I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him at Fort Perch Rock on one of his
solo acoustic gigs.He now sings folk and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…but he was not only a brilliant musician,he was a great personality
and a really nice guy.We had a chance to chat after the show and I was treated to a few quality “Roller” anecdotes.Anyone who can entertain and
accompany themselves will always have my respect….Shangalang!!
Paul is known for his appearances on “Cash In The Attic” on T.V….but he also has a band who have had the pleasure of playing alongside guitar legend
James Burton….we therefore shared our experiences with the said icon…it’s nice to hear someone go on about him as much as I do.
Paul is a true gent….I hope he doesn’t put an antique value on ME….he wont get very much.