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24/7 Polka Heaven

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24/7 Polka Heaven
24/7 Polka Heaven

24/7 Polka Heaven
My parents, thankfully, asked me to have lessons when I was seven and I did and I won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. yearold Reg joined the academy's junior exhibitioner scheme for state school children who showed an exceptional gift for music. It's funny, I've had hundreds of pupils and yet I remember him so clearly. He was a dear. I was very fond of him. He had such a marvellous ear. But I do remember that he couldn't read music. So I gave him these books to catch up on being a pianist. Also at the academy, he learnt how to construct music. He learnt about the chords and phrases and how different composers constructed their music and everything that would help him if he wanted to write his own music. THEY PLAY FASTPACED ROCK 'N' ROLL But by the late s, British teenagers had other ideas of how to tinkle the ivories. Rock 'n' roll arrived and changed the world. It changed my world. Well, come on over, baby We got chicken in the barn, whose barn, what barn, my barn Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Web Radio, Fats Domino came into play and so it was a whole new ball game. Whole lot of shaking going on He hadn't been showing such enthusiasm for the last year, I should say. I didn't know that he'd formed his own band and that he had a quite different love of music from mine. Shake Shake Shake, baby, shake, baby I formed a band at called Bluesology with a couple of friends. I still didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I wouldn't be a classical pianist. I didn't want to be. I just wanted to be in a band and play rock 'n' roll. Bluesology were a collection of likeminded lads from the Pinner and Northwood Hills area of Northwest London. Getting tougher than tough This thing's getting rougher than rough Reg was square compared with the other people that were in our band. Very short hair, little round glasses. He didn't look the part at all. We didn't see a great deal of him socially. But when he got down and played, everything else was just put aside. He was... He obviously had an immense talent. He could do anything. He could sit down with a stack of music and work his way through it, he could play rock 'n' roll, boogiewoogie, jazz, you name it. We couldn't have done what we did without him. Because of his musical knowledge, he was the person to knit it all together. I always got the impression that he wanted to progress his career probably more than other members of the band and this was just a stepping stone. By the age of , young Reg was set on his path as a musician and school had become something of a distraction. My headmaster at Pinner County was Mr WestgateSmith. I was petrified of him. And I knocked on his door and I told him the story of why I wanted to leave and he said, "I know how much music means to you. "I give you my blessing but make sure you work hard at everything you do." Taking the lead, Reg set to work writing Bluesology's first single. I wasn't the lead singer but they didn't like the lead singer's voice so I had to sing which went down well with the lead singer. Come back baby Come back to me, yeah Now armed with their first seveninch, the band's next step on the road to turning pro was to pay their dues backing R'n'B acts for the infamous Roy Tempest agency. Tempest had hit on the wonderful idea of importing acts into the UK whose careers were a little bit on the downward slop because they could get them cheap and by the time they got here they were in for two weeks of solid hard work. I give you all I have baby But when you leave my arms I know... These gigs turned out to be a master class in stage craft from the seasoned veterans. Patti LaBelle and Online Radio, Major Lance, The Ink Spots, they were all great. Major Lance. Online Radio, one of the greatest underrated R'n'B stars of all time, enormous big man. HE ROLLS HIS TOUNGUE The way he carried himself and the way he sang... HE ROLLS HIS TONGUE In the summertime. He was fantastic. Summertime And the living is easy It was that era of R'n'B where they all did the movements and they knew how to do a show, whether it was minutes, minutes, an hour or ten minutes, they knew how to get the audience. You just watched. Get enough then I'm going to Hollywood Nothing's better for you than to go out and play live, even to people. It gives you resolve, it hardens you up and it makes you a better songwriter, it gives you the experience, the backbone. Well, you know the night time Oh, the right time Having made a name for themselves as a backing band, Bluesology's next gig came from a little closer to home. We joined Long John Baldry. John was a blues singer so we were doing Della Reese and Nina Simone songs. Great. We're talking about Mr Long John Baldry! He was pretty well established on the blues scene, Baldry. And subsequently he had a big number one hit in . A dreadful toecurling record. Let The Heartaches Begin. HE Online Radio So let the heartaches begin Consequently, dates changed. We were playing in supper clubs and it was cabaret. And I was playing and I was getting more and more depressed and I thought, "This isn't the reason I wanted to play in a band, I hate this.
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