Interviewing, questioning and querying formed a major part of my time on newspapers. It did not, for the most part, embrace the examples included on these pages. They were the result of my freelance activities, concentrating on my greatest passion—music!
My first freelance interview took place in December 1962. I decided that there was nothing like starting at the top and so, somewhat ambitiously, having obtained information that my favourite singer, Connie Francis, was flying in to Britain on a lightning visit, resolved to make her my first subject. To that end, I enlisted the support of the then Daily Express pop music critic. I struck a deal, whereby I would supply her with information on Connie's unpublicised arrival, thereby enabling her to gain a UK newspaper interview exclusive, in exchange for which she would permit me to accompany her.
I could not have forecast how successful that interview would be. Conducted in a limo, en route from London Airport to Elstree film studios, where Connie was laying her vocals to the soundtrack of her second movie, Follow The Boys, I dutifully scribbled down her responses. Seeing that first article in print, together with the photograph I had snapped at Heathrow Airport, was a life defining moment. Whether successful or otherwise, I determined that I was going to be a writer. I sent Connie a copy of the Record Mirror, with whom I had placed the interview. She wrote straight back, saying: "My goodness...you've repeated word-for-word what I said."
Somewhat naïvely I replied, querying: "Isn't that what one is supposed to do?"
She responded by saying: "One would like to think so, but the reality is it doesn't happen."
Not to other writers, maybe... That meeting became the start of a lifelong friendship, telling it like it is, during which we have shared a gamut of emotions and experiences. Constantly balancing between personal friendship and professional activities, she and I both refer to herself as a product called "Connie Francis" - one for which I have acted as publicist, PR, record/CD albums compiler, Vice President / Creative Director of her music label Concetta Records, and her Royalties Manager. The experiences gained en route proved invaluable for the creation of Nights of the Turntable.
For many years, mine was the official bio approved for use in editions of Playbills, created for venues at which Connie appeared in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. She had, as part of her enviable MGM Records contract, clauses giving her power of veto over liner notes and artwork for all album releases. It was, indeed, a wonderful affirmation of our relationship that this became her bio of choice, and that she entrusted me with all PolyGram compilations of her repertoire, and the 1984 interview I placed with Woman's Own. Honest, almost to the point of being brutal, it perfectly sums up my dear friend.
In November 1989, I became associate producer of my first stage show—a one-woman concert by Connie at the London Palladium. Undeniably the most ambitious project I had undertaken, it saw me ensuring that all points of production were covered, as well as handling Press inquiries and PR, and creating, writing and designing the glossy 16-page programme for the event. I am grateful for these personal experiences, and the opportunity to feature them in both "Nights of the Turntable" and its sequel.