‘Ready, Steady, Go’ through to ‘Eastenders’, everyone has a tale to tell
about ‘Con and Dec’.
Original 60's Group.
to work with the cream of the music industry...Clem Cattini, Ronnie Verrel,
Andy White on drums......on bass: Frank Clarke, Lenny Bush, Dave Richmond,
and the nutter himself, Herbie Flowers...he played with ‘Blue Mink’....and
he is proud (the only one proud) that he wrote ‘Grandad’....in the guitar
department we had the complete legends: Jimmy Page (Led
Zeppelin), Big-Jim Sullivan (Tom Jones), Eric Ford, Brian Daly, Judd
Proctor.....Remind me to tell you about the time I sacked John Paul-Jones
off one of our sessions! Yes, he
who became the bass playing giant of ‘Led Zeppelin’. He
was completely unsuited for the job with us....it was like asking Jools
Holland to play ‘God Save the Queen’ ! Jimmy
Page did okay...after Jim Sullivan and I showed him how to play an ‘E7th
with a flattened ninth’ chord !!!
Original 60's Group.
and me and de odder fella!
mum was not too pleased when I gave up a position in the Chief Civil
Engineer’s Department of C.I.E. (the Irish equivalent of B.R.) to have a go
at the music industry in the UK. I
had read Civil Engineering and this was my first (and last)
‘proper’ job. Yes, we had a
fantastically successful career playing mouth-organs (ok, don’t laugh) since
I was twelve! First TV show we
did was the famed Ed Sullivan Show on U.S. television. Not
bad for the first one! the
biggest in the world at the time. Then we appeared on the opening night of
Irish Television....great honour.
wrote and arranged the music for a 26 week series on Irish national
radio....for Eamonn Andrews' Radio Company, as it happens....became a
lifelong friend. And we’ve got
the ‘red book’ ['This is Your Life'] to prove it.
the ‘big time’ in the UK for
a few days...’Opportunity Knocks’....what a flop! Then tried it for four
weeks....boy, was my head teacher miffed when I disappeared for that length
the big step:
heard whispers that a big ‘London’ agent was interested in us...Philip
Solomon, he discovered Bridie Gallagher, Ruby Murray, Lena Zavaroni, Pam
Ayres, Frank Carson, Van Morrison ...list is endless... (sadly
passed away just over a year ago)....at that time wanted us to tour with
Nina and Frederick (‘Little Donkey’, remember?) for five weeks.....great.
up in England:
the five weeks? Broke, forlorn,
told Mum (she would have been livid!). Of
course John Stokes (the non-brother in the outfit) disappeared back to
Ireland (as he was to do every time there was any problem!). John
was a carpenter, so no problem picking up work where he left off....Con and
I, different kettle of fish! In
fact the Employment Exchange were in hoots of laughter when I went to them
for employment....they could not believe I was serious....with my education
find out that the landlady knows a guy called Frank White...who just happens
to be a relation of your father??? Uncanny or what? Quick phone call. “Leave
it with me for an hour”. Sure
enough we got to see him and blow me...we were up and running....Three shows
for that week-end....First, call Mum...we needed our guitars, double bass
and amplifier, double quick! Should
we call John, get him back from Ireland? Yes/No?,
Yes/No?.....oh, all right then, toss the coin.....
Arbroath Summer Season:
up a few months later in a Summer Season in Arbroath, Scotland. Salary? £57.50
for three of us per week....I couldn’t give a toss...I wasn’t married, no
responsibilities, but Con and John...whoops!! We
were doing our Karl Denver impression every night...well, not so much Karl
Denver as three Frank Ifields.
Who arrived to see us?
famous or infamous Dick Rowe...the boss of Decca. Famous
for turning down 'The Beatles’....however
he discovered, not only us, but Vera Lynn, Mantovani, Tom Jones (with a
little help from meeeself...I’ll tell you about it sometime), Engelbert,
‘The Stones’....goes on forever! Incidentally
Dick’s son, Richard Rowe was the Supremo of ‘Sony Publishing’
world-wide...how about that? Operated
from Madison Avenue.I
bumped into him at an Art Exhibition in the West End recently.
was certainly not impressed!
by the way, try ‘Charmaine’, Karl has turned that song down, but I know it’s
a hit!” How
about that for a parting line from Dick?
