Liam Rudden: I blame Buddy, Nana and Eddie

A RED Dansette, that was my first record player. Second hand of course. No one could afford a new one back then, well, not in Leith anyway.

Monday, 6th March 2017, 10:52 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:51 am
Eddie Calvert plays his trumpet backstage at the Empire Theatre Edinburgh in 1958

It had been pre-owned by a lovely couple, Alice and Bernie Lennon, friends of my folks.

They lived just around the corner in Hamilton Place and had no further use for the old turntable.

With it came a few records, most played at 78rpm, which will mean nothing to anyone under a certain age but everything to the older generations I like to call (and I class myself in this category) vintage teenagers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I used that very phrase in my five star review of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story in yesterday’s News.

Indeed, it was while watching that at the Festival Theatre (there’s still time to catch it tonight at 7.30pm) that I was reminded of the Dansette.

You see, one of the records that came with it wasn’t a 78, but a 33 1/3 with all the hits of Buddy Holly.

I later discovered my old man was a big fan of his too, but only after being dispached to ARD’s on Great Junction Street to buy a needle, of which the arm of the record player was devoid.

Thankfully, I’d been told exactly which one was required, the array of choices available was mind-bending.

That’s from where my life-long love of Buddy Holly’s music stems. I could lie and say it was the brilliant structure of his compositions that first caught my attention (subconsciously it probably was), but to be honest, as a kid I was simply fascinated by his distinctive ‘hiccup’. I’d never heard anything like it.

An eclectic selection of other records also came with the ‘portable’ player - you had to screw the turntable down and secure the stylus arm before tipping it up on its side to carry.

They included a Nana Mouskouri LP and an album of music by trumpeter Eddie Calvert, who had scored a No 1 a decade before I was born with the instrumental Oh, Mein Papa. Still a favourite.

There was also an album of songs by singer and trumpeter Ross MacManus, who I later discovered to be Elvis Costello’s dad.

All proved to be great influences as I grew up.

Many year’s later I interviewed Nana Mouskouri (who still occasionally performs at 82 years young) and saw her in concert a few days later. She was anxious to ensure that she “did not disappoint”. Needless to say she had not. Such a nice lady.

Calvert, on the other hand, I credit for my decision to take up trumpet at school. Not that I had huge success.

Having ‘mastered’ Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and When The Saints Come Marching In, I realised I was never going to be the next Dizzy Gillespie and was better sticking to listening to the likes of Herp Albert and General Lafayette for my brass fix.

As for Ross MacManus, well, I did go on to be a big fan of his boy.

It really is amazing the memories a good musical can spark. And that’s the magic of theatre.