(FROM HALIFAX EVENING COURIER)
ADVERSITY has been a shadowy figure lurking in the wings of Joe Long-thorne's career, particularly the latter years.
For almost 20 years he has battled cancer, finally undergoing a life-saving bone marrow transplant in 2005. Then he suffered pneumonia and was given just a one in 50 chance of survival.
Sheer determination and the support of friends, family and a legion of fans has sustained the singer and impressionist through his darker days. And next month he promises to deliver yet another outstanding show at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax – and tickets are selling fast.
Joe takes to the stage on Saturday, April 26, just five days after his good friend and charity cohort Johnnie Casson entertains Calderdale senior citizens with a free show at the theatre.
Joe and Johnnie, the Brighouse comedian, are also heavily involved in an annual charity extra-vaganza in Blackpool, where Joe now lives, called All Hands on Deck.
Directed by entertainer Tony Jo, the show is in its 12th year and is likely to be staged in September at the North Pier Theatre.
"Johnnie and I are big pals, we go back a long time," says Joe.
"Johnnie's the ship's cat, I'm the captain and Tony is the first officer."
Tony, who used to live in Walsden, Todmord-en, said: "It's a massive event. Everyone wants to be involved and we raise a lot of money for the Joe Longthorne Cancer Appeal and local charities."
Joe, famous for his impressions of stars like Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, was born in 1955 and raised on the east coast.
He was found to be dyslexic, which probably accounted for his lack of academic success. He's also deaf in one ear – but neither has stood in the way of a career spanning nearly 40 years.
He joined Yorkshire Television's Junior Show-time in 1970/71, the talent show that made stars of Bonnie Langford and Pauline Quirke and achieved national recognition following an appearance on London Weekend TV's series Search for a Star.
He had his own TV series in the 1980s and has shared the stage with many of the world's greatest artists, including Bob Hope at the London Palladium.
Following his Halifax gig, Joe will be travelling the length and breadth of the country before heading back to the Palladium for a concert on Sunday, June 1, with other gigs to follow.
He takes to the road in a huge American tour bus driven by his two nephews. "My niece is also involved – it's a family affair," he said. "They stay in the tour bus and I stay in hotels. I have to be completely quiet. I find it hard to wind down.
"I have quite an army of very loyal fans. I like looking into the audience. It's amazing, some of the people there are not even in their 20s.
"It's not work, it's enjoyment going on stage and delivering the lyrics to the songs and getting it right. The main event is the gig of that night.
"The next gig is what's important, that's how I see it. That keeps me going night after night. The less I do, the harder it gets, although you'd think it would be the other way round.
"I'm a survivor. You get what you deserve and I'm determined to have some fun," he said.
FROM BATLEY NEWS
LEGENDARY singer Joe Longthorne will be appearing at Batley Frontier in May in a concert to raise money for the Caron Keating Foundation.
Joe famously battled leukaemia for several years but after a bone marrow transplant in 2006, made a triumphant return to the stage in his adopted home town of Blackpool.
Joe, who is of Romany descent, originally hails from Hull.
He regularly performed for Her Majesty the Queen in several royal variety performances, and during the 1980s was a regular on the TV variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
Joe will be performing at The Frontier on Thursday May 22 in a charity concert organised by Caron Keating fundraiser Joy Passman.
Joy has raised thousands of pounds for the charity which was set up to raise money for professional cancer carers following the death of the former Blue Peter presenter and daughter of broadcaster Gloria Hunniford.
The money raised by the foundation also pays for complementary healing and support groups helping families coping with cancer.
They will also give financial support to charities researching into the prevention, early detection – and hopefully cure – for cancer.
In a cruel twist of fate, Joy’s husband Ron has recently been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and she is nursing him through this painful illness.
Siobhan Phillips, who has appeared at The Frontier several times, will be the support artist.
Tickets are £20 and are available from the box office on 01924 442122.
(FROM LYTHAM TODAY)
ENTERTAINER Joe Longthorne has announced plans for a summer season on Blackpool's North Pier.
The singing star – who enjoyed a four-day Easter residency at the Blackpool Grand Theatre – will be making a long-awaited return to the pier venue with an all new show.
Joe has signed up for peak season Friday and Saturday nights from August to November.
It is hoped the signing of such a popular star will provide a major boost for a theatre that has had its troubles in recent years.
It was closed in early 2006, but re-opened for a late summer run.
It featured a number of shows last summer and remains one of Blackpool's best-loved venues.
David Staveley, general manger of North Pier says he is 'delighted' to announce the entertainer's return.
* Tickets priced from £10 to £22.50 are available on (0870) 534 4444 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk
JOE Longthorne is hoping to put a full scale summer season show on Blackpool's North Pier Theatre.
The singing star says he wants a long-run on the historic pier as a thank you to the town he says played a big part in saving his life.
"I want to put on the sort of big show which that theatre on that pier deserves," Joe said as he prepared to launch a nationwide tour which will see him at Blackpool Grand Theatre for four days over Easter.
"I won't be messing around – I'm talking about three or more days a week for 14 weeks."
Although nothing has at this stage been confirmed, Longthorne has previously broken box office records at North Pier Theatre.
He added: "I'm sick of people knocking the pier and I'm sick of seeing it only put on the odd thing here and there.
"If someone doesn't do something soon it'll just float away into the sea.
"I love that pier and I love that theatre. I want to put a sho
w on with dancers, support acts – the works.
"I'll even get T-shirts printed saying 'I've seen Joe on North Pier'."
Despite admitting he feels better than he has done for years Longthorne, who battled back from leukaemia, said he was upset of hearing bad news about Blackpool.
"I'm sick of people having a go at Blackpool," he said.
"It's a showbusiness town and there should be someone in charge – or at least in a high position on the council– who knows about showbusiness and loves it like I do.
"If someone thought more about putting the right shows on and less about putting benches up in the middle of busy roads like they have in Layton then it would be a busier place."
Having put much of his bad health behind him Joe says he is looking forward to the rest of 2008, with a book planned for later in the year and a new CD due out to coincide with his Grand Theatre visit.
(from Market Rasen mail)
Bob Monkhouse, Ken Dodd, Les Dawson, Jim Davidson, Lenny Henry and many more are just some of the star names with a link to a former Lincolnshire hotel.
ANYONE seeing the recent demolition of the former Four Seasons Hotel at Dunholme - to make way for a housing development - may well have been swamped with memories of the hotel in its former glory.
In its day it hosted all of the great names, prime ministers and prima donnas. Michael Steed went along to share the memories of former owners Dennis and Joan Hall, now in retirement in Market Rasen.
IN 1970, Joan and Dennis Hall who, since 1963 had been owners of the village shop in Dunholme, saw the house - then called Dunholme House - up for sale and, because Joan had always had a hankering for a restaurant, decided to buy and convert it.
It had formerly been Dr Dean's house and surgery.
The couple created a 40 seat restaurant and moved into the upstairs to live, whilst still running the village shop - at a time when restaurants outside the larger towns and cities were few and far between and most pubs were purely for drinking.
Dennis recalled how a year later they upgraded further to provide more than just a dining experience.
"I was chatting to some girls from one of the Lincoln banks who were in the restaurant having a meal," he said. "They said they were going on to Lincoln for a dance and so Joan and I thought - we've got them here for a meal, why shouldn't we provide dancing as well, and keep them here for their whole night out."
It was this that determined the couple to sell the shop and devote themselves totally to the Four Seasons, building a new kitchen and a ballroom - called 'The Lindsey Suite' - and extending the restaurant and lounge bar.
A year later, and it was another guest who was to plant the seed of providing cabaret, which led to the development of the hotel as one of the major entertainment facilities in the area.
Dennis remembered: "One evening a man called Roy Tipper from Skegness came in. He had all the cabaret bookings for Skegness and Chesterfield and would take acts for a week and place them in different venues.
"However, no-one wanted them on a Thursday, so he offered us four acts on that day for £60! We took it!"
The top of the bill act would finish in Skegness at about 10pm and then drive over to Dunholme to perform at about 11pm.
"However, with four acts, we found people were watching the cabaret but not buying drinks," said Dennis, "so we cut the acts down gradually until we had just one headliner."
The usual format was that people would dine between 8 and 10pm when the resident trio and singer would perform, then there would be dancing to a dance band or group until 11pm when the star name would come on for an hour followed by dancing until the early hours.
"We relied on people drinking to make a profit," said Dennis "as the star name typically cost us £2,000 for the hour, but it did mean we obtained enormous prestige because of the quality of the entertainment."