The lucky break for 'The
morning we were rehearsing at the theatre (oh, okay, it was just a church
hall), “Let’s sing ‘Marcheta’”. Half
way through, a figure appeared from the shadows. “Why
the heck didn’t you sing
that last night when I came to see you?”. “But,
but, but Mr Rowe....ehhhhh.” “You’re just damn lucky I had to come
here this morning to catch my taxi to the station”. “I’ll
see you at Decca Studios in two weeks time, Sunday...I’ll let Philip have
on guys, give it a rest, it’s not going to get any better” “When
did you eat last?” “Oh,
Mr Raymonde (later to become a close friend, Ivor) you’re not going to catch US out
that easy...we KNOW that
eat”. “WHAAAATTTT?” That
Cafe was bliss...that breakfast. WOW! If
I close my eyes I can still smell the fried bread. Okay
I can smell the tramp sitting beside me as well!
to Scotland: “How did it
go?” “Don’t ask.”
Sitting in London:
borrowed flat....freezing, broken hearted....yes, John had b*ggered off
again....Con and I shared our last bag of porridge........
Philip called. “If anyone
asks you....you are a ‘country and western’ group”. He
had set up a meet with Shel Talmy and Mike Stone (who were to become one of
the great driving forces in British Pop Record Production). They
were predicting that C&W would
be the next huge phenomenon in the UK. This
was IMMEDIATELY pre
‘Beatles’. They loved us...and
we loved them.....they spoke our
language as regards music, recording, harmony.....we just loved every second
of their company!
session was a luscious dream....like a game of tennis........
Original 60's Group.
did it feel like standing in Philip’s flat in Park Lane, London, listening
to the acetate pressing of our first proper recording? Can
you imagine? Did you ever get
that hair on the back of your neck stand on end...did you ever have a
welling up in your eyes with sheer excitement....did you ever just stand
silent in disbelief? That
numbness....IT WAS ALL OF THAT...AND THEN SOME MORE......
we had a huge hit....19 weeks in the top twenty...longest for that year....AND
CON AND I STILL SING IT EVERY TIME WE APPEAR ON STAGE......
then wrote a Christmas song. “Oh
My Gaaaaawwwd”. Dismal,
undiluted, abysmal failure....it wasn’t released....it escaped! I
think I personally have got more copies than were ever bought. Still
get royalties though.....
Rowe: “Now do you understand,
boys, stick to what I say...just record ‘oldies’.”
said the same to Mick Jagger one day at Top of the Pops.....we were chatting
in our dressing room. Mick’s
reply? “F*** *ff, Dick”....Whaaaattt? “Mick
just told Dick to.....Did you hear that?” (I
hope that story doesn’t offend! I
should be president of the anti-bad language society...but Hey, it’s just a
Meteoric Rise To Stardom:
made two films, (singing ‘Stars will Remember’ in one and ‘He’s Got the
Whole World in his Hands’ in ‘He’s Got a Horse’ with Billy Fury, we were
directed by our fantastic choreographer and life-time friend, Ross Taylor)
back to back...TV series, TV appearances coming out of our ears! We
played ‘Top of the Pops’ so many times that we had our own wardrobe
department at BBC...TRUE!!!
Why did 'The
company with John? “well...long
like John Stokes...see him quite often, at various charity functions or at
Lodge...he is a ‘Water Rat’, as is Con.
see, every partnership in music always seems to have two guys who do it
all....Hank and Bruce....were always ‘The Shadows’...then Rick Parfitt and
Francis Rossi....who were the other guys in ‘Status Quo’? Who
a fact of life....A bus has always got a driver, conductor and a lot of
‘The Bachelors’ early days Con was the one with the voice, I was the one
with the ideas, John was the one with the newspaper! A
great pal and fun to be around. Con
and I always wish him the best of luck in everything that he attempts. Sadly
he breaks the laws of this great country every time he attempts to present a
'Bachelors' presentation ... he is forbidden by a High Court Undertaking
which he signed. Why does he do it? Who can tell .... a law breaker?
The Original 60's Group.
Where We Are
Touring, touring....and then more touring....missing our families when we
are away from home. Con misses
Kay, his childhood sweetheart and still his wife and mother to Carole, Greg,
Michael and Phillip.
lost, on tour, without Sandy, my lifetime partner and best friend, my kids
(no matter how old, they are still kids!) Victoria, Oliver and Louisa. Home
with our families is our ‘Heaven’.
course, when Con and I do our Concert tours we still have to play all the
favourite ‘toons’, but we present them in a unique ‘today’ digital way...so
you hear precisely what we all meant you to hear in the first place....Make
latest Top Five album has a lot of 'new' material on there ... recorded on
Pro Tools .. giving us all the 21st century technology.
