I have seen many bands and singers over the years, so many that it is surprising just how many of them are still with us – or, to put it another way, just how few of them have died. After all, the famed rock’n’roll lifestyle isn’t normally regarded as being that conducive to longevity. Yet until this week the death toll stood – so far as I can recall, anyway – at just six.
Then, sadly, Andy Williams went and made it more than half a dozen. You might be surprised to know, given my music taste, that I saw him twice in concert, both times at the Royal Albert Hall. They were good shows put on by a consummate professional. Neither, however, were as good as the time that I was mistaken for him.
That’s a bit remarkable, isn’t it. After all, he was twice my age, American, wealthy and above all a very good singer. But it did happen.
Helen was a massive fan of all the crooners, but Sinatra and Williams were her favourites. That is how I came to see Williams twice, and how a joke about someone being ‘as much use as next year’s calendar is to Frank Sinatra’ almost got me divorced before we were even married.
At our wedding, we hatched a plan that instead of saying all of the usual platitudes about the bride in my speech, I would just mime along to a tape of Williams singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’. I did, and it went down brilliantly. I even remembered the words.
Afterwards, we set off on the traditional tour of all of the tables by the married couple, but got split up somewhere along the way, so I didn’t find out until the next day that one of Helen’s colleagues from the National Farmers’ Union (where she was working at the time) had said to her:
Richard’s got a wonderful voice, hasn’t he? Do you think he would sing at my wedding?
Which has to be one of the funniest things said at a wedding ever. Especially if you have ever had the misfortune to hear me sing.
(And RIP John Entwistle, Lee Brilleaux, Rob Jones, Martin Gilks, Gerard Smith and Chris Acland)