21 July 2008

Grease is the word

Continuing this musical gastronomy theme, I just found this memoir of the 1960s Australian rock band the R’Jays. It includes an entertaining (if dumb) chapter on their mid-60s sojourn in New Zealand and, elsewhere, this account of the legendary New Zealand jazz singer Ricky May:

A week at the Brighton with Ricky May was a musical treat. Ricky had a great casual attitude to life and was beloved by musicians one and all. His incredible sense of time and an uncanny ear for chords always kept you on your toes, and the band never knew what was going to happen next. I had played many times with Ricky before in a sophisticated nightclub situation so it was always going to be fun to see what he would to do with the pub crowd at the Brighton. Ricky wasn’t too pleased when he found out from his manager, Barry Ward, that as well as doing a spot every night he was also required to do one on Saturday afternoon. Ricky had just been around to the fish shop and returned to the bandroom with about twelve pieces of fish and a giant pile of chips and scallops.

When Mick Leyton introduced him we played his usual till-ready chaser and Ricky came on still wiping the grease from his hands. He then went amongst the Saturday afternoon audience and prompted them to clap along to the chaser. When he succeeded to get them all clapping in time, he ran through the audience and disappeared out the front door. We continued on with the chaser for about ten minutes until Barrie finally waved the band to stop. Mickey Leyton went out the front and apologised. “Look I’m sorry about this but I don’t think he’s coming back!” said an embarrassed Mick.

Followed by a few boos, we slunk back into the bandroom only to find Ricky sitting there with his feet up on the chair, gorging himself on fish and chips. Ricky smiled broadly and threw up his hands. “I’m sorry guys, I was so hungry I went round the block and came in the back door. I had to come back and finish my lunch,” said Rick.

Which reminds me that the Hardest Working Man in the Musical Fish & Chip Shop even called his group the Grease Band. This will be familiar, but maybe not as translated for a birthday feast:

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