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Dave Godin's Magic Moments

By Dave Godin

They say that character is destiny, so, make of it what you will, but I don't seem to have had 'adventures' in the field of black American music, so much as 'magic moments'. I remember my first-ever encounter with a recording artist was when I was still an early teen, and I also remember it to this day since it also taught me a lesson in life. When it was first issued, I had gone potty on Dee Dee Sharp's Mashed Potato Time, and, when she came to do a short promotional tour, to the mockery of my mates, I decided to miss the first part of the show and wait at the back entrance of the theatre to catch a glimpse of her in person. Eventually my patience paid off, and she arrived (with her mother, as it turned out), and I shyly introduced myself. She couldn't have been sweeter, warmer or friendlier, and before we parted, she bent over and gave me a big kiss on the cheek! I blushed to my very bones!

Dee Dee Sharp

Dee Dee Sharp

When I got back into the theatre and located my mates, they all wanted to know what had gone off, but there was more yet to come! When Dee Dee appeared on stage, she sang her first number, and then went into a bit about how nice it was to be in Britain, and said that she 'had already made a new friend here. His name is Dave. Where are you Dave?' Of course my mates went ape-shit hollering to where we were, and she then said, 'OK Dave. This next number is just for you'. I melted and nigh swooned!

So, what was the lesson I learned? Well, what goes around comes around, and so, no matter what, when it's my turn now, I always have time to talk to people, listen to people, and if I can, do favours for them. Because somebody once did all this for me. And, importantly, didn't HAVE to do it! That's the only true form of generosity there is.

I remembered this on an occasion when Marvin Gaye was performing over here, and, when I went to the stage door, there were scores of Northern Soul fans, each determined to ask me personally to get Marvin's autograph. I couldn't discriminate, so I borrowed a sports bag from someone, and told everyone to be sure to remember which album was their's, and I carried it in filled to the brim! Marvin blanched when he saw the task I'd lumbered him with, but I reminded him that those waiting outside were the very people who had bought his records when they were on Oriole and Stateside, and thus helped kick-start his career here, so, get moving with the pen! He got the message and signed them all. You sometimes have to remind stars of 'the humble steps by which they did ascend', but Marvin was a good sport about it all, and was one of the least 'STAR' people I've ever met.

Another magic moment with almost spooky overtones, was when Jean Stanback took me out to a club she used to frequent, where artists who were yet to make it really big used to perform, and perhaps be spotted by talent scouts (aka bed guides). During an intermission period, people played records on the juke-box, and suddenly I heard this side which immediately registered in my turbulent psyche, and I asked Jean if she knew what it was because I just had to get it. She told me it was by a guy, 'Charlie Somebody or Other', but he'd changed his name for the record, and she thought she'd seem him around earlier, and yes, there he was, and 'Charlie, get yourself over here, there's someone who'd like to meet you'. What a truly magic moment; to be devasted by a side, and, within minutes, have the guy who made it sitting right there chatting to me! The guy was Charlie Whitehead recording as Raw Spitt, and the side was Songs To Sing. We still speak together on the phone occasionally.

Charlie Whitehead

Charlie Whitehead

Once, when Doris Troy was over here, she'd come to Charing Cross railway station with me, and we were talking before my train arrived, and I noticed this chap pass by who was a member of the Friends of American Rhythm & Blues Society, so I thought I must introduce him to her and give him an unexpected surprise. So, I followed after him, grabbed him by the arm and told him I had someone I wanted him to meet. He came over, and I introduced Doris, and he refused to believe it was her!! I think he thought he was the victim of an elaborate practical joke, and so finally I said to Doris, (who was as amused as I was), 'Sing a bit of Just One Look and prove it'. So, she suddenly burst into full song, sounding just like she did on the record, and I could see by the gradually melting expression on the guy's face that he himself was then convinced! Of course, it's not every day of the week you expect to meet Doris Troy onCharing Cross railway station! From that moment on he was tongue-tied whereas previously he'd been very chatty when he thought I was pulling his leg!

Doris Troy

Doris Troy

Also, magic moments can create life-long friendships. When I was the first visitor from Britain to Motown's Detroit HQ in 1964, on my first evening there, Berry Gordy Jnr., his sisters and some other family members took me out for a meal. (Remember, this was 1964 USA, and the club chosen was the Playboy Club, so it transpired that the only thing on the menu that I, as a vegetarian, could eat, was garlic bread!! Now I'm vegan, even that would no longer be an option, and I'd have to subsist on the prana exuded by the Bunnies!). However, we were joined by Berry's sisters, Esther, Anne and Gwen, and were all seated at a long table with lots of people I had yet to meet. Eventually Gwen turned to me and said, 'You haven't met my husband Harvey yet, have you?'. I looked a long way down the table to see this guy wave a hello to me and give me a warm smile, and suddenly something started to click in my head, (remember, this was 1964), and I said, 'You're not THE Harvey are you? The Etta and Harvey, Harvey? The Sincerely' Harvey with his Moonglows?'. As the smile turned to a mildly embarrassed grin I knew it was him, and from that moment on we developed a rapport and friendship that has lasted to this day. Even though, (another joke between us), he sometimes treats me like a dog!

One more incident I remember with pleasure was an occasion when Kim Weston was appearing on 'Ready, Steady, Go'. Also on the programme were The Beatles, who, at that time, were at the very height of their popularity. The studio was besieged with hundreds of screaming and hysterical fans, and security was so tight we had to enter the studio through what seemed to be a nuclear bunker in a neighbouring building. When the show was over, Vicki Wickham, (whom glory doth adore), said there would be drinks in the Green Room after, and would we like to join them? Now, my knowledge of any non-classical music outside of the black American field is ZERO, and I panicked and said to Vicki, 'For goodness' sake get a photo of The Beatles and tell me which one is which!'. I didn't even know their names properly!! So, that done, I eventually met them all, name perfect, and George Harrison said to me, 'I always read your column in 'Blues & Soul'! That was such a generous act of human kindness that it has remained in my memory as a lesson ever since. OK, he may have been, and probably was, briefed by Vicki beforehand as to who I was, he might never have set eyes on my column in his life, but the fact that he remembered, and had nothing to gain from remembering, and to say this when he was in a position where they practically ruled the world, was not only touching but a lesson in humility for all those who think they are so high and mighty they no longer have to say 'please' or 'thank you'. It was a magnificent acte gratuite, and, as those who know me know, I'm an acte gratuite junkie! By this simple act, I always remember George Harrison as a fellow human-being, rather than as a Superstar!

But, being an anarchistic type who bends the knee to no one, and who is not imposed upon by 'fame' or whatever, my magic moments have also come through 'everyday people' too, and, although their names might mean little to the casual reader, they too have contributed to my kaleidoscope of magic memories as much as anyone. Who would ever have guessed when I wandered into an ice-cream parlour in 1953 with only having a Knickerbocker Glory in mind, that by doing so I would accidentally discover the music of blackAmerica, and it would go on to so enrich my life? Maybe it was the guy playing the juke-box who told me what the records that so hypnotised me were who should be my Number 1 hero; and without knowing it, provided me with THE magic moment of my life!

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