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C'Mon Everybody Show





C'Mon Everybody Show



Digger talks to Chris Black who has been in the music business since 1955 and who runs the highly successful touring show C'mon Everybody. This features artists such as Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Chuck  Berry, Duane Eddy. The show is in its eleventh year and can be seen at a venue near you throughout 2011.




Digger: Good day to you Chris.

Chris: Hello Digger. 

Digger: How are you?

Chris: Very well.

Digger: You're obviously gigging this weekend as well Chris?

Chris: Yes. It goes in stops and starts - we get a lot of dates in one go but we play at least once a week.

Digger: Life seems to be more hectic as you get older Chris, doesn't it?

Chris: Oh yeah! Life's busier now than it's ever been. It's going faster and faster.

Digger: Can you tell us about you and the background to the C'Mon Everybody Show?

Chris: I started playing in 1955 when Lonnie Donegan brought out Rock Island Line. That's when we all picked up the guitar for the first time and started playing and got a tune out of it. Then we were up and running. We played at Chiselhurst Caves in Kent and that was the first 'underground' gig we did live together. Great times.

Digger: So you're the real deal. One of the originals who came through from skiffle?

Chris: Yeah. You couldn't get a guitar lesson off of anybody to start with. I couldn't imagine that,  from 1955 and then only nine years later in 1964 - from nothing The Beatles took America. I couldn't believe it and what an achievement!

Digger: A lot happened in a short space of time, it's true.

Chris: And what a learning curve we had. We started from nothing, then The Beatles and The Stones as well. And I thought it was something to take it back to where it came from.

Digger: It's wonderful. And the whites in America often didn't recognise the music that had come out of black America.

Chris: I made a little pilgrimage yesterday and went to see Duane Eddy. My hero and my mentor. And I managed to shake his hand and thank him for all of the music he's given us. We learnt from his records. He was really worth seeing and it was lovely to shake his hand.  He signed my records as well and I think I'm the only guy doing a tribute to him in England.

Digger: Does he know about you? 

Chris: (Laughs) He does now! I've got a great photo with him and I left all my contact details so let's hope he gets back in touch with me - that would be nice.

Digger: And why not? There are a lot of bands and performers who have got tributes and who really support them and appreciate them. Hopefully he'll do the same thing.

Chris: It would be great if he did. If he walked on stage one night. You never know what's in front of you. You do what you do. I left him a copy of what I do and he can either listen to it or use it as a beer mat. If he does hear it, hopefully he'll be a bit impressed with it and give me a call.

Digger: I've found the bigger the star the nicer they are, so fingers crossed for you.

Chris: A lovely man... So, I ended up doing my national service and I was in tanks from '57 to '59. It was in Cyprus and I've never wanted to go back there because it was just so terrifying. I was glad to get back home with my legs - we were always expecting to go over a mine when you're driving. I really know how they feel in Afghanistan. We were conscripted and weren't volunteers so it was a totally different game. That really messed me up music-wise because we were doing really well before I went in - we had a band and then all the guys had to sit and wait for me for two years waiting for me to come out again. But that's what they did and then we backed Gary Glitter.

Digger: Paul Gadd as he was then?

Chris: Yes, seventeen he was then when I used to pick him up in the motor.

Digger: Did you get any idea then of his can I put it, strange hobbies?

Chris: At seventeen he was only a kid so there was no sign.

Digger: They've completely re-written Glam Rock history and he's been written out.

Chris: And rightly so, it was his own fault. He's put so many people out of work - record companies and people down the line. The band can't earn a living now. Not to mention all the suffering and pain he caused people.

Digger: People like him and Jonathan King seem to be in denial that they've actually done anything wrong.

Chris: Yes, it's strange. 





Digger: So enough of that, Chris. back to your show...

Chris: I did some work for an agent called Roy Tempest who was one of the biggest agents at the time. He booked us in the main venues - The Tottenham Royal, The Ilford Palais and all the big venues and they used to have all the big bands on. We used to come round at The Tottenham Royal on the circular stage and the band went off on one side and we came on the other. You had all the main bands - each had a couple of songs they were known for and everyone had smiles on their faces and there was such a buzz. It was such a great time and, of course, there was no other music. So the place was heaving. I wanted to end up in life how I started, so around 2000 I decided to put this show on the road. 

Digger: And it's still going strong.

Chris: Oh yeah. You put things together sometimes and they don't work, but this has worked right from the very start. From the first show, even when we were feeling our way with it, it has always gone down well.

Digger: It's impressive that you've got the show booked at venues right into the last half of 2011.

Chris: I tell you what - to be able to go into a theatre now and set your stuff up and look around the venue - there's quite a selection of ages but a lot of the people are retired and they absolutely love it. They give us a standing ovation at the end. We had a great gig in Boston last week - unbelievable. And the warmth and the cheering and they didn't want us to go off. I thought it makes it all worthwhile that you can go into a theatre and take people out of it for a while and cheer them up so much.

