NEWS

October 2020

What a few months it has been. I cannot believe we brought out the new album Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions on 13 March 2020 and 28 weeks later we are still in the official physical album charts. It still surprises me how many people leave messages on the various media sites and don’t know its out!! So, with Christmas looming in 11 weeks please pick up a few copies to give to your friends and loved ones as a stocking filler, you can’t go wrong for £5.00 which is what the supermarkets are selling them for.

This new album’s release was a great way to start off the celebrations for dad’s 90th anniversary year and the last six months has seen Richard and I working on something very special that we were aiming to release nearer to dad’s birthday. We are both very excited about the project and the reason I didn’t do an update last month was because there was a lot going on without any real results.

So finally, here is the big reveal but don’t get too excited yet.

 Matt Monro – The Boy from Shoreditch (4 x 1hr episodes)
Mint & Monro Productions
(a co-production by Mint Audio and the Matt Monro Estate)


The programmes are written and narrated by Matt’s daughter and biographer Michele Monro and features an intimate portrait of the man behind the voice, drawing on previously un-broadcast interviews, extremely rare recordings previously thought lost, interviews with his family and friends and messages from some of his more famous fans.  


Matt tells his own story where possible, drawn from around a hundred hours of interviews between 1962 and 1984.
With contributions from Matt’s siblings, Alice & Harry Parsons, his wife Mickie, his son Matt Monro Jnr and some of Matt’s famous friends and fans
Quincy Jones, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Martin, Anton Du Beck, Cliff Richard, Dave Allen, Bruce Forsyth, June Marlow, Billy May, Rosemary Squires, Tony Christie, Helen Shapiro, David Hamilton, Bob Monkhouse, Frankie Vaughan, Buddy Greco, Tony Bennett, Johnnie Mathis, Bernie Clifton, Duncan Norvelle, Lance Ellington, Bobby Crush, Joe Mantegna, Barry Cryer and many others associated with the late singer.


The series draws on the estate’s extensive archive of rare material featuring:  


·         Never before broadcast appearances on radio in Hong Kong whilst in the army along with his first recordings


·         Previously thought lost performances from the BBC Showband Show, Lunchbox, 1964 Song for Europe, Parade of the Pops, 1966 Royal Command Performance and more


·         Audio from lost TV appearances including, Cilla, Val Doonican and Petula Clark


·         Rare and unheard live recordings, demos and jingles.


·         Recording session clips and more
The series of course also features many of his most famous recordings


The script was written and presented by Michele Monro and produced by Richard Moore.


Episode summery

Episode 1 – From his birth to early fame including the army years, Early recording and radio career and first steps to fame.

Episode 2 – His first hit, Portrait of my Love and working with George Martin, through to Eurovision and Lennon and McCartney

Episode 3 – Signing with Capitol and worldwide fame, through to his South African tour and making a movie.

Episode 4 – His split with Capitol, later career and final illness. Also features his legacy and messages from famous fans.


Last year Richard and I submitted the project to BBC Radio and after several selection stages, in December 2019, after three months we were turned down because the BBC said they had already commissioned a documentary on Matt Monro for the 90th anniversary. Richard and I were floored especially as we had also offered the BBC an extra programme free of charge. This 1-hour special of “Matt Monro at the BBC” would feature recordings dating from the late 50’s to the early 80’s many of which no longer feature in the BBC archives and have been preserved by the Monro Estate. The recordings would be restored and remastered by Estate Engineer Richard Moore who’s critically acclaimed work is behind all of Matt Monro's recent EMI, Warner and Capitol Records releases


Featuring recordings from: -
BBC Show Band Show
Saturday Club
Go Man Go
Music About Town
Matt's Kind of Music
Sounds of the Night
Robert Farnon Hour
Sing it Again
Tribute to Michael Holliday
Once in a While
The Russ Conway Show
Desert Island Discs
Gala concerts with Ron Goodwin and Billy May


Undeterred Richard and I forged ahead to make the special programme to celebrate not only the anniversary but dad’s life’s work. We started in earnest in January this year and Richard quite literally spent 6 months listening to every interview dad had ever done that the Estate held so that we could work out where the specific stories were that would piece this incredible project together. Originally it was only to be 3 hours but there was just so much material to put in that we extended it to an extra hour. I wrote the script and laid down the commentary and then poor Richard had the unenviable task of editing it to run to exactly 57 minutes per episode (A BBC requirement due to fitting in the news)
With the finished project I decided to approach the BBC directly and emailed 4 people in high-ranking positions. The main person seemed to be the Commissioning Editor of BBC Radio Pop Networks. I heard nothing and a week later emailed again to be told he was on holiday until 7th September but he did send a message on 25 August to say


Hi Michele - sorry for the delay in replying - last year Radio 2 commissioned a documentary on your Dad’s career which they are due to broadcast in December - I’ve asked the supplier for an update on the production, which is why I delayed writing to you.


I found this whole scenario odd because since December last year when we were originally told a supplier was making a Matt Monro programme for the BBC, no one had approached the Estate, either for an interview, for information or to ask if they could borrow any clips. Added to that no one in my vast network of media friends had heard of any such project, not even a whisper.
I received a follow-up email from the Commissioning Editor on 10 September saying


Hi Michele – it now looks likely that the production supplier who pitched the idea for a story of your Dad won’t now be able to deliver what we commissioned, so we have cancelled that commission. Thank you for the offer of your content too, but I think we’ve decided not to mark your Dad’s birthday with a doc, but rather celebrate musically within programmes on the day itself.


My initial reaction as I read the opening passage was sheer joy that whoever had successfully pitched the idea had fallen by the wayside (if there was ever such a company) and expected them to ask for a listening copy of our project so I was completely floored to read the rest saying they had decided not to mark dad’s birthday with anything special. If they had indeed commissioned a programme it would have been allocated a slot so suddenly there was no slot. I immediately replied


Hi, - Quite disappointed that you have taken the view not to mark dad's anniversary with a documentary, especially as you had commissioned one in the first place. We had in fact pitched the documentary to the BBC last year but someone pipped us to the post. Now that the supplying company has not come through, I would have hoped that you would have at least asked us for a listening sample before making up your mind.
Matt Monro was one of Britain finest singers and biggest exports and continues to be fondly remembered as evidenced by the new release on13 March with more than 25,000 physical album sales and thousands of streams which saw him in the charts for more than 24 weeks.


Not only did they not want to hear a sample but they didn’t even know the price we were asking – I found that strange and politics spring to mind. After all we pay a license fee that covers radio play and based on the recent figures of the new album it would seem there is a healthy number of fans who would have loved to hear this completely unique programme revealing tracks they had never heard before. Regardless his reply was this


Hi Michele, we are just approaching the anniversary in a different way – both Michael Ball and Anneka Rice will pay tribute to your Dad on Sunday 29th November, and we are also creating a special one-hour playlist of Matt’s most famous recordings that will exist as a special programme in BBC Sounds – all of our shows will encourage listeners to download this special one-hour birthday mix.I hope all this make sense.


Big whoopee, Michael Ball and Anneka Rice will deem to play a track on their programme and the one-hour playlist will not include anything we haven’t already heard umpteen times.
I can’t quite believe this deliberate snub to dad, Britain’s biggest export of the 1960s in a year that celebrated the 60th anniversary of his first hit Portrait of My Love and his upcoming 90th anniversary on 1 December.


To add insult to injury the BBC have now announced a two part series on John Lennon presented by his son with a ‘John Lennon at the BBC” companion programme. – Sounds like a familiar concept!


Richard and I have put the project to Universal and at the moment we are waiting on news. We cannot simply put it online as a download because of the music copyright of Warner and Capitol, something we are hoping Universal might be able to sort out quicker than us. Regretablly this will not include the "At The BBC" show for licensing reasons.


I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news; this is something we were convinced would appeal to listeners of the BBC. Please let Richard and I know your thoughts on the matter.
So, onto other news………………

Unfortunately, still no news on dad’s Blue Plaque. London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

The site will be in Ewell at 14 Ruxley Lane where dad lived from 1961 until 1965 and the present owner of the house Mr. Sheriff is very happy for the plaque to be put up on the front of the property. We are hoping to have a small unveiling ceremony if any members of this website or Fan Club would like to attend. The timing will depend on everyone’s commitments in the next few months but as soon as I have a date, I will let you know. Because of the recent events with Coronavirus there will be a long delay now before this happens but I will update you when I know more.

Being a special year, I designed something exclusively, the abridged audio of my book: “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro” on a USB stick.

I like to think that I design my merchandise with style and this time round is no different. Bound in leather and offered in a gorgeous presentation box with a magnetic clasp I am thrilled with the outcome. “Words & Music’ includes the equivalent of 3 CD discs that make up the audio book, 9 music tracks (Babycham jingle, Camay jingle, California Here I Come, Dreamdust, Lazy River, Pennies From Heaven, Star Eyes, The Nearness of You, You’re Driving Me Crazy) and 2 video clips (Born Free, My Kind of Girl)..

page1image39613856

Because of its popularity and demand I plan to make this available for the whole of 2020 so if you would like one then please drop me an email. They retail at £15.00 including postage. (UK only).

Would you believe the 27th January marked 10 years since the book launch of “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro”? That is incredible and I have to admit to being really proud that so many of you were interested in learning about the man behind the voice.

What is so unbelievable is that the book is still selling by the box full. I kind of feel everyone in England must have bought a copy by now, lol. Each year I think about whether to take the books on the ships with me, assuming that demand would have diminished but I have been proven wrong several times over. Let’s hope the same runs true with my new publication.

 

STOP PRESS… STOP PRESS… STOP PRESS
I have changed the name of my new book and it has gone too print. Next month I will be able to disclose all the gory details such as the date of release.

 

Cruise/Work Dates 2021

4 May – 22 May – Fred Olsen Black Watch

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 a great friend of dads, the ever-popular Jack Benny

Have a fabulous month and I hope that those that managed to get the album are enjoying it and for those that haven’t got it yet, put your order in now. If you are loving the album please leave a review on amazon. See you in November.
Stay safe.

Michele xxxx

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