NEWS

November 2016

After a successful five successful years rocking around Australia - Rock The Boat docked in the UK for the very first time! With a star-studded line-up, the very best British legends of rock came together onboard Celebrity Eclipse for 3 fabulous nights of pure Rock & Roll. Setting sail n 30 September the cruise took in Zeebrugge (for Bruges), Belgium and Cherbourg (for Saint Mont Michel), France.

The weekend was hosted by DJ Tony Blackburn with a line up that included GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS, THE SEARCHERS, GARY PUCKETT & THE UNION GAP, BRIAN POOLE & CHIP HAWKES, THE TROGGS, THE MERSEY BEATS, THE FORTUNES, THE DAKOTAS, CAPTAIN HOWDY, THE FOURMOST AND VOGUE DUO.

As soon as the new passengers embarked the ship had a definite party atmosphere n every deck. The Eclipse sailed at 4.30pm and as soon as the ropes had released us from our berth the Sky Lounge were treated to a set by The Troggs. Without a doubt one of the great pioneering British Rock Bands, who could forget the 60’s anthem “Wild Thing”. Dubbed by many as the “first British punk band” The Troggs have continued playing in their own uncompromising style of good basic rock music. The hits performed onboard included “Wild Thing”, “With a Girl Like You”, Feels Like a Woman” and “Love is All Around”. Thy definitely got the weekend off to a tremendous start.

THE FOURMOST

Deck 3’s foyer saw The Fourmost entertain the masses. Guitarist/vocalist Brian O'Hara and best friend guitarist/vocalist Joey Bower formed the Two Jays in 1957  changing their name to the Four Jays two years later when bass guitarist/singer Billy Hatton and drummer Brian Redman  joined the group. Rhythm guitarist/singer Mike Millward (ex-the Undertakers) joined the Four Jays in November 1961, followed by drummer/singer Dave Lovelady in September 1962. The band changed its name to the Fourmost in October 1962. On 30 June 1963, the group signed a management contract with Brian Epstein, which led to their being auditioned by George Martin, and signed to EMI's Parlophone record label.

The band’s first two singles were written by John Lennon and sung in four part harmony. "Hello Little Girl", one of the earliest Lennon songs (written in 1957) was reached No. 9 in the UK. Their follow-up single, "I'm in Love" (Lennon–McCartney), reached No. 17 in the UK. It was also notable as one of the earliest Beatles-penned songs to be released in the United States but, as with the Fourmost's other singles, it failed to chart there.

Their biggest hit followed. "A Little Loving" reached Number 6 in the UK Singles Chart in mid 1964 but after that none of the group's singles, which were almost all cover versions, cracked the Top 20 in the UK.

In early 1966 the band were rocked by the sudden death of rhythm guitarist/vocalist Mike Millward, a featured lead vocalist whose voice had made a key contribution to their four part harmonies. They quickly recruited George Peckham as replacement.
In 1968, now on the CBS record label, they recorded "Apples, Peaches And Pumpkin Pie", an R&B hit by Jay & the Techniques, followed by "Rosetta" (suggested by Paul McCartney, who played piano on it), and "Easy Squeezy". The group soon stopped recording, and became popular on the cabaret circuit, George Peckham left the band in 1969 to run a recording studio with original member Joey Bower. Hatton, Lovelady and Bower all left in 1980 while O'Hara continued the group with new members. O'Hara eventually dropped out selling the band's name. A touring version of the band continues led by drummer/vocalist Kevin Clarkson, with Alex Leyland (rhythm guitar, vocals), Colin Walsh (Lead guitar, vocals) and Lee Clarkson (Bass guitar, vocals).

When the Troggs finished their set the music continued in the Sky Lounge with The Mersey Beats. In the summer of 1963 the band released their first single “It’s Love That Really Counts” which immediately entered the record charts and was followed up by their million selling “I Think of You” which many more hits following over the decades. The Mersey Beats hold the record of appearing with The Beatles more than any other artist. With a new album released in 2015 the Mersey Beats are still doing what they do best.

The Manchester band The Dakotas formed in 1960 where they had the reputation of being ne of the most professional groups around. Their hits include “Bad to Me” and “Little Children”, which both made it to the number one slot. The band followed The Mersey Beats but the evening wasn’t finished. Captain Howdy, London’s hardest rocking covers band fronted by the vocals and blistering guitar work of Mags literally exploded onto the stage. Captain Howdy pride themselves on bringing the excitement, power and professionalism of a full rock show to any stage and no one was disappointed.

The foyer’s last act of the night was Antonio and Kate Villano known as Vogue Duo. Performing timeless music from artists everyone knows and love this Australian couple played the music of the sixties that defined a generation.

BRIAN POOLE & CHIP HAWKES

The early show in the Eclipse Theatre started at 6.00pm with the talents of Brian Poole & Chip Hawkes. The guys are the lead singers with The Tremeloes and enjoyed multimillion selling record success with tracks that included “Silence is Golden”, “Do You Love Me”, “Twist & Shout”, “Here Comes My Baby” “Candy Man”, “Suddenly You Love Me”, “Someone Someone” and “My Little Lady”. With two No 1’s and 12 top five records to their name they were guaranteed to live things up.

The whole affair was hosted by British disc jockey Tony Blackburn who took to the stage in a Union Jack jacket and strung the theatre’s acts together seamlessly. In the early 60’s Blackburn broadcast on pirate radio stations Radio Caroline and Radio London and went on to become the first disc jockey to broadcast on BBC Radio 1 at its launch in 1967.

Gerry Puckett and the Union Gap had six consecutive gold records and sold more discs in 1968 than any other artist including The Beatles. Gary regularly performs to standing room only crowds with his hits “Woman Woman”, “Young Girl” “Lady Willpower” and “The Girl is a Woman Now” and The Eclipse was no different. The theatre was heaving at the seams and the fans were on their feet bopping away to the whole set.

The Fortunes who came to international acclaim during the s’winging mid-sixties kicked off the late theatre show. The group added anther dimension to the sound of the classic pop song with their special ingredients of sophisticated orchestrations, dual lead vocals and stylish counter-melodies. Hits include “You’ve Got Your Troubles” and “Here it Comes Again”. The Fortunes remain as one o the Uk’s premier harmony groups and are constantly in demand worldwide.

THE SEARCHERS

The iconic group The Searchers have now celebrated over fifty years in the pop music industry. Their distinctive jangling sound of the twelve string guitar and rich harmonies embellishing their immaculate vocals have assured The Searhers a lasting place in the history of popular music with hits that included “Sugar & Spice”, Sweets For My Sweet”, “Needles & Pins”, “Love Potion Number Nine” and “Someday We’re Gonna Love Again”.

The band grew out of an earlier skiffle group formed by John McNally in 1957, with his friends Brian Dolan (guitar) and Tony West  (bass). When the other two members lost interest McNally was joined by his guitarist neighbour Mike Prendergast. They soon recruited Tony Jackson with his homemade bass guitar and amplifier, who was also recruited as a lead singer but took a back seat at first in order to learn the bass. The band styled themselves as 'Tony and the Searchers' with Joe Kennedy on drums. Kennedy soon left to be replaced by Norman McGarry), and it is this line-up — McNally, Pender (as Prendergast soon became known), Jackson and McGarry — that is usually cited as the original foursome.

There have been many changes to the band’s line-up over the years but after Mike Penders left the group in December 1985 to tour as Mike Pender’s Searchers McNally and Allen recruited Spencer James as his replacement and those are the guys who were with us on the ship. McNally is thin, fit and rocked about the stage throughout their stint despite the fact he is now 75 years young. Brilliant.

GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly Gerry & The Pacemakers, who defined Merseybeat at its most entertaining, performing memorable tunes driven by rhythm guitar and Marsden’s chipper vocals. Gerry and the band burst out of the gates with three consecutive number one UK hits in 1963, “How Do You Do It”, “I Like It” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

In 2003 Gerry, now 73, had to have a triple heart bypass, followed four years ago by a replacement heart valve operation. The first sign of something being wrong was breathing difficulties especially when climbing stairs. Although the singer didn’t have any pain symptoms he decided to see his local GP who promptly referred Gerry to a heart specialist. It didn’t take him long to diagnose narrowing of the arteries and that Gerry needed cardiac surgery which involved grafting blood vessels onto the arteries to bypass them and increase bloody supply to the heart muscle.

The operation was done at Liverpool’s Broadgreen Hospital and it required the singer to spend 11 days under the specialist’s care. Two months rest followed before Gerry returned to work but unfortunately there was one problem. The stitches came out relatively early but it’s the knitting together of your sternum – which is pulled together with wire – which can take longer.

“I was given permission to travel to Spain, and while swimming in the pool at my villa, I start to feel weird. My chest was hurting and it felt like something inside me was floating around”. An X-ray later revealed that the wire used to close the sternum had snapped. It meant having to travel back to the UK to have it rewired. The surgeon entered through the scar of the original bypass, so that Gerry wouldn’t have scars all over the place.

“Everything was fine until about four years ago when I noticed my breathing getting worse again”. Tests revealed the heart valve had worn out. It meant being cut open again and having a new one inserted. The operation took around five hours, a long time to be under general anaesthetic. I rested for about four months after that op.
Since I’ve had the new heart valve fitted, I feel like the bionic man. Touch wood, I’ve not had any more problems”.

Despite the fact that Gerry’s voice wasn’t what it once was the audience didn’t care. They were up on their feet loving every minute.

 

 

 

All the acts performed every night but to guarantee everyone a seat in the theatre, a ticket was issued, either red, white or blue. Depending on what colour you received depended on what night you were guaranteed a seat in the main event. I had a blue ticket, which gained me entry on the second night but I also slipped into the last night by waiting until everyone was seated and then I snuck in and stood at the back. You could attend any of the other venues whenever you wanted so in practice you could start at 6.00pm and continue right through to midnight. After that you were welcome in the ship’s disco, which stayed open until the small hours.

Day 3 saw the dress code changed to red/white/blue and some of the outfits were amazing. There were bell-bottom trousers, mini skirts, hot pants in fact you name in you could see it. One woman had brought a very large handbag, which she placed on the dance floor for everyone to dance around.

The weekend flew by but if your appetite is whetted you can catch the party on MS Magellan in 2017. Hot on the heels of this year's Rock the Boat 'Rock n' Roll At Sea' music cruise the 2017 departure went on sale on Friday, 30 September 2016 and will be sailing from right on our door step. Departing from the Port of Tyne on 2 September 2017, the 7 night itinerary visiting Aberdeen, Isle of Skye, Dublin, Liverpool and Invergordon will be onboard MS Magellan and feature a tremendous line up of UK Rock icons. 21 different bands and soloists have been confirmed already including Suzi Quatro, The Manfreds, Slade, The Troggs, From the Jam, Animals and Friends, Yardbirds and Big Country

For more information and to book call the cruise experts at Travel Bureau on 0191 285 9321, email cruise@travelb.co.uk or pop in and see us in person. A full PDF brochure will be available in print format or see link to e-reader version here http://www.cruising.com.au/util/doc.jsp?d=160929RocktheBoatUK2017&g=Cruise%20Brochures

There are several other music cruises on offer. Monsters of Rock cruises from 2-7 February 2017 on Royal Caribbean’s  Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, Florida visiting Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. For the full line up of confirmed acts please visit monstersofrockcruise.com

In a world where music reigns supreme on the high seas, lies a floating utopia. A place where normal citizens exude extraordinary musical sensibilities.  A realm where bands, fans, and a rock named Boat join forces for one super-colossal, out-of-this world adventure. The time has come to join us once again for an odyssey filled with all the music, chaos, adventure, and all the onomatopoeias you can handle. WHAM! POW! SPLASH! THIS IS The Rock Boat XVII!

We’re turning Norwegian Jade into our own rock & roll wonderland and sailing from Tampa, Florida to Harvest Caye, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico, February 10-15, 2017. Sister Hazel will be your hosts and they’re bringing along a crew of your favorite artists and new discoveries that are sure to blow your mind… KABOOM!

Will elevator parties become even more legendary? Can theme nights get any more zany? Will Rock Boaters experience crazy artist collaborations, make new lifelong friends, and eat Norwegian Jade’s entire soft serve and pizza supply? Find out all of this and more aboard The Rock Boat XVII!. For the full line-up of confirmed artists visit therockboat.com

My gorgeous glamorous friend and cruise director Sue Denning is celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary year and because of that her fabulous hubby Jimmy joined us for the Rock the Boat weekend and also came back on the last leg of the British departures before it crosses the ocean to Miami. We had a wonderful time playing catch up and we made plans to have lunch in Gran Canaria. Where did we go? What elegant and gourmet eatery did we try? Burger King!! And it was delicious.

SUE AND JIMMY DENNING

I had a fantastic time over the ten weeks I spent on Eclipse and met up with several amazing artists I have known for years. It is always a treat touching base again especially with the very talented Steve and Sharon Larkins. Steve does a show called “Mercury Rising”, an amazing tribute to the legend that was Freddie Mercury. His shows are justifiably always packed tight with tons of passengers standing up at the back because all the seats are gone. Not only is Steve a gifted singer and pianist but the blend of music and comedy is genius and he had me in fits of laughter all the way through. Steve and Sharon have now gone across the pond to join ships in Australia. If you get the chance to see his show don’t miss it.

STEVE LARKINS

MIKE DOYLE

Another mate is Mike Doyle and not only were his shows great, as per usual, but he did a late night Liar’s Club with the chef, Ents Manager Jane and Staff Captain Leftie which was expertly hosted by Sue Denning. I had tears streaming down my face and if anyone is in any doubt about getting your monies worth on a Celebrity ship there was no time limit on the show. It started at 11.30pm and finished at 12.50am despite the fact that Leftie was sailing us into Lisbon early the next morning. What a great bunch of good sports.

PASSING UNDER 25 APRIL BRIDGE, LISBON

 

LISBON AT NIGHT

I met up with several passengers who had sailed with me on Eclipse last year and amazingly they have gone and booked for when I’m on next year. I made two new friends on the European leg, Kevin & Jackie Hilton. They enjoyed the two weeks so much that not only have they rebooked for a month next year (three back-to-backs) but they also decided to come back on 16 October for the Canary Islands Cruise.

They had never been to any if these ports which included Funchal in Madeira so I arranged to take them up on the famous cable car, a fifteen minute journey ride up to Monte. This is the best way to see the views over Funchal, that it if you are not afraid of heights! and come down on the famous toboggan run. This form of transport has been around since 1850 and was a fast means of transport down to Funchal for all the wealthy aristocrats that lived in Monte. Their sole purpose today is for the thousands of tourists it attracts every year. These two-seater wicker baskets glide on wooden runners pushed and steered by two med traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. What fun and despite Jackie’s initial trepidation, she would have gone again if we’d had the time.

I’d made arrangements with my publisher to send another 100 books to the ship as I had none left and although they came on the ship on the 17 September I didn’t get them until a week later because they couldn’t be found. I’ve missed out on several cruises because of this hiccup in the print run but at least I have replenished stock now. Sod’s Law says I’ll go back with 98 copies!!!

Despite working for Celebrity for three years I have never been into the a la carte restaurants. The one I’d wanted to do from the off was Qsine an adventure in onboard dining but is in primarily for shared dining, not the sort of place to eat alone. Qsine is forward-thinking, modern and thought-provoking with their pioneering and unusual presentation. Flavours originate from around the world to fuse in delighting ways. Sushi lollipops, lobster escargot and popcorn fish and chips all feature on a menu designed to evoke your senses.

Walking into Qsine, the first thing you'll notice is the lighting -- the lamps are upside-down and on the ceiling. In what feels like a nod to the elegant eccentricity of the Mad Hatter's tea party in "Alice in Wonderland," sleek high-backed chairs are placed next to lower, ornate seats. The result is quirky and playful, yet chic -- in keeping with Celebrity's goal of "modern luxury." Color schemes fluctuate from ship to ship, but expect variations on stark white mixed with touches of chocolate brown or tangerine. On Eclipse, handblown glass vases serve as unique and striking centerpieces. Even the wineglasses are designed to impress and perplex: they're tipped to sit at what feel like a precarious angle. But it's the presentation of the food itself that adds the most distinct pops of color and form to the dining landscape.

The menu is presented on individual IPads and we opted for Baby Back Spring Rolls with Chipotle Coleslaw & White Truffle BBQ Sauce {or} Vegetable Mélange with Cilantro, Chipotle Coleslaw, Sweet & Sour Sauce and Disco Shrimp, Bouillon Poached Tiger Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato & Celery, with Cocktail Aioli and Crunchy Toppings as our starters.

Next our table was adorned with Popcorn Fish ‘N’ Chips comprised of Boddingtons Battered Codfish & Chips, Malt Vinegar or Aioli served in a popcorn beaker, Painter’s Mignon, Filet mignon cubed chunks served on an artiste’s palette, A Trio of Sliders presented on a griddle and delivered with all the elements of making your own burger, with tiny bite sized bums, sliced raw onions, sliced tomatoes and sliced gherkins. To accompany all of that we opted for Crunchie Munchies which included Gaufrettes, French Fries, Sweet Potato Strings, Vegetable Chips, Potato Croquettes and Spicy Parsnip Crisps with "Squeezable Sauces".

