used to moonlight as The Jet Set.

Stevie Hughes recalls sharing a small stage
with a big man in another key, or two...

These are Stevie's photos
(left) Burlesque onstage at Club Roermond in 1976
(below) in expensive studio mocked up as sitting-room

What many people may not have realised is that the boys from Burlesque moonlighted as ‘The Jet Set’, playing at weekends at such legendary venues as The North Lambeth National Socialist Club, as a way to make ends meet. Performing a sophisticated set of cocktail numbers that included ‘The Green, Green Grass Of Home’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ and ‘Quando, Quando, Quando’ (later to be included into the regular Burlesque set), the band regularly encountered such plaudits as ‘You’re too bloody loud!’ and ‘You're not as good as last week’s lot!’. I have memories of playing a 20 minute tango version of ‘What Now My Love?’ or some such similar opus, from which we received numerous complaints. But my favourite recollection was when we had a request to back a singer from the audience who wanted to do ‘My Way’.

“It’s got to be in C, mate,” the man said. “I can only sing it in C.” He was in his fifties and was of fairly stout build.

Billy replied “In C, OK, no problem.”

I looked down at the music. It was in F. About as far away from C as you could get.

He started well. He had a strong voice and good intonation. “And now the end is near...”

Well, we all know the song, it starts low and gets higher. And higher. And higher. By the time we reached “I bit off more than I could cheeew...” we were starting to notice problems out front. Our guest, albeit blessed with a strong voice, did not have the musical nous to drop the melody an octave, which would have avoided the excruciating spectacle that was to follow. If you can imagine the sound of a dentist’s drill, crossed with that of a cat being neutered without an anaesthetic, you have a good idea of what we were witness to. To his credit, he didn’t give up. He stuck with it and finished the song. I remember afterwards, he turning round to the band, his face somewhat resembling the shape of a ‘Spacehopper’, an inflatable toy that was enjoying a vogue at the time (and certainly of the same colour), and uttering, in a rasping tone: “That weren’t in C mate!”

See also


Dick Ward tells the story.

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