Tom Jones, Muhammad Ali and Kim Davis…
Last weekend we had a family get-together at my brother’s house. Because of my travel schedule, I haven’t been able to get to any of the recent clan gatherings. So this is the first time I’ve been together with the family in recent times with no funeral involved
I hadn’t seen my late brother’s wife Emma, since his funeral. So it was great to see her and my nephew Andrew on a much less sombre occasion. Emma and I talked a lot about Paul. She talked about his obsession for collecting and hoarding things. And then completely surprised me with a file she had found in amongst his things, which was packed with stuff of my father’s which he had filed away and forgotten about.
It was like entering a time machine. So many old photos of my parents and so many press clippings and Dad’s memorabilia.
One or two things just leapt out at me though. Back in the sixties my Dad was a pal of Tom Jones. He was very young then and just getting a taste of the truly international stardom coming his way. His wife Linda became friends with my mother and Paul, Stephen and I became pals with Tom’s son, Mark.
And so it was, in the summer of 1968 (I think?) we ended up on holiday together on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Majorca (Mallorca). The picture below shows my late uncle Peter (second from left) my parents (third and fourth from left) and Tom Jones and his wife Linda at the top of the table.
Later in life, Tom’s career took a little downward turn. But when his manager died, it was his son Mark who took over. And this transformed his career and brought him back big time with his cover of Prince’s song, Kiss. I haven’t heard from Mark since my father’s funeral. But even then, we both had great memories of that wonderful holiday together all those years ago.
My Dad was a real character. A wonderful story teller and downright great guy. He was a stinking parent. And he knew that. But when I was old enough to start hanging with him, I realized what a great personality he was and what a fantastic sense of humour he had (very zany). So, back in the day, when he was hanging with all of his show-biz pals, I got to meet many of them myself.
I remember him hanging with Muhammad Ali when he used to come into the UK. My father’s long time friend was a guy called Johnnie Walker (no relation to the whisky) and he was an amateur boxer. When he was in the navy, he won some major trophy trophy three times in a row. This was really something special and much admired by Ali. So he became friends with Johnnie, and in turn, my old Dad too. I found this wonderful pic of my Dad and Ali back in the early seventies I guess. Nice suit, Dad. Just finished your audition for Starsky and Hutch had you 🙂
I really got emotional when I came across the pics and press clippings of a young girl by the name of Kim Davis. Way back in the mid to late sixties, my Dad discovered a very talented young singer. Of mixed race, she lived in a pretty run-down area of the city. Long story short, my Dad took her in as manager and father figure. And so it was, I acquired my unofficially adopted sister.
Kim was a beautiful soul. We loved to listen to music together and made albums full of pictures and press clippings of our favourite stars. We were both huge Dusty Springfield fans (and later we both got to meet her).
Over a couple of years, Kim’s singing became more and more mature and professional. She formed a band with some local guys and went on the road as Kim and The Kinetics. I used to love to go and hang with her when she and the band were rehearsing. I was learning to play the drums at the time and the band would often let me jam with them.
But most of all, I used to love to watch my big sister live with an audience. She was a complete babe and the guys loved her. I was so proud of her. And I was broken hearted when, just as she had her first top 40 hit, she died of a brain tumour. So young. So talented. And such a loss. I cried a river.
I was never able to track any of Kim’s records down. They all seemed to have disappeared after she died. So imagine my surprise and delight, when amongst all of the old stuff I was rummaging through at the weekend, I found one of her records inside a battered cardboard envelope.
At Christmas, I treated myself to a USB turntable. It’s a turntable you connect directly to your computer and converts your old vinyl records into mp3 files. As soon as I got back home I had Kim’s only top 40 hit playing on my iPod almost within minutes. And I played it over and over again. It was so great to hear her voice again, and a million memories of when we were young came flooding back to me.
So for the very first time, in who knows how many years, my family, friends and people who knew Kim can now hear her again, in digital format, just by clicking “Are you ready for love.”