NEWS

February 2012

First of all may I wish everyone a very Happy New Year. I hope the season brought special memories to your door. It was just the three of us this year and it was perfect. The tree went up, as it always has, on dad’s birthday and the house was dressed accordingly with all the festive rituals we drag out each year. I have to be honest and admit that if it weren’t for Max I would probably have given it a miss this year. After all we do it for our children and I loved seeing his face light up when he came home from University and saw that everything was like it should be, well in his book anyway.

I was grateful to have the holidays with him especially as I was going away straight afterwards and wouldn’t see him for nearly six months. In fact he left the day before me, which gave me a chance to clean his room and do his linen ready for him to pop home for the Easter break.

Planning for such an extensive trip is a bit scary because you realise everything is out of your hands and however much you try to pre-empt every eventuality, it is an impossible task, but I did try. The other side of the coin when travelling for a long period, with different seasons, and formal wear a necessity, is that you cannot travel light, well Michele Monro certainly can’t. I did honestly try my best and even went so far as to use my son’s room as a dressing room. I laid the whole lot out and colour co-coordinated everything so that I could mix and match and I was really pleased with myself. I can’t believe that I was strict with myself, but I was. One pair of jeans instead of two, two pairs of shorts instead of four and so on, although I have to admit to a slight weakness in the shoe department. At the last count there was 16 pairs!!!! BUT most were flimsy sandals and flip-flops so no big deal really. That was until it came time to actually pack. By the time I got to the fourth case I was flabbergasted, I really didn’t think I had that much although one whole case is just my medication. Having an illness like mine means planning for every contingency. There are periods where I will be five and six days at sea so I literally went into the chemist and bought something for every malady known to man. Better to do that than visit the doctor at £300.00 a time. The trouble also is that the on board hospital stocks the most popular medicines and of course I can’t take penicillin and can only take two types of antibiotics, both of which are NOT the more recognised variety so one needs to come prepared.

It actually made me laugh because they always say you have to carry your travel papers, medicines and valuables in your hand luggage – that is why I had to have five pieces. I have the normal bag on wheels, another case that slips over the handles of that one, my laptop case, my camera case, mum and dad’s ashes and my handbag!!!!! God knows what will happen when I have to take a flight… but one thing at a time.

Then of course I had 4 boxes of books, hardbacks, paperbacks and special editions. A healthy supply of Matt Monro CDs and all my computer equipment needed for my presentations. Lastly of course were your candles, which are making their way across the ocean as we speak so as to be present when I release the ashes at The Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas.

Little Chapel

The wonderful thing about cruising as opposed to flying is you don’t waste half the day in the airport, nor do you have to join several queues, pace the terminal because the flight has been delayed, eat cardboard sandwiches or look frantically for your lost luggage. In my case, I left Monro Towers in Harrow and 75 minutes later I was in Southampton. One person took the luggage, one the car and that’s it, you step aboard and you are on holiday. Everything is at your disposal so it makes no difference whether you are delayed or not. Mind you after 30 years of cruising I have never known a ship to leave late. I am lucky enough to have a cabin with a balcony for this sailing and that is one of my favourite things. I love sitting out there watching the sea roll by, it is totally mesmerizing, like watching a lit fire and then it is wonderful seeing the countries coming to you. Being a camera nut I can’t think of better ways to take photographs.

As you know this trip is one with many parts, and as much as it is a wonderful adventure into the unknown, I am combining it with as much work as I can muster. It is a great opportunity of promoting dad’s work in both Australia and America, not only refreshing people’s memories but hopefully gathering new fans along the way. I recently undertook a commitment to work for two years on the cruise lines as a guest speaker. I thought it ideal as I can be away while Max is at University and home in his holidays. P&O’s Arcadia will in fact be the first ship that I am doing my presentations on, so I will admit to having a slight fluttering of nerves before I left.  I’ve done the main one on dad at least 40 times across the country in England but this is a whole new ball game. On a normal cruise, one of two weeks long, I am expected to give a talk every day we are at sea. The consensus was that I had to have eight presentations but only two could focus on dad, they felt the others had to be a broader entertainment appeal. Of course I cheated choosing subjects that I could bring dad into the conversation so that I am on familiar territory. Here is the final running order.

