Valentino - King Of The Music

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

Quiet Rural Life ? Some of Jackie's Recollections from his Upcoming Book

"In 1970, being on the road most of the time, I bought a house in a rural Essex village not least for tranquille location, a huge contrast to the hustle and bustle of big cities and late night gigs. The area, called The Rodings, can trace its roots to 6th century settlers. We were soon invited to a party given by a neighbour, "no angry villagers with pitchforks here", I remember thinking at the time, just friendly tolerant neighbours."

Swingers in The Rodings

"At some point during the evening, guests started throwing their car keys into a bowl. Many years later when I saw the film "The Ice Storm" with Sigourney Weaver I had a huge sense of deja vu - not just in America I thought. Back at our party, the women picked the keys out of the bowl and vanished with men other than their partners to different rooms in the house ! Lots of moaning and groaning ! I couldn't believe it, I thought I'd seen it all in London ! After getting over the initial 'surprise' in the tradition of the now defunct News of the World 'we made our excuses and left', I should say rather quickly !"

"What I didn't realise at the time was that knowing one of the secrets of The Rodings and not being part of it, I was treated with some hostility later on. When I saw the Stanley Cupric Film 'Eyes Wide Shut' I had another sense of deja vu ! You'd be surprised what warped things people can get up to in villages as well !"

The Helicopter !

"After my encounter with some of my neighbours more adventurous past times, I was asked if I could arrange for a 'celebrity' to open the village fete. I called up my colleague and friend Frank Sinatra, who had asked me on many occasions to perform for charities, if he was in England at the time and if he could make an appearance. After looking into it, Frank said he could slot a visit in for an hour, but would need to fly back to London in his chartered helicopter. I wanted to keep the visit a surprise, so I went ahead and organised a landing place in my back garden. I wrote to our local planning department at Uttlesford asking for permission to have a helipad, not knowing what the rules were."

"Someone leaked the story to the press that I was planning to have a helicopter landing place and within no time I was contacted by journalists, angry neighbours and not least the local Parish Council who finally found their pitch forks and started fund raising activities to stop this. Ironically, without knowing the real reason I wanted the helipad !"

"When I told Frank the story, he was livid and I remember him saying 'what a bunch of assholes, they don't deserve help'. I agreed that some where arseholes and he quickly corrected me 'I said assholes not arseholes, there's a difference, arseholes are useful!'".

 

Paul Raymond Revue

"The Paul Raymond Revue Bar was one of the hottest tickets in London, it was one of the only places in London with nude dancers and the show played to packed houses each night. But most of the audience left after the show, in spite of numerous attempts to keep people at the bar, not least a huge aquarium with an underwater striptease show ! My agent persuaded Paul Raymond, who initially couldn't see the point in paying any man to work for him, to have a music show after the main event to keep the guests in the bar. 

Paul booked me for a single night as an experiment. Luckily for me my show on my Cordovox electric accordion was a huge hit. That one show ended up lasting 6 months. I shared my dressing room with the dancers from the main show and for a young Irish boy my eyes where almost popping out of my head !

Nosher Powell & Sammy Davis Jr

"While at Paul Raymond's Revue Bar, I ate at a restaurant opposite called Iso's. Guarding the entrance, was a giant of a man called Nosher Powell. He'd been a boxer, stunt man, minder a real 'hard man', with a heart of gold. Nosher was the subject of Eamon Andrews' This is Your Life, so he was a celebrity in his own right. He mentioned to me that he was often a minder for Sammy Davis Jr when he was in London and promised to introduce me, when Sammy was next in the UK. 

Sure enough, a few months later Nosher called and introduced me. Sammy was engaging, funny and we got on like a house on fire. Sammy was bursting with ideas for my shows and he took me everywhere. I was starting to do a number of TV appearances and Sammy was worried by this 'Jackie, do you want to become really famous ?' I thought this a strange question, 'You see the secret of success is surprise. Every night you walk on stage, pick up an accordion and the audience thinks Oh no. not a bloody squeezebox player! and then you hit them with your wall of sound and it knocks their socks off. That is a huge surprise for the audience.... if you keep performing on TV you won't WOW them. You should concentrate on shows and events.. with your type of act you will work forever and you will always be in control".

Taking heed, valuing my privacy I took his advice and became one of the highest paid unknown entertainers in show biz history."

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