It’s Tom Jones night on BBC4 tonight with a string of documentaries and concert footage (9pm start) from Later with Jools and across the decades. This photo was taken by my ex-colleague Eric Roberts, but long before 1992 when I had my second encounter with Tom at the launch of his terrific Central/ITV series Tom Jones: The Right Time. He performed acapella for the assembled hacks and proved to be a diamond geezer, both at the launch and in the series, where he invited musicians to do their thing, all people he humbly admired including Lyle Lovett, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder and Joe Cocker. Modest ratings (for then) of around five million meant it was never re-commissioned. A great pity. It was a marvellous series. I do hope some clips survive and might be glimpsed tonight.
Lion rescues Beatle….
A marvellous night at Kettering Lions Club on Friday, performing my ‘Oprah Winfrey Touched My Elbow’ talk, thanks to a lively audience at the town’s Masonic Hall and the hospitality of John and Barbara Geary and all the other Lions members and wives who organised the dinner and created such a special event.
Among those who came up to chat afterwards was one member –David Wagg – who had some lovely anecdotes of his own brushes with fame. In the 60s he was a drummer in a band himself and after gigs would stop for late re-fuelling at the legendary Blue Boar 24-hour motorway cafe on the M1. One night there he and his band-mates heard a call “’Ey whack, could you give us a push?”. They turned to find John Lennon in his Rolls—Royce, who’d run out of petrol just short of the pumps, so they did the necessary grunt work to keep the Roller rolling so he could re-fuel. Chatting to the Beatle it transpired he was “on his way to Abbey Road Studios to record an album. I didn’t think to ask which one…
Then the day job for General Motors, then owners of Vauxhall in the UK, took our drummer to motor city, Detroit, to the company HQ. But Detroit is also home to Tamla Motown and visiting some dimly lit subterranean restaurant a gruff waiter asked David if he liked “the music”. He explained he was in a band himself and loved Motown. “You just missed Stevie”, he growled. Stevie as in Wonder. Cursing their luck, the party carried on with their meal – until the waiter brought up another guy emerging from the gloom, who introduced himself. What a way to meet Smokey Robinson.
Jealous, moi! Absolutely!
In case you’re wondering why on earth there’s a picture of a very large box of Lindt chocolates on this post, I forgot to take any shots of the audience – curses – but I was one of the many winners of a raffle prize, so here’s a pic of that instead. Best I can do…