Saturday, January 05, 2008

Another Meanwood lad done good...

Barry Ryan and his twin brother Paul were a singing duo of 1960's vintage until Paul decided that teenage adulation was not his bag (fool) and turned to writing music for his brother to sing - Eloise was their biggest hit together in 1968.

The Ryans (or Saphersons to use their real names) were from Meanwood and my dad never tired of telling anyone and everyone that when they were young lads putting their act together they used the concert room at his local club for rehearsals, a story which stood him in good stead when we visited France for our extremely adventurous holiday in 1971 as for some fluke of pop history the song "Eloise" had been a massive hit in France and Barry Ryan can still be seen performing on various French TV stations to this very day.

Working Mens Clubs were extremely important to our dad, he was a trustee at Meanwood Con Club and had various stints as concert secretary, snooker and billiards ace and bingo caller under his belt, but nothing was as sacred to him as the traditional "turn" on a Saturday night, the only night of the week that the concert room would be used, and it would be packed out with couples, it being the only night of the week that men would take their womenfolk out with them.

Acts like the Ryan twins cut their performing teeth on the stage in working mens clubs, if you were rubbish you were paid off after your first session (generally "turns" did two or three 30 minute sets per night), if the audience hadn't started talking or going to the bar during either of your sets then you might get a rebooking for next year - but the good "turns" could easily double their "day job" weekly wages just by performing every Saturday and Sunday night in a random club somewhere on the northern circuit so repeat bookings for next year (marked down in the concert secretary's little black diary) were very important.

Our dad also claims responsibility for discovering another Meanwood act at his club, "The Grumbleweeds" and I must admit to being split between them and Barry Ryan for todays video choice - Barry Ryan will do my street cred much more, well, cred, though.

He also lays claim to a lad named Alan Hawkshaw who allegedly used to sneak into the concert room and tinkle on the organ when no-one was looking, a disgusting habit but it paid off - yes I know you won't have heard of him but you will have heard of his music for Mr Hawkshaw moved off to that there London as a young talented organist and started writing theme tunes for TV shows - at one point in the 1970's every TV show theme on TV had been written by Alan Hawkshaw, if only he'd made sure that his contract included royalties...

But our dads biggest claim to "discovering" new talent was the day that his boss at work rang him up to ask if he knew of a good northern comedian who could do a very short five minute spot at the Royal Albert Hall in that there London at the very prestigious and televised Burma Star Organisation's annual piss-up - our dad recommended Paul Shane.

"What !!!" you cry, "Paul Shane of Hi-de-Hi fame ?"
"Yes" I reply smugly
"He was shit comedy actor" you all shout back, in unison.

And yes I agree, his comedy acting talent was zero although as we all know to our cost, that did not stop him from starring in the BBC's most popular sitcom for several years (and then some more that were not popular at all), but Paul Shane was one of the big stars on the northen club stand-up comedian circuit - if you booked Paul Shane at your club you had to pay top whack even before he appeared on TV, but you knew that your club would be full that night - without a doubt he was one of the funniest stand-up comedians I have ever seen.

Such a shame that his acting ability was zero.

So there you are - famous club turns and Barry Ryan - check out the Grumbleweeds on YouTube though, you will either love them or you will think that I have lost any marbles that I ever owned for recommending them.

PS - Barry Ryan perfectly demonstrates the dance style known as "Your dad dancing at a wedding", how I wish it was fashionable again for I could take to the dancefloors once again without shame or ten pints of ale inside me...


Anonymous said...

Their Mother was 'Marion Ryan'!!

Shame theres nothing on "Youtube".

Anonymous said...

Q... Spot that tune..:)

Gary said...

You're showing your age now Anon ;) Even I had to look up the reference to Marion Ryan and "Spot that tune"


Dan said...

I used to love the grumbleweeds when i was about twelve. they had a radio 2 series on at 10pm i seem to recall as i listened to it before going to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine.