Spotlight on ....
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
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
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
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
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
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
”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: firstname.lastname@example.org
A more in depth insight into the world of Joe Longthorne
can be found at his website www.joelongthorne.com
Grosvenor House Tribute
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
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
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
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
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.
Sammy Davis Jr.