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Hello Everybody,
Welcome to my August & September newsletter.

Memories of Johnny Remember Me

At the time Johnny Remember Me was released I was living with my Father in Hendon, North West London. The morning after ‘Harpers West 1’ was aired I received several congratulatory telephone calls from friends, relations and my father decided to walk down to the local record shop and buy a few copies, as he put it at the time “To help it on its way.” When he returned a little while later he said the record shop had completely sold out and it was only 11 o’clock in the morning! This was the first time that I thought that we might just have a hit on our hands.

I called Robert Stigwood, my then manager, and he told me that everything was going crazy and the demand for Johnny Remember Me was so huge that EMI were going to re-press tens of thousands of more copies. It was at this point I thought yes, we DO have a hit on our hands but any thought of it going to No.1 were still a far cry. However this uncertainty did not last for long. The following week I had been booked to appear as 'the mystery guest star' on the BBC Television programme ‘Juke Box Jury’ that went out ‘live’ on Saturday 29th July.

I quote from the letter received by Robert Stigwood requesting my presence at The Television Centre on Saturday 29th July.
26th July 1961.
"Dear Mr.Stigwood,
Confirming my telephone conversation with your Secretary this afternoon, we should definitely like John Leyton to sit in 'the hot seat' for Juke Box Jury this Saturday 29th July.
We should be grateful if you would arrange for him to be at The Television Centre, Shepherds Bush Green, at 6.40p.m. and we'd like him to report to the front of the Theatre, as he would be likely to run into Panellists if he came to the Stage Door.
With many thanks.
Margaret Hepworth
(Secretary to Bill Cotton Jnr)."

The Panellists that day were Spike Milligan, Benny Green, Pat Moss and Eira Hughes.
Although the panel voted Johnny Remember Me a MISS by then it had already charted at No 15 in the Top 20 and shortly after was to spend 4 weeks in the No.1 position, spending in total 15 weeks in the UK charts.

After the showing of 'Harpers West 1' and in the run up to it becoming No.1 things became very hectic with the press wanting to interview and photograph me. When it hit the No.1 spot then everything went mad. I was the new kid on the block. Joe Meek in his own inimitable style had branded me as the James Dean of pop, photographers were now camped outside the house, much to the annoyance of the neighbours and TV producers had now joined the press in clamouring for a piece of the action.

Many radio and TV appearances were lined up and the TV interest culminated in me starring on Sunday 20th August in 'SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE PRINCE OF WALES' the biggest and most watched variety show in the country and the summer/autumn replacement for 'SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM'. On the bill with me were Eartha Kitt and Edmund Hockridge, two huge stars at the time.

I was also booked to appear at the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS BIG STARS OF 1961 concert at Wembley Empire Pool on Sunday 10th September, taking the place of Gene Vincent who was forced to withdraw through illness. The demand for concert appearances was very high and I was booked to make my variety debut at the Chester Royalty for the week of 18th September.

When it was clear that Johnny Remember Me was going to be a massive hit it was decided that a follow-up disc was required and in late August I was back at Holloway Road to record 'Wild Wind' and it’s 'b' side, but more about that in my next newsletter.

I am often asked what it was like hitting No.1 for the first time. This, of course is a milestone in any singer's career. A lot of singers who have great success never actually achieve the No.1 spot, for example one of my contemporaries Billy Fury. Hitting No.1 for me was life changing. Johnny Remember Me was also released worldwide selling over 500,000 copies and was also voted the best recording of 1961, earning me 'the best new singer of the year award'.

With all the events that were happening around me it was important that I kept my feet firmly on the ground and I never forgot that primarily I was an actor and becoming a pop star was not scheduled in my plans. It was all very exciting but quite unexpected. When something like this happens your life changes. I suddenly found it virtually impossible to go anywhere on my own. I was constantly being recognised and chased by groups of teenage girls wherever I went. It was all very flattering but at the same time quite frightening.

The strange thing about fame is that after a time you get used to it and it becomes an accepted part of your life. It becomes normal. The thing that was difficult for me was that it all happened quite suddenly and therefore I had to adjust to this new life style quite quickly. Strangely enough I also felt quite lonely and a few years later when The Beatles came along and made such a huge impact, I always thought how fortunate they were that there were four of them. Can you imagine coming from the back streets of Liverpool and becoming that famous and adored throughout the world and being on your own.

It is now 50 years since this all happened to me but sometimes when I sit down at home and look out over the garden and the rolling fields beyond, the mind wanders and it all seems like yesterday.

Interesting facts.
In preparation for an article that Author and Joe Meek expert, Rob Bradford is writing about John Leyton many new facts have emerged about the 'Johnny Remember Me' sessions.
Several versions of 'Johnny Remember Me' were prepared by Joe before the final released version was accepted by EMI for releases.
At least 2 different mixes of the BBC banned 'died’ lyrics version were prepared and still exist in acetate form, versions with and without additional keyboards played by the song’s composer Geoff Goddard.
Also 2 versions with the 'lost' lyrics exist, a version with additional keyboards and the released version that did not contain the additional keyboards. The version that was released and went in August 1961 to the top of the UK charts for 4 weeks was not the version that was featured in Harpers W1 and Juke Box Jury. Joe Meek was always making many different versions of the tracks that he recorded until he was totally satisfied with the mix that he wanted. Different mixes/versions of other songs that John recorded with Joe also exist. These include 'Lone Rider', 'Wild Wind' and 'Down The River Nile'.

It is now established that John went to 304 Holloway Road on Sunday 2nd July 1961 to record the line 'the girl I loved and 'lost' a year ago'. John recalls the session and the thunderstorm that day.

Charles Blackwell has also added additional information in the respect that although the session drummer for Johnny Remember Me was the legendary Bobby Graham. Joe wanted an additional 'snare' drum sound which Charles personally added to the backing track.

Lissa Gray who with Jillian Utting provided the fantastic backing vocals it appears was recommended for the session by Maggie Stredder of the Vernons Girls. Maggie having been originally asked to do the session but had to decline the invitation as she was booked elsewhere that day. Maggie recommended Lissa.

The original Outlaws were used as backing musicians for John on the 'Harpers West 1' TV show. However the keyboard player featured is not Geoff Goddard who played on the original track but the then Outlaws Manager, Peter Raymonde.

August see myself, Mike Berry and The Flames in Concert on Friday 12th August at The Futurist Theatre, Scarborough and on Saturday 13th August at The Central Hall, Grismby. Originally Craig Douglas was joining the bill for both shows but unfortunately Craig is still unwell and Mike Sarne is replacing him. On Friday September 2nd myself, Mike Berry and The Flames are at The Harlequin Theatre, Redhill hopefully Craig will be able to be with us. On Monday 12th September myself, Mike Berry and The Flames are at Vauxhall Holiday Park, Gt. Yarmouth and on Friday 16th September myself and The Flames are at Thwaits Empire Theatre, Blackburn.

John Leyton Live in Concert DVD.
During the years I have had many requests for a Live in Concert John Leyton DVD, we are now in the process of preparing one for release in 2012. As such on Saturday 15th October at The Amersham Rock 'n' Roll Club the concert will be filmed as part of this DVD project. The club reports that ticket sales are going well and heading for a hopeful sell-out.
It will be great if the 'dancers' amongst you can get your 60’s 'gear' out of the closet and dress up for the occasion - as we aim to get a lot of audience participation filmed. Also on the bill that night are Charlie Gracie, Linda Gail Lewis, Chas McDevitt and The Flames. Ticket details on the website gig guide.

Always yours.

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