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Off The Record

 

 

 

April 15, 2018

"TELL ME WHAT HE SAID" HELEN SHAPIRO


Peak Month: May 1962
8 weeks on CFUN chart
Peak Position ~ #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
CFUN Twin Pick April 11, 1962


 

In 1946 Helen Kate Shapiro was born in East End, London. She is the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and her parents, who were piece-workers in the garment industry, attended Lea Bridge Road Synagogue. Although too poor to own a record player, Shapiro’s parents encouraged music in their home. Helen had to borrow a neighbor’s record player to hear her first hit single. Shapiro played banjolele as a child and sang occasionally with her brother, Ron, in his youth club skiffle group. Helen had a deep timbre to her voice, atypical in a girl who was still a child. Her elementary school friends gave her the nickname “Foghorn.” When she turned ten years old, Helen Shapiro became a member of Susie and the Hula Hoops, with her cousin, 60’s pop singer, Susan Singer. Shapiro also participated in a school band which included Marc Bolan (then using his real name of Mark Feld, and later founder of glam rock group T. Rex) as guitarist.

When she turned thirteen, Shapiro took singing lessons at The Maurice Burman School of Modern Pop Singing, based in London’s Baker Street. The school had earlier produced a young singing star in the 1950’s named Alma Cogan, who covered traditional pop hits by Teresa Brewer, Jo Stafford, Kitty Kalen, Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page and others. “I had always wanted to be a singer. I had no desire to slavishly follow Alma’s style, but chose the school merely because of Alma’s success,” Shapiro said in a 1962 interview in the Sunderland Echo. Burman’s connections eventually led Helen Shapiro to a young Columbia Records A&R man named John Schroeder. While still age fourteen in February, 1961, Helen Shapiro released “Don’t Treat Me Like A Child,” which became a #3 single on the UK singles chart. This debut was followed up with two #1 hits on the UK singles chart, “You Don’t Know” and “Walking Back to Happiness.”

She had a #2 hit in the UK in 1962 with “Tell Me What He Said.” Her first four single releases made the top three of the UK Singles Chart.

“Tell Me What He Said” concerns feelings of loss and regret after a break-up with a boyfriend. The boyfriend is going to a party on a Friday night. So she tells her friend if she sees him at the party to let him know how much his ex-girlfriend “still cares,” “how much she’s cried,” “still loves him,” is “beggin’ on her knees,” has “never been so blue,” that she’ll “wait” for him, and is sure that whatever the “trouble might be” they can “talk it over.” With this list of things for the friend to tell her ex-boyfriend, she is instructed to “tell me what he said” in response. As the song ends we never learn what he said, leaving radio listeners in anticipation.

It is possible to get back together with someone you’ve broken up with. However, in most cases, the reason you broke up remains an obstacle to sort out. If any meaningful progress is to be made, the two former lovebirds need to hash through what led to their breakup. Otherwise, they’ll just knock their heads against that wall again. Sometimes, one person decides the presenting difficulty isn’t such a big deal anymore. Shifting perspectives and a reassessment of what really matters can aid the possibility of having a fresh start. In the case of “Tell Me What He Said,” she is confident that “no matter what the trouble may be, we can talk it over.” But it seems, he’s moved on. He isn’t one to let the grass grow under his feet and he’s “going with another now.” In most cases, when people have not only broken up, but are now dating someone else, trying to woo an ex-boyfriend (or ex-girlfriend) back is fleeting. After all, the ex is presently involved in giving their time and attention to someone else their in a new relationship with.

In 1962, Helen Shapiro appeared as herself in the teen rock ‘n roll movie, Play It Cool, featuring Billy Fury and Bobby Vee who perform in nightclub after nightclub. Shapiro also appeared in the UK film, It’s Trad, Dad! along with John Leyton, Gene Vincent, Craig Douglas, Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen and Mr. Acker Bilk and His Paramount Jazz Band. The pop music comedy was released under a different name in North America as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm which co-starred Chubby Checker, Gene McDaniels, Gary U.S. Bonds and The Paris Sisters.