Many of the well-known stars of the period appeared - the venue was opened by Charlie Williams, who had achieved stardom through 'The Comedians' and 'The Golden Shot' on television, and the restaurant was serving 400 to 500 meals on a Saturday night.
Some of the biggest names of the day - and still today - appeared at the venue: Bob Monkhouse, Jim Davidson, Sacha Distel, Paul Daniels (who Dennis had never heard of when he booked him!), Acker Bilk, Des O'Connor, Marian Montgomery, Kenny Ball, Duncan Norville, Ken Dodd, Frank Carson, Lenny Henry, Patti Boulaye, Frankie Howerd, The Krankies, Jimmy Cricket, Joe Longthorne, Kathy Kirby, Little and Large, Iris Williams, Mike Reid, Norman Colyer, Matthew Kelly, Leslie Crowther, Michael Barrymore, Freddie and the Dreamers, Joan Turner, Ronnie Hilton, Bobby Davro, Bernie Clifton - and many others too numerous to mention.
Dennis and Joan's clear favourite, however, was the wonderful Les Dawson, with whom they formed a great friendship, often visiting him at his home in Lytham St Anns.
In 1980, they added 12 ensuite bedrooms, which they later doubled, so that guests could come for a meal, a dance, cabaret and then stay the night, with a relaxing walk in the morning followed by lunch before going home.
The house was set in 20 acres of land, so they added a nine hole pitch and putt golf course to add to the entertainment provided for guests, although this was lost when it was compulsorily purchased to build the Dunholme by-pass.
The couple have so many memories of the time they spent at the Four Seasons.They were there the whole time, seeing every meal go out. They introduced wedding receptions, often doing three on a Saturday and even on Sundays.
"We had the most wonderful staff," recalled Joan. "They are still friends to this day. We cannot speak highly enough of them."
Of course, not all the performers were as wonderful as the staff!
"The top stars were fine," said Dennis "but some of those who were starting to come down were a bit of trouble."
He remembered the legendary Arthur Askey asking what time he was due on and, on being told 11pm., complaining that was past his bedtime!
When Frankie Howerd, who had been the star of 'Up Pompeii' on television, came, Dennis built a wonderful Romanesque set for him only for Frankie to refuse to go on until it was taken down!
Recording star Kathy Kirby was so nervous of performing live she refused to come out of her dressing room until Dennis and Joan were finally able to persuade her that everyone loved her and wanted to hear her sing!
Another singer got so carried away, she not only ordered a bottle of champagne for her room, but during her act she sent bottles to various tables in the audience saying "Put them on my bill". Unfortunately, she left the next day without paying her bill!
After being let down by a chef, Dennis did some cooking himself, even though he had no training or experience. When one of the grills caught fire, someone opened the back door and the resulting fire explosion removed Dennis' trademark beard and head hair.
"That was the end of my cooking career and I got a new chef pretty smartish!" he said.
That was not the only thing that went wrong - on the opening night of the restaurant Dennis and Joan had thought of everything. Guests were arriving and then someone asked for a bottle of wine and he realised no-one had thought to buy a corkscrew, so there was a desperate drive around the area to find a shop open with one for sale!
On another occasion, they allowed the waitresses at the end of a wedding reception to finish off the wine. Unfortunately, they all drank a little too much and Dennis and Joan spent two hours trying to sober them all up with black coffee in time for the regular Saturday night service in the restaurant.
They remembered all their guests, all their staff and most of their stars with great affection. They thought the most talented was Joe Longthorne, and also singer Eric Prince, who was one of their first performers and who came over from retirement in Spain to sing at their Diamond Wedding party last year. But their favourite was clearly Les Dawson.
They sold the business in 1987 when a variety of circumstances made it difficult for them to continue and the hotel went downhill from then. It was sold again and the next owner went into liquidation and, by 1990, it closed down and remained empty until the decision to demolish it and build houses on the site.
The Four Seasons was a phenomenal success in its day, drawing customers from near and far to what at the time was the must-go destination for dining.
Dennis hopes the name 'Four Seasons' will at least be remembered in one of the new roads on the estate.
"We had the most wonderful time but, above all, it was the staff who made it," he said.
"It was the days of wine and roses and really, that's what it's all about it, isn't it?"
FROM HULL DAILY MAIL
Joe Longthorne's concert to raise cash for Hull's flood fund is heading towards a sell-out.
