Spotlight on ....

Joe Longthorne

Joe was born on 31st May 1955, and was baptised at St Wilfrid's catholic church on The Boulevard, Hessle Road, Hull. Although the Longthornes were a travelling family ("Gypsies", Joe says), he spent the first part of his life in the family home in Wilford Terrace.

He attended the Villa Place Primary School, in Walker Street, off Hessle Road. Joe has said that he went to fourteen primary schools, but adds, "I kept getting banned for fighting". He was not really the academic type and didn't do very well at school, but part of this might have been due to the fact that, as he later found out, he is dyslexic. He's also deaf in one ear, but that doesn't appear to have held him back in his chosen career. He later attended the Sydney Smith High School, in First Lane, Anlaby.



Joe began performing in talent shows at the age of four, and by his early teens was beginning to make a name for himself on TV programmes such as Yorkshire Television's Junior Showtime, which was produced by Jess Yates, a man whose memory Joe still holds in great regard. Jess gave encouragement to all the youngsters who took part in the show, and helped to build up their confidence in their own abilities.

In 1981, Joe appeared in the London Weekend TV series Search for a Star, and this lead to national recognition. Joe's own TV series was soon to follow. In fact Joe has shared the same stage with many of the world's greatest artists, appearing in Royal Variety Performances and also with Bob Hope at the London Palladium.
Joe's repertoire of voices contains more than a hundred of the world's finest singers, and Shirley Bassey, one of the subjects Joe is most famous for impersonating, says: "Joe can do me better than I can do myself".



Joe has an army of dedicated fans who follow him wherever he appears, and he is on first-name terms with many of them. This relationship, and Joe's dedication to his fans, ensures that records and videos are eagerly awaited and are always well received. He has several Platinum Disc winning albums to his name.



Joe has had his fair share of ups and downs. He has gone off the rails a few times, and has appeared in court on several occasions. He has also had trouble with his health. In 1989 he was diagnosed as having lymphoma and began a course of treatment at The Brotherton Ward of Leeds General Infirmary. Subsequent to his treatment there, Joe helped the hospital to raise funds through his involvement with The Friends of The Leeds General Infirmary.

Perhaps it is because of his range of experiences that Joe realises what is important in life. He treasures his health and his family; and gains great satisfaction from his charity work. He abhors blood sport, greed, and capital punishment. He enjoys Formula One Motor Racing, and of course listening to music ("Anything from Handel to Heavy Metal"). He relaxes, when he gets the chance, by spending time on the North Yorkshire coastline, around Whitby and the surrounding area.



As he has become older and experienced more of life, Joe's education, which started in a very unpromising way, has become more eclectic, more fulfilling. He is fascinated by History and Art, and takes interest in Politics and Parliament. But this hasn't changed the man himself. You only have to watch him with his audience, or on a chat show. Joe Longthorne is just a nice guy!

Joe will always consider himself to be a Hessle Roader. The history that really matters to him is the history of his family; the history of his career and his loyal fans. He will never forget where he came from. And we can all look at where he is now and what he's achieved, and bathe in the reflected glory, because one of us has made it!
Pleasure Beach, Blackpool is to give Joe Longthorne fans a real summer treat with special appearances in the Paradise Room from July right through to November for the legendary entertainer.



The sensational singer, who performs amazingly accurate vocal impressions of top stars from Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti to The Pet Shop Boys and most famously Shirley Bassey, will be backed by a six piece live band and supported by local comedian Tony Jo in the top show venue at weekends from July 14th to November 4th for 2006.

Joe has returned to the stage in 2006 after receiving intensive treatment for cancer and he is coming back to Britain’s favourite, free tourist attraction by popular demand. He said: "I am very excited about the summer dates. The Paradise Room is the perfect setting for me and the perfect place to say thank you to all my fans for their continued loyalty and support."

Tickets are £22.50, £20 and £17.50 and are selling fast. Call 0870 444 5566 or at the Hounds Hill box office for bookings and further information. Discounts are available for children and senior citizens.
This month I am offering up a fantastic copy of Joe’s brand new DVD “If I Never Sing Another Song”



Capturing Joe Longthorne on and off stage, the documentary follows Joe through his 2004 Spring Tour and his 9 week Summer Spectacular in Blackpool cataloguing the highs and lows in what turned out to be an incredible series of events.

When the filming began in March 2004 Joe was put on a 12 week experimental course of treatment to combat his 17 year battle against cancer. Electing not to cancel the spring tour Joe granted the film crew unfettered access as they followed him on a roller coaster of a ride which saw him returning to Blackpool 3 times a week whilst desperately trying to accommodate the gruelling schedule of 37 dates in just 50 days all over the UK.

Click image for a larger view.

The Summer Season in Blackpool proved to be just as dramatic as the Spring Tour and this film manages to capture many great and often touching moments.

”If I Never Sing Another Song” pays testament to Joe’s courageous struggle with his illness and his consummate passion to carry on performing in the face of so many obstacles.

Directed by Paul Iacovou this is a reverting insight into this legendary performer.  For more information about this film, visit www.ifineversinganothersong.com

Two lucky people can win this fabulous DVD by answering the following question:  What is Joe’s middle name?
Answers as always to: michele@mattmonro.com

A more in depth insight into the world of Joe Longthorne can be found at his website www.joelongthorne.com

 

Grosvenor House Tribute
22nd February 1987

When I lost my dad it was the saddest day of my life and the weeks that followed were blurry and bitterly painful.  People who meant well said inane things like “time heals”, “he’s in a better place” “life goes on”, it got to the point where I wanted to physically hit someone as if somehow that would ease the torment.

Within a year I moved house thinking that by starting afresh it would be something new to focus on, but I regretted selling the house that I had lived in with my father for over 20 years and I got angrier and angrier at the world.

What angered me the most was that after all the things that my father had achieved in his life, not only for his art, but for charity, representing his country, and his contribution to the British music industry, no-one came forward to discuss a tribute or indeed and accolade of any kind.  Video was the new technology and dad had been in talks to tape three concerts later that year for public release but as such very little footage existed.  Television stations, thinking they were saving money, had taped over thousands of old programmes and tracking footage down became a quest.

I obsessed over the fact that my father wasn’t being recognised by his peers, not one television programme was made nor a past show aired and after waiting two years I decided enough was enough.  I thought long and hard on what was the best way to counteract this and decided a “Tribute Evening” would rectify all the wrongs and who would be the best person to host such an event – me of course.  I rashly picked up the telephone and booked the Grosvenor House Hotel for Sunday 22nd February 1987.

It couldn’t be too hard to host an event for 1500 people and raise money for Cancer Research could it?  I booked the room, arranged the menus and printed invitations.  I sold blank pages in a brochure to friends and colleagues who had been connected to my father throughout his career.  I wrote hundreds of letter on a typewriter and spent ridiculous sums of money on postage.  I started getting requests and cheques for tickets.

Late one night in October, I laid in bed working out my break even point and having done so, felt sick for days, but there was no turning back.  The dye had been cast.

I was selling tickets for £50.00 each, which was pricey in those days and yet at that point all the attendees were getting for their money was dinner.  I wanted people to pay tribute to my father, and to know they missed him as much as I did.  I came to a decision that a decent “Top Table” was needed, but although this sounds awful, I didn’t want it full of celebrities who meant nothing to us, that would only be there to gain their own publicity.

Word got out and before I knew it people were ringing me offering to do whatever they could, the top table wasn’t big enough, the brochure was brimming and the tickets had sold out.

I had a Green Room full of donated champagne, a Toastmaster on board, prizes donated for raffles and tombola and offers of encouragement from every orifice.  What I didn’t have was a top name for my cabaret. 

The thing with me is that it was no good having just anyone, everything related to the tribute which was named “By Request” had a tie in to my father and the finale of the evening was to be a 100 strong choir who sang acapello to a medley of dad’s music, this to be sung on stage with enormous backdrops showing video footage of my father.  It was to be a very emotional and powerful ending to what I hoped would be a fantastic evening.

But still I didn’t have a big star name, and then my white knight came along, Joe Longthorne, who was at the height of his career, had won every accolade, had his own television series and was at the top of his game rang me out of the blue.  He offered to be my escort at the top table for the evening and absolutely tore the room apart with his cabaret performance.  He not only offered his services for free but also was there because he genuinely admired my father.  Not once did he throw a wobbler because he wasn’t closing the show, which is what every star would normally expect, thus being effectively top of the bill, he asked what he could contribute and accepted his fate humbly. That is the mark of a true star.

Joe usually does a tribute in his stage shows to dad, which is a great honour in itself.  He always talked highly of my father and his voice, but in fact Joe has the most amazing voice and a range that very few singers could compete with.

Joe is a very unassuming gentle man; he did me and my family a great service that night and contributed in making the evening a resounding success.  He himself has overcome such adversity over the years and although he has won many a fight with his illness, he hasn’t won the war.  I have found that the truly great people in life suffer greatly and are taken away from us far too early but that is only because they have a greater destiny, a bigger cause, it is the only acceptable explanation that appeases me.

I have only met Joe a handful of times in my life, and each time he has been more gracious than the last, and although I do not know him really well, he will always have a very special place in my heart.  There are not many people who can make me see reason when I don’t want to, but the one thing he did for me that evening when he stepped on that stage at The Grosvenor House Hotel, was that he took away my anger at the world. He made me realise that you don’t need corporations and television companies to acknowledge what a great talent the world has lost, you just need the people, people who love and admire the legend that is Matt Monro, and the amazing legacy he left behind.
Through his music, he lives on.

Thanks Joe

xxx

 

 

PREVIOUS SPOTLIGHT GUESTS

Frank Sinatra

Sammy Davis Jr.

Dean Martin

Nelson Riddle

Tony Christie

Nat King Cole

Steve Woof

Matt Monro Jnr.

Roy Leslie

Ken Dodd

Julie London

Sid Feller