The three of us were fit to burst but it would have been rude not to sample the dessert on offer. We all opted for the Chocolate Tombstone; the clue is in the name and on the side we asked for popping vanilla ice cream. We chose to go on the ship’s chic night which gave us an excuse to dress up in a finery and all I can tell you is that I can’t wait to go again.

Now on to Matt Monro news……..

My shows on the ship were tremendously received and my very first presentation was standing room only. Not only were there 92 people standing at the back of the room but some chose to sit on the aisle steps. What an amazing atmosphere and my other shows were much the same. Even those passengers who were on the ship with me last year came again. I was so touched by the amount of people who said “You’ve made our cruise”, what a fabulous sentiment and so good to know that dad’s music is not been forgotten.

My dear friend show business journalist and broadcaster John Hannam has a new book out, The John Hannam Interviews features the stories behind nearly 100 interviews with pop stars of the '50, '60 and '70s, and is now available online. The book’s Forward is written by Maarty Wilde and the tome contains chapters on names like Matt Monro, Duane Eddy, Neil Sedaka, Justin Hayward, Cliff Richard, PJ Proby, Al Martino, Gerry Marsden, Bobby Vee and of course The Bevs.

It's available online. There are direct links to the buying opportunities via this website  -  www.johnhannam.com  Just click on the 'In Print' page
          Nighs of Shanklin  The price is £12 including post and pack.


          Amazon (2 suppliers). The prices are £12 plus £2-80 post and pack.


         

The other news although slightly premature is that the new show “The Matt Monro Story: One Voice” has been sold to nearly 40 theatres around the country kicking off on 12 February 2017 at the Richmond Theatre, Richmond. Matt Jnr will star but having looked at the dates it is impossible for me to do it as well. It was hugely popular last year and this time round I’ve updated the life story and Matt has added several other hits to the repertoire. Keep an eye out for further news in the coming month and although I won’t be there in the flesh, Matt is taking the very latest merchandise on the road with him.

My son Max did finally complete on the Floridian house that we put up for sale in August. We had a small hiccup with the funds but even with that we completed the transaction on 27 September. Florida have a much better system that over here in house sales. As soon as an offer is accepted the potential buyers pay a non-refundable deposit and that alone puts a stop to all time wasters. The whole thing was done within a month and the attorney even arranged for the money to be converted and sent over to England. Very painless. The only bugbear is that the Tax officials withhold 30% of your money for three months to ensure we don’t owe the government any outstanding taxes or debts.

Our thought process was to get the money out of the States before the presidential campaign result. Whatever the outcome, it could have a dire effect on the American economy. When I bought the house seven years ago it was only a few months in that the recession hit over there and the value of the house dropped by 50%. Even seven years down the line the house prices have not reached the level of pricing that I bought at but it had recovered sufficiently to take a small loss. The bottom line is that it now allows Max and Justine to get married next year just in time for their 10th anniversary. They have both been looking at venues but haven’t found that perfect place yet but I’m sure a date will be imminent.
P.S Max has banned all hats from the wedding in case I embarrass him!

The time away has given me the leeway to work on my new book project and all being equal it will be ready to go to print in February ready for the cruise season next year. The working title is ‘The Port Guide for Mere Mortals’ which includes a ‘Mobility Challenged’ section. The first edition includes Norway and Europe. If you have any recommendations of shops, eateries, tours and the likes please email me at michele@mattmonro.com. Even if you had a valuable tip I want to hear it , you might know the best places for duty free and if anyone has issues with their mobility please share your stories with me. This project is important and if you have any suggestions of things to include then also share that. Please don’t be shy, everything is valuable and you’ll be helping future travelers.

My new dates for 2016/2017 have been confirmed as follows.

Cruise Dates 2017
5 January – 5 May - Cruise & Maritime Magellan World Cruise
18 June -2 July - Celebrity Eclipse
2 July-16 July - Celebrity Eclipse
16 July            -30 July - Celebrity Eclipse
30 July            -13 August - Celebrity Eclipse
13 August-26 August            - Celebrity Eclipse
26 August-3 September - Celebrity Eclipse
3 September-17 September - Celebrity Eclipse
17 September-21 September - Celebrity Eclipse
28 September -8 October - Celebrity Eclipse
8 October-18 October - Celebrity Eclipse
18 October-28 October - Celebrity Eclipse

 

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on the ever-popular Gerry & the Pacemakers. Because of the Rock The Boat cruise it seemed fitting.

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If 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.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

Until next month

Warmest to you and yours

Michele
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