Today, only 50 tickets remain for the gig, which takes place on Wednesday at The New Walton Club in Walton Street, west Hull.
Money raised will go towards the Hull Flood Fund, which provides aid for those affected by the summer floods.
As well as ticket sales, money will also be raised from an auction of one of Joe's gold discs, one of his suits and other memorabilia.
The event has been organised by Joe's nephew, Keith Holiday.
Mr Holiday said: "The ticket sales are going very well. Joe is really looking forward to coming over (from Blackpool). He is bringing his orchestra with him."
There are a total of 450 tickets for the performance, which will be Joe's last before Christmas.
Mr Holiday said: "A lot of the tickets have been bought by people in Hull, but Joe's manager put a few on his site for his fans."
As well as the main act, Hull singer Katie Williams will also be performing.
Joe, who was born in Hessle Road, west Hull, has performed across the world and has released a host of solo albums.
During his career, he has spent 20 years battling leukaemia, but was finally given the all-clear by doctors this year. In 2005, he had a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
However, he spent 10 weeks in an induced coma while his body fought pneumonia.
Despite his illness, he has committed himself to raising money for charities, including Macmillan Cancer Care.
Joe, 52, has an impressive tour record and an army of fans.
He is held in such high regard by his fans that one, Lyn Perkins, has started a petition appealing to the Government to put Joe's name forward to become an MBE.
So far, 86 people have signed the petition, including author Jeffrey Archer, who added his name after seeing Joe in concert.
Among those supporting the event at Walton Street is Lord Mayor of Hull, Councillor Brenda Petch.
The event begins at 7pm. Buffet tickets cost £35, seating tickets £25.
To buy tickets, call Keith Holiday on 07876 456865 or City Waste on (01482) 224775.
(taken from Blackpool Gazette)
Joe Longthorne fans demand honour for star
GIVE Joe an honour!
A fanatical Joe Longthorne fan has launched a campaign to get the Blackpool-based star recognised for his ongoing charity work – and has already attracted one influential supporter.
Fans have been working to try to get the resort favourite a gong for years, but one fan has embraced modern technology in taking the battle directly to the powers that be.
Lyn Perkins, who is based in Staines, Middlesex, has started an online petition on the Downing Street website asking for people to sign up in recognition of Joe.
Support is already flowing in from the most unusual places.
More than 50 people have already added their names including controversial peer Jeffrey Archer, who met the singer at a Royal Variety show and signed up after a request from petition organisers.
Mrs Perkins, 50, decided to take matters into her own hands this month after a petition delivered to Tony Blair at Downing Street two years ago had no effect.
Antiques restorer Mrs Perkins said: "I just don't understand how somebody who has worked as tirelessly as Joe has for more than 30 years has never received an award.
"He has suffered so much with his health but never let his fans down. He is a true inspiration to us all.
"He is so dedicated and down to earth, I decided it was time more action was taken to ensure he gets the thanks he deserves."
Mrs Perkins has been a fan of Joe for 25 years and has travelled all over the country to see her hero perform.
She has watched as the singer has battled with his health. He underwent a life saving bone marrow transplant in 2005 and slipped into a coma after contracting pneumonia.
As ever, Joe bounced back and continues to support a variety of charities including the Anthony Nolan Trust and Macmillan Cancer Research among others.
Friends of the star have pledged their support for the petition. His producer Tony Jo said: "If anybody deserves to be honoured in this way it is Joe.
"He is always happy to help out in anyway he can for charity.
"I'm delighted fans have taken this step."
(WALSALL FOOTBALL CLUB)
AFTER wowing the sell out crowd earlier this month, the club are delighted to reveal that Joe Longthorne will be back at the Banks's Stadium in December.
Longthorne will perform a one-off 'Christmas Spectacular' on Tuesday, 18th December - his only show in the area that month! This comes on the back of the talented entertainer agreeing to spend two evenings at the Banks's Stadium next year, which will see him celebrating his birthday with us!
As well as his December show, Longthorne will appear in the Stadium Suite on Friday, 30th May 2008 before celebrating his birthday on Saturday, 31st May 2008 in the Bonser Suite!
"I'm really looking forward to coming back to Walsall Football Club," he said. “I was made to feel very welcome and the crowd, well, what more can we say? A great setting, great food and a great atmosphere.
"It is a lovely place to work; the audience are so near that they can appreciate what I am doