Spotlight on ……
Ted & Lilian Knightley
I first became aware of Matt Monro back in 1957, Ted & I were married in that year and before that we didn’t listen to the radio very often, it was after we were married that the radio featured in our lives and I can remember one of our favourite programs was Cyril Stapleton’s Show Band at night on the BBC Light Program as it was called in those days. Matt Monro seemed to appear on it every week, and what was so nice was, as a young married couple, the songs he sang really meant something to us the individual person. Matt had such a gentle voice; he could take you into a different world. I also recorded another program called The Saturday Club that Matt used to sing on, which was broadcast around lunchtime. I’m afraid that at that period of our lives, as we were trying to buy a home, we didn’t have money to buy records, so the radio was the only entertainment we had for quite a while. But what delightful programs we had back then with music you could relate to and singers, like Matt, that you could understand every word they sang. Brilliant, what a shame they don’t sing like that today, but then, no one could ever sing like Matt………
To describe the music of Matt Monro isn’t really very hard is it, words like Wonderful, Romantic, Lilting and Happy are just a few that spring to mind but there are more we could use. One thing is for sure, and that is I have never heard a bad record of Matt, but then I haven’t been able to hear all of his records, mores the pity. His music has always been easy listening and it takes you on such an emotional journey, there is just something about Matt’s voice that is intoxicating. When we play any of his music we have to listen to the very end and hope that nothing interrupts us.
There are so many wonderful songs to choose from that picking a favourite is very difficult as most of them have something that reminds you of an event in your life. If we were really pushed for an answer, Ted and I would almost certainly say On Days Like These from The Italian Job. I’ve lost count of how many times we have seen the film, but I’m almost certain that it’s just an excuse to hear Matt sing the title song. I know some people may say we are mad, but as far as we are concerned, you can’t get too much of a good thing.
Ted - The week after he and Lilian married.
Which song would I exclude off my list? Oh no I couldn’t do that, that would be saying that I didn’t like it, and as I haven’t heard all of Matt’s record’s and disc’s that wouldn’t be fair. If I am pushed to say anything then I suppose I’ll admit to preferring Matt singing in English. It’s not that I actually don’t like a particular song; I just prefer to be able to understand the lyrics.
I wouldn’t think there is anybody who doesn’t know who sang the theme tunes for The Italian Job, From Russia With Love, Born Free, The Quiller Memorandum, The Sea Wolves or Tomorrow Never Comes. If there is, then all I can assume is that they must have been living on another planet. They are all such memorable films and Matt’s voice is so smooth that it is your subconscious that is listening to the music, while you are taking in what the actors are saying. Then suddenly, on the way home, you realise you are actually humming the tune you just heard in the film, now that is a sign of a good song but then needless to say, Matt just didn’t sing rubbish. Our favourites would be The Italian Job, From Russia with Love, Wednesday’s Child and Born Free, in that order, as they are all so good, and for us, they add something special to the film.
We had no idea that when a song won an Oscar it was only the songwriters that received it. That is totally unfair. Yes agreed, the song has got to be good in the first place, but it’s the singer who puts that song over, if they don’t do it right then there’s no hope of it winning anything. There’s no two ways about it, the singer should definitely get recognition in their own right. You would have thought that Don Black and John Barry would have insisted that Matt also received an Oscar, especially when Don Black is quoted as saying that Matt has the best voice this country ever produced… and I second that. That and the fact that John Barry said that he still hears Matt singing. If they really felt that strongly then surely they should have stood up and demanded that Matt was also given an award.
Much to my disappointment I never saw Matt perform live. Back in those early days we didn’t get the chance to see big names very often, if at all so thank goodness for the website. We would feel so disconnected from all the news if we didn’t have it. I’m afraid I am no expert about websites so I wouldn’t know a good one from a bad one. All I know is I had terrible trouble trying to find out how to use it at the beginning, but there was of course help at hand and without Michele, I would never have been able to work it out. That girl is a Godsend. I have got quite good at it since and its lovely that there are so many places to go to and every area is different. You can find out all the new things that are happening now, as well as being able to find out things that happened years back. What I do particularly like is the Forum; the people that use it are so friendly and talk about everything on every subject. If you want to know about something specific there is always someone who will know the answer. However different personalities are the common bond with us all is that we are all fans of Matt Monro and that has brought us together. What I find to be really helpful on there is that you learn about the Monro Family themselves and that Michele works tirelessly on the site and trying to keep her father’s music alive as does Matt Jnr. I’m sure I speak for a lot of the fans of the Forum when I say, it’s one of the most important parts of the website and we would not like to lose it. A massive thanks to Michele.
It’s wonderful for everyone that Michele has been able to organise a Fans Reunited gathering this year. I’m a fairly new member and as I have never been to one before I don’t really know what one might expect but my thoughts are that it will be very friendly and everyone will exchange stories and experiences since the last time they met. This year’s event sounds very exciting, as there is the bonus of being able to attend the paperback’s launch party afterwards. Being there in the presence of celebrities, well ….. if I’m honest I think I might find it a bit overwhelming, but I know I would enjoy it. It’s just a shame that I can’t be there, perhaps next time. One thing is for sure I’ll be thinking of you all on the day and look forward to seeing all the photographs.
I love getting my copy of the Club’s Official Magazine and unlike other fan club magazines I have read, this one sticks to the point of the subject matter and doesn’t digress. Michele keeps us informed of what is going on, anything new in the pipeline and things she has found. It’s just full of interesting things and then there’s the letter from Geraldine, what would we do without her? It’s always worth reading. It may be, that in this day and age of the computer, that everyone uses it more than any other media, but I would much rather be sitting in my armchair reading a magazine than looking at a website. Not only that but if you want to check something out, it’s much easier to check a magazine than trawl through the computer plus the fact it is much more personal.
The recent book written by Michele was well worth the money, I actually bought Special Reserve, the special edition so I got the extras, and they were a brilliant addition to the book. Since buying the special edition I have got to say I am always looking at it, checking when a certain tunes came out, or when a program was on, and then to have that extremely rare disc as well, it was like having Christmas, Birthday and Anniversaries presents for this year all rolled into one.
I started to read the book but I hadn’t even got to the third page and already I had tears rolling down my face. Oh dear I thought, how on earth am I ever going to get through this book? But I persevered and I did get through it plus a box of tissues. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down but was trying to read slowly as I was frightened I might miss something. I have never been so quiet in the evenings, from the first page to the last, there was sorrow, tenderness, love, annoyance and downright anger, I felt I was there, like a fly on the wall, watching what was going on. It was so beautifully written, it couldn’t have been better. In some places, whilst reading it, I could hear Matt singing. I’m not mad, it’s just the way the book is written, you can visualise Matt there, the pages just came to life. The other thing about the book is that you learn about the Music Industry and how awful it can be if you’re not careful. Mickie kept behind Matt, encouraging him and being his Rock when he needed it, you also felt you know the family. I may not have met Matt and Mickie Monro but I definitely feel that I now know them as good friends, just as I know Michele and Matt Jnr as good friends now. If that had been me writing about my family, my father would have burst into tears with pride for me and I am sure the same thing would have happened for Michele if Matt had still been here. What a wonderful daughter she is to have done this for her father, he to would be so proud of her.
There have been several book signings and events around the country but none were ever near enough for us to go to, which is a shame, as I would love Michele to sign my copy. I might have to see if something can be arranged for the fans in Norfolk, as I know there are stores in the big towns. From what I have seen on television of other book signings there will be quite a number of people that would like to go, not only to get your book signed by Michele herself, but to actually speak face to face to her. I would expect there to be a lot of joy, laughter and talk of experiences whilst waiting in the queue. Great fun.
Since reading ‘The Singers Singer - The Life and Music of Matt Monro’, it is imperative to put those pages onto film. If I had free reign and the money to do it, I would actually make two films, one of his family life and the other of his musical life. I’m sure there would be loads of people that would like to see it and of course hear Matt singing again. I’d also like to see some of the old shows put back on television or brought out on DVD, there are hundreds like Matt’s own series he did for Associated Rediffusion, Meet matt Monro, Lunch Box, Rendezvous with Rosemary (Squires), Cyril Stapleton’s Show Band Parade and the Winifred Atwell Shows, at least they entertained you, not like some of today’s rubbish and what about the missing Eurovision Song Contest Matt was in. I know a lot of the archives are missing but I’m sure there is something somewhere.
I know Richard Moore has helped enormously in tracking things down, especially some of Matt’s early BBC recordings and as for his contribution to the last six years of CD releases, well its got be said that it is excellent. I know he is Michele’s right hand and has become a pillar of strength in so many ways to the business so long may he continue to do a lot more.
Michele has said that if it wasn’t for Richard, it is unlikely ‘The Rare Monro’ would be what it is. It’s great when Michele and Richard find these little extras that they might not have know existed, and then round them all up and release on one massive album. Well done. What a lot of us don’t realise is the work that actually went into getting this disc started let alone put out in the market. It took five years of hard work and begging to the record company to get it out there and I for one can’t wait for the follow up next year.
