Labradors benefit show

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May 2014 Labradors benefit show

On Friday evening, April 11, P J Proby was in Mapperley Plains, Nottingham to perform for the East Midlands Labrador Charity.


The organisation, founded in 1981 by Harry Cook MBE, in the past 33 years has re-homed more than 6,000 Labradors.


P J has had many pets in the past 50 years, plenty of cats and even more dogs. He, in fact, does not call them dogs or even canines, but refers to them as ‘humafurs’…..human furries.


The show itself was easily sold out – 200 tickets at £25 each. A full bar and snacks were available and P J, with his own backing group, were expected to be on-stage for 90 minutes. Fans travelled from all over England, as well as from Holland, Belgium and Sweden.


The opening act was teenage singer Ellie Dibben, who was discovered by P J a few years ago and is still tutored and guided by him. She is also signed up to his own ‘Select’ record label, and has released a couple of CD singles in the past year, the first one was “Unintended” arranged by P J, and he also did some backing vocals. Her latest single is ‘Blackcat Summer’ which P J also arranged. Ellie sang both of these songs, plus a few more, and she received a great reception from the packed house.


A short interval followed and PJ Proby arrived on-stage to a wild audience. He did song after song, with the occasional bit of chatting to the audience, and because of the heat on-stage, he needed plenty of swigs of water and tissues for the inevitable perspiration.


Included in his stories to the audience were his good friend Eddie Cochran and Eddie’s girlfriend Sharon Sheeley (who gave P J his name in 1962, songwriter Ben Weisma, and a guy named Elvis, who dated PJ’s step-sister Betty, in about 1953/54.


At that time, Elvis was just starting to make it as a singer, and he was usually only to be seen performing in Tennessee and Texas. P J was 15 at the time and he sometimes appeared at local, small Houston clubs with his friend Tommy Sands,both way down the bill while Elvis was the headliner.


Proby performed most of his many hits including ‘Hold Me’, ‘Together’, ‘Maria’, ‘I Apologise’, and his biggest hit in the USA ‘Niki Hoeky’ which earned him a gold record. He also chatted about DJ and tour organiser Dick Clark and how he fired him from a 1967 big American tour because the ‘Niki Hoeky’ song theme was about smoking marijuana.


The young, mainly student audiences, loved the song and chanted the forbidden word constantly. P J himself, sensibly, never mentioned the word, but “goodie goodie” Dick did not want any problems with his reputation so he decided P J had to go.


PJ also sang his Australian No.1 from mid- 1965 ‘Mission Bell’. Next was a demo he did in late 1962 which also went down well, with the enthusiastic Mapperley Plains audience joining in. This was ‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’ written by Weisman/Wayne. P J begged Ben to give him the song to release but Ben said P J was an unknown singer and Ben himself needed to definitely make money from this song, so he was intending to pass it on to Bobby Vee.


The song was a giant world-wide smash hit record for top star Bobby in 1963. One year later P J also became a top star after appearing on the TV show “Around The Beatles” produced by Jack Good.


Two ladies in the audience were celebrating birthdays and P J dedicated ‘Susie Q’ to Susanne Persson, who had travelled all the way from Stockholm. ‘Somewhere’ was beautifully sung for life-long Proby fan and friend, Marion Proby Child, from neighbouring Derbyshire, who had a whole table full of family members at the show.


Probably the highlight of the whole show was towards the end when some of the Labrador Charity volunteers came to the edge of the stage with two beautiful “humafurs”, and P J sang especially just to them…. the song was ‘Forever My Darling’.


Altogether P J sang more than 30 songs, including ‘I’m Coming Back’ from, according to him, the best album he ever made, ‘Legend’ in 1996. Also superbly sung were ‘If I Can Dream’, ‘The Masquerade Is Over’, ‘Louisiana Man’, ‘Secret Love’, ‘An American Trilogy’  ‘Question’ , and two versions of ‘Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera Sera)’.


He first did it exactly how Doris Day performed it, slow and sleek, back in 1956, and then he did his own rip-roaring version from 1964….. both were magic!  After two hours on-stage, P J finished his act  and a  few speeches were made by the

organisers, including Harry & Joy. Then The Legend was presented with flowers, etc. and a lovely model Labrador. P J gave the audience a few minutes of his “humafur” chat and left to a huge audience reaction and non-stop applause.


The merchandising table did very well and lots of donations to the charity were slipped into the large cash pot. The raffle also attracted many people to buy tickets and lots of the prizes were P J connected. I believe, from the raffle and the cash pot together, getting on for £1,000 was donated on the night. Add to that, 200 tickets sold for the show and I’m sure the Labrador Rescue Charity was over the moon with the cash total raised.


Hope one day Proby will do the same again. I’m so glad I was there. He’s still a brilliant performer with a heart of gold! I was

amazed at the amount of energy he has on-stage,  – andhe’s actually 75 years young!


Ron Tennant (Belgium)

  • Jimmy Milan

    Mr. Tennant obviously believes PJ Proby’s story about Elvis performing in small Houston clubs in 1953 when Proby was 15. That’s fine for him if he chooses to do so, but it’s surprising The Beat allows the inaccuracy with no editorial comment about it. All students of music history (which I assume The Beat readers are) know Elvis didn’t perform in Houston until late November and December 1954 and it was at the Palladium (capacity of 1,000) and Cook’s Hoedown (a 2,000 seat venue), not in any small club.

    • Ronaldo

      It’s all from 60 years ago… a few inaccuracies here & there by P.J. regarding dates is inevitable. For Jimmy M. to accuse “The Beat” of inaccuracy is not right. It most likely was late 1954 that P.J. is referring to. As for Houston venues that Elvis performed in there were about 6 or more. For example The Gladewater Mint Club is one of them. As for The Hitching Post, some people say that the locals called the Palladium Club by that name. Maybe that’s a fact? We all have to keep an open mind I suppose.

      • Jimmy Milan

        Correct me if I am wrong but I will assume that “Ronaldo” is Ron Tennant. As I said before, if Ron Tennant wants to believe P.J. Proby’s account of when and where Elvis performed in Houston, Texas it’s his prerogative. “Ronaldo” obviously feels that keeping an open mind means ignoring any and all documented history of businesses in Houston in the 1950’s and performances there by Elvis, the Blue Moon Boys (Scotty Moore and Bill Black), Tommy Sands and other members of the Louisiana Hayride who toured Texas together.

        Tennant’s review said Elvis appeared in about 1953/54 at small Houston clubs. In “Ronaldo’s” comment he says most likely late 1954 and he specifies The Gladewater Mint Club and the Hitching Post. I don’t know why the date has been moved to the end of the original date range but (1) the Mint Club was in Gladewater (213 miles north of Houston) and (2) the Palladium Club (a large music and dance club) was never known as the Hitching Post.

        Since his arrival in England in 1964, P.J. Proby has used the name Hitching Post to describe a small “cowboy bar” where he says he sang with Elvis and drank as a teenager. One of his early record album sleeves even says he was from Hitching Post, Texas. Perhaps Ron Tennant and other readers of The Beat would be interested in a lengthy discussion about Proby’s “Hitching Post bar” on the HAIF Houston Architectural Forum. It can by found by doing a Google search for “HAIF” and “Bar called the Hitching Post in Houston in 1954”. Either P.J. Proby or a representative (calling himself “tinker”) posted detailed descriptions of what Houston was like in the mid 20th century. Local Houstonians and former Houstonians involved in the discussion were hard-pressed to understand why Proby would be telling stories about a bar that was never there, saying major highways at the time were just dirt roads, and describing sections of retail stores he says were off-limits to white customers.

        • Ronaldo

          In my original review of the P.J. show in Nottingham I passed on info that P.J. has told folk many times. I do think tho’ that he is one year too early & it was ’54/55 he should have said so in my answer to Mr. Milan on this “Beat” web site my original writing was corrected.
          So the actual time can be seen as corrected & why. All other facts that P.J. passes on have as good a chance of being right rather than wrong as Mr. Milan insists is the case. I am not going to get involved in any long winding pointless argument. I simply say why would P.J. make up a name like “The Hitching Post” if it never ever existed? If the club he,Tommy Sands & Elvis performed at had been called another name P.J. would have obviously have said that name!
          If Mr. Milan had lived in Houston in 1954 or 1955 & went to different bars/clubs then he would know what he was mostly talking about & I would listen to his side of the story much more enthusiastically.

          • Jimmy Milan

            If Ron Tennant (Ronaldo) had read the HAIF Houston forum discussion I mentioned in my previous comment I don’t think he would be saying the “facts” P.J. Proby passes on have a good chance of being right. There are people who have posted on that discussion who were living in Houston during the years under scrutiny.

