Parklife – the early years of Cumbria’s music mogul
Last updated at 15:05, Wednesday, 24 June 2009
For more than 37 years he’s been providing live entertainment to Cumbria’s club scene.
At the age of 15 he heard his first live band, Shane Fenton and The Fentones, playing at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Although that was the start of his interest in pop music, you could say that Andy Park (of Andy Park Promotions) fell into the business.
When he was 16 an horrific fall from the cliffs at Rockcliffe, where he lived, landed him in hospital for 10 months and a further six months recuperating in plaster.
He went into the hospital a sport fanatic and came out an ardent pop music fan, hooked on Motown, The Drifters and The Supremes, having tuned into Radio Caroline and Luxembourg.
One night Andy went to The Kings Hall Youth Club, a popular venue in Carlisle, to find a pop group for the village dance at Rockcliffe.
The night in question not only found him a band but changed his entire life.
The band was a fantastic four- piece rock n’ roll band from Hawick called The Diamonds and Andy knew they’d be ideal for the event.
Here he tells his story...
I approached the band with a view to booking them and got introduced to the lead singer Bob Fish, who informed me I would have to contact their Scottish manager, Duncan McKinnon of Border Dances, a company based in the Scottish Borders.
I phoned him the next day and we agreed a price there and then. Not only that, I was surprised when Duncan made arrangements to meet me in the Crown & Thistle pub at Rockcliffe on the Friday night.
Duncan was a little boisterous chap with a flamboyant character and a rather strange dress sense, but what he didn’t know about showbusiness wasn’t worth knowing and he taught me everything I know.
Duncan brought with him a quiet refined gentleman called Bill Foster (the complete opposite to himself) but he too was very knowledgeable about the pop scene and after an hour or so he asked me if I would like to go to The Cavern in Liverpool.
It turned out that Mr Foster was a director of the Carlisle Journal and wanted me to do an article for the paper. It is him I have to thank for my entry into journalism, as well as the pop scene.
Due to me still being on crutches after my accident, The Cavern invite was not an offer I could accept. However, after a few pints, Bill asked me to go round local dance halls and report my findings back to him, which I immediately accepted.
It so happened while I was doing just that, Border Television were at the Market Hall looking for talent for a pop programme, Beat In The Border, so I hung around and made a few notes, chatted to the groups and handed the report in to Bill.
I couldn’t believe it when the editor Wilmott Rogers phoned me and said they would be using it in their Friday edition and offered me the chance to do a weekly column
And so on October 18, 1962, Andy’s Pop Talk column was born.
Carlisle’s Market Hall, which most people will remember resembled an aircraft hangar, was where many of the chart bands appeared. I covered all the shows there and Duncan often suggested I should compere and DJ these.
I used to just laugh it off until one Friday morning my mother phoned to ask if I’d seen the Journal because there was a large advert for the Market Hall and it said the compere was... yes you’ve guessed it, yours truly.
I immediately phoned Duncan, whose only comment was ‘Oh, you’ve seen the paper then’.
He picked me up that night and after a few drinks for Dutch courage at the King’s Head in Fisher Street, I stumbled on stage to introduce the band with the most complicated name – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich – just my luck!
This was the start of 18 months of sheer fun with the cream of musical talent.
At that time I had three jobs. I was serving my time as a joiner, writing a pop column and compering at the Market Hall.
My wages for compering was the princely sum of £5. In those days I was slightly cocky and thought I was worth more so I asked Duncan for a pay rise, but he just laughed and said ‘You must be joking’.
However, that same night the staff at the Market Hall invited me to go and play pontoon at The Talk of the Border Night Club. I’d never played before, but I won £20. I had great difficulty explaining to my father how I came home with so much money!
First published at 11:24, Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk