Whatever Happened To…Ted Neely

Ted Neeley age, hometown, biography | Last.fm

Ted Neely was born in Ranger, Texas in 1943. As a young man, he formed a band called ‘The Ted Neely Five’.

He played the lead in two productions of ‘Hair’ and also starred in a production of ‘Tommy’, which led to him performing on Broadway in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ but not as Jesus. He had originally auditioned for Judas but became part of the chorus and understudy for Jesus instead. He played the title role in the L.A stage version and eventually the film version of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in 1974, where he met his wife, Leeyan Granger. (She was one of the dancers in Simon Zealots and King Herod’s Song). They have two children, Tessa and Zackariah. He received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor and New Star Of The Year.

After his success on the big screen, he released a solo album and sang in ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band on the Road’ and appeared on T.V, with his band. He returned to the stage to reprise his role in Jesus Christ Superstar in the late seventies.

As well as releasing solo and collaborative albums, he became songwriter, arranger and producer for many well known artists, including Tina Turner, Ray Charles, The Kinks and Meatloaf. He also wrote musical scores for movies and T.V series, including A Perfect Couple 1979 and NBC’s Highway To Heaven. He returned to playing with his new band ‘Pacific Coast Highway’ in the late seventies.

Ted Neeley - TV Celebrities - ShareTV

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original film, the ‘A.D tour’ of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ ran from 1992 to 1997. He played Jesus a reputed 1,700 times. (It’s obviously a bit more than that now)!

In 1999, Ted played in rock musical, ‘Rasputin’, as the title role. In the next five years, he performed in the world premiere of Murder in the First and Waiting For Godot by The Rubicon Theatre. He was also sound consultant for Harry Chapin revue, ‘Lies and Legends’

He performed in a one night benefit of JCS at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Hollywood in 2006. The new ‘A.D Tour’ followed, with a minimalist set and lasted between 2007 and 2010.

2012 saw Ted back on the road with new group, ‘The Little Big Band.‘ performing songs from Hair, JCS, Sgt Pepper, as well as their own songs.

Ted played the role of ‘The Publicist’ in Alleluia ! The Devil’s Carnival in 2015.

Ted was invited to Rome to play Jesus in JCS, directed by Massimo Romeo Piparo. Italian group Negrita also featured on stage, as well as a 12 piece orchestra. For a year, the show toured in Italy with overwhelming positive responses and sold out signs.

Another return to Italy for another JCS Tour. This time extending into The Netherlands and Belgium before coming back round to Italy in 2017.

Easter 2018, saw Ted back in the Netherlands, followed by Bulgaria and Spain. Then an Italian tour until December of the same year. I’m sure it would have continued if it hadn’t been for Covid, but knowing Ted, and his optimistic outlook, the tours will return again soon.

Ted Neeley - Movies, Age & Biography

Whatever Happened to…Jaclyn Smith

The Inspiring Backstory of Jaclyn Smith of Charlie's Angels | by Yitzi  Weiner | Thrive Global | Medium
Go towards the fear because without it, you’ll never know what you’re missing.’ 

Jaclyn was born in Houston, Texas in 1945. After leaving school she trained as a ballet dancer and appeared in many beauty product commercials. She was offered the main role in the cult T.V series Dark Shadows, but turned it down.

‘I passed on parts and opportunities, that if someone pushed me a bit more out of my comfort zone, I may have ended up really enjoying.’

Jaclyn Smith

After doing a couple more shampoo ads, she landed the role of Kate Garrett in Charlie’s Angels. The show ran for five seasons and Jaclyn was the only ‘Angel’ to do the whole five.

Charlie's Angels – The Annotated Gilmore Girls
Jiggle T.V?

Charlie’s Angels was called ‘Jiggle T.V’ by some critics, but Jaclyn defends the series by saying that it was about independent women just ‘carrying out their job’ and ultimately, she says, it was about friendship.

After Charlie Angel’s was cancelled, she starred in the television movie, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, getting a golden globe nomination for Best Actress. She appeared in many T.V movies and miniseries throughout the eighties and nineties including ‘The Bourne Identity‘ and several T.V versions of Danielle Steel novels.

10+ Shes pretty ideas | actresses, celebs, jacklyn smith
‘If you don’t love it, it’s not going to work’

In 1985, Jaclyn pioneered the idea that celebrities could develop their own products rather than representing other brands and introduced a collection of women’s clothing and accessories for Kmart.

A few years later, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

‘If I knew then what I know now, there are several moments I would have been more assertive by either demanding more for myself, or simply having the confidence to walk away when something wasn’t working.’

Jaclyn Smith

From 2002 to 2004, she had a recurring role in the TV series The District and reprised her role as Kelly Garrett for a cameo in the 2003 Charlie’s Angel’s movie, ‘Full Throttle.’ She was also receiving breast cancer treatment around this time, which she has fully recovered from.

In 2008, she added home furnishings, bedding and bath accessories to her Kmart collection and has since launched a wig and skin care collection.

10+ Shes pretty ideas | actresses, celebs, jacklyn smith
‘If it’s not authentic then it’s not you.’

She cites clean living, being loved and a healthy lifestyle as some of the secrets to beauty. She has several tips for great skin, including making home made skin cream concoctions with things you have lying around the kitchen, as well as slathering on ‘Abolene’ cream in the shower (not part of her skin care range) and letting the steam get to work on it.

She has been married four times. She has a son and daughter with her third husband, film-maker Tony Richmond. She is now married to cardiothoracic surgeon Brad Allen.

Kmart & Celebrity Mother-Daughter Duo Launch 'Spencer by Jaclyn Smith'  Layette Collection
 ‘Let life be fully lived’.

Jaclyn become a grandmother recently and has just launched a new layette baby clothes collection.

Jaclyn was a role model for me growing up. She said, half jokingly, while chatting with Kate Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, that she was the ‘sweet one’ in Charlie’s Angel’s. I agree and I think that applies to real life too. I realise now, that was one of the main reasons why I liked her, and it was instinctive when I was a young girl. A lot of people who have known her/ know her, say that she’s beautiful on the outside, but that she’s even more beautiful on the inside.

Quote sources are from the excellent Jaclyn Smith interview with Yitzi Weiner.

Whatever Happened To…Lynda Carter

Amazon.com: (24x36) Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman TV Poster Print: Linda  Carter Poster: Posters & Prints
I want women to want to be me, or be my best friend!”

Lynda Carter was born in Phoenix in 1951. She performed on a Talent Show at the age of five and was a singer in a band at high school and later in a group with her cousins. She was voted ‘Most Talented’ at Arizona State University but dropped out to pursue a career in music. She performed on tour with a band called The Garfin Gathering and won Miss World USA 1972.

Hold up, Gary Burghoff and Lynda Carter were in a band together in the 1960s
Lynda and her band, The Garfin Gathering

She took acting classes in New York at this time and appeared in a number of B movies before getting her big break playing DC comic book heroine, Wonder Woman. The series lasted from 1975 to 1979.

Growing up, Lynda was a memorable and positive role model for me. I thought the costume was awesome. Now, I have mixed feelings about the way she was dressed. She is hardly wearing anything really, it’s a glorified bikini, she’s all boobs and legs. It’s a male fantasy, but it has to be said, it’s also a female fantasy, for women scrabbling for a postive role model. This was really all we had in the seventies. It was a very mysogynstic time. (Who am I kidding? It still is). We can see a woman’s beauty and power and sensuality on one hand, but on the other, these days, we can see that Wonder Woman was obviously objectified (but glad it was shorts rather than a skirt, a tad better) but all I saw as an eight year old girl, was a very positive, intelligent, beautiful, strong and kind character which maybe helped me get through some of my childhood angst, and the whole thing stays true to the DC comic books. And if it did feel very positive, maybe it was.

She wanted to play the part so that other women would relate to her. She said, ‘I want women to want to be me, or be my best friend!” That’s exactly how I felt. I wanted to be her, or be her best friend. So I think she nailed it!

She married her agent, Ron Samuels in 1977 and during the late seventies, she went back to her first love, which was music, and recorded an album called Portrait.

Unhappy in her marriage, Lynda began drinking heavily. In 1982, she left her home, leaving her husband a note. She sought a divorce, but she says she has no animosity towards him and wishes him well.

A few years later she met and married Washington, D.C. Attorney Robert A. Altman and had two children, Jessica and Jamie. She also sought help with her drinking and has been sober now for around 22 years. In 2016, she said, ‘After 18 years of recovery, I live every day with immense gratitude. I am forever thankful for my family and friends who stood by me and encouraged me… and for those who helped me heal.’ She emphasizes the importance of family support in addiction issues.

In 1993, just when Lynda thought she had it all, a perfect husband and two wonderful children, her husband was accused of bank fraud and their world imploded. A huge court case ensued. Lynda implies that those two and a half years, when they were clearing his name, were the worst of her life. Eventually, his name was cleared and they could finally get on with their lives.

After Wonder Woman, Lynda appeared in several musical T.V specials and a crime drama series called Partners In Crime in 1984. Then in the 1990’s, she appeared in several television movies and in the comedy/horror film, The Creature in The Sunny Side Up Trailer Park 2004, playing a has-been beauty queen. In 2005, she appeared in the remake of The Dukes Of Hazard and Disney movie ‘Sky High’ and guested in the vampire film ‘Slayer’ and the T.V series ‘Smallville.’

She has also done many voice overs, mostly for the video game, The Elder Scrolls.

She played ‘Mama Morton’ in the West End production of Chicago.

In 2007, she toured America with a one woman cabaret show, ‘An Evening with Lynda Carter.

In June 2009 and 2011, respectively, she released her second and third albums, a mix of jazz, country and pop. In 2015, she wrote and recorded five songs for the video game Fallout 4. In 2018, she released her fourth album, a bluesy record, where she duets two songs with her daughter Jessica.

Lynda was inadvertently, part of the Me too movement. In 2018, she spoke about being violated by a famous person, back in the day, but wouldn’t name names or describe incidents. She said the person was in the justice system at the time and was being held accountable for his crimes. She did say, however, that she thought every single woman in the Bill Cosby case was telling the truth.

In 2016, Lynda received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gracie Awards.

On April 3, 2018, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proudly honored Carter with the 2,632nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Whatever Happened To… Lindsay Wagner?

Lindsay Wagner is an American movie and TV actress. She signed a contract with Universal Studios in 1971, and in 1975, appeared in The Six Million Dollar Man, in which she played the love interest of Steve Austin (Lee Majors). In one episode, she was injured while skydiving and died when her body rejected the bionic implants given to her in emergency surgery. Lindsay’s character (Jaime Sommers) was very popular with the public and producers had to do an about face, resulting in a Dallas type plot recovery. i.e Bobby Ewing shower scene. Well, not quite but they brought her back to life. Perhaps it had all been a dream.

The Bionic Woman first aired in 1976, and Lindsay was to receive an Emmy Award for her performance in the series. When it was cancelled in 1978, Lindsay starred in the miniseries ‘Scruples’ and three Bionic reunion movie with Lee Majors between 1987 and 1994. She also appeared in an episode of The Fall Guy. She had a role as Dr. Vanessa Calder in SyFy Hit drama ‘Warehouse 13’ and has also starred in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

Several years ago, she began teaching, acting and directing at San Bernandino Valley College as an adjunct professor.

She has written a vegetarian cookbook called ‘High Road To Health’ and runs self help therapy workshops on spirituality and meditation called ‘Quiet The Mind’ and ‘Open The Heart.’

She has been married four times and has two sons.

Her latest appearances were in 2018, in Fullers House, as Millie, and in the biblical drama ‘Samson.’ She is appearing (voice) in a video game called Death Stranding, which is currently in Post Production.

In my childhood, I found Lindsay Wagner’s portrayal of the Bionic Woman to be very positive. She wasn’t bitchy, temperamental, jealous or malicious. She was strong and assertive but also kind and gentle. I looked up to her and thought that when I was grown up, Jaimie Sommers would make a good friend. I have no idea what Lindsay is like as a person, but the character she played was memorable and a source of hope and comfort to me when I was young.

She has written a number of books on acupuncture and has found the practice a successful alternative to a face lift. The proof is in the pudding I think, or it could be in her genes. Either way, she’s looking pretty good. A few days ago, she turned 70, so Happy Birthday Lindsay.

Whatever Happened To Tom Waits?

Tom Waits

When I was 12 I was mostly listening to Barry Manilow and Bette Midler, while my brother, who was a year older was listening to Visage,The Eurythmics, Talk Talk, Prince, Depeche Mode, Thomas Dolby, Kate Bush, XTC and very briefly, Tom Waits. I could understand most of his choices and could happily listen to them all but Tom Waits? I think my brother bought the single that came out in ’83 called ‘In The Neighbourhood.’ I remember thinking who is this crazed tramp with a voice like a dying chainsaw and music that was frankly terrifying to me at the time. I remember being afraid, very afraid.

Of course, things have changed. I’m not so easily frightened for a start and it’s funny that the things that scared us when we were younger, grow tame in the cold light of maturity. The allure of my brothers favourite bands began to wane by the late eighties, and Tom’s music never seemed to raise its salivating jaws again, until now. Instead of a gravelly voiced Mr Hyde, I now hear a honey voiced Dr. Jekyll.

I don’t know what made me suddenly tune into him but over three decades later, I am finally appreciating his music. This big bad wolf turned into a Labrador puppy before my very eyes. I didn’t realise how good he was and maybe I wasn’t ready for him before. He’s an acquired taste, a bit like Barry Manilow really, a cross between root beer, wasabi, yeast extract spread and stout. He’s not for the faint hearted, lukewarm he isn’t. I just listened to his entire back catalogue this bleak January and enjoyed every minute. He’s got me through the worst (hopefully) of this winter and debilitation through common cold and flu viruses and the isolation that can bring. Even his jazz bits I like because there’s enough blues to drown any jazz that gets any ideas above its station. He’s been accused of being a folk artist too but not a stereotypical one. His music seems to be a mish-mash of a lot of music styles, leaving out all the ones I don’t like. It’s difficult to describe as I’m still sort of getting my head around his music, after hearing sixteen of his albums in two weeks but there’s a lot of blues in there. He’s been going for so long now and always been under my radar. Where has he been all my life? Where have I been? Maybe some primaeval self defence mechanism kept me away from him all these years after the stir he gave me. Ah, well, I’m found him now, or rather rediscovered him and that’s all that matters.

Born in ’49 to schoolteacher parents, who separated in Tom’s childhood, he graduated from college proficient in piano and guitar, and worked as a doorman and a Coast Guard for a time. He was sleeping in his car when his first album came out in 1973 entitled ‘Closing Time’. It has an innocence about it, sounds a bit Country & Western (for him)! His earlier albums are more conventional and his voice is not so rusty. I heard it was cigarettes and drink that did the damage.

I really like the ‘Swordfishtrombones’ album and his live album ‘NightHawks At The Diner’ and ‘Real Gone.’ I like them all.

He’s released sixteen studio albums to date, his most recent being ‘Bad As Me’ released in 2011. He has, within the last couple of years, lost a court battle against the successful French musical theatre and circus production, ‘On Acheve Bien les Anges’, who he claims have used his songs without permission.

Not only is he a prolific singer songwriter and musician, he is also an actor and has appeared in many movies. He has also recently been offered a role in a series called ‘Citizen’ on HULU network but it appears to have shelved.

He’s still around and appears to be going from strength to strength and doesn’t intend to slow down anytime soon. Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve just discovered a treasure chest, a musical salve in these short, dark days, a banquet of nuts that will keep this squirrel happy until early spring…and hopefully beyond.

Whatever Happened To Barry Manilow?

Gorgeous Barry

I’m a Barry Manilow fan. There, I’ve said it. Do you want to make something of it? Would you like to take it outside?

I’m defensive, it’s true but ONLY Barry Manilow fans know what it’s like to be a Barry Manilow fan. For instance, if you were really into him in the eighties, you may as well have put a target on your front and back and said ‘I like Barry Manilow’ and you’d have been like a porcupine within seconds and no mistake. I was nearly beaten up for liking him at school and was sometimes actually physically attacked at his concerts at age 13 and 14 by other fans for accidentally getting in the way of their view of Barry. ‘Move bitch!’ Whack. So, physical violence was being offered whichever way I turned. Ah, those were the days.

It’s fine and dandy to be a Manilow fan these days, for the most part. Where I came from and the time I came from, it never was. We all know what it’s like to be hated, bullied and ridiculed because of the music/bands/singers we’re into but it really was a different ball game when it came to Barry. It was seriously UNCOOL to be into him or his music in the British northern town I came from. So uncool as to be offensive. So uncool as to evoke physical violence. Now, if Barry can evoke such polarization, he must be seriously cool. Who wants to be lukewarm?

In the ‘backlash-seventies’ eighties, it was hell to be into Barry Manilow. At a time when drainpipe trousers were in, it seemed as if Barry was still wearing flares, but people were still wearing flares in 82. I think I may have been, but it wasn’t a choice, it wasn’t voluntary flare wearing by any stretch. To my shame, I do have my shallow moments, and I do remember wincing at his pink flares back then, but by about 1984, no more flares. He was flare free.

Being into him now, is no big deal, because he’s seventy something and people have gotten tired of criticizing him, or perhaps gotten too old to care. He should have been accepted decades ago when he was a relatively young man. When I say young, I mean forty, when he’d been in the music business for twenty years already. and famous for about ten. He came to fame and fortune late, at around thirty. He remembers the moment when he got famous. It was when Mandy went to No. 1 in the charts, which would have been around 1974. He’d already paid his dues by then. He wasn’t an overnight success. He was seasoned even then. The Americans accepted him a bit more, not just because he was home grown but because they appreciated him! He also did well in Japan (but who doesn’t) and other European countries. In Britain, he was something of a cult. He was loved, or loathed and there was no in between. The loathers were obsessed, they protested far too much. It’s like that whole thing going on with online trolls. If you don’t like it then don’t watch the video etc. but people still watch and comment. The critics were usually white, middle class males. The hatred and jealousy back then was palpable and distressing for people who really liked his music.

When I was fifteen, I discovered punk music and Bowie, but it didn’t lessen my liking for Barry’s music. I went to one of his concerts with a blue, green and pink buzz cut, eyes like a raccoon on speed and a P.V.C mini with chains and studs. I swear he stared at me for the longest time when the lights went up. He was trying to work out what I was. Then, he smiled at me. My finest moment.

I was so fed up of people telling me that I couldn’t be into Barry, Bowie and The Sex Pistols at the same time. I didn’t know what to say or how to explain it but I felt lonely and isolated because no-one else felt it was possible to be into two different genres at the same time. It’s almost like we’re not multi dimensional, or we haven’t got an imagination, or we’re just one trick ponies. ‘I’m a metal head and I will always be a metal head’ scenario. Actually, I do know people like that (metal heads who are only ever going to be metal heads) and good luck to them but where did this thing come from where people have to be one dimensional, either just into this, or just into that? It’s not good to mix the labels up. It confuses people. It was nice when John Lydon said he liked Barry. Well, not liked him exactly but respected him for being authentic. He never tries to be anything he’s not, said John. It could be seen as a back handed compliment to some, but Lydon’s like that. That seems to be a quality that is being more valued in in this current climate. It’s become so refreshing to see authenticity, that sometimes it’s become a quality that is valued before others, despite the nature of the beast. How many fascist dictators have been ‘authentic’, probably all of them. They don’t beat about the bush about what they want or what they are, yet, that doesn’t lessen their evil much.

Back to the point, I never needed or wanted John’s respect or admiration or even acceptance and visa versa. I didn’t like the prejudice on either side, as Barry demonstrated by once making a joke about punks. He said, ‘I can’t imagine running my fingers through some girls green hair.’ Well, that hurt me a little because I had green hair at the time, but it all worked out well in the end because Barry didn’t like girls that much. I liked Rotten and his music, yet I liked Barry. However it was nice that the Prince Of Punk finally acknowledged one of the best songwriters of our time.

Now, I have the perfect come back, for the ‘you can’t be into this music and that music at the same time, it’s just not possible!’ I say, ‘I recognise and appreciate a good songwriter/musician when I see one and that pans across genres.’ But as luck would have it, I’ve never been asked that age old question since I’ve had a good answer to it. Or maybe it’s because people aren’t as antagonistic in middle age. When you’re a teenager, people are always trying to rub you up the wrong way. Or maybe it just feels like that, or maybe it’s because youngsters are overly sensitive, or because they’re young.

I’m not going to make this post a springboard for all of Barry’s singles, albums, records, music awards, specials, concerts and life time achievements. That would be boring. I mean if you’re not a fan, it wouldn’t mean anything. Even though I’ve just spent ten minutes uselessly fawning about him. And that’s ten minutes you will never get back.

And you don’t want to turn it into twenty minutes more because he has so many singles, albums, recordings to get through…and you would think I’m being sycophantic, but I will say this, unless you’ve investigated an artist fully, listened to at least two of their albums, and not their ‘Greatest Hits’, you’re not really in a position to have an full bodied and unbiased opinion regarding them. And who in their right mind is going to listen to two albums of every singer/band they come across? I mean there really isn’t the time. When people are asked to name Barry’s records, they can only mention five or so, the usual suspects, they usually can’t get it up to ten, yet Barry has recorded/written/and composed hundreds of songs.

Barry got me through so much early teenage angst, probably stopped me from committing suicide and The Sex Pistols definitely stopped me from going bat crazy and committing suicide. I love all these things out there that stop people from committing suicide. What does that mean, when a person’s creative works stops another person from committing suicide? That must mean there is something beautiful, hopeful and miraculous in their works?

Well, for me, punk music AND Barry Manilow were incredibly instrumental in my life and inspired me in my creative life beyond anything I thought was possible. Music has its uses and it doesn’t have to be uniform. We don’t know the value of our creative input. We think it blows away in the wind, but it really doesn’t, can’t. Music, words, painting, dancing, performing…we don’t know the effect it has. It has a domino effect that is far reaching. And before we start judging others on their musical preferences, perhaps we should take a look at how peoples music choices make them feel and how it helps their life, gives them joy, happiness, inspiration, makes them want to live, gives them hope. I’m not going to list Barry’s musical accomplishments or give endless links, because if you want him, you will find him. Maybe you’ll check him out with a fresh eye, or say, it’s not for me. Don’t curb your enthusiasm, just curb your prejudices.

Sometimes we believe our own creative works means nothing to other people. How dare we? How presumptuous. Our ego tell us, in a weird ‘about turn’ that we are worthless, that no-one will want to read, or be interested in what we write, or make, paint, or create. We apply that UNCOOLNESS in our lives every day. So when you wake up and write things that you think are uncool and no-one else will want to read, or dress in a certain way, or you feel like a freak, or a misfit and nothing you say seems to come out right. Don’t apologise any more, for anything you write, paint, create, for the way you dress or the awkward way you interact with people… no more sorry, okay?

And what’s this got to do with Barry Manilow?

He made me feel I belonged. It’s the Ugly Duckling Scenario and he’s been there, and it’s in so many of the songs he wrote/writes. Like Bowie, Barry was writing songs about alienation, as well as the love songs he is well known for. He has recorded songs about estranged father and son relationships, suicidal housewives, prostitution, pimps, showgirls, murder, infidelity, celebrity meltdown, and just general meltdown. He even wrote a song about a conspiracy theory.  Bermuda Triangle. Not many musicians can say they’ve done that, not even Weird Al Yankovic.

Even when Barry does write love songs, he usually likes to have a fly in the ointment, something to shake it up. One of his anthems to Geekdom and Alienation is All The Time, an ode to the underdog, to ‘losers’ the world over. We listened, we empathised, we gained comfort.

All The Time

So, I haven’t actually answered the question. Whatever Happened To Barry Manilow?

Barry was earning a living writing music well before he was famous. He wrote scores for musical plays in the sixties and wrote jingles for commercials in the seventies for acne creams and band aids and  home insurance. Instant glamour. He has also written commercials for Japanese companies.

He worked with Bette Midler at the Continental Baths in the early seventies. That’s when he got his big break, when she let him do a solo spot on one of her tours.

Whatever Happened To Barry Manilow? Nothing. He’s still here. He is still going strong. Still talented. Still wowing audiences. Still making music. He has concert dates, in London, booked as far in the future as Sept 2018, so… this is a guy who is not slowing down any time soon. Maybe we should take a leaf from his book. Optimism, enthusiasm and a lack of presumption. This boy’s gonna go far.


Whatever Happened To…Alexei Sayle?


alexei-sayle liverpool A-Z

There are two things that make me feel connected to Alexei Sayle. Firstly, Alexei Sayle was born and bred in Liverpool, as was I. He came from Anfeild. I spent my childhood in Kirkby and lived around the corner from Anfeild for about fifteen years after that. He lived near Liverpool’s Football Stadium and I lived near city rivals, Everton for a time, but they are both only a stone’s throw away from each other. Secondly, he was brought up in a communist household and regularly had to attend many sombre political meetings as he grew up. I also grew up in a hard left wing household and it influenced my outlook at the time.

While Alexei was from Jewish descent, I was the mad offspring of a Lapsed Catholic and a Don’t Care Protestant. I was only eleven when my community studies teacher affectionately called me ‘Trotsky.’ He explained to my witty school friend, Paula, that I impressed him. Quick as lightening, she asked ‘Where?’

Liverpool and its surrounding suburbs, where I grew up,  were a bit of a labour area, both in terms of pregnancy and politics. Then again, everyone in Liverpool hated Thatcher in those days. The ones who can remember, probably still do, but while other girls were talking about clothes and make up, and could rattle off large numbers of boys they’d kissed, I was paraphrasing Norman Tebbitt and could reel off all the names of every man and that one woman in politics. It was my dad’s hobby and I wanted to impress him by being knowledgeable about it too, subconsciously of course, never consciously. I was so into politics at an insanely early age, that it was a bit like being made to smoke hundreds of cigarettes, and then being sick as a dog later on. Eventually,  you can’t stand the pesky things. It wasn’t so much that politics was forced down my throat, it was more a passive thing. Passive politics. I couldn’t help but breathe in the fumes.

It never got quite so bad that I knew the ins and outs of each party’s manifesto, but these guys became my heroes and villains. Ken Livingstone was always getting into trouble and sounded like Henry’s Cat. Nothing’s changed there then. I remember Tony Benn being like an romantic 1940’s movie star. And who can resist the sweet, spicy aroma of pipe tobacco? Michael Foot was the genuine gentle geek hero with integrity, but looked like a scarecrow, according to every shallow soul in politics and the media , so, of course, he was dismissed out of hand. During the 1981 Remembrance Ceremony, ‘they’ took the perfect opportunity to character assassinate an elderly man who wore a donkey jacket  because he was cold.  We are told never to judge a book by its cover but Michael Foot was judged by his cover. People may not have actually used the phrase ‘Clothes Maketh Man’ against Michael Foot, but they rubbed his nose in it. After all, appearances are everything. They took their chance to attack a pensioner for his fashion faux pas and they ran with it.

In the opposition corner, there were characters like Michael Heseltine, who seemed wired up to a point of mania, but very passionate, and is still around, and, later on, Michael Howard, who had ‘something of the night about him’ according to Anne Widdecombe. Michael Howard was allegedly being followed by U.F.O’s at the time, so it was hardly his fault. Norman Tebbit, Enoch Powell and Michael Portillo were some of the ‘baddies’, who closely followed and aped Margaret Thatcher’s political style of Dickensian ruthlessness. Michael Portillo has since distanced himself from politics and decided that railways are much safer.

Nigel Lawson, Sir Geoffrey Howe and Douglas Hurd were also prominent members of the Conservative Cabinet. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think of them, without seeing them as Spitting Image puppets.

Labours dark night of the soul was at its darkest from about 1980 to 1990 and then Tony Blair was elected in 97 and broke the curse. Or did he? Now the gap doesn’t seem to be as wide between the parties. They started to blur after Blair.

Alexei Sayle calls himself a Marxist these days, perhaps he always did, but he’s probably as disillusioned as most of us about how idealism gets twisted, sometimes beyond all recognition for people’s own personal agendas. Politics and religion are like Chinese whispers. The purity of an idea goes through the mincer and it’s unrecognisable when it comes out the other end. It’s like when Jesus said ‘Love Thy Neighbour’. We have gotten so far away from that. As long as we remember the source. The truth can be forgotten and twisted but it can never be changed.

Young Alexei

The young Alexei Sayle left Liverpool and became a student at Chelsea Art School. While he was living in London he became a stand up comedian, eventually working and writing with comedy heroes such as Rik Mayall, Peter Richardson, Dawn French, Ade Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders. He starred in and was part of alternative comedy classics such as The Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents. He was the punk of stand up, shocking audiences with his own brand of leftist anarchist rantings. He was like a comedy Sex Pistol and likewise, the Sex Pistols were a musical version of him, Alexei Sayle with guitars.

Alexei had a mad foray  into pop. His single ‘Ello John Got a New Motor.’ was a Top Twenty hit in 1984 and was nominated  at ‘The British Music Industry Awards’, now called the Brit Awards. Sigh. Showing my age. Of course now it would be called ‘Ello John Got A New Low Emission Environmentally Friendly Affordable Family Car With Standard and Side Impact Air Bags.’ At this point, he might be thinking, if political correctness and car safety be the food of love, then pass the elasticated pants.

He’s still going strong. He has a blog and everything and is still with the girl he married before he become famous, which I always think is a  lovely thing. I’ve read his memoirs and they are extremely funny and entertaining. I’m not a laugh out loud person but Stalin Ate My Homework and Thatcher Ate My Trousers will tickle even the most hard to please readers. His novels are a great read too. When I was sixteen I remember reading the first line of one of his novels, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was called. I do however, remember the first line, which was, ‘My penis nestled comfortably in my trousers.’ Yes, I do believe that was the first line, and to a sheltered sixteen year old girl, it was very shocking. As you can see, it scars me to this day.




Whatever Happened To…Gene Wilder


There are actors and there are, sorry, there is, Gene Wilder. He stands out in my mind, always has done, since I first saw him in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) when I was a kid. I’m not putting down the Bratt Pitt’s of this world, they have a place too, but there really is something special about Gene Wilder.

He started life as Jerome Silberman, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin born to a Russian Jewish immigrant father and a Russian Jewish descent mother. His first movie role was as a hostage in Bonnie & Clyde. (1967). Wilder is best known, or should be best known for his movies with director/producer/actor Mel Brooks. Mel Brooks is a creative inspiration. He was an influence to me, as a thirteen years old, who constantly imbibed his movies at that age. I must say at this point, many thanks to our next door neighbours who had all his films AND a video recorder in 1982. I didn’t have drugs or sex but I went somewhere other teenagers in my town never would have had the chance to go. I will never forget how blessed I was, much appreciated.

I use the word genius sometimes when talking about Mel Brooks but we all know the term is overused and most times, not deservedly so.  When we ascribe the word ‘genius’ to someone, we are really describing out favourite pudding, which is very subjective and self indulgent, a pleasure best taken alone and with a bib.

Wilder’s breakthrough role was his sublime interpretation of Leo Bloom in Mel Brook’s The Producers (1968) He was also in Blazing Saddles (1974) Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)  If you haven’t seen Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, you haven’t lived. I would not want you to leave this world without a verse or two and certainly a chorus, of Kangaroo Hop jumping through your mind and eye. It makes drugs, alcohol and fine food permanently unfashionable in comparison.

Young Frankenstein (1974) is another must see, more so, actually, a very funny, well acted, well directed, well produced movie, which I recommend wholeheartedly. If you haven’t already seen it, it should be on your Bucket List, needs to be.

Gene also did some great movies with that comic genius, (Ooh, let’s not go there, favourite pudding) Richard Pryor, an extremely talented but tortured comic if ever there was one.

Wilder collaborated  with Pryor on Silver Streak. (1976) I audio taped this from T.V, at age thirteen, about a year before dad was able to afford a video recorder. Oh gosh, I sound old but I  listened to it, over and over, on that little tinny tape recorder. I had to resort to imagining the visuals each time. Sad I know, but we worked for our pleasure in those days.

Wilder also acted with Pryor on Stir Crazy (1980), Hear No Evil, See No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991).

Gene also  directed and starred in his own movies including ‘Woman In Red, (1984) and Haunted Honeymoon (1986) which he also wrote, along with Terence Marsh.

Gene Wilder has also written an autobiography entitled ‘Kiss Me Like A Stranger‘ and also several novels including, ‘My French Whore: A Love Story.’

But we’re not getting anywhere here, are we really? It’s all very fine to talk about and reminiscence over the greatness that was Gene Wilder’s past but what about his present, as an 82 year old man, what is Gene doing now?

Well, he starred in two episodes of Will and Grace  as Mr. Stein in 1998 but he was also a voice over in Yo Gabba Gabba as Elmer, as recent as 2015, so he’s still keeping his hand in.

The thing is, Gene has been there and done that. He’s an octogenarian, probably wanting a bit of peace and quiet. Well, it’s not uncommon at that age. Whatever he does now in the celebrity world, he does because he wants to. I always wanted to act with Gene Wilder. He was my silly girlish fantasy in those terms because there was something intrinsically human and innocent in his performances, as well as passionate of course. I always thought his passion burst out of him during his roles, but he hadn’t actually meant for it to get so out there, so out of control. He’s an actor who, after the final take, might or might not be genuinely surprised and shocked at the depth of his own emotion. I could never imagine that, after his performances, he could ever think otherwise. He was so natural and dare I say, so full of volcanic sexual tension, that his performance could never be premeditated. I don’t see that in the actors of today but maybe I’m looking in the wrong places.

Let’s take something as simple as his role in Willy Wonka. My mother recently, unexpectedly, and treacherously declared, that she preferred the remake. Astounded, I asked her how, why and when? She just said she liked it better. While I love Johnny Depp to bits and think he’s an awesome actor, I did not rate the remake.

Let’s look at The Tunnel Scene that Marilyn Manson spoofs so wonderfully with his Dope Hat musical version, a fitting, if not slightly more macabre tribute to the original film. It works but what works more is Gene Wilder’s performance, which no doubt helped inspired ‘Dope Hat’. His acting is unpredictable, exciting, terrifying, psychopathic, passionate, chaotic but most of all, authentic. These are all the things that maybe an actor should be, yet not as a person should be and I think that encompasses Gene Wilder, a beautiful, serene and thoughtful person off camera and an incredibly powerful and unique actor on camera. While I’m still not sure exactly what happened to Gene Wilder, I believe, hope, think and trust, that he will always be that.




Whatever Happened To…Brix Smith

We Want You Back…sprawled across vinyl.

Brix Smith Start is a vocalist, guitarist, composer, presenter and fashionista. She was born as Laura Salenger, raised in Los Angeles and studied theatre and literature at Bennington College in Vermont. She decided to call herself Brix after The Clash‘s Guns Of Brixton song and moved to England, when she met and married Mark E Smith, lead vocalist of The Fall, in 1983.

She collaborated musically on the Fall’s album Perverted By Language, bringing a more contemporary sound to the band. After divorcing Mark E. Smith, Brix began a relationship with violinist Nigel Kennedy, but she broke up with him and returned to LA to study drama further, where she waited tables, and got parts in soap operas and t.v commercials. She was about to start a new life in Courtney Love‘s band Hole, but instead returned to England after an offer to collaborate on Fall albums Cerebral Caustic (1995) and The Light User Syndrome (1996).

The Adult Net was first created with Fall band member Simon Rogers in 1985. They put out a cover of psychedelic rock group Strawberry Alarm Clock‘s 1967 hit, Incense and Peppermints, which was released on the Beggars Banquet label.

I first heard of Brix, when I bought her album on a whim. I didn’t know who she was and I hadn’t been introduced to her via The Fall. It was around 1990, around my twentieth birthday, I had some spare birthday cash and I was in HMV. A post teenagers dream. So, I did a double wham-my and bought two albums, on the hop, which I still have. Everything was still vinyl in those days, and on the cusp of the CD revolution.

The first album I bought was Good Morning Vietnam, the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, from the film. It includes sixties pop classics like Nowhere To Run by Martha and The Vandellas and  Sugar and Spice by The Searchers to bluesy numbers like I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown and Baby Please Don’t Go by Them, all deliciously seasoned by Robin Williams wonderful, witty commentary throughout. The album still sounds fresh today. Well, it would, the tracks are all from the sixties. But anyway, that’s another post.

The second album I bought was Honey Tangle by Adult Net. I just remember that life was good at that time. Well, not exactly good but certainly hopeful, there was a great deal of potential in the air, you know, some people daringly call it ‘optimism’, but that’s the nearest word I can get, to the general ambience of those days. It happens sometimes, don’t knock it.

But back to Brix. Oh, what an album and I thought she looked like a cross between the beautiful Blondie and the sassy Wendy James, from Transvision Vamp. I used to play the Adult Net album over and over again in a dilapidated bedsit far from home. Toasting bread on a three bar electric fire didn’t even dampen the positive vibes that this music exuded. It even inspired me to write some rather out to lunch horror stories, and there’s not many other albums that can boast that.

The line up of Adult Net, upon the release of Honey Tangle, included Craig Gannon, (guitar) Clem Burke (Drummer) and James Eller. (Bass) Although it had a huge impact on me, and I would like to think, many others, Honey Tangle failed to chart. Consequently, Fontana Records ‘let them go’ and they disbanded.

Richard Cook for Sounds, described The Adult Net’s debut single as psychedelic revival.

The band’s early singles were ‘spiky marriages between guitars and electronics that owed much to the raincoat-clad heyday of Factory Records. Glossy, jangly, sweet-natured pop music that would sound perfectly at home in the Top 40 radio play lists of some alternate universe’

– Stewart Mason, from All Music Guide Service Website

Three singles were released from the album: Take Me, which reached number 78; Where Were You (a cover version of the American rock band The Grass Roots 1966 single “Where Were You When I Needed You”), which reached number 66; and a re-recorded version of Waking Up in the Sun, which reached number 99. Those high chart numbers were enough to give people vertigo. All I can say is, there’s no accounting for taste.

Since those heady, early nineties days of psychedelia, acidic yellow and optimism, Brix has evolved from pop music to pop art. Just like Victoria Beckham went from the music business to the clothing business within a twinkling of an eye, (music’s loss, Helmut Lang‘s gain, yes, I know he’s retired, but still) Brix launched a boutique, called  Start, with her husband Philip Start. She met him in a lift. He was behind the world renowned Woodhouse, a men’s clothing chain, which was successful from 1975 to 1999. Coincidentally, Brix bought her first husband, Mark E. Smith, his first suit, from Woodhouse. Philip and Brix dominated Rivington Street in Shoreditch, East London with three boutiques and an online store.(Unfortunately, they have recently closed down)

‘Colour is Fashion Prozac’.

‘Colour is a positive force and can manifest things. Seriously! A friend of mine has been wearing only green and he has become rich in all things. Colour has so much power. Just putting on the right colour can make you feel well.’

-Brix Smith Start

This is very true. I am wearing nothing but red right now and I am kicking ass.

She was on Gok’s Fashion Fix for a time. Nothing wrong with fashion. I love fashion. Ask my husband and he will roll his eyes as I’m a bit of a clothes horse myself. Brix is really into clothes, really obsessed and is really passionate about fashion.

I realise, having seen her in interviews, that she has evolved from music and she genuinely loves what she is doing now but I would like to ask her one question. ‘Any chance you might come back to music, just as a break from fashion?’

She might say, Nostalgia is good, but sometimes you have to leave it where it belongs, by the fire, in its slippers, smoking a pipe.

Or she might say, Yay! Wow, I didn’t know I had so many fans. Do you know what, I might just…pick up the guitar again.

Oh Brix, lovely that you love clothes, shame that Start has closed it’s doors, perhaps destiny is trying to tell you something, perhaps now is the time to take a small breather from the fashion world…

I look forward to your next album.