AND SO IT BEGINS
In 1978 I left school and started out working in several stores and two years later as a trainee manager for a well known supermarket chain. I was doing very well too, but by then I was also out drinking with my mates and dating girls. I completed my management course and headed out to several Northwest locations to manage shops on a temp basis, one for the experience and two until a shop of my own would become available.
This went on for a couple of years almost, but also at that time I had started getting up onstage with a pint in hand and singing a couple of Elvis tunes. Back then I wasn’t interested in singing anyone else’s songs just Elvis. On May 1st 1982 I jumped up onstage with a local band and entered a talent competition. To my surprise I won but to be honest I can’t remember much about it as I was quite drunk by the end of the evening.
The next morning I was flying out to Toronto, Canada and Cleveland Ohio in the States for three weeks to visit my relatives. I had such a great time meeting up and seeing my distant family and they made sure I didn’t want for anything. Such treasured memories of a very special time in my life. I was hoping while I was in Cleveland, I would get to take a trip to Memphis, but not realising at the time just how big the States is, It just wasn’t possible and it would be another 18 years before I would get to Memphis and stand on that hallowed ground.
On my return to 'Blighty' my parents met me at the airport and instantly told me that folks were saying what a good voice I had and I should sing more. Wasn’t me I replied, I don’t sing. My parents just smiled and agreed as they knew even at 19 going on 20 just how shy I was. Within’ the next few weeks I began to go out and get up singing as much as I could after a few drinks of course while at the same time keeping it from my parents. [or so I thought].
One evening I was about to go on stage when my parents walked in. They hadn’t heard me sing before but as I said they knew through talking heads what was going on and they decided to check me out for themselves. I was horrified and I asked what they were doing there, My dad said we are here for a drink, smiling and saying what are you doing here. I said well er I’m here for a drink too. So when are you leaving I asked, My dad and Mum trying not to let me see them laugh said, we have only just got here, are you trying to get rid of us and sat down.
What am I going to do now? I thought, just as Derek the keyboard player from the regular band said you're on in five mins. NO I said, Sorry what was that, er No I said again quietly. Derek glared at me and said why not. give me half hour I said, Why? You have ten minutes or you won't be going on at all, So I did what any other young man with his parents in the audience did, I drank a couple of whiskys and jumped onto the stage and said ok lets do it, trying not to look in my parents direction. Well the evening went down great and by the end of the evening admittedly by drink my shyness had worn off and I walked home with my very proud parents.
Towards the end of 1982 my career had really started to take off, by now I had ditched the idea of having a few drinks before I went onstage and gradually gained my confidence, I attended several auditions and was booked into quite a few clubs. My dad was a singer and although he didn’t sing for a living, he loved to sing and did shows when asked. I wasn’t driving at the time so my dad drove me to my gigs. I have some wonderful memories of going to gigs together especially when we did a couple of shows together. I remember one show in particular in Winsford in Cheshire. All I sang was Elvis all night, My dad sang the hits of Tom Jones, Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra and a whole lot more. I was in awe. The show was filmed, but unfortunately we never got to see it. I am still hopeful it will turn up one day.