NEWS

November 2011

If I thought that miraculously everything would die down immediately following The Launch I was mistaken. In one way it was just as busy with literally scores of emails coming in with offers of thanks and wonderful photographs which Richard did a magnificent job of displaying for us.

One thing that did sadden the event was the absence of my very good friend Sue Parker. She has been an avid Matt Monro fan since she was 14 years old and in the days of Lunchbox she would run home from school every lunchtime just so she could watch her idol perform. I know Sue would have to be fairly unwell not to travel down for the big day and that concerned me. She has been ill for some time but the last few months saw the illness escalate in leaps and bounds. The cancer was attacking every area and she was amazingly brave to keep up a spectacular fight. She had painful surgery on her neck to stop it collapsing and then a hip replacement and all the while heavy loads of chemotherapy.

Sadly the illness was just too virulent to stop and it was her last session of chemotherapy, which was a new batch of drugs, and seemed to be her undoing. It destroyed too many white cells for her body to fight back and she passed away on Wednesday morning in Gemma Hospice in Leeds.

I remember back to when her husband Mike met her and kept asking her on a date but she refused them all because she had booked tickets to see Matt Monro every night that week. It was on the Friday night that Mike turned out with a ticket saying he felt he ought to see what his competition was all about. I can’t say Mike was a big fan but he became one because of his love for Sue, he realised there was no separating her from her idol.

I shall miss her dearly and together Mike and her must be one of the nicest, kindest couple I have had the privilege to know and I only pray that Mike’s pain eases somewhat and makes the coming year more bearable. It is such a loss and I know he needs to find that inner resolve to get through these next few weeks.

As a tribute to Sue, her spotlight article is once more on our front page this month - Here

Much love Sue, God speed.

Bookazine

The news has just come in that ‘The Man Behind the Voice’; the WH Smith Bookazine is now available. It was supposed to be released the last week of August but the distributor’s caused a delay. They did, in fairness, ensure that we had 100 copies at The Launch for the sake of our overseas fans that had flown in, as I would think it might prove difficult to get from distant shores.

 

THE SECOND DISC REVIEW
Matt Monro – The Man Behind the Voice by Joe Marchese

In Michele Monro’s The Man Behind the Voice, the author sums up the career of her subject, who also happened to be her father: “Matt never acquired the ‘superstar’ tag, but quality was his code, and he earned the reputation for being a class act with a superlative gift.” 
Though Matt Monro died in 1985 aged just 54, his music continues to flourish today.  Monro’s voice is as vibrant now as when he first recorded “Born Free,” “To Russia with Love” or any of the countless other songs, both contemporary and classic, that form his discography.  And with Messrs. Merriam and Webster defining a “superstar” as one who is “extremely talented, has great public appeal and can usually command a high salary,” Ms. Monro has made a great argument for her father’s enduring superstar status.  She’s behind the impressive Matt Monro reissue campaign from EMI, and the latest creative release in that program, The Man Behind the Voice, is a “bookazine” consisting of a 64-page magazine, a 20-track compact disc companion (or soundtrack, if you will) and replica 45 single of “Portrait of My Love” b/w “You’re the Top of My Hit Parade.”  EMI and the Monro family have released this wonderful gift collection in conjunction with another high-profile reissue, the box set The Singer’s Singer.
The compact disc The Man Behind the Voice is thoughtfully compiled, showcasing the purity and clarity of tone in Monro’s voice over a variety of recordings.  (Pay special attention to the closing sequence, with “If I Never Sing Another Song,” “The Last Farewell,” “We’re Gonna Change the World” and “Softly, As I Leave You.”)  A number of Monro’s most famous recordings are here, of course, including “Born Free,” “To Russia with Love” and “Walk Away.”  But the real attraction for collectors will undoubtedly be two tracks (Clive Westlake’s “Only Once” and Roger Whittaker and Ronald Webster’s “The Last Farewell”) appearing here for the very first time on CD.  In addition, every track has been presented in the most up-to-date sound possible.  Remastering engineer Richard Moore has derived 14 tracks from his own 2010 remasters for EMI, while the remaining six tracks have all been derived from the original masters.  Two tracks, “Nice and Easy” and a medley of “S’Wonderful” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” were subjected to noise reduction for a 2006 release, and Moore has worked wonders on restoring them to superior quality here.
Monro’s vocals were romantic but assured, capable of sensitively caressing the ballads and raucously swinging the up-tempo songs.  His style was a deceptively simple one: a dash of legit pipes, a touch of Bing Crosby-esque intimacy, a brash swinger’s confidence.  It added up to a sound uniquely Monro.  His arrangements were largely free of gimmickry, with the voice front and center.  Don Black’s lyric to “Born Free,” set so beautifully to John Barry’s majestic melody, took off in Monro’s capable hands, resonating beyond the original story of a lion cub.  There are hits from Broadway (Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s “Gonna Build a Mountain” from Stop The World! I Want to Get Off!, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ fantastic, underrated “This is the Life” from Golden Boy and the deathless “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha) plus quintessential performances like Bricusse’s “My Kind of Girl” and Monro’s first hit, “Portrait of My Love,” which may be better-known to American listeners via Steve Lawrence’s successful version.
Monro had a sharp ear for contemporary pop, and as a result recorded fewer Tin Pan Alley standards than many of his contemporaries, but the “S’Wonderful” medley included here certainly shows his flair for the genre.  His treatment of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” still stands apart from the rest, and was spurred on by the producer Monro shared with John, Paul, George and Ringo: one Sir George Martin.  Monro’s recording was one of the song’s very first cover versions, and its sensitive arrangement and restrained vocal gained the singer a Top 10 single in the United Kingdom.  The CD is housed in a digipak; all that missing is discographical information as to the origin of each song, which would have pointed new fans in the right direction for further listening.
There’s plenty more Monro after the jump!

The bookazine itself recounts the story of the man born Terence Edward Parsons in straightforward fashion. Writing in the third person, Michele Monro (born in 1959) frankly recounts incidents that she would have been forgiven for wishing not to recall, including her father’s traumatic childhood, rocky relationship with manager/lyricist Don Black (represented on Broadway this season with the new musical Bonnie and Clyde) and an unfortunate car accident involving Monro which took the life of a pedestrian.  Although the singer was cleared of all charges, the incident nonetheless had a profound impact on him, and the details are presented unflinchingly.  Most affecting, though, are his daughter’s recollections of his lifelong struggle with alcohol, not to mention attendant depression and exhaustion. That Matt Monro found solace in alcohol doesn’t come as a surprise given the punishing tour schedule described in detail in these pages.  One leaves The Man Behind the Voice with a full sense of an international artist, deeply committed to his art and his audience.  (It’s downright shocking to read that Monro embarked on a grueling tour of the Far East a mere two months after treatment at the Priory in 1976.)
Though a personal remembrance, there’s a steady stream of factoids on hand, detailing awards, recognitions and chart successes in the strict chronological format.  But there are also personal vignettes told in the author’s matter-of-fact style, and marvelous day-to-day tidbits that could only have come from a biographer so intimately acquainted with her subject. 
The colorful cast of characters in the artist’s story includes Bruce Forsyth, Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, Henry Mancini, Andy Williams and even Imelda Marcos!  But the most notable personage might be the late Maurice Gibb, himself a recovering alcoholic, who finally spurred his friend Monro on to successful treatment for his alcoholism.  Then there’s Peter Sellers.  Though Sellers was often mercurial, the comic genius knew talent. It was 1960 when Parlophone producer George Martin was seeking a voice that the great impersonator could use as reference for a Frank Sinatra spoof on his comedy album cheekily titled Songs for Swinging Sellers. Martin hired Matt Monro, and billed him under the very Sellers-esque pseudonym of “Fred Flange.”  But Sellers evidently knew that Monro was destined for greatness; the Fred Flange recording opened the record and Martin signed the man behind the curtain.
Much attention is, of course, on the music.  You’ll read of Monro’s “discovery” by an unlikely benefactor, pianist Winifred Atwell, to his early signings by Decca and Fontana before hitting the big time at Parlophone under Martin’s wing, with top-notch arrangers like Martin and Johnnie Spence.  There’s also a strong sense of Monro’s humble beginnings, which were noted by the press when the career of “the singing bus driver” took off.
The bookazine’s pages are of a heavier stock than a typical magazine, and photographs are plentiful, including a number in full color.  It makes for a fine stand-alone read, or a primer for the author’s full-scale biography, which like the box set, is entitled The Singer’s Singer.  (The biography is available in a standard hardcover or paperback edition, and also in a deluxe, slipcased set containing a complete Matt Monro discography and a bonus CD.)  Attention to detail is evident throughout this entire package, right down to the catalogue number and design of the red Parlophone single (45-R-47714)!
Matt Monro: The Man Behind the Voice is currently available in the United Kingdom through the newsagent/retailer WH Smith.  Should interest be sufficient, it’s possible that it will gain wider distribution.  Whether you’re a longtime fan of Monro or discovering him for the first time, you won’t want to “walk away.”  You’ll want to get to know The Man Behind the Voice.

One of our newer fans Robert Humphries travelled down from Scotland to join us on the night and it would seem that he has the most wonderful talent that he is rather shy in sharing, so I thought I’d do it for him. Several weeks prior to the event I discovered it has the richest flair for photography and the new batch of pictures he took and sent me knocked me out. Because of that he had them mounted for me and brought them to Fans Reunited as a present and I have to say they will be going straight up on the wall in my new home (when I eventually move).

 

I say eventually because I have now had another booking on the Royal Caribbean next year, 22nd September – 4th October 2012 to be precise so my diary is already rather full. I don’t get back to England until the middle of June and want to spend the summer with my son so this will fit in nicely for he will have already gone back to Warwick by then. I already have access to P&O, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, Azamara, Cunard, Norwegian, Silversea, The Yachts of Seabourn and The World but I also have an agent who has also submitted me for Saga, CMV and Fred Olsen so all being equal I shall cruise for the next two years.

I actually had an unexpected opportunity of going with Matt on Regent Cruises and so grabbed the opportunity by the horns. The only annoying thing was that the cruise was supposed to start in Athens on 19 October but because of a transport strike Regent flew us into Izmir in Turkey on 17 October to catch the Voyager at its last port of call before Greece to avoid all that disruption. It was wonderful to escape to warmer climates as I had already succumbed to the heating in England the week before we left.

It is not that easy to email from the ship, well it isn’t that it is to hard but it is expensive so you will probably have seen a few Facebook entries before reading this as we are due home in 7 days. It is shocking to realise that the last time Matt and I were away was 12 years ago when we were on Princess Cruises for my 40th birthday. Because of my extended trip next year he wanted me to go with him just so we could spend some quality time together. Even though Matt is working it is amazing how much easier it is to do that rather than when you are in England. I suppose one doesn’t have the same pressures and I have to admit it is nice that someone else is cooking, cleaning and washing up.

I have left the pictures and video clips from last month because I know there are some who haven’t had the chance to look through them all yet

Sorry it you missed me being on Siren but I hope you enjoyed Richard’s fill in and don’t forget to look at the radio schedule between now and Christmas as I will be doing quite a few before sailing off across the globe.

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight guests this month, I know so many of you enjoy them.

 

In an effort to stay abreast with technology last year saw the appearance of my very own Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/michelemonro and now EMI have followed suit with a dedicated Matt Monro Facebook page. It would be wonderful if you could pop in 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.

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.

I am also thrilled to announce that I am taking several months off next year. On 9th January 2012 I am hitching a ride aboard P&O Arcadia and making my way to Australia. I have family there that I haven’t seen in 40 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 don’t get going now I might never get across the pond. I will be spending about five weeks in the country travelling to Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and of course The Great Barrier Reef and I am hoping to meet up with some of you along the way. 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. There are dozens of port stops along route so again I am hoping for the chance to meet up with lots of you from that side of the world, as I won’t fly back to London until June.

I am 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. With Max firmly ensconced in University, this trip will take my mind off what will be a very hard parting of the ways. I have had either my mum or Max at my side for the last 25 years so it will be a difficult transition, so I thought an adventure was called for.

Business will carry on as usual because in this day and age everything can be done by either telephone or email. I am delighted to announce that next year’s release will be The Rarer Monro but I have scheduled it for September so that will give me plenty of time to work on it and do the relevant publicity for the project once I get back.

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

That is the itinerary as it stands today but will be subject to change as I detail certain days in Australia and the USA.

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.

Until December here’s wishing you a wonderful 2011 and may your year be filled with music.

Warmest
Michele Monro

 

"

Fans Reunited

 

Book/CD Launch - Part 1

 

 

Book/CD Launch - Part 2

 

Book/CD Launch - Part 3

Press 'Play' to start slideshow.

Gallery Controls

Hover your mouse pointer over the control panel in the bottom left hand corner of the above slide show. This will bring up the controls, the title of the photograph and the option to view all thumbnails

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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