Before she was sixteen years old, Shapiro had been voted Britain’s Top Female Singer. The Beatles first national tour of Britain, in the late winter/early spring of 1963, was as her supporting act. Though she barely made the Top 40 in the UK in 1963, Helen had a #1 hit in Australia titled “No Trespassing.” By 1964 Helen Shapiro had her tenth and final Top 40 hit in the UK. Her career as a pop singer was on the wane. Her bee-hive and vocal sound seemed dated faced with a stable of new female pop stars making the charts like Dusty Springfield, Jackie Trent, Cilla Black and Lulu. Shapiro continued touring until 1972.

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, on December 31, 1976, Shapiro performed “Walkin’ Back To Happiness” on A Jubilee Of Music on BBC1. In 1977 she played was cast in the role of Nancy in a West London production of the musical Oliver! In all, Helen Shapiro released 35 singles between 1961 and 1989, the final one being a new recording of “Walking Back To Happiness.” Her autobiography, titled Walking Back To Happiness, was published in 1993. In her personal life, Shapiro converted from Judaism to Christianity in 1987, as reported in Haaretz.

April 18, 2018
Ray McGinnis

 

 

March 28, 2018

Victoria, March 22, 2018

Jason Buie, a powerful electric guitar player and a mainstay of the Vancouver Island music community, lived and breathed the blues for nearly 40 years. The music came to a stop Thursday morning when Buie died suddenly at his Esquimalt home.
He was 47. No cause of death has been revealed.

 

Our Very Own Blues Brothers

Rodney Dranfield/the late Jason Buie

 

Rod you remember the first time you met Jason?

Yes it was at a jam in White Rock on a Saturday night in 2006. I was introduced to him and played some harp on a Blues tune he played. You could see and hear how accomplished he was on guitar.

How long after you met him did the two of you decide to form the White Rock Blues Society?

In the spring of 2007 Jason needed a place to stay after breaking up with his girlfriend. He was with us for a couple of weeks. During that time the subject came up about a visit I made to Montreal in February. Angel Forrest had introduced me to Brian Slack who was the President of the Montreal Blues Society. Up to that point I had not been aware of the existence of a world wide network of music societies dedicated to the preservation of the Blues. Jason had heard of them some time before. It was Jason who said we should look into starting one here. So I called a number of people involved with Blues Societies both in Canada and Washington State to gain an understanding of how to launch one here.

How many shows have you presented over the years? It may be unfair but are there a couple of the shows that rise slightly above the other shows?

We have been involved with over 125 shows most were held at the Pacific Inn. The most ambitious shows were the International Blues Challenge events where we have acts competing to represent the White Rock Blues Society in Memphis each year.

Just about every BC Blues performer has played on our stage with a few notable exceptions and all of them put on great performances. Never once did we have a clunker.

One stands out big time. This past New Years Eve when Jason and his band performed to a sellout crowd of Blues fans. He was on fire that night. The dance floor was packed all night. He sold a pile of cds and a good time was had by all.

 

This past year Jason was nominated for Maple Blues Award in the “New Artist” category. You traveled with Jason to Toronto for the awards show. Could you recap that trip for our readers?

Jason asked me to join him for the trip to the Maple Blues Awards show in Toronto last December. I wasn’t initially planning to go this year because I didn’t think he would be able to get away. Now I have to be honest, I didn’t think he would win the award because he hasn’t played back east for years and isn’t well known outside the musician community. You never know how these award/recognition efforts are going to turn out. My real reason for going was to be with him if he wasn’t selected.
We had a great time meeting many musicians and having interesting conversations.
The Toronto Blues Society puts on a very professional Awards Show. Very entertaining and exciting to watch. Jason was asked to present an award during the first half of the show to non other than Colin James.

When the announcement was made that he won, Best New Artist of the year we jumped from our seats and he gave me a great big bear hug.

It was such a joyous sight to see him take the stage under a big screen with his name and picture prominently displayed.

When he got to the podium he asked for the lights in the theatre to be turned up so he could see the crowd. Then he turned to Al Lerman who was part of the Maple Blues Award All Star Band asking him to take a picture for his Grammy. The response from the audience was electric. He was suddenly the talk of the town. After the show hundreds of music lovers stayed in the lobby to hear award winners jamming on the stage that was setup.

When Jason got on the stage after about a half hour the crowd moved up close to see him play. Everyone seemed to have a smart phone in their hands recording or video tapping him shredding his guitar.All the CDs he had brought to the event for the merchandise table were sold that night.

After the evening entertainment ended we headed out to an all night dinner, Fran’s at 20 College Street which has been a favourite musician hangout for decades. We met up with a crowd of people who were also at the event. Most were musicians and Jason chatted with all of them.

Jason recently released his third CD titled “Driftin’ Heart” do you have a couple of favourite songs on the CD?

They are all very good. Right out of the gate he delivers ‘Right From The Start’ with a driving pace. His rendition of Sue Foley’s song ‘ Driftin’ Heart’ from her 1993 album ‘ Without a Warning’, was inspiration for the album. He had a long conversation with Sue in the green room the night he received his Maple Blues Award and gave her a copy of his CD. Lots of mutual admiration.

Jason & Sue Foley

Driftin' Heart
I’ve got a Driftin’ heart
I go from town to town
I ramble when the sun goes down.

 

‘Westcoast Daddy’ is a jiving rock tribute to a father on the road.

‘12 O’Clock Checkout’
Is a tail about life on the road.


The album was listed as one of the top five self produced cds of the year by the International Blues Challenge run by the Blues Foundation. Submissions are made by artists from around the world. An interesting note is that another Canadian was also in the top five. Coming in first overall was JW Jones. Another nod to the talent Canadians bring to the table.

 

In addition to Jason handling the MC and performing duties for the White Rock Blues shows he also gave back time and time again to our community and to his original home on Vancouver Island. For the past couple of years Jason would gather together musical friends and host a TOY JAM at the Crescent Beach Legion. Having spent so much time with Jason I am sure you have seen other random acts of kindness.

He has helped other musicians on many occasions. In his roll as a show producer he has reached out to guys and gals he deemed in need of encouragement and some coin. He was a major contributor to the annual success of the Esquimalt Rib Fest as the music producer. He started up a Christmas Toy Jam in Victoria. He played the downtown Vancouver Blues For Christmas food bank fundraiser every year.

And of course JASON was a d riving force behind the Blues For Christmas which the White Rock Blues Society hosted every December. Over the 11 years of operation our annual fundraiser collected tons of food and thousands of dollars for the local branch of SOURCES.

I have been in discussions with you and Kelly Breaks @ Blue Frog studios and we are planning a local celebration of the music and the man. Have you heard of any other events being planned for the west coast?

A lot of musician friends are planning an event in either the last week of April or first week in May. Sunday afternoon through to 9:00 PM will allow the greatest participation by not conflicting with musician tour dates.
Ted Tosoff and Steve Sainas have stepped up to help with the scheduling. We are planning to have Jason’s brother Chris represent the family.
Details to follow.

Jason’s passing has left a huge hole in our hearts and in our musical community Rod. How will you remember Jason?


He liked to party with people and celebrated life every day. He had a burning passion to play guitar from an early age. When on stage he traveled to another place and the music came through effortlessly to him. It was as if he was being used as a conduit from some greater universal power source.
During his last recorded performance he left the stage with his guitar on a wireless connection to his amp and played to members of the audience up close and personal. At one point he jumped on a chair at let loose with a wicked array of guitar moves that wowed the crowd.
The next morning when he came downstairs he was limping badly and asked for my help. I ended up pulling out a small piece of glass from his foot.
I asked how the heck did he play all night with glass in his foot? He said that things like that don’t register when he performs.

"He was the guy who rambled when the sun went down.
Glass or no glass.
"

A special thank you to Rodney Dranfield the co-founder of the White Rock Blues Society for taking the time to shae his memories of the man, the father, the friend and one hell of a guitarist and performer. He will be missed by one and all.

Stay tuned to the White Rock Sun/Blue Frog studio and the WRBS for an announcement for a special evening to be hosted at Blue Frog for all of Jason's local friends and musical family.

It will be one hell of a night.

David Chesney

Editor/Publisher White Rock Sun

 

Listen to JASON'S Driftin Heart CD in its entirety (click here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







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