Digger: That's good.

Chris: It's a great feeling to have and you feel as though you've done the business then.

Digger: Is it getting harder work as you get older? When you tour, do you go around in a tour bus and do you stay over at places or try to head back home?

Chris: You don't really notice it because if you're doing what you love for a living then you've made it, haven't you? Anything else is a bonus. We stop away when we have to. We have two vehicles - one carries the piano and the other is a minibus. We try to keep the expenses down because it's still hard out there. You never know how many are going to turn up and if I knew how to get the theatre full I'd be a millionaire wouldn't I? (Laughs) 

Digger: These days it doesn't matter how good a show is. None of them are playing to full capacity. I'm looking forward to seeing you at The Stables in January Chris.

Chris: Brilliant. That is one of the nicest venues. It's run by musicians and it's so welcoming. They make you feel special and that's the only venue that does that.

Digger: That's good but it's a shame others don't.

Chris: I can't wait to go back there - I love playing there and we always get a good crowd there. I do tributes to Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy - they are all there. We are trying to keep it as authentic as possible and it's just working so well. We do the Oh Boy! Show, do you remember that?

Digger: Not the first time around - I was a baby then I think, but I've seen some footage of it. 

Chris: That's what it's based on and it's fast. They only do one or two numbers each and then they're off stage again. We get through 53 numbers in two and a half hours.

Digger: Wow. That's a lot.

Chris: It is but it's a good representation of rock and roll because we change the mood as much as we can.

Digger: No Elvis?

Chris: No - we can't fit him in. I love the man, but we couldn't fit his songs in.

Digger: That's great that you've got so much good material in there. So much that even Elvis can't be fitted in.

Chris: We tried to do it but it didn't work. It's a different feel and we needed a slap bass and we haven't got one so we couldn't do him justice. 

Digger: And if you were going to do Elvis you'd have to do a few numbers as well.

Chris: If you're going to do Elvis you've got to be geared up for it - you can't mess that about. You've got to do the thing properly. We didn't feel it was good enough. So we really cover the music as it was, instrumentals, rockers, ballads right across the board.

Digger: Are you getting younger people coming to see the show?

Chris: Yes, all ages.

Digger: Why do people love the fifties so much still?

Chris: I often say on the stage "Hands up all those that were there first time round." They all put their hands up and I say "Don't worry about getting old, because if you were any younger than you are you'd have missed that magic time." If I could take you back I would, but the nearest I can do to that is for you to come and see the show. That's what we used to get on a Saturday night everywhere you went. And these artists hit us with an avalanche of music - there'd never been anything like it. It was all new and we were rebelling from Victorian attitudes and the aftermath of the war and we had a party. Suddenly we had a music just for us, like they did later with punk and whatever it is that the kids like now. We had our own music and it was brilliant and the key thing was that the songs were great and they're still great today. They really don't write stuff like that anymore. I'm glad it was in my life.

Digger: Are there any other shows planned?

Chris: No, I've never worked so hard on a show in my life. I've put my heart and soul into this one and seriously I don't think I've got the energy to do another one. 

Digger: Ten years and still going strong - that's amazing, isn't it?

Chris: Yes, we've had a lot of changes of cast but you can't help that. Girls might have a boyfriend who doesn't like them travelling all the time - you get that all the time with people moving on. But the keyboard player is magic and I met him in Denmark Street in 1967. 

Digger: Right in the heart of Tin Pan Alley?

Chris: Yes, I used to record there a lot in the sixties and he was coming to do a session on his piano. He came from Romford, I came from Barkingside and we've been mates ever since and he's been in and out of the shows through with me. Brian Poole, Cliff Bennett - most of the bands. I've got about fifty of them we have backed. We had a big show in the eighties and that went well but this one is by far the best because I've got great star names on it and it pulls more people in than probably these other bands do.  It's really rewarding.

Digger: Chris, you've done really well and I'm looking forward to seeing the show. I saw an Elvis show about three months ago and, not having listened to Elvis for quite a while, the catalogue of songs and the quality of the songs and the show knocked me out. I just couldn't believe how good the music was. And I'm sure your show is the same.

Chris: They don't play the same beat all night at our show like these modern ones do.

Digger: No, those songs were creative and innovative and there was so much new stuff going on. Thanks for talking with us about the show, Chris, and I'm really looking forward to the show and meeting you in January.

Chris: Thanks so much Digger. I appreciate it.





C'Mon Everybody Show


Chris Black's uplifting, energetic and exciting fifties rock and roll show, now in it's eleventh year of touring, features over two and a half hours of the best music from the heyday of rock and roll. Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Chuck  Berry, Duane Eddy - they are all here. The show is a must for fans of rock and roll or for lovers of a great night's entertainment of any age.

C'mon Everybody
PO Box 4877
WS12 9BZ


TELEPHONE: 0781 494 8583 or 01543 504771






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