Spotlight on ……
I was a teenager in the 60’s and loved all the music that came onto the scene then. Even if you had a record player you only usually had a handful of records so it was a case of devouring anything on radio or television for new releases and the charts. I still love listening to The Sounds of the 60’s on BBC Radio 2. Obviously The Beatles were the big thing for us but Matt Monro was one of the singers “on my radar” from then on.
I love the variety of Matt’s music and the way he interpreted a song whether it be a ballad of something more upbeat. He had a way of making them sound fresh even though it may be an old song or a song that he had sung for many years. He made it his own
“We’re Gonna Change the World” made me a fan and I like different songs for different reasons BUT I would have to pick “Softly As I Leave You” as my favourite song and at the other end of the scale, one that wouldn’t make my play list is “Let There Be Love” only because I do not like this song. I know it is admired and raved about but I just don’t like it (even with Matt singing it).
I always feel that good music adds to a film and I was a particular fan of John Barry and was certainly a fan of the (Sean Connery) Bond films in the 60’s. As to Matt’s title songs my favourites would be “On Days Like These” and “Born Free”. Sometimes I just watch the start or end of a film just to hear Matt sing the song. I certainly feel that the singer of the song should be at The Oscars although I don’t necessarily agree with them receiving an Oscar. However it would have been wonderful if Matt had received an award for his contribution to film music.
I saw Matt perform live many times and I was never once disappointed. I saw him in many different venues all over the country and he was always superb. This included the ‘Talk of the Town’ many times and the ‘Talk of the Midlands’
I used to revel in the way that the appreciation built up during the show, which sometimes only began with polite applause and ended with cheers, whistling, stamping of feet and standing ovations.
When I first saw him live I was just blown away, it wasn’t just his wonderful voice it was also his humour and impressions – Sinatra, Perry Como even Lee Marvin (Wandering Star)!
As a fan, I really enjoyed the whole experience of booking for the show and the hotel etc and the journey there. By the time his intro was played I was beside myself with excitement. When I first saw his shows I used to run in get his autograph and then run out again. Then I suppose over time he realised he was being “stalked” and consequently we had a chat after the shows. This is when I got to know Mickie. They were always very welcoming and appreciated the fact that you had travelled quite a way to catch the show.
I didn’t even mind him making fun of my accent (Bristol Burr)! Although Mickie did tell him off (Bless her).
I would also say that I have seen many performers over the years, actors, comedians, singers (even Sinatra), groups and shows (I am a fan of musicals) but I have never recreated the frisson of seeing Matt’s live shows.
I was surprised that Matt never brought out a Christmas Album as many singers do but unfortunately I feel that his time was very limited in the recording studio in that he travelled so much.
Thank goodness he got into the studios when he did for I love the albums he brought out and wouldn’t have changed a thing BUT I would have liked more. I am glad that some albums have been re-released in their entirety and would like this to be on going. I particularly would love to have The Long and Winding Road back on the market shelves.
I do have a large collection of Matt’s music and luckily in 1970 you could still obtain most of the back catalogue of albums and obviously from then on I also bought any new releases and compilations. I have around 20 vinyl albums and over 40 CD’s, which includes boxed sets plus some singles and cassette tapes.
I always felt that EMI did not give much thought to the real fans when they just kept re-releasing the same half a dozen well-known songs and then adding a mixture of other songs. I know I have had to buy many CD’s just to get one track.
It is only since Michele started putting her hand to the releases, about 10 years ago hat we have seen the better quality releases in terms of content. That doesn’t just apply to CDs either as there have been several DVDs released in the last few years. I really enjoyed them and it’s such a pity there isn’t much material but considering a few years ago there was thought to be no existing material on Matt, we are lucky to have what we have but I hope that more is found. Perhaps there may be some in the archives of television stations in other countries.
I particularly enjoyed Matt at the BBC, which is a mix of audio and DVD. I remembered the show “Matt sings Monro” and thoroughly enjoyed watching it again, his interpretation of Maria is quite breath taking.
I know Richard Moore has done a huge amount of work on the last few releases. Obviously I haven’t heard the material before Richard worked on them but I know Michele raves about the work that he does so, as a fan, I can only thank him. I did read in the release news that it was only because of Richard’s expertise that The Rare Monro got the tracks on it that it did. Some needed a lot of restoration and it is a great album. I really enjoyed it and think it was a valuable edition to the catalogue. I very much appreciate the work that Michele and Richard put in to bringing items into the public domain that would otherwise be collecting dust.
Well what can I say about the Monro family? Obviously the Charity Ball in London was a great event and was an evening I will cherish forever. It was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 22 February 1987 in the Great Room. Michele laid the tribute evening on which was called ‘By Request’ and there were about 1800 people there, it was packed to the rafters. That was also the night they released the album ‘By Request’, which was inspired because of all the celebrity quotes on the album. The whole family was there and the top table had people on it like Dave Allen, Bob Monkhouse, Kenny Everett, Petula Clark, Barbara Windsor, Les Dawson and so many more I can’t list them all.
When we first went in and sat at our tables the top table was empty and then the band kicked in and all the special guests headed by the Monro Family descended down the great staircase waving and saying hello. It was quite a moment.
After the dinner, the speeches were started by Barry Cryer and finished by Bob Monkhouse, Bob’s speech was hilarious. Mickie’s speech was really poignant and a lot of people had tears in their eyes by the end of it and then the cabaret started. Joe Longthorne opened the show and then came an artist that painted a painting upside down to the song Send in the Clowns. When he turned it over at the end of his segment it revealed the Mona Lisa, it was really clever. The finale was wonderful with 100 members of the Morriston Orpheus Welsh Male Choir singing a medley of Matt’s hits while a slide show of Matt’s pictures were shown on two giant screens. If I remember correctly it started about 6 pm and went on to about 3 am in the morning
I was also lucky enough to meet Mickie on a number of occasions and she certainly was a very special lady. My one special memory of her which sums her up very well was when one night I saw Matt’s show in St. David’s Hall in Cardiff. I won’t bore you with the details but the stage door staff wouldn’t let anyone back stage. Consequently I received a telephone call from Mickie the next day telling me off for not going back stage; apparently Matt had seen me in the audience. When I explained she told me off again and said “next time you say that Matt Monro is expecting you and don’t take no for an answer”. That, Dear Reader, was absolutely wonderful
Unfortunately I do not have a computer at home so do not visit the website much but I do pop in every month to catch up with the news from Michele. Luckily I found out about the recent auction of effects from the homes lived in by the Monro family. I feel it was a lovely idea to enable friends and fans the chance to purchase a few items. I bid for and “won” a lovely crystal paperweight with a music note motif. I was delighted to obtain something and it now has pride of place in my home.
The one thing that was talked about on the website in the lead up to its release was the book Michele was writing on her father. I bought it as soon as it came out and it was excellent. It was obviously meticulously researched and very well written and I was not disappointed in any aspect of it. It was written with love and honesty and quite frankly I could not fault it. It re-affirmed the Matt (and Mickie) that I knew and admired. Though ultimately very sad, there was some wonderful laugh out loud moments. Plus there was a wonderful array of both professional and personal photographs. I have already read the book twice and will do so again.
I would think that I am one of Matt’s more avid fans. As I said earlier he was an artist that was on my radar throughout the 1960’s but for some reason when We’re Gonna Change The World was released in 1970 it just clicked. It was such a difficult song and so brilliantly done and that was it, I was hooked and I never looked back.
Matt contributed a huge amount to the British Music Industry. The wave of interest around the world for British Music, caused by The Beatles etc was phenomenal but you still had to be good to sell the records and the concert tickets. In fact they had to be exceptionally good to stand out from the crowd and I believe Matt did that as well as helping to showcase the great music that was evolving from the film industry.
If I could only take one CD on to a desert island it would be “Live in Australia”.
Whilst I love his records he was exceptional live and to me this is the best release since 1985. It evokes such wonderful memories. This CD is Matt.
I would like to add that he was such a lovely man, a wonderful human being and an enormous talent that is sorely missed. It has been a privilege to have been a fan for over 40 years
I was asked to describe Matt Monro in three words, sorry but I found this impossible. I would need half a dictionary and then some!!
I will pinch, if I may, something that Bob Monkhouse said to a reporter after Matt’s funeral:-
“He had the heart of a comedian and the voice of an Angel”
That said it all really