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Paul McCartney joined Mick Green, Brian Hodgson, Chass Hodges, Alvin Stardust and Tony Prince on stage, for this private party (no recordings have yet surfaced).
From Club Sandwich N°46, Winter 1987:
1987’s Buddy Holly Lunch took place on 9th September at the Dolphin Brasserie in Pimlico, London, Inside it was reminiscent of an ocean liner: light, spacious and with a stage ideal for the occasion.
Paul and Linda, smartly casual in dress, greeted everyone on arrival, Paul looking relaxed and fit with the flowing locks of 1986 trimmed well back. Well-known faces mingled with those who’ve helped to keep the Holly name alive. Anne Diamond flitted in, exchanged a greeting or two and was gone. Actor Leigh Lawson (Travelling Man) and Twiggy lingered longer. Paul Gambaccini and David Jensen, the thinking person’s DJ’s, enjoyed themselves quietly.
In fact, behaviour was pretty civilised all round. Animated conversation flowed, but missiles of all kinds (melon balls, rolls,’ profiteroles) remained unthrown. Tough luck on Sketchleys, but there we are. McCartney musical colleagues included Andy Mackay (Tug Of War, Pipes Of Peace), Kenny ‘Rockestra’ Jones and Micky Gallagher from the recent rock ‘n’ roll sessions. (See ‘Once Upon A Long Ago’ story.) Duane Eddy was luckily able to attend, being in town to promote ‘Rockestra Theme’. As friendly as he is massive, Duane sported an impressive grey hat and seemed pleased with life, autographing the Eddy feature in CS44 for the Sandwich editor.
Ray Needham of the British Buddy Holly Society was there, distributing copies of their latest mag. John Beecher, coauthor of the splendid Remembering Buddy Holly, revealed how Jerry Allison became a director of his Rollercoaster Records. Despite John’s earnest assurances that Rollercoaster would never make him rich, an insistent J.I., thoroughly taken with the idea, finally extracted a drunken promise in writing. The wretched Beecher awoke next day to find the promise dangled before his eyes by the leering drummer! The name ‘J.I. Allison’ adorns the company masthead to this day.
But the main point of the lunch was to present the prizes for the MPL’s Buddy Holly Song Contest. The brief, “to write an original song in the style of Buddy Holly”, inspired both affectionate tributes and more indirect echoes of the Holly sound. When it comes to tributes, there are few older hands than Mike Berry, whose ‘Tribute To Buddy Holly’ hit the charts in 1961. Obviously not a quickie cash-in, its sincerity is still plain. (“He told me in 1962 he could last another year on that song,” recalled Paul with amusement.) Jonathan Ross presented the runners-up prizes, giving Paul and him a chance to size each other up before the McCartney debut on Jonathan’s last Resort show. Then once Mike and co. had run through some Holly favourites, it was Jim Imray’s turn in the spotlight.
From ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ to ‘Money For Nothing’, many a good song has been inspired by an overheard snatch of conversation. So it was with Jim’s winning entry, ‘Got The T-shirt’: “I was driving a mini-cab during one of my frequent troughs, when one passenger asked another if he’d seen a particular film. The other replied: ‘Yes. I’ve read the book, seen the movie, got the T-shirt.’ My songs come out of the air: I like titles – titles suggest the tone of the song.”
The method certainly worked this time. ‘Got The T-shirt’ is a crisp, driving number, reminiscent of ‘Love’s Made A Fool Of You’ with a more contemporary rhythm. Jim’s account of its recording explains the last bit.
“I finished the song on holiday in Crete, but thought there was no market for a song about Buddy Holly. Then John Hamilton of EQ Studios in Watford told me about the competition when I was demoing another song with Billy Dean. Billy Kuy played guitars and bass on ‘Got The T-shirt’, with a drum machine for the rhythm.”
Now there’s a funny thing: Billy K. was in the Outlaws, who backed Mike Berry on the original ‘Tribute’. These old Outlaws just won’t lie down – others include Chas Hodges (Chas and Dave) and Ritchie Blackmore. What about Jim Imray’s musical past?
“I just about play the guitar… I once had two songs recorded in an independent deal, but it cost me more than I made out of it.
“I remember my Mum shouting ‘Buddy Holly’s on!’ during Two-Way Family Favourites, when I was out in the garden – it was ‘Oh Boy’. I have two Holly LP’s, but Paul Simon is my song-writing idol. I like Paul McCartney too: I spent my dinner money to see the Beatles at Romford ABC in 1963. ‘Please Please Me’ had just come out. Chris Montez topped the bill, Tommy Roe was on too and the Beatles closed the first half.”
Aged 39, bearded and genial, Jim is landlord of the Salisbury Arms at Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire: “Food at all times, bed and breakfast… (Billy Dean: ‘… and a song in the morning.’) The juke box is mostly current stuff, but it has got ‘Mull of Kintyre’. Billy Dean sings there and we also have jazz and big band nights. We like to encourage live music.”
Yet Billy D. now performs to backing tapes when singing live.. (“It was impossible to make money with a band.”) He toured with Roy Orbison for six years, singing harmony and playing guitar, and Jim is full of praise for his singing on ‘Got The T-shirt’: “I doubt I’d have won it without his performance.”
They hope to make an album together, but the topic of the moment is which star name will record ‘Got The T-shirt’.
“Shakin’ Stevens may do it,” says Jim. “Mike Leander is also interested.”
Jim and Billy had an early chance to impress Shaky’s producer, Stuart Colman, when they appeared on his Radio London Echoes programme the following Sunday. Stuart had been at the lunch when, out of the blue, Billy was asked up on stage to sing ‘Got The T-shirt’ – luckily there was a lyric sheet handy. Carol Imray seemed to enjoy herself and got Paul’s autograph on leaving, together with a smackeroo on the cheek. For husband Jim, it could be the breakthrough that all non-performing writers need. “I write songs across the board. There’s a song that would suit Neil Diamond down to the ground, and one that would suit Cliff Richard. I’ve always been a song man, rather than an artist man.”
Perhaps he dances as well… Oh, there’s Mike Batt, who wrote ‘I Feel Like Buddy Holly’. And there’s the chap who sang it, Alvin Stardust, up on stage with a motley crew (aren’t they a heavy metal group?) including DJ and Elvis nut Tony ‘Yer Royal Ruler’ Prince and legendary Pirates guitarist Mick Green. (See ‘Long Ago’ feature.) Now who’s that bounding on stage left? Ian lachimoe? Phil McKerriss? Paul McCartney!
It certainly was and in no time Paul, Alvin and Tony launched into a good-natured medley of ‘What’d I Say’ and ‘Mean Woman Blues’, Mick unleashing some scorching phrases while the band belted out the time-honoured tunes. Anyone who saw Paul’s Prince’s Trust performance will know that this sort of stuff is in his blood and always draws a fresh, spontaneous performance from him.
So it was on 9th September, making us doubly grateful for Buddy Holly Week. While honouring one great performer, we got a surprise treat from another -roll on next year!
Last updated on March 27, 2020
This was the 1st and only concert played at Dolphin Brasserie.
Setlist for the concert