Category: News

Start of Year quiz 2020

Start of Year Quiz.

It’ll be on Saturday 4th January at the usual venue, The Shamrock club, Ridgeway, Welwyn Garden City. AL7 2AD.

The doors will open at 4pm (and not a minute earlier) with the quiz starting at 5pm this year and the tickets will be £8 which, as always, included quiz entry and a hot and cold buffet. There will be a raffle and quiz should end between 9 and 9.30pm.

Tickets will be on sale at all my quiz venues from 17th November and we are limited to 150 people, so it’s first come first served.

If you can’t get to a quiz venue and need tickets posting then a postage charge will be added and if paying via Paypal then an extra charge will be added. The easiest way is cheque or bank transfer – just ask for details.


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Doris Day dies aged 97

The word legend is used far too often and very often without credence, but in the case of Doris Day, legend is the very least she could be called.

Despite numerous literature and websites which say otherwise, she was born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff on 3rd April 1922 in Ohio. She began singing in 1945 with Les Brown & his Band with her debut being Sentimental Journey in 1945. About 18 months she left for a solo career which lasted over 40 years. It tied in the with the start of her film career – her first being as Georgia Garrett in Romance on the High Seas in 1948 which she landed after the songwriters Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn recommended her to Warner Brothers after hearing her sing Embraceable You.

Over a 20 year film career her most well known character was in the title role of Calamity Jane in 1953 and with James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956 where she played the role of Jo McKenna. In that film she first performed the song Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera) which won the 1956 Oscar for Best Original Song and she later used as the theme to her own sitcom The Doris Day Show.

Her best-known films are those with Rock Hudson especially her first – 1959’s Pillow Talk. He once said of her, “I suppose she was so clean-cut, with perfect uncapped teeth, freckles and turned-up nose, that people just thought she fitted the concept of a virgin, but when we began Pillow Talk we thought we’d ruin our careers because the script was pretty daring stuff. The movie’s plot involved nothing more than me trying to seduce Doris for eight reels.”

In 1963 she starred with James Garner in a remake of the 1940 film My Favorite Wife which became Move Over, Darling the title track of which became her last UK hit reaching number eight in 1964 and produced by her son Terry Melcher. Terry went on to produce songs for the Byrds and the Beach Boys and died in 2004 at the age of 62.

Terry’s father, Martin (Doris’ third husband) squandered all her earnings and she was left with very little so after he died in 1968, she turned to television until she had recouped her money. She did this until 1973.

Her last film was in 1968 in the peculiarly titled With Six You Get Eggroll for which she garnered a Laurel Award nomination for best female comedy performance. Her last regular television appearance was in 1985 when she returned to host 26 episodes of Doris Day’s Best Friends.

In 1989, she made her last real public appearance when she accepted an award at the Golden Globes. After that, she became a very private person deciding to look after her numerous pets and adopted stray animals as well as running her own Doris Day Animal Foundation which she founded in 1978. She did make one further appearance in 2004 when she given a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush who, on the day, said, “It was a good day for America when Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”

In 1996, I visited the ‘Avenue of the Stars’ in Hollywood – the place where the rich and famous live and there were some novelty items including Engelbert Humperdinck’s completely pink house and Leslie Neilson giant stone sack of potatoes which adorned his front lawn, but the two houses where you could see absolutely nothing – apart from a high wall and much foliage was Barbra Streisand and Doris Day’s houses, thus cementing the latter’s decision to become reclusive.

In 2011, she received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award and three years later decided to release a ‘new’ album which was called My Heart. It consisted mostly of songs she had recorded for Doris Day’s Best Friends but never released commercially.

In an interview with the New York Times, Doris summed up her philosophy in the words of one of her biggest hits, “Que Sera, Sera (What will be, will be), never liked unhappy endings. It upsets me when the hero or heroine dies. I would like them to live happily ever after. Except in movies, nobody lives happily ever after,” she continued, “during the painful and bleak periods I’ve suffered through these past years, my animal family has been a source of joy and strength to me. I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent, devoted companionship of your pets that you can get from no other source. I have never found, in a human being, loyalty comparable to that of any pet.”

