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For the 20th Buddy Holly Week, Paul McCartney joined the Crickets, Carl Perkins and Bobby Vee on stage to sing “Rave On!“. From Club Sandwich N°75, Autumn 1995:
It was 19 years ago today? Granted, it doesn’t quite scan – but, all the same, it was indeed 19 years ago that MPL instigated Buddy Holly Week, and this means – you’ll need all your fingers and toes for this one – that this year’s Week was the 20th.
Such a landmark as the 20th Buddy Holly Week could not go appropriately unobserved, indeed there were some thousand or so observers the night of 7 September when the Shepherd’s Bush Empire played host to the first of two special shows that truly merited the epithet “star-studded” and, yes, had them yelling for more. Believe you me, if the Shepherd’s Bush Empire had aisles there would have been dancing therein.
The Crickets, Carl Perkins, Bobby Vee, Mike Berry & the Outlaws and the Rapiers were the cause of this merriment. Oh, and – on the first night – someone else too. Someone who, professing himself to be “just a little Liverpool fan”, was obviously as proud as a peacock and as pleased as a punch to be on stage with them all, Paul McCartney. Paul’s appearance, in which he joined with the entire ensemble to sing a riotous ‘Rave On’, crowned a perfectly wonderful evening’s entertainment and provided the audience with the final extra thrill they had hoped for. “These are the guys who really did it,” Paul announced from the stage with genuine admiration for these original rock and rollers, before visiting them one by one for bear-hugs.
What a night. As well as the stars up on the stage there were plenty more in the audience. Sitting up in the first circle were Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan, Marty Wilde, Tommy Bruce, Bruce Welch, Big Jim Sullivan and Dave Dee, plus some familiar faces from the annals of Club Sandwich: Howie Casey, Eric Stewart, Dave Mattacks, Steve Holly (suitably dressed for the occasion in full Teddy Boy get-up), Blair Cunningham, Robbie McIntosh and Paul “Wix” Wickens. To be sure, every one of these guys seemed to be having a great time – as indeed was the “Liverpool fan” whose vision started Buddy Holly Week 19 years ago, and who quietly and without fanfare took his seat during Mike Berry’s set but was soon up on his feet along with everyone else, cheering on the succession of great performances.
The evening was everything that the MC, the former Royal Ruler of Radio Luxembourg Tony Prince, predicted it would be: “a rock ‘n’ roll night you will never forget”. After some fun and games with the audience, including a terrific jive contest, the stage entertainment began with the Rapiers, as perfect an imitation of a British beat group, 1961 style, as one could imagine, closing their set with a rocking and rollicking version of The William Tell Overture in which they danced, ran, hopped, skipped and jumped while twanging and picking their guitars. It made one breathless just to watch.
By a remarkable coincidence, Jerry Lee Lewis’s ‘Breathless’ was one of the numbers performed by Mike Berry & the Outlaws. Either Mike knows the secret of life or else he consumes large quantities of the elixir of youth, for he looks younger with every year and would now pass for about 35 … which is pretty clever considering that he enjoyed his first hit single in 1961. Mike was in fine voice and delivered an excellent set, closing with that first hit, the entirely apt ‘Tribute To Buddy Holly’.
It was in 1961 that Bobby Vee had his first hit on the British charts, too, with ‘Rubber Ball’. Sure enough, as Vee sprinted on stage at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, he brought with him a bunch of bouncing beach balls that he pushed out into the auditorium. Seeing them politely returned not very long afterwards – surely only a British audience would do this – Vee was experienced enough to quickly adapt his performance, going on to deliver a succession of hits – ‘More Than I Can Say’, ‘Take Good Care Of My Baby’, ‘The / Night Has A Thousand Eyes’, / ‘Run To Him’ and more – to an encore-prompting rapturous reception.
The great Carl Perkins, on stage next, had the audience in the palm of his hand from the off. As the years pass so this man’s stature grows and grows, owing not only to his timeless music but also to his physical domination of the stage. The man is truly a giant of rock and roll, and he made it all look so easy as he caressed his way through a superb set of songs full of passion and unbridled enjoyment. One by one they came tumbling out, ‘Got My Mojo Working’, ‘Matchbox’, ‘Honey Don’t’, ‘Turn Around’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Gone Gone Gone’ and a rock medley that embraced the music of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee and Elvis Presley.
The closing act, preceding the final free-for-all, just had to be the Crickets, whose close alliance with MPL stretches back the full twenty Buddy Holly Weeks and who never fail -to provide anything less than wonderful entertainment. Joined on this occasion by the guitarist’s guitarist Albert Lee, Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis and Joe B Mauldin turned in another stirring selection of Buddy Holly songs, from ‘Rock Around With Ollie Vee’ to ‘That’ll Be The Day’ by way of ‘Maybe Baby’, ‘Every Day’, ‘Think It Over’ ‘It’s So Easy’, ‘Oh Boy’, ‘Peggy Sue’ and others. Then first Bobby Vee, then Mike Berry and then Carl Perkins joined the Crickets up on stage, leading up to the grand finale. Paul’s ‘Rave On’ ended a super-slick show in which there had scarcely been a break between the five acts, and it was something of a shock to realise that a full three hours had passed by in little more than a flash. Paul best summed up the joyous, festive mood of the evening by announcing into the microphone “After twenty years, this was the best!”. The rousing cheer that followed proved that no one was of a mind to disagree.
Last updated on September 10, 2020
Shepherd's Bush Empire
This was the 1st and only concert played at Shepherd's Bush Empire.