What a FABULOUS weekend!!! The Billy Fury weekend went in a blaze of meetings, hugs, laughs, highs and great, great music!
We went down to an Innkeeper's Lodge hotel in Northampton that was more-or-less just filled with Billy fans including the wonderful Moya, a close personal friend of Billy's who had come all the way from her adopted home in New Zealand. Moya's a pint-sized person with a tanker-sized personality and was such a lot of fun!
Friday afternoon we played a set in the meeting room of the hotel to a small but enthusiastic audience and then Friday night was the first main gig - an informal gathering in a packed room with many of the great artists who have sung on the Sounds Special monthly feature on Billy Fury web site. We met up with all the artists and the other regulars from the site's forum and it was a great night with music from (in totally random order)Rob Dee, Bruce Seaton, Johnny Storme, Jewel, Dean Hubert, Angus, Steve Sinclair, Jane, Pat James, Paul Staines, Snowy, Phil Jennings plus David and myself.
Paul and Johnny, dubbed The Fury Boys by the female members of the forum, (The Fury Girls...) did a fantastic duet together and set hearts fluttering all round the room judging by the reactions!
Then it was the turn of The Fury Girls themselves at the end of the night to gather to sing Fans of Billy Fury to the tune of Land of Hope & Glory, whilst I desperately tried to keep up accompaniment on the keyboards! We ended with all the singers up for a rousing rendition of Billy's most famous hit Halfway To Paradise.
After such a great night there wasn't much chance of sleep until we had wound down a bit and a bottle of wine in the room with David and Jeannie brought the night to a close and David and Jeannie went back to their own room and we collapsed like a light switched off.
Saturday was the main event at the Sunnyside club where Billy had given his last stage performance. The singers were joined by Jett Scream, Geoff Howlett and Andrew Tween.
Out of 14 acts we were chuffed to find ourselves only 4th from the top of the bill, which was topped by Billy's ex-flatmate Vince Eager with his band Rockola.
With three hours of music before we were due to go on, there was plenty of time for a few butterflies in the stomach and I was unbelievably nervous as the MC, disc jockey Pierre Petrou from London's Radio Northwick Park introduced us. But the roar that followed us as we walked onto the stage banished the nerves and I quickly made sure the guitar was still in tune and then promptly cocked up the intro to I'm a Believer! Not to worry, we gave what seemed like a good set of six songs and we hadn't gone all that far before the floor filled with dancers which is always a good sign!
Lots of people made very kind comments afterwards but we found it quite strange and having spoken to some of the other singers we knew we weren't alone. You grow into a gig and we felt that we had only just got going and then our 6 songs were up and we had to come off. But enough people said how much they had enjoyed it to make up for any regrets about only having a 20 minute slot and the whole night was a buzz with some really great acts!
I was grabbed to dance with Babs and then Jean and Marie and then once more all the singers joined Vince on stage to sing "HTP" and a really great night ended on a high.
We left on Sunday morning after doing a final round of goodbyes and reflected on lots of new friends made and meetings with people from the forum who I've felt I've known for so long. The proudest moment? Probably when someone from one of the two fan clubs came to say how much he had enjoyed my arrangement of Billy's King For Tonight which he described as "rocked up"!
Unfortunately Fran's camera died but David (the Click-Monster) took loads of photos of the other artists so I'll borrow them to add to my memories of a BILLYANT night!