            But anyone who has ever lived anywhere in Texas (myself included) would recognize Proby’s stories (passed on by “tinker”) as fantasies. Examples being his “memories” of listening to a Pecos radio station (from 560 miles away), restrictions on where whites could shop in stores, a paved 4-lane highway he describes as a dirt road, and “frequently hanging out” at a small wooden cabin “beer bar” when he was only 15 years old. In 1954 the city of Houston was a thriving metropolis that shut down bars that served 15 year old kids. Underage kids weren’t allowed to hang around bars either.

            With all P.J. Proby’s talk about singing in Houston bars with Elvis and Tommy Sands, it’s interesting he never mentions Scotty Moore and Bill Black who were Elvis’ backing band from July 1954 thru November 1957. Moore and Black were an integral part of Elvis’ live performances when he toured Texas. Only someone on the other side of the world would believe Elvis sneaked off without them to sing in a beer joint that P.J. Proby says only held 50 people.

            As a footnote to The Beat, I would like to thank them for offering this space so that someone from Texas can say what was really happening in Houston in the mid 1950’s.

          • Ronaldo

            Jimmy Milan gives us his side of the story. P.J.Proby gives us his version. “The Beat” readers can believe who they want to but most will side with P.J. as he was actually there!
            Thank you “The Beat” magazine for printing my whole article including P.J.’s Houston story from 60 years ago.
            There are & always have been people who are not P.J. supporters. Every singer has the same problem. Always a few picking out supposed faults with what the stars say.For P.J. & his remarkable loyal fans it’s like water off a duck’s back! LOL!
            End of story!
            P.S. I bet Mr. Milan would have also found fault with anything else written about Proby’s unique & special past.Perhaps in a future article I’ll tell about his step sister, Betty Moers, dating Tommy Sands & Elvis in Houston at the same time in late 1954. Or perhaps about Las Vegas dancer Dotty Harmony splitting with Elvis in 1957 & later getting engaged to P.J.
            Prepare yourself Mr. Milan! Your attitude is totally wrong!

  • Tom Morrow

    This review says donations and item sales brought in £1,000, and added to that was the sale of 200 tickets. I sincerely hope Mapperly Plains Social Club donated the show space and Proby and the backing band paid their own expenses. Otherwise the dog charity group were lucky if they broke even on the venture. Sadly this sounds more like a public relations opportunity for P.J. Proby than a successful fundraiser. He might be a dog lover – who isn’t? – but he has no history of speaking out on behalf of homeless dogs or any other charitable cause.

    • Ronaldo

      Tom….why don’t you contact “Labrador Rescue East Midlands” & ask them about the event. They were so chuffed they may do it again next year. At the moment all the photos taken at the event are also being used to raise even more money for the charity. To get any number of pics from the official photographer Yvonne Lishman, you simply donate & then contact her.
      P.J.Proby has supported many charities over the years but didn’t blab about it.

      • Tom Morrow

        Well how do you know Proby’s supported “many charities” if he hasn’t blabbed? Are you going to reveal the names of those other charities so people can contact them and ask about Proby’s support?

        Most people give to charity. Many of them regularly volunteer their time helping out in shelters for homeless animals.

        What I said was Proby hasn’t spoken out in the past on behalf of charitable causes. That’s what celebrities do to encourage other people to give of their time and money. Proby’s people are speaking out plenty now about this show. If it wasn’t just for publicity he’ll be doing “many” more charity shows from now on, right?

        • Ronaldo

          I know because I am in fairly regular contact with him & have been for the past 25 years. James Marcus Smith by the way is a completely different character than celebrity P.J.Proby.

          • Tom Morrow

            So what? I’ve read Proby’s bio page. I don’t care which of his names he uses, none of those names is known for philanthropy. If he wants to keep his “many” charitable activities to himself it’s ok with me. But why is he telling you about them if it’s a secret?

          • Ronaldo

            As is usual with the few anti P.J. people around they just talk nasty, rubbish & go round & round in ever decreasing circles. Finally disappearing up their own ********. Enjoy your journey Tom boy! For you ‘morrow has arrived! bye bye, LOL!

  • david parker

    There are facts and there are factions. There are showbiz stories told by the artists and raconteurs of all types. There are untold truths: but- let lying dogs sleep, as the cliche is twisted!

    • Ronaldo

      Thanks for that advice David.
      I suppose really I should not ever bother answering people who criticise P.J.Proby.He, like many other artistes, has not always had an easy life & just to have been around as a singer for 56 years is amazing. When the odd person or two starts putting him down I just cannot help myself,I try to defend him.
      Showbiz is half fantasy & half very hard graft. To all in the business I have nothing but admiration.