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20th Anniversary Start of Year Quiz

20th Anniversary Start of Year Quiz

Yep, it was 20 years ago that I did my first ever interpub end of year bash. The very first one, the Millennium quiz, was at the Stevenage Football Club then I moved to the Celtic Supporters Club in Luton until 2007 and then to our current, and best, location, the Shamrock Club in Welwyn Garden City.
The date for the event in Saturday 5th January 2019 and all tickets have now been sold.
The address is: The Shamrock club, Ridgeway, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. AL7 2AD.
The doors will be open from 3.30pm (not a moment before) and the quiz will begin at 4.30pm. It’s always a great event and, as always, we’re restricted to 150 people, so don’t put it off.
The buffet will be served at half time and will be followed by a raffle.
There will be a trophy for each member of the top two teams.
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The Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley dead at 63

When you think of punk you think anger and safety pins and certainly not romance, but a careful listen to most Buzzcocks songs and they are mostly about romance….gone wrong. That’s what made Pete Shelley such a splendid songwriter.

The Buzzcocks’ website sees the band members describing Pete as “one of the U.K.’s most influential and prolific songwriters” and that is not understated. He was born Peter Campbell McNeish on 17th April 17 in Leigh, just outside Manchester. It was whilst attending the Bolton Institute of Technology a fellow student, Howard Trafford posted an in-house ad looking for musicians interested in playing the Velvet Underground’s relentless 17-minute two-chord churn, Sister Ray; that interested Pete who answered the ad. “I was doing philosophy and comparative European literature when Buzzcocks started,” Pete said in an interview in 2009, “We found this whole other world of ideas, but tried to temper all that meaningful stuff with humour. Really, punk was about questioning things.”

Pete and Howard, who had now changed his surname to Devoto, recruited a drummer in late 1975 and formed the Buzzcocks, a name taken from a Time Out headline which read ‘It’s the Buzz, Cock!’ as part of a review for the TV series Rock Follies. In early 1976, Pete and Howard went to see the Sex Pistols in 1976 and then persuaded them to perform at a hall in Manchester, they agreed and a couple of months later they made the performance with the Buzzcocks as their warm up with a last-minute stand-in bass player Steve Diggle who remained throughout their career.

Their first release was the Spiral Scratch EP on their own newly formed label New Hormones, but then Devoto decided to leave leaving Shelley to write and sing and proved a successful as they signed a deal with United Artists records the hits started to come with What Do I Get? being their debut in February 1978 making number 37. By September that year they’d really hit the big time as daytime radio One had followed John Peel’s lead of giving them more airplay and Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), a title taken from a line in the musical Guys and Dolls, peaked at number 12. The following year more hits came; Promises, Everybody’s Happy Nowadays, Harmony in My Head and the re-issue of the Spiral Scratch (EP) all making the top 40.

They release three albums, Another Music in a Different Kitchen, Love Bites, and A Different Kind of Tension, which all made the top 30, but in 1981 Shelley left for a solo career and the band split.

In 2005, a few months after John Peel’s tragic early death, Shelley decided to re-record Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) with an all-star line-up which included Elton John, Robert Plant, David Gilmour, Roger Daltrey and Peter Hook among others as a tribute to Peel with all proceeds going to Amnesty International.

In 2002, Shelley and Devoto reunited for a one-off collaboration under the name ShelleyDevoto.

Shelley, by his own admission, was bisexual and was very open about it. He married in 1991 but divorced in 2002 and their son was born in 1993. In 2011, he married again, this time to Greta, an Estonian-born Canadian and in 2012 decided to move to her homeland capital, Tallinn. He said, “We moved because of its tranquillity and we only had a small flat in London which was getting a bit crowded. We came to Tallinn to visit relatives and it was such a beautiful place. It’s a world heritage site and it’s nice and quiet. In the place I was in London at three in the morning it would be a siren corridor. This is a lot more tranquil and it’s only a three-hour flight to the UK, so we’re not cut off.” not long after they’d moved he was asked how he was getting on with the language to which he replied, “I can understand a bit. It helps watching The Simpsons with subtitles, so I can say ‘Ah, that’s what it means.'”

On 7th December, Shelley’s brother, Gary announced on Facebook that Pete had suffered a heart attack and died, he was just 63.

The Buzzcocks songs are as relevant now as they were when first released some 40 years ago because his lyrics are subtle yet witty and are about adolescent love and lust which never changes.

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French legend Charles Aznavour dead at 94

“We live long, we Armenians,” Charles Aznavour once said, “I’m going to reach 100, and I’ll be working until I’m 90.” Well he was right about one of them, he was over 90 when he stopped working and that was after 80 years in the business. In a day and age when you can’t imagine any of the pop acts of today being around more that about 20 or so years after their career began, Aznavour has never stopped.

He was born Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian in Paris in May 1924 to Armenian parents. During the Second World War the Aznavour family hid Jewish people in their home from the Nazi-occupied territory in France. His father used to sing in restaurants and when Charles was 10 his father introduced him into his act which he enjoyed so much that he adapted his surname to Aznavour. By the time he was 11 he began performing at the Théâtre Marigny in Paris. He began writing songs which led to a partnership with the French actor Pierre Roche who together wrote for the like of Gilbert Becaud and Maurice Chevalier.

During his long career he wrote more than 1,200 tracks. “The French approach to writing songs is much more serious than in the English-speaking world,” Charles told my colleague Spencer Leigh. “A song is more than just an entertainment. Writing is a serious matter and listening is a serious matter too. Jacques Brel’s songs are about death, George Brassens’ are about death, Leo Ferré’s are about the past and I am about the past too. But my background is not French. My background comes from Oriental poetry mixed with French poetry.”

Aznavour launched his solo career in 1950 where he sang his own songs and, with an ability to sing in more than six languages, it helped raise his profile as it would appeal to a worldwide audience.

He had two UK hit singles, the first, The Old Fashioned Way (Les Plaisers Demodes) reached number 50 in 1973 but the follow-up, She, went to number one and was co-written by Herbert Kretzmer. London Weekend Television were filming a drama series, The Seven Faces of Woman, and they asked Herbert for a suitable theme song. He told Spencer, “What they needed was a song to link the seven plays and the producer thought I might write something for Marlene Dietrich as she represented the ageless woman. I didn’t like that idea much as if you’re going to write about a woman’s mystique, it would be better if it were not sung by a woman. If she sang about her own mystery, the song would be too calculated and knowing. I said, ‘It should be a song about a woman as seen by a man, and what better man than Charles Aznavour, who sings about love and romance? I brought him into the project and it turned out terribly well.”

During the eighties and nineties he continued to tour the world and collaborate with many singers including Dusty Springfield, Elton John, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey.

In 1988 the tragic Armenian earthquake struck and Charles set up his own charity, Aznavour for Armenia to raise money for the victims. He wrote the song Pour toi Arménie which he recorded with a number of French musicians and it topped the chart in France for 18 weeks. Following the devastation a statue of Aznavour was erected in the city of Gyumri where the most lives were lost.

In 1998, he was named Entertainer of the Century by CNN and in 2017 was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1986 he became a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2018 he was touring again including a stint in the UK, but during some shows in Japan he strained his back and broke his arm which forced him to cancel the remainder of the tour.

Charles, who was married three times and had six children, died at one of his homes in the south east of France. Only recently he said in the Hollywood Reporter, “I sing about the ordinary things of life. My ideas are everyone’s ideas. My problems are theirs so the audience accepts me. I am not a handsome, talented man. My voice is froggy and everything about me is common. They identify with me.”

Charles Aznavour was the oldest living male singer to have had a UK number one hit, that honour now goes to Tony Bennett who is 92.

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Cockney legend Chas Hodges is dead at 74

Pop stars come and pop stars go. Few stick around, seemingly forever, Cliff Richard and the Rolling Stones are the two immediate ones that spring to mind, and Chas and Dave is another.

The loveable pop/cockney pair began, as a duo, in 1975 with the first single, Old Dog and Me which failed to chart. Their chart career began in 1978 with Strummin’ and then, thanks to a television beer commercial, they hit the big time but Chas Hodges had been around and making music for 20 years by then.

Chas was born in Edmonton, north London, between Christmas and New Year 1943. He was inspired to become a musician after seeing Lonnie Donegan and his mother, who was a pub piano player, encouraged him, “And I said to my mum, ‘I’d love to play the guitar,'” Chas revealed in an interview in 2013.

In the late fifties he began working with Joe Meek as a session player and, like Joe Brown, he often got to back many of the American musicians when they toured the UK and so found himself playing for Bill Haley And his Comets, Mike Berry and The Outlaws alongside Ritchie Blackmore and Jerry Lee Lewis. It was whilst backing the latter that he decided to take up the piano because of how impressed he was with the way Jerry Lee played. In the mid-sixties he did a spell with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers which is where he first worked with their drummer Mick Birt. He was invited by Albert Lee to join his band Heads Hands and Feet and, before long, Chas and Albert met Dave Peacock and formed another band called Black Claw.

At that point Chas and Dave decided to go it alone with their cockney rock ‘n’ roll genre and recorded their self-produced album One Fing ‘n’ Anuvver. Mick Birt, after leaving Cliff Bennett returned to his old plumbing job, but Chas and Dave invited him back to join them as their drummer. They were proud of their north London roots and one track on the album was called Ponders End Allotments Club. DJs John Peel and Charlie Gillett were both championing their music before they became successful.

It was in 1978 when an advertising executive was having a drink in a pub they were playing at saw them perform Gertcha and signed them up make some commercials for Courage Best Bitter with specially adapted lyrics. The follow-up was The Sideboard Song (Got my Beer in The Sideboard Here) which would have been more suitable for the ads and despite its popularity it didn’t even crack the top 50.

Most of their tracks, like the Small Faces in the sixties and Ian Dury and Squeeze in the seventies, were witty ditties about English life. In 1980 they got their first top 10 hit with Rabbit all about the missus who never stopped talking, she apparently had more rabbit than Sainsbury’s which, interestingly, is an item not often seen in said supermarket. The following year was the year of the medley with 25 multi-track medley’s making the chart. Many were assembled by DJs and producers who concentrated on one acts so there were medley’s by the Beach Boys as well as a Beach Boy medley by Gidea Park, Hollies, The Sweet, the aforementioned Bill Haley and Gary Glitter. Then there was a Bee Gees medley by Startrax Club disco, a Caribbean medley by Lobo, a classical one by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and two sixties mixes by Tight Fit. It all kicked off with the Dutch producer Jaap Eggermont who recorded Abba, Beatles and Stevie Wonder medley’s under the moniker Star Sound with the titles being Stars on 45 volumes one, two and three. Chas and Dave decided to jump on the bandwagon but recorded their own medley Stars Over 45 which featured the vaudevillian songs The Laughing Policeman, Any Old Iron, Run Rabbit Run and What A Rotten Song which are, of course, all over 45 (years) old.

In 1982 they had their biggest hit with the reflective ballad Ain’t No Pleasing You which reached number two. In 1985, they recorded the theme to the TV sitcom In Sickness and In Health and the following year snooker promoter Barry Hearn had the idea of getting Chas and Dave to team up with all the snooker players he looked after: Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Terry Griffiths, Willie Thorne and Tony Meo who, under the name The Matchroom Mob, backed the duo on Snooker Loopy.

I had the great pleasure of working with Chas and Dave a few times in the nineties and early 2000s. One evening we were chatting back stage and I’d brought my copy of Rabbit in to be autographed. They both duly signed it and Chas said, disappointingly, “Is this the only single you’ve got of ours?” I said, “No” to which he replied, “bring the others in tomorrow and we’ll sign them all.” I was thinking he’ll probably be sorry he said that and so when I turned up the next night with about four albums and a batch of singles, he was far more impressed and signed the lot. They were both such lovely people and had time for everyone.

They loved their football and supported Tottenham Hotspur. In 1981 they recorded Ossie’s Dream… (Spurs Are on Their Way to Wembley) with the Tottenham Hotspur F.A. Cup Final Squad but were uncredited. In 1987 they teamed up with them again for the song Hot Shot Tottenham! But this time were given due credit.

The pair continued to tour the UK and never went out of fashion or favour right up until 2009 when, following the death of his wife Sue, Dave announced his retirement. Chas continued but less than a year later they announced a tour for 2011 which they undertook.

In 2013, marking their 50 year friendship they signed a record deal with Warner Music

The duo never had a UK number one but they came close twice; one with Ain’t No Pleasing You and the other was in 1999 when Eminem first arrived on the scene. His first hit was My Name Is which samples Labi Siffre’s I Got The from his 1975 album Remember My Name, Chas and Dave were the session men on the Siffre track. Mark Mason was written some excellent and witty books, one of them being The Importance of Being Trivial featuring many fascinating and well-researched titbits. In the book he said of the Eminem info, “Chas confirmed the story when I checked it during research for my book. The first he heard of his connection with rap royalty was from his son. ‘He came into the room and said, “I can’t believe it – my dad’s on a worldwide hit!”‘ What about royalties? ‘We ain’t had any yet,’ said Chas, ‘but someone’s chasing it up. We’ve signed something, anyway.’

In February 2017 Chas announced on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and that it was caught early and was having treatment. He gave good news updates along the way and proudly announced that he’d beaten it, but on the morning of 22nd September it was announced on the official Chas and Dave Twitter account that he had suffered organ failure and passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours.

I defy anyone to listen to a Chas and Dave song and not end up with a smile on your face.

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