One last look into my box of records – and the first story I found this time was a number of 45s and LPs of Duane Eddy. In fact – in a second look these cover virtually everything of Duane’s from Rebel Rouser forward. To balance it out – or maybe distort the collection – is Charlie Drake’s version of ‘Splish Splash’ – Bobby Darin’s version had not appealed to me and my parents and any way, we had seen Charlie Drake in person – well ‘on-stage’ actually.
His ‘Dream Lover’ did, though, and as a result I got to see both Eddy and Darin in London during their 1960 tour. Stage presence was not a strong point of Duane’s performance. He just stood there and played – and the theatre crowd loved it.
The second half was Bobby Darin – and he sat at the piano and we had minimal performance but a distinct presence. There was a nod toward rock with ‘Splish Splash; an outstanding ‘Dream Lover’ and then his new genre of swing-style ‘Mack the Knife’ followed by ‘Beyond the Sea’, ‘Clementine’ and a few more that I didn’t write down!
However, not everyone appreciated the change; it was not quite the ‘rock ‘n’ roll we expected. However – he recognised the challenge, and thanked the audience for their requests, but if they didn’t mind he would stay on the stage and carry on singing!
Now – what else is there in my box that brings back memories? Ah, a clutch of Billy Fury records. Now there was a performer.
A part of the Larry Parnes collection of British performers toured Britain at the end of the 1950s and into the 60s. We were on a Youth Club day trip to Great Yarmouth – primarily to see the evening performance of our idols. We were on the Britannia Pier where Billy and Marty Wilde, Adam Faith, Joe Brown and the like could walk unmolested down the sea front between performances. One such stroll killed all the passion for them as far as the girls were concerned when one of them said: “Look – they’ve got make-up in their ears!”
A more local venue for the travelling show as far as we were concerned was the Broadway Cinema in Letchworth, Herts. Here they were regular visitors – and so were we – and it was one night in 1960 when I first heard Billy Fury sing ‘Wondrous Place’.
The stage curtains were drawn across. The front of the stage was empty and the lights were dimmed – then, from one side there appeared the slight figure of Billy in a soft spotlight to provide a breath taking performance of his new record to a packed auditorium where you could have heard a pin drop. It peaked at 25 in the pop-charts – why it never made number 1 I’ll never know but it still sends shivers down my spine – in fact it just has because I listened to it on You Tube!
I think this is all for now. Now you know what my memories box is all about. Do you have one? If you do we’d love to hear about it.