I had a featured number called 'In a Persian Market Twist' (honestly, that's what it was called) and every time I played it I got the same bit wrong. It got to the point where when the number was called, all the guys in the band would turn round and stare at me, waiting for me to get it wrong. Consequently I had no chance of ever getting it right and I was ankle deep in black spots.
We had a singer called Vic who was on a permanent audition - he never got paid. It was always a case of 'Mr. Pullen can't decide whether or not we need a singer'' and of course as long as Vic was prepared to turn up and sing for nothing, Mr. Pullen wasn't going to make his mind up.
Vic was always immaculately turned out in a tux, but he was a coal man by day and he would drive to the Majestic in his coal wagon. Bizarre. He had a nice voice but he never knew when to come in at the start of a song so Geoff Logue, who used to be sat right behind him, was deputised to prompt him with the aid of a drumstick.
There was an oblong trapdoor in the stage at the Majestic right where the saxophone section sat. It was supported by hydraulic rams which, during the course of the evening, would leak oil, gently lowering the sax section into the nether regions below the stage. It was a very small stage and there wasn't much room between the front of the stage and the sax section's music stands. Norman used to walk up and down this narrow strip pretending to conduct and, of course, one night he fell off. It was about a five foot drop but brave little Norman, pretending not to be hurt, climbed back on with a sickly grin amidst rousing cheers from the dancers - and the band. I actually heard Joe Pullen say to Norman, 'That was really funny Norman, you should do it every night!' Even poor old Norman, usually ready to do anything to please Joe Pullen, had to refuse.
It was hard graft, four hours with only a very short break that seemed to get shorter every week ('Mr. Pullen thinks we're taking too long for our breaks lads') and the pay was crap. It was supposed to be a Musicians Union gig but we couldn't complain to the Union about the money because the Union secretary played trumpet in the the band and he was on the same deal as the rest of us - or so he said.
I played this venue a few times in the early '60s with The Invictors ... interesting gigs as I remember for several reasons.
Joe Pullen was an awkward chap who wouldn't allow the members of the act/band out into the audience unless they were wearing a jacket and tie! This caused us a few problems.
He also had an enormous white grand piano on stage with a sign saying that it once belonged to Diana Dors or Jayne Mansfield. Nobody played it and he was very enthusiastic when our pianist asked if it was ok to use it instead of our Hohner Pianet. His happiness soon evaporated when Mick Whittle did his Jerry Lee Lewis impersonation during 'Lucille" and started played the upper keys with his right foot! Then our bass player jumped onto the piano itself - one very angry owner.
Also remember supporting Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. Bob Lang had the then new Vox T60 transistor amp top with T60 cab which died after a couple of songs and he had to switch over to our gear - Vox AC30B supertwin valve top and another T60 cab for the rest of their set.
Brian Higham at Barratts had advised us to avoid the tranny Vox when we bought the bass rig as they didn't seem to be capable of making through a gig without blowing up!
Finally the ballroom had an insane DJ called 'Mad' Magonigall Lacy I think. The highlight of his show was to drop his pants on stage to reveal Tartan Boxer shorts - amazing at the time.
I think that the grand piano had once belonged to Diana Dors and I think that it was painted gold or silver. It was Joe's pride and joy and whilst it was not a Steinway by any stretch of the imagination, it was a monumental piece of bad taste.
I'd forgotten about not being allowed to mingle with the punters unless 'properly' dressed in fact I think that if it was particularly hot, Norman had to ask permission for the band to take their jackets off.
Those were not the days.
Talking about the Majestic /Talk of the North, does any one remember around 1965/66 ish a tenor singer called Tony Arnaldo?
I heard a lot about him and his songs from my family who went to see him there. He sang the older stuff like Mario Lanza songs - that takes some going!
I'm curious - where can I get a picture or any info of this artist.
In answer to your question, yes, I worked with Tony Arnaldo in summer season in Jersey in 1976. I was a dancer in the Lido de France Hotel in St Helier at that time and remember he was a lovely guy to work with. He had a strong tenor voice and was still singing Mario Lanza style songs. Unfortunately I dont know what happened to him, my guess is he's not with us anymore.
The Majestic brings back a lot of memories. We played there quite a lot with the Fourtones also knew Joe Pullen quite well.
I was invited to the opening of
the Talk of the North when Freddie and the Dreamers were on and to the party at Joe's house later on.
Strictly relating to the Talk of the North - I was a member of a duo called the Alexis Brothers which played the TOTN a couple of times. I can confirm Mr P's obsession with acts wearing jacket and tie (and shirt!) if they wanted to watch the rest of the show. Also, ladies were not allowed in wearing trousers - skirts or dresses only.
The second time we played there Frank Ifield was the top of the bill. There was a hydraulic stage which sank down to the dressing rooms underneath, the act would take up position on it and it would then rise up to the level of the stage. On one of the nights we were sitting in the club (suitable attired!) as the stage with Frank started to rise up. Unfortunately it stuck halfway and Frank had to climb up onto the stage in his white suit, which of course acquired several patches of black oil on the way!
I recall the band were in stitches but kept their faces straight whenever Frank looked at tem. What he said to Joe Pullen remains unknown!
I remember entering a competition at the Majestic Ballroom and won 1st prize miming to Cilla Black's Anyone who had a heart.
My prize was £5 and dinner with Freddie Garrity. I got presented with my fiver but never heard anything about my dinner with Freddie and I was too polite to ask so I missed out - ha ha!
Barbara Ray (Crowe)
I grew up with both parents having quite an eclectic record collection. One record in particular was special, as it sounded like nothing else I'd heard elsewhere at the time (I must have 4 or 5). The record is "Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen Live at Joe Pullen's Talk of the North". It was recorded in 1972; Kenny had made mention on the record of Louis Armstrong's passing a year prior.
I wish I could've been there when "all that jazz" was happening, which I believe happened over two nights.
Sara K. Bakker