Thursday, March 08, 2012

Mixed fortunes for faded 60s stars

A couple of big music names from the 60s have been in the news. P J Proby - best known for splitting his trousers while warbling Somewhere (or was it Hold Me?) - has been charged with benefit fraud. Meanwhile, fellow ballad singer Engelbert Humperdinck has been selected as Britain's choice for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Proby's plight - sad though it is - is perhaps unsurprising given the way he went through his cash when he was making it big. But the choice of Humperdinck is amazing, not to say laughable. Presumably, having failed to make an impact in the contest with dreadful pop acts over many years, the BBC is hoping that this 75 year old will get the sympathy vote. But my prediction is his performance will mark yet another year of UK underperformance in Eurovision. Either way, both Proby and Humperdinck represented what was worst about the UK pop scene in the 60s, standing shoulder to shoulder with Des O'Connor, Ken Dodd and Kathy Kirby.
Meanwhile, over in New Orleans, a new book by Ben Sandmel is to be published next month entitled Ernie K-Doe: The R & B Emperor of New Orleans. Ernie's 1961 hit Mother In Law marked the zenith of N'Awlins R and B and was apparently the only record from the Big Easy to top both the US pop and R and B charts, despite all the success of Fats Domino, Lee Dorsey, Ernie's collaborator and writer Allen Toussaint and the other greats of the era. Ernie was larger than life and I was lucky enough to see him many times at Jazzfest, on the Creole Queen riverboat and at his late, lamented Mother In Law Lounge and to chat to him on occasions. His catchphrase was 'I'm cocky - but I'm good'. And he sure was. He was the main reason I went to New Orleans in the first place: I just had to see this guy with the amazing voice and over the top personality, and - drunk or sober - he didn't disappoint. Here's the link to the book


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