As we all know Matt Jnr has followed in his father’s footsteps and made a career in the music world, and what a good job he is making of it. WOW !! all the places he goes to, just like his dad. The hardest aspect of his job has to be singing his father’s songs knowing what some of them meant to his parents but it must be equally hard trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. Importantly he is not out to mimic his father, he just wants to keep his father’s music alive, and surely that is all we want as well. He puts his own stamp on his shows and they are very enjoyable. Ted and I got really annoyed at one of Matt’s shows when some people were complaining that he didn’t sound a bit like his father. I actually made the point that it didn’t say on any of the posters that advertised the show that he did. He isn’t trying to impersonate his father, he is only singing some of his songs in his own way – short and simple. We did bring the chap down to earth, but that really did annoy us. The one thing that we have noticed over the years that we have known Matt Jnr is that his voice is getting better all the time, and the content of his shows, are brilliant. It’s a bit selfish but I wish he would come to Norfolk more often but he would probably prefer a theatre in a town rather than the one he did in 2010, which was on the pier. It was a very wild night and the winds were gale force, but once inside, GREAT.
His recent solo album is great, there are moments where he really sounds like his father. The title ‘If He Could See Me Now’ is brilliant (well done Max). My answer to that is that your father would be so proud of hat you have achieved. Our favourite has to be the Duet Album he recorded ‘Matt Sings Monro’. As far as we’re concerned it’s out of this world. We have played it many times and quite often don’t know which one is singing. Keep it going Matt, just waiting for the next one!
One of the most exciting experience we’ve had regarding the Monro family was sitting listening to Matt Jnr singing his father’s songs for the first time, especially as we were celebrating the end of our Golden Wedding Anniversary Year. It was really exciting, as not only did we see him and shake hands with him during the show, but to be able to speak to him afterwards and have photos taken. It was really the icing on the cake.
Meeting celebrities shouldn’t be a nerve-racking ordeal but with a lot of people it is. I thought I would be one of them but instead I was absolutely elated. Matt Jnr was so laid back he put you at your ease straight away, it was just the same with Michele, she rang us up out of the blue, what a surprise but a lovely one, it was just like talking to an old friend that you have known for years, and we certainly appreciated her taking time out from her work to do that, as we all know she is such a busy lady. We have all become friends since then and we try to get to all the shows that Matt does in Norfolk…… we only wish we had known them both sooner.
The Auction was really exciting as well, we just had to try and get a little memento of the Man himself and Mickie. As Ted collects owls we thought we’d go for Lalique owl that was on offer and I liked the sound of the Swarovski Butterfly. Unfortunately we were outbid on the owl, so we put in a bid for a small cut-glass vase. There were so many things we would have liked to have, but we wanted to stick to a budget, that and the fact that we didn’t have the room for some of the items. As luck would have it, we did win both the Butterfly and the Vase and they are on now on my bay window ledge in our lounge in pride of place, along with other things that we treasure. They have a new home and they will be loved just as they were before.
Matt Monro contributed everything to the British Music Industry but the problem was that he didn’t get the recognition from them that he deserved. He was always ready to do more or less anything they asked of him. In our opinion they didn’t really know what they had and it was their loss when he went to America. I loved his quote on page 536 of the book ‘The Singers Singer’, when EMI released a new single knowing that Matt wasn’t happy with the recording and knowing he wouldn’t be in the country, he was asked “What would you do if the record hit the charts and you were required for promotional work in England” he answered “To bad I’ll be in Miami” Well said Matt.
Could we be counted as one of Matt Monro’s staunchest fans? Well lets put it this way we found him way back in 1957, and have loved his voice ever since. How could anyone not like Matt Monro, his voice was so mellow, relaxed, melodious and as a lot of people remark pitch perfect. He didn’t have to shout and screech to get noticed like some of today’s artists. We were married in 1957 and money was tight back then so we couldn’t go out and buy records. Instead we used to listen to the radio or watch someone else’s television. There were a lot of other good male singers around then, but for us, Matt Monro just stood out above them all.
Although we don’t have the largest collection of Matt’s music compared to some of his other fans, we do have quite a few and we try to get all the different styles of his music. We are lucky that there are so many to choose from and yes we have doubled up on some of the songs but it doesn’t matter because you don’t notice it when you are playing a different disc.
If I could only take one CD to a desert Island I think it would have to be ‘Matt Sings the Classics’ as it has so many songs that mean a lot to me. I would just lay back and conjure up all the memories, but don’t be surprised if ‘Matt Sings Monro’ got caught up in my luggage.
It is nigh on impossible to sum Matt Monro up in just three words but how about….Relaxed, Professional and Unique.