St. David’s Day; Cardiff and Wales; Davy Jones   Leave a comment

Today is March 1, St. David’s day.

St. David is the patron saint of Wales, one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  The beaches of the Gower to the mountains of Snowdonia and the countryside in-between, Wales is a stunning place to live and I’m very proud to be Welsh, wearing a daffodil as I will be today.

Therefore today I thought it apt to celebrate some of my favourit Welsh artists.

Cerys Matthews, The Alarm, Manic Street Preachers, Dylan Thomas, Andy Fairweather Low, Amen Corner, Stereophonics, Budgie, Sassafras, Racing Cars, Catherine Zeta Jones, Eifion Lewis.

Apart from Los Angeles and Southern California, I can’t think of anywhere where I would have had a better child hood or better childhood friends.  From kindergarten in Kelvin Road, to Roath Park Primary School to Cardiff High I was so lucky and blessed with the special friends I made, and the memories we shared and made, memories that will stay with me forever.

The lure and pull of America tugged at me relentlessly, especially in my late teens and I had no choice really other than to give in but a huge part of my heart will forever remain in Cardiff and Wales.

I saw some great shows at the Cardiff Capital – Led Zeppelin being the highlight.

It was in Cardiff that I met many of the people who helped me, inspired and influenced me, or guided me in one way or another, musicians, actors and teachers – John Hall, Andy Fairweather-Low, Phil Cope, Austin Davis, my ‘uncle’ Cliff Morgan, Annis Abraham, George at the BBC studio.

I must mention my drama teacher, Carl Palmer.  I knew him before I went to high school as the husband of my elocution and drama teacher, Joan Palmer.  After my father I don’t think anyone has had the influence on me that Carl did.

A few years ago Carl wrote a book, a sort of autobiography, detailing his life mainly before becoming a teacher.  It’s available on Amazon, called The Adjutant Winked at Me, and is a poignant, delightful read – it doesn’t matter if you don’t know him, you’ll enjoy it.

It was also in Cardiff that someone taught me about trust, in a bad way, spreading vicious lies and rumours, including apparently that I was dead!  All because he couldn’t go and live in America.  He continues to live his lie, having cheated on his wife from day one, he’s been arrested at least twice, stole from an employer and betrayed someone to whom he owes everything, and still does.

It was in North Wales I met CJ – but you can’t blame Wales!!! Only kidding.

Two of my sons were born in Cardiff, two of my daughters in North Wales.

I have so many brilliant special memories – The Speakeasy; Sound Advice; Cardiff clubs – Bumpers, the Casablanca, Sirs, the Revolution, Titos, Le Mans Club; the New Theatre, Orbit Theatre, Chapter Arts; Rockfield Studios, BBC studios, hearing rough mixes of Night Fever, More Than A Woman and Stayin’ Alive at Dennis’ house on Cyncoed Road months before they were released, Sully Island and the Captain’s Wife, Barry Island (long before Gavin and Stacey), the docks; school holidays – Germany and Italy, (surprised we were ever let out of the country again!); tennis lessons at Mackintosh Institute in the rain; bike rides down the coast road towards Newport; playing soccer every night on Roath Park; Roath lake; bringing Cardiff airport to a standstill after riding a bike down the main runway late at night, mistaking it for a road !  What made it worse was that there was a plane waiting to land, (the band I had at the time with Wayne Doidge, Nigel Brecon and Paul had been playing the nearby flying club that night).

Many of these places feature in my stories of Cardiff-based P.I. Jackson Woods.

Today also sees my latest book, Spring; A trilogy, available on Amazon, and soon iBooks and Kobo.  Take a peek.  I have to admit to being quite proud of the three stories – To Kill the Dead, Counting Mississippi and Sleeping with Your Eyes Open.

Finally, I have to comment on Davy Jones passing away yesterday.  I’ve told this story before but I first met him at the New Theatre in Cardiff, when I was about fourteen.  He was in a play ‘Forget-me-not Lane’ with Dave King, and after the show with my parents I got to meet the cast, including Davy Jones.  I’d been a big Monkees fan, a little too young to be a Beatles fan.  I remember another boy coming up and asking for his autograph and then for some reason asking for mine.  I said I thought he’d got me confused with someone else and I remember Davy saying that I should have given it to him.

I then met him a few times in Santa Barbara some years later, he even appeared on a television show with me on KCET.  The next time we met was in North Wales, he was doing Godspell, and then the last time we actually met was in LA, where the Monkees were recording a new album.  I was going to have him at my theatre a few years ago but the tour got cancelled.

Some quick facts – in 1968 The Monkees outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, combined and their ‘More of the Monkees’ album remains the biggest pre-sale ordered album, ever.

DAVY JONES

There’s a saying – never meet your idol, well Davy Jones was the first  ‘star’ that I really admired and followed, the first real star that I met and one of the main reasons I ever wanted to play and sing and act.  He was a true professional and a genuine, lovely man and it is so sad and upsetting and my heart goes out to his four daughters and wife.

Here’s my favourite Davy Jones track, not Daydream Believer or Valleri (with its great guitar riff), but a truly great pop song, from an outstanding album Headquarters, this is Forget that Girl. http://youtu.be/qlA8k9rtThE

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Posted March 1, 2012 by Jon Johanson in Uncategorized

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