Bridge Too Far

(cont.)
   

Brian O Hara and Billy HattonWe did eventually improve! I became good enough to be escorted to the parlour of our local pub, sat down in the corner with my guitar and be the centre of attraction for the 'Satdee Night Singalong, Like.' This was the seed that was planted inside me as a thirteen year old when caused me to be a show-off ever since. Also, the glass that was passed around at the end of the night was filled with loose change which was poured into my grateful pocket and this instilled into me the fact that being a show-off sometimes pays off!! 

At fifteen years of age I became part of my first group, a country trio called the Drifters. We did local pubs and small clubs but those venues were vital to me because you learned in your early forays into show business whether you actually felt enjoyment when performing or not. Some people use what talent they have purely for the money...and it shows. I dabbled in a little skiffle and met Gerry Marsden from the Pacemakers for the first time at the Florence Institute Youth Club. It was roughly about this time that I became a great friend of another music lover called Ronnie Wycherley who went on to become Billy Fury.

We were very close because of the bond that music gives you and we spent many nights in the front rooms (the posh ones) of our homes playing and singing to the guitar and working on that rare gift that Ronnie had of song writing. This was so unusual at that time because being a songwriter was something that people did in films or on the radio. It was a fantasy that did not visit young working class lads in a poverty stricken area of a city. It did not happen in a little terraced house in Dingle. But it blossomed in our houses with Ronnie coming up with the ideas and me slotting in the chords that he wasn't sure of. I did help him a lot but the songs were all his own creations and I just supplied the window dressings. Ronnie believed in what he was doing and here is how this particular dream came about.

Ronnie arrived at our house saying that he had got an audition as a result of some audio-tapes that we had put together and sent off to an agent. He had to travel to a place in Wallasey the following day and asked me if I would go with him to play guitar and for moral support, so off the two excited mates went. On arriving at our destination we were met at the door of a house by a miserable and obviously bored southern gentleman who led his two victims in to meet another man who made him look positively ecstatic. Against this overwhelmingly cheerful background we played about four songs that we had rehearsed together. Then, lo and behold, something resembling a smile crept over the faces of the passive pair and they started to warm up a tad.

They asked me to thrash out some rock 'n' roll stuff whilst Ronnie did some hip gyrating and pelvic thrusting. There was a positive nodding of heads and that was it...audition over! We were told that they would be in touch with Ronnie and they seemed just a little bemused when I refused their offer of a career playing the guitar. I wasn't as ready as Ronnie for the big time.

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