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Long Forgotten Acts

Author: Peter Keat Published: 21st April 2008 06:16

A rare picture of the building of the Church of the Ressurection. 

Motor Show in Drayton

I remember going to a presentation in the Drayton Institute put on by NSU, the early moped kings.  They had just started to produce a car with their revolutionary rotary Wankel engine.  There were leaflets, free drinks, and gifts and a film presentation as well as one of these tiny cars. This must have been the only time that The Drayton Institute hosted a Motor Show!

Where are they now

Dickie Pride,  the "Sheik Of Shake"

Born on October 21st 1941 in Thornton Heath, Croydon. In 1958 Dickie was spotted by Russ Conway in a pub in Tooting where he was singing. The next week Conway takes pop impresario Larry Parnes and Lionel Bart to see him. They are so impressed that Parnes decides to sign him on the spot. Dickie becomes a full time pop singer on the Parnes tours but later does not get on well with Parnes. Dickie wants more demanding material to sing but Parnes insists he sings the same three rock numbers every night. Dickie kicks against this and his increasingly erratic behaviour leads to Parnes dropping him. A troubled life follows with sporadic TV appearances and tours. He married in 1962 but work is still hard to come by and so he takes a job as a storeman. In 1965 his only son is born and the same year Dickie gets deeper into drugs, leading to heroin addiction. In 1967 he is referred to a mental hospital where doctors decide to give him a lobotomy. Early in 1969 he tries to make a come back as a singer but takes heroin again. He was found dead in bed on 26th March 1969 after an accidental overdose of sleeping tablets.  

Emile Ford:

Born Emile Sweetman on 16th October 1937 in Castries, St Lucia. He grew up in Nassau and emigrated to Great Britain with the ambition to be an engineer. As an engineer, he developed a special sound system, and  with this unique sound, Emile Ford turned singer and he and his group The Checkmates secured a recording contract with Pye records and had several hit records, including the No.1 hit "What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?" produced by Joe Meek. In the late 60's, Emile moved to Scandinavia but still continued to market his own designed sound systems in the UK and was involved with producing other artists. During the 90's he moved to California where he still sells his sound equipment.

Dickie Valentine

Born Richard Bryce on November 4th 1929 in London, Dickie Valentine was a child actor. He trained as a singer and got his big break with the Ted Heath band. His successful 'crooning' career began to wane in the late 1950's and by 1960 his chart career was over. He remained a popular live performer and appeared regularly on TV. Sadly, he died in a car crash in 1971.

Michael Holliday

Born Michael Milne (changed by Deed Poll from Miller) on 26th November 1928 in Liverpool  Michael Holliday had a method of crooning that was heavily influenced by Bing Crosby; although his overall style was probably closer to that of Perry Como. His career peaked during the late 1950's at a time when it was common for multiple cover versions of the same song to be released. In fact much of his recorded output, in common with other British artists, were covers of American songs. He was also a popular TV performer. Sadly, despite his popularity as a performer, his chart presence was erratic and the 1960's brought a long series of failures. Michael Holliday died from a drugs overdose on 29th October 1963 in Croydon.

B. Bumble

This short-lived act was one of several US acts formed by pop svengali Kim Fowley as an outlet for his production / songwriting talents at Rendezvous Records. Their 1961release, "Bumble Boogie" (featuring Ernie Freeman at the piano), was an adaptation of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight Of The Bumble Bee" and reached number 21 in the US chart but only reached the lower order over here. It was, however, the following year's "Nut Rocker" (with pianist Lincoln Mayorga) that brought them lasting fame. Although it only reached number 23 in the USA however it was very popular in Great Britain. This propulsive instrumental, an irreverent boogie-woogie reading of Pyotr Ill'yich Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, it soared to number 1 and, 10 years later, again reached the Top 20 on reissue. The band - B. Bumble (who at this juncture was R.C. Gamble (b. Spiro, Oklahoma, USA), Terry Anderson (b. Harrison, Arkansas, USA; guitar), Jimmy King (rhythm guitar) and Don Orr (drums) - completed a UK tour in 1962. Although only compilations are available featuring variations on the same theme, "Bumble Boogie", "Apple Knocker" and "Bee Hive", their one major original hit remains "Nut Rocker" - it is set for immortality, we all know that one.

Louise Cordet

She was born Louise Boisot on the 8th February 1945 Despite the fact that Louise had been born in England, she came over on stage and on record as an archetypal French girl in everything she did. With parents that had a friendship with the British Royal family, she may not appear to have been a likely candidate for a career in pop. However, when she began singing she took her stage name from her mother, Helène Cordet who had adopted the surname early in her own professional career as an actress and TV hostess. Louise's recorded work was among the first to benefit from Tony Meehan's arranging expertise- shortly after he had left Cliff Richard's backing group to become an A&R man at Decca. Doubtless, his friendship with songwriter Jerry Lordan- an acquaintance made during his days with the Shadows- was also of great benefit. This enabled Louise to make the Lordan penned song, "I'm Just A Baby" her first release. She came across as a little cheeky and certainly very sexy young French lady with great appeal to young masculine members of the UK population. While at the peak of her short career as a pop recording artist she appeared in the movie "Just For Fun", alongside other UK and American stars of the time. Her appearance on the scene had coincided with the time that the charts were about to become dominated by the onset of Merseybeat. No doubt this shortened what might have been a longer chart career, but she managed to become accepted as part of the 'beat boom'- though failed to attract much attention from record buyers in the US. Sadly, "I'm Just A Baby" was to be her only hit although she only narrowly missed out with "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying", a song written for her by Liverpudlian friend Gerry Marsden. He would cut a more successful version with the Pacemakers a few weeks later. Although Lousie Cordet's spell at the top was very short, she left behind one of the most delightfully feminine pieces of pop music to have come out of the 1960s.

Just a few of the also rans in the pop industry of the 60's, there seemed to be many one or two hit wonders, somewhere in the house I must have some 45's by at least two of the stars mentioned above.



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