The day I met a Rock n Roll Legend……But didn’t know!
A good many years ago, 1961 to be exact. I and the band I was a member of at the time were sat in a central corridor at the Atv Studios in Aston, Birmingham awaiting for our Audition to take part in a show featuring Midlands Bands. Also sat in the corridor were two black guys who we assumed were like us, Musicians waiting to be called for their audition spot, how wrong we were? As musos do the world over we struck up a conversation about music naturally. The younger of the two was very quiet and shy, but the older, a tall stocky guy who was built like a heavy weight boxer, chatted to us for quite some time until we were called to our Audition. When we returned they were gone, it was a pity we had really enjoyed chatting to them.
This was on a Sunday, the following Friday, when my copy of the Melody Maker fell through my door and the cover story was Little Richard to tour the Uk And there was a head and shoulders pic of our friend from Sunday. I couldn’t believe my eyes so I popped around to my mate, who also played in the band and he agreed with me, it was without a doubt the guy we had been chatting too.
The thing that confused us, we had seen Little Richard In cameo roles in several Films, the most obvious one being ‘The Girl can’t help it’ a vehicle to promote the late Jayne Mansfield who at that time was the current American Sex Symbol. In the films we saw Little Richard was a tall skinny guy with big hair, almost like the late Prince but obviously taller, in fact poles apart from the version that we met.
Little Richard, the man we met was kind, humble and self effacing, he was a joy to share time with and pleasure to know. May his success and music survive like himself has, it is his 85th Birthday in December 2017.
The other guy with him was a teenage Billy Preston, they were just about to embark on a UK Tour, Little Richard on piano and Billy providing backing with his organ. As a footnote we failed the Audition as also did a band from Leicester, Gerry Dorsey and the Brothers. Quite amusing when you realise that Gerry Dorsey is now Mr. Engelbert Humperdink who regularly plays Las Vegas. Aah Memories !