Barry Band: Pop and rock tour stories struck a familiar note for Bobby

Bobby Bennett, entertainer'Historical, 1994
Bobby Bennett, entertainer'Historical, 1994
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Last week’s piece about the expansion of rock and pop tours in the 1960s brought a response from former Blackpool based singer-comedian Bobby Bennett.

I’d written that Bobby was in the show, which was headed by Joe Brown, whose current tour came to the Grand Theatre last month.

Bobby Bennett as a young adult star

Bobby Bennett as a young adult star

Bobby, who I first interviewed in 1960 when he was a rising juvenile star, points out he only played the last three weeks in that 1964 South Pier show.

“Johnny Kidd and the Pirates had left and the promoter, Larry Parnes, booked me as a replacement,” he writes.

“I had just won on Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks and Larry thought I might have some local pull.”

Bobby says he gained two things from the show. It was directed by Ross Taylor, who had written the words and music for the opening number, simply called An Opening Song.

Roy Orbison, in 1972

Roy Orbison, in 1972

“Ross gave me the arrangement and I used it as my opener for years,” writes Bobby.

“In the show was Al Paige, a nice comic. He was very helpful to me and I might have nicked a couple of his gags.”

Bobby remembers a great camaraderie among showbiz people in the 1964 season.

There was a 10-pin bowling league among the theatres at the new Savoy Bowl.

The Kaye Sisters'Singing trio, in 1974

The Kaye Sisters'Singing trio, in 1974

(The bowling league was active in later seasons).

Arriving late in the 1964 season, the South Pier team was steady and Bobby joined a team with the three Kaye Sisters (pictured), who were in the Winter Gardens Pavilion summer show.

Bobby writes: “I’m still working at South Coast venues.

“It’s my 63rd year as a professional entertainer, having started at the age of 10 with Roy Castle at Cleveleys. I got £1 for two nights a week.

“It was illegal, working without the education authority’s approval, but we got away with it.”

HAUNTING REFRAINS

This page often looks back on the 1960s music scene, but hi-tech moves in the music industry are giving a new meaning to the term Memory Lane.

A Sunday paper recently had a wonderful headline on the latest development – Only the Ghostly!

Yes, Roy Orbison – ‘The Big O’ – who died in 1988, will play 11 arena venues in April in holographic form, accompanied live by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

The tour is called In Dreams – The Hologram Tour, and includes many of his other great hits, including Only the Lonely and Pretty Woman.

Will any fans who saw one of Roy’s Blackpool concerts be seeing the show?

During his career Roy made seven visits to Blackpool.

He was on touring bills that came to the Dickson Road Odeon on April 11, 1966 and March 27, 1967 (Easter Sundays).

He topped a bill at the ABC Theatre on Sunday, August 4, 1968, and in the next two years he was there for each of the three-night Spring Bank Holiday weekends.

He sang the second half of shows that included British artists.

Roy’s later Blackpool shows were at the ABC on Sunday, September 3, 1972, and Easter Monday, 1980.