He returned to the charts in 1981 with another of his recordings, the group Coast To Coast with ‘(Do) The Hucklebuck’ and the following year brought Billy Fury out of retirement to become his manager. It seemed as if Billy was on the brink of record success again but, tragically, died.
In recent years Hal was involved in a number of revival and tribute bands ranging from Rumours of Fleetwood Mac to the Illegal Eagles, while continuing to promote his numerous other acts.
Even when he was ill he was keen to see the release of the Rockin’ Horse album ‘Yes It Is’, and still had a heart full of rock ‘n’ roll. He was a one-off and will be much missed.
Billy Kinsley, had a long professional relationship with Hal through the Merseys, Rockin’ Horse and Liverpool Express, he writes: “Hal passed away very peacefully with his two lovely daughters and his brother Ray at his bedside. If anyone should have written a book it was Hal.
“He met Elvis, was great friends with Eddie Cochran, managed Billy Fury and many more.
“I first met Hal in 1966, we (The Merseys) were on tour with The Who and Hal was the lighting guy. I heard this strange accent, half cockney, half Scouse engaged in a bloody big argument with Pete Townshend!! Pete wanted to know why Hal had this big green spotlight on his face and particularly on Pete's nose, making it look twice as big as it was. Hal said it was because Pete hadn't said how good the previous night's lights were and until someone thanked him the green light stayed. They argued for what seemed hours that night but I don't know what sort of compromise they came to as from then on they were the best of buddies. The green light was never seen again.
“Another story was just a couple of years ago I noticed Hal wrote a B side of his single. I asked him how he wrote it, on guitar or piano. His answer was a classic. On the guitar he replied. I didn't know you could play guitar I sarcastically asked. Who taught you to play guitar Hal? Eddie Cochran... he said with a big beaming smile on his face........”
Editor’s Notes: Hal’s own story would have been ideal for Mersey Beat. He told me some years ago that he was writing a book – and I looked forward to it, because he told me great tales of his meetings with Elvis and his association with some of the classic names in rock. At one time he even asked me to collaborate with him on a book about Billy Fury, an artist he originally became road manager for and eventually managed. He also managed a string of other artists over the decades, ranging from Marty Wilde to the Swinging Bluejeans.
Over the years Virginia and I joined Hal on numerous occasions – he’d drive us down to Hastings to see the Searchers, we’d team up with him for an evening at the Hippodrome with many of his artists, drop in to the Valbonne where he’d booked the Swinging Bluejeans, enjoy a New Year’s Eve party as his guest at the Blundellsands Hotel where he’d present artists such as John Leyton and the Vernons Girls and so on.
Hal asked me to act as press agent for some of his acts such Loot, Liverpool Express and, later on, Coast To Coast, for which I was awarded a silver disc. In recent years Hal approached me to act as p.r. for some of his other acts, but I’d decided to give up acting as press agent for good, but was able to advise him on who to approach.
Virginia and I have known Hal for over forty years and he was regarded as a good friend, someone we enjoyed being with, a person with warmth and humour. It was devastating to hear he was ill with cancer and, in these circumstances, one hopes for some sort of recovery as not all cancers are fatal. I’d phone him in the hospital and his situation sometimes improved, sometimes worsened. When he came out of hospital he visited us and I was able to lend him my vinyl copy of ‘Yes It Is’, the Rockin’ Horse album, which he was discussing re-releasing. Some months later we heard the sad news that Hal had passed away.