Valentino - King Of The Music

"Valentino is the world's greatest keyboard entertainer" London Evening News

Harmonichords

He toured Scotland with Ruby Murray and Frank Carson and performed in a summer season with Ruby at Arbroath with a group called The Harmonichords who later became The Batchelors. He worked as a redcoat at Mosney, Butlins’ holiday camp in Ireland and the following year at Butlins Metropole Hotel in Blackpool.

At the end of that season I went to Liverpool and had the great fortune to be booked by the entertainer, agent and impresario Don Ellis to appear on the very last Theatre tour of the Old Tyme Music Hall featuring  three legends of the British Music Hall - G H Elliot, Randolph Sutton and Hetty King. It was the most wonderful opportunity to see these incredible entertainers performing on stage each night. I learned so much from them about stage craft and presentation. They didn’t use microphones yet could be heard loud and clear at the back of the Theatre. They taught me elocution and voice production and after the show each evening I used to sit into the early hours each night at our “pro digs” (where all the entertainers used to stay) listening in awe to their stories about their lives and careers in show business. They were the real old pro’s, the likes of which unfortunately we will never see again. 

I remember one rehearsal with Hetty King when she was standing by the footlights waiting for the orchestra to rehearse a number. A tiny trapdoor opened in the floor of the stage and a microphone slowly came up. She stood for a moment glaring at it and then demanded in an indignant voice “what’s that?” before placing her hand on the top and pushing it all the way back down into its trapdoor. “My voice doesn‘t need any help, thank you very much“ she declared. 

They had so many hit songs. G H Elliot had “Lilly of Laguna”, Randolph Sutton  “Mother Kelly’s Doorstep” and Hetty King “All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor”. Very few entertainers nowadays have stage craft. Joseph Locke had it. So too had David Whitfield, Andy Stewart, Sammy Davis Jnr and Liberace.

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