Our next, 'Swinging
Bachelors' will thrill ll
those who hear it and buy it .... check it out.
great honours we have thrust upon us. Headlining
at Millwall Football Ground to celebrate the Queen Mum’s 100th. birthday.
Starring in the ‘Howard Keel Golf Classic’ Cabaret with Johnny Mathis and
Howard Keel himself! FOUR standing
ovations in twenty minutes!!!!! Appearing
at The Waterfront in Belfast.... The Opera House Blackpool...... Earls
Court, Bournemouth International Centre ... WOW!!
fun we both have traveling around the World...it’s a doddle ....and we get
paid for it! We get to see
exciting places, meet lovely people, sing a few songs and smile at the Bank
Manager. Who could ask for
time of writing, our 77th. album. 608 tracks to date? Did
we ever think we would get this far? And
the equipment available today just makes us sound better and better.
We start on our next two albums shortly.
Variety Club Golfing Society:
that involves us with the tear jerking presentations of Sunshine Coaches to
less fortunate kids. Just to see
those little faces when they see their brand new, gleaming, pale blue coach,
fitted with the latest technology hoists and fixtures...well, it just makes
you well up.
The Original 60's Group.
goal is to be at the very pinnacle of our skills in the year 2020.
Recording In The Future?
will use every bit of tomorrow’s digital technology to enhance and improve
the fantastic sounds that Con and I always make and we produce the most
exciting harmonies and vocal tricks.....CON’S VOICE IS A TOTAL JOY TO
WORK WITH.....SUCH POWER, SUCH GENUINE EMOTION.
Big Question 'The
Asked All The Time?
are you going to retire? Answer: I
will retire five years after I die. You
see, Con and I don’t work....what we do is not work...what we do is what we
enjoy doing and we happen to get paid for it. Think
of Jack Nicklaus, the great golfer....does he work? Has
he ever worked? Ask Richard
Branson if he works? I just know
the answer he will give.
devotes more and more time to his great love: Rotary
Club International. It’s
called, really, giving back a bit of what you receive. With
the Young Enterprise Scheme he helps young people to achieve, and considers
it an honour to spend his future time showing them how he developed his
performing skills, his business skills and his ‘just being nice’ skills. He
teaches them: ‘ATTITUDE’.
And Dec 'The
are both keen members of ‘The Grand Order of Water Rats’. I
am lucky enough to have been honoured as ‘King Rat’ and now am fantastically
honoured to be a Grand Councillor of the Order and most important of all to
have been a TRUSTEE for twenty
years, that is having overall financial responsibility for the running
of the most prestigious and respected Show Business Charity in the
World....Wheeeehhhh! What an
honour from my fellow show-business pals, Joe Pasquale, Michael Crawford,
Bruce Forsyth, Mike Batt, Jimmy Tarbuck, Roy Walker, Rick Wakeman, Engelbert
Humperdinck, Bryan May, Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Prince Michael, to
name just a few!
has been involved with this, the biggest Speaking Organisation in the world
... advised to join by the speaking giant Jim Rohn RIP. He has been awarded
the highest speaking award from that organisation and assists the Princes Trust in the UK with his phenomenal
workshops to make kids able to speak in public ... so worthwhile.
See Dec in action CLICK
“Helping Young People In Need”
is our own way of collecting money so that we can personally help and
distribute that money to deserving young people. As
a Trustee of the Water Rats I saw deserving young people who need funding
for an exciting project or an exciting career who just don’t meet the
requirements of The Water Rats. So
I can identify those and sometimes we are able to help them.....BIG
Wonderful thing....ask me if there is anything I regret in our career and I
will answer: “Of
course, taking Dick’s advice and not writing as much as I should.” I
started writing seriously far too late in my career, now I advise everyone
to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! I
even run my own organisation to encourage young writers (and old ones).
I am really proud
of my “Serious Writers Guild” and
“Serious Performers Guild”, , in the UK call 01323.728005. Or Email email@example.com All
who get involved just seem to have massive success! www.makehits.co.uk One
guy sold 100,000 of his first album! TRUE!!!
[ DEC CLUSKEY ]
and Dec, The Bachelors’
Cluskey and Dec Cluskey