Friday, February 28, 2020

It was 51 years ago today that I sang with Danny La Rue

There has been controversy this week over a visit paid to a Scottish primary school by a drag queen.

Having sung on a West End stage with Danny La Rue when I was eight, I take a relaxed view of the matter.

When I first told this story I wrote:
I was one of the children asked up on to the stage halfway through one of his pantomimes - Queen Passionella and the Sleeping Beauty, to be precise. We sang "Doe, a Deer", as it happens, and having a deep voice I was given the first line. 
Anyway, my strongest memory of the evening, apart from my own performance, is of Danny La Rue coming out in front of the curtain, as himself, and announcing that someone had died and singing his own signature tune "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep" as a tribute to him. 
I have tried to make sense of this memory in recent years, assuming that the person who had died was the writer of the song. But on investigation he turned out to be George Stevens, and he died in 1954. 
Then a few days ago I heard Barry Humphries on Desert Island Discs. One of the records he chose was "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep, as sung by Randolph Sutton. 
Sure enough, Wikipedia tells us that Sutton made a famous recording of the song and died on 28 February 1969. Which dates my first and last West End performance to within a day or two.
I remember leaving school a little early so I could get home in time to go the show. It was during hymn practice (we had such a thing in those days) and when I left we were about to sing Hills of the North Rejoice, which was one of my favourites.

Looking at a calendar for 1969, I find 28 February was Friday. So that must be the day it happened.

Take it away, Danny.

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