Some of you will know that about 15 years ago I wrote a book about Pompey Pop called Almost. The second paragraph opened with those words above and continued
“For me it it all began with envy, one rainy playtime at Highland Road Infant and Junior School, Southsea in the mid 1950s. A group of my classmates were invited to stand up in front of the class to sing “Rock Around the Clock”, while the rest of us sat and admired … I desperately wanted it to be me”.
That school changed its name some time ago to Craneswater and now occupies not only the buildings in St Ronan’s Road (above) but also the front bit which used to be Southsea Modern for Boys. But despite the name change, the tradition continues …
There is a delightful story in today’s News of Michael Williams of the Drifters visiting the school to sing with the children there and later next month he and they are appearing together at the King’s Theatre. You can see them on video in the classroom singing “Stand By Me” together (portsmouth.co.uk/video).
But the coincidence goes further because again as some of you know, the little boy who so much wanted to sing pop in the mid 1950s was doing just that a decade later – and in 1968 with Harlem Speakeasy he made the one ‘real’ record of his life. It was a 45rpm single on Polydor called “Aretha” and it was a cover version of a song that had originally been a ‘B’ side to a song called “Baby What I Mean” – by the Drifters.
Do you believe in magic?