The Singer’s Singer
follows Matt Monro’s life from his poverty-stricken upbringing in war-torn Britain to his day job as a London bus driver to the steady rise to fame that saw the singer battling the highs and lows of the entertainment industry to become one of the world’s most iconic singers. This is the man behind the image, the man who rubbed shoulders with some of the most famous names in the business, who recorded the very first James Bond theme song, represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest, appeared in a Royal Command performance and recorded the international hits ‘Born Free’, ‘Walk Away’, ‘Portrait of My Love’ and ‘From Russia with Love’. But his life had its share of tragedy, and Matt Monro had his own personal demons to battle, even at the height of his fame.

Who Are You?
Life as the child of one of the world’s best-loved entertainers. What was Matt Monro really like as a father? The feeling of lost birthdays and missed special events, living with a nanny and waiting for those all important phone calls. Life on the road and living out of a suitcase. The highs of attending a recording session, watching him live for the very first time, appearing on ‘This is Your Life’ and the subterfuge needed to bring it off. The lows of living with an alcoholic, the madness of the obsessive fan and the illness that brought about his early death.


The Tragedy of Success
The stress of show business and living under a microscope. The sad loss of my friend Michael Jackson as well as the recent demise of Amy Winehouse, now a member of the 27 Club, the title of an epitomic group of influential musicians who have all died at the age of 27. Why does addiction and hard partying life styles govern so many stars? It is often said that laughter is the best medicine, if that is true then it is ironic that so many great comedians have died so young. Being funny has cost the lives of such greats as John Belushi, Tommy Cooper, Sid James, Tony Hancock, Leonard Rossiter – is there a cure?

The Secrets of Live Radio and Television
What is it really like to be a guest on shows such as BBC Breakfast, This is Your Life, QVC, The One Show and BBC London. Why you can’t wear stripes or shouldn’t wear black. Why you shouldn’t wear a blue tie or dress completely in white. Why are pin stripes and polka dots out and neutral is in? Why does television add pounds and why you should ask what the set colour will be? What really happens backstage from mechanical breakdowns to electrical failure.

The History of the Eurovision Song Contest
Matt Monro’s entry into Song For Europe, the winning song and a behind the scenes look at what goes on right up to the Eurovision being televised. A selection of bloopers and outtakes, the weirdest and worst over the last 50 years. Audience participation involves a quiz of the British entries.

Silly Billy
The history of popular music is littered with laughable linguistic efforts. Do you remember any of them and do you know their origins. There is certainly a charm in novelty songs, those quirky little musical nuggets that capture a moment in time with a popular song. They’re silly, stupid, disposable but certainly charming in small doses, very small doses. This topic is great fun and includes audience participation, an audio quiz and ends with a singsong.

The Haunted Fish Tank
A discussion on the history of television and the main influences over the decades. Is variety dead or has our concept of what variety is changed? What changes has modern society made and acceptability issues over content. A look at the major events that have shaped our lives by switching on the small screen in our living rooms.

What’s The Worst that Can Happen
A light-hearted and comical look at the travel industry and all its foibles with helpful hints and advice on how to pack and what to avoid. The pitfalls of foreign countries and why cruising is the best way to go. The best of Chinese rip-offs, the worst roads and my Top 5 places to see before you die.


It took Richard and I almost five months until they were absolutely perfect, first came the writing of the scripts and then I spent hours, in fact days, trawling through audio and video clips that would fit the subject. For all intents and purposes I am one of the ship’s entertainers and as such people come to be entertained. The Power Points had to be both professional and keep people focused on the unfolding events. Richard, as always, did a stunning job and I am really thrilled with the outcome. It just remains to be seen what the audience thinks. But this crossing will certainly give me a chance to try them all out and then tweak anything that needs adjusting.

The other thing that needed to be done was to write and record 26 scripts for Siren 107.3FM. I can’t believe I have been on the station for nearly two years now with my own little spot every Wednesday on the Mid-Week Drive at around 5.50pm. It is a great opportunity of being able to play the lesser known or rarely played tracks, and from the feedback I’ve received, people seem to enjoy listening to the history of each song. When I told Alex I was going away he asked if I’d be prepared to still do the show, which is wonderful. We are hoping to do several live links along the way so don’t forget to tune in each week.

The great thing about technology today is that I can do all my work from a computer terminal so going abroad doesn’t really throw up any hurdles. I am delighted that EMI asked if we could bring the scheduled September release forward and I am pleased to officially announce that the new album will be out in the shops on Monday 4th June. This project is very close to my heart mainly because it originally took me 5 years to convince EMI to let me bring ‘The Rare Monro’ to the market and this now, is the follow up. ‘The Rare Monro’ exceeded everyone’s expectations and it received wonderful reviews from Record Collector and other notable audiophile sites saying, among other things, that it was the most important release of 2006. I think that people thought it would hold material that was either second rate or from scrapped sessions but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Back in the day George Martin, Johnnie Spence and dad would go into the studio and lay down three, four or five tracks. From those they’d pick one of two for a new single or an album, the others were put into the vaults of EMI, never to resurface. When Richard and I started researching for my book ‘The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro”, we delved into the red forms and session recording sheets only to discover these tracks sitting there. I myself didn’t give it too much thought until a CDR arrived holding a smattering of sample tracks. Richard and I were knocked out and greedily asked for all the unreleased material to be made available to us. It was like every Christmas rolled into one as we unearthed treasure after treasure – and that is how the idea of ‘The Rare Monro’ came to surface. There was so much choice that we had a hard time narrowing it down to just 51 tracks and if it hadn’t been for the constraints of recording time available on each disc I could have added far more. It remains to date, together with ‘Matt at the BBC’, my favourite album.

Rare

Since that release Richard and I have remained relentless at searching every orifice across the globe for lost or forgotten tracks whether from sessions, radios or television performances and we have been extremely lucky managing to unearth something every year. A chance remark by a chap in Hong Kong late 2010 led Richard on a trail that led him straight back to England and last February we finally got confirmation that the company did indeed hold some material, in fact 13 songs. It took ten months but just days before I sailed the transferred material arrived on my doorstep. That is the moment when anticipation, excitement and fear creeps in, you’ve loaded the disc and you’re poised waiting to hear whether what we had uncovered was actually any good. I can honestly say I burst into tears as track after track revealed pure excellence.

We had already been given approval from EMI for the follow up to ‘The Rare Monro’, but the delight at possibly being able to include some of these rarities is really exciting. It makes what was going to be a great album into a superb album. It really is so exciting and the thought that a good proportion of what we have turned up has been lost for more than 50 years is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the quality. S-t-u-n-n-i-n-g….. and after Richard has worked his magic I feel this could be our finest release to date. The official title is ‘Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro’ and over the next few months EMI are going to let you have a sneaky listen to several tracks on dad’s Facebook page so best keep an eye out. www.facebook.com/mattmonro

The track list is now complete and over the next few weeks I will be working on the final running order and then the notes. Meanwhile back in England, Richard is remastering the whole project and at the moment I am awaiting the mock artwork for approval. So you can quite see that what with my presentations and other duties on the ship, hosting dinner tables, book signings and Q&A sessions and the website updates and the new album, there is certainly no time to get bored.

One exciting thing that I have just heard back on is that I have been invited to Capitol Towers once I get to Los Angeles. Throughout the research of the book, I never actually got access to any of the picture archives at Capitol because they were apparently held in storage, and to be honest, the contact didn’t know where. Since the book’s release all the staff that were there have since gone and I have recently been liaising with David Iscove, the Director of the Works Hub. Thankfully I gave him plenty of months notice so he has been able to access some of the material and has had them transferred digitally for me on a disc. There is lots of other material that hasn’t been transferred yet so he has invited me to Capitol to look at what they have on dad. This is a wonderful piece of news and very exciting.

Capitol Tower

That is one of the reasons I am so looking forward to arriving in Australia next month. It will give me a chance to look up people that worked and/or toured with dad and I am equally hoping that I might unearth a long lost radio or television performance while I’m there. Although the Internet is wonderful and email fast, there is nothing more effective that doing things face to face. It will also give me a chance to thank some of the friends and colleagues who helped me with the book.

Well that about sums everything up for the minute. Don’t forget to check my travel blog for news of my actual travels under the header “The Long and Winding Road’ - http://mattmonroforum.emicatalogue.com/index.php

In an effort to stay abreast with technology, I now have my very own Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/michelemonro and EMI have also followed suit with a dedicated Matt Monro Facebook page. Don’t forget to pop in there for up-to-the-minute-news. Take the time to visit and become a fan, the more the merrier - http://www.facebook.com/mattmonro. It will hopefully mean that we can reach even more people, some who might not know about the website. I will also be adding a few of my travel tidbits there when I can.

It wasn’t that easy emailing from the Regent cruise ship, their connection was so slow and many a time it would suddenly disconnect whist in mid-flow. So I was worried that P&O’s Arcadia might have given up the same problems but thankfully not, it is three times the size of the Voyager’s equipment and better placed with speedier connections.

Don’t forget to let me know if I’m going to be in your area, as I love to meet you if the opportunity arises. I’m delighted to have had an invitation for a drink with Henry Puccinelli who lives in San Francisco so that should be a lot of fun and I’m also popping into Care Radio to meet up with Ross Hood in Adelaide.

If you’d like to see my whole itinerary then scroll to the end of the page.

For those of you who regularly visit the Forum, you might have seen a posting from ‘paul jh’ suggesting that it might be a great idea to get a group together to travel on one of my crossings later in the year. Although difficult to co-ordinate I must say it sounds a wonderful idea. The next two dates in my diary are for the following cruises so have a think about it and let me know it the idea floats your boat (lol). Imagine holding a ‘Fans Reunited’ at sea. One thing I will warn you about, NEVER look at the prices in the cruise brochure, there is always a deal around and mores the time when you can get 50% of the official fare. There are a lot more cruise lines out there then there used to be and it is a very competitive market. The one thing to point out is that most everything is included, accommodation, food, entertainment and of course the countries you visit. All the modern ships are well equipped; the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas even has a skating rink, rock-climbing wall and wave rider. You don’t get that at Butlins!

28 August – 5 September 2012 – Fred Olsen’s Balmoral – Norwegian Fiords

22 September – 4 October 2012 – Royal Caribbean Independence of the Sea– Italian Med.

I am delighted that I have now had confirmation that both and Marco Polo and Saga would also like me to come on and give my presentations. I will add new dates as and when I confirm something.

Just because I’m away please don’t forget to let me know if you have anything related to dad, whether a story, a photo or an old radio show. Or maybe you have some old VHS formats laying in the attic that might have a television show on it. We can always have it transferred for you at our costs. As Richard and I unearth these rarities we are constantly told “but we thought you must have it”. Please don’t be shy; you might have something we are looking for. I repeat this message every month just in case it jogs someone’s memory.

My Journey saw me leave Southampton on 9th January 2012 aboard P&O Arcadia and I am slowly making my way to Australia. I have family there that I haven’t seen in 46 years and I thought it time to drop in for tea. Mum and dad visited the country fifteen times and always raved about it so I decided that if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity now I might never get across the pond. I ‘m spending about five weeks in the country travelling to Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and The Great Barrier Reef. My route back is slightly different and the 15 April will see me board the Sea Princess in Sydney and go across to San Francisco and Las Vegas where I’m meeting up with Marion Spence (Johnnie Spence’s wife). She wants to be there when I scatter my mum and dad’s ashes at the Little Chapel of the West, where they remarried so it will be a very special moment, before heading to her home in Los Angeles.

 

My itinerary for 2012 is as follows:

Monday 9th January:

Embark Southampton, England

Tuesday 10th January:

At Sea

Wednesday 11th January:

At Sea

Thursday 12th January:

At Sea 

Friday 13th January:

Barcelona, Spain - Full Day

Saturday 14th January:

At Sea

Sunday 15th January:

At Sea

Monday 16th January:

Athens (Piraeus), Greece - Full Day

Tuesday 17th January:

At Sea 

Wednesday 18th January:

Port Said, Egypt - Full Day & Evening

Thursday 19th January:                 

Suez Canal Daytime Transit

Friday 20th January                

Aqaba, Jordan - Full Day

Saturday 21st January:           

Luxor/Karnak, Egypt - Full Day & Evening

Sunday 22nd January:

At Sea

Monday 23rd January:

At Sea

Tuesday 24th January:

At Sea

Wednesday 25th January:

At Sea             

Thursday 26th January:

At Sea

Friday 27th January:

  Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Full Day

Saturday 28th January:

At Sea

Sunday 29th January:

At Sea

Monday 30th January:

Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India - Full Day

Tuesday 31st January:

At Sea

Wednesday 1st February:       

Cochin, India - Full Day

Thursday 2nd February:             

Colombo - Full Day & Evening

Friday 3rd February:

At Sea

Saturday 4th February:

At Sea

Sunday 5th February:                 

Phuket, Thailand - Full Day

Monday 6th February:

At Sea

Tuesday 7th February:

Singapore - Full Day   

Wednesday 8th February:

At Sea

Thursday 9th February:      

Sihanoukville, Cambodia - Full Day

Friday 10th February:

Laem Chabang - Full Day

Saturday 11th February:

At Sea

Sunday 12th February:       

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam- Full Day

Monday 13th February:

At Sea

Tuesday 14th February:               

Ha Long Bay - Full Day

Wednesday 15th February:

At Sea

Thursday 16th February:

Hong Kong, China - Full Day & Evening

Friday 17th February:             

Hong Kong, China- Early Morning      

Saturday 18th February:

At Sea

Sunday 19th February:            

Shanghai, China - Full Day

Monday 20th February:

At Sea

Tuesday 21st February:     

Beijing, China- Full Day & Evening

Wednesday 22nd February:

At Sea

Thursday 23rd February:               

Nagasaki, Japan - Afternoon & Evening

Friday 24th February:

At Sea

Saturday 25th February:               

Osaka, Japan - Full Day

Sunday 26th February:

At Sea

Monday 27th February:

At Sea

Tuesday 28th February:

At Sea

Wednesday 29th February:

At Sea

Thursday 1st March:

At Sea

Friday 2nd March:

Rabaul  - Full Day

Saturday 3rd March:

At Sea

Sunday 4th March:

At Sea

Monday 5th March:         

Cairns, Yorkey's Knob - Full Day

Tuesday 6th March:

At Sea

Wednesday 7th March  

Brisbane, Australia - Full Day

Thursday 8th March:

At Sea 

Friday 9th March:     

Sydney, Australia - Full Day & Evening

Saturday 10th March:               

Sydney, Australia - Early Morning

Sunday 11th March:               

Melbourne, Australia – Disembark

Sunday 11th March - Wednesday 11th April – Australia

Thursday 12th April

Fly Melbourne to Sydney

Friday 13th April:

Sydney

Saturday 14th April:

Sydney

Sunday 15th April:

Sydney – Embark

Monday 16th April:

At Sea

Tuesday 17th April:

At Sea

Wednesday 18th April:

Fiordland National Park New Zealand

Thursday 19th April:

Dunedin (Port Chalmers), New Zealand

Friday 20th April:

Christchurch, New Zealand

Saturday 21st April:

At Sea

Sunday 22nd April:

Auckland, New Zealand

Monday 23rd April:

At Sea

Tuesday 24th April:

At Sea

Wednesday 25th April:

At Sea

Wednesday 25th April:

Suva, Fiji

Wednesday 25th April:

Cross International Dateline

Thursday 26th April:

Pago Pago, American Samoa

Friday 27th April:

At Sea

Saturday 28th April:

At Sea

Sunday 29th April:

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Monday 30th April:

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tuesday 1st May:

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Wednesday 2nd May:

At Sea

Thursday 3rd May:

At Sea

Friday 4th May:

At Sea

Saturday 5th May:

At Sea

Sunday 6th May:

At Sea

Monday 7th May:

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Tuesday 8th May:

Maui (Lahaina), USA

Wednesday 9th May:

At Sea

Thursday 10th May:

At Sea

Friday 11th May:

At Sea

Saturday 12th May:

At Sea

Sunday 13th May:

Disembark San Francisco

 

 

Monday 14th May:

San Francisco

Tuesday 15th May:

San Francisco

Wednesday 16th May:

Flight to Las Vegas

Thursday 17th May:

Las Vegas

Friday 18th May:

Las Vegas

Saturday 19th May

Las Vegas (Marion Flies Out)

Sunday 20th May:

Las Vegas

Monday 21st May:

Flight to Los Angeles

Monday 21st May – Tuesday 19th June – Los Angeles

Wednesday 20th June:                      Air New Zealand to London
Thursday 21st June:                           Land London Heathrow

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. A few of you have mentioned that you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Till next month
Here’s hoping that your life is always filled with music
Warmest
Michele

 

Past News - December 2011

Past News - November 2011

Past News - October 2011

Past News - September 2011

Past News - August 2011

Past News - July 2011

 

Amazon
  - Press this link to see the Amazon Listing for The Singers Singer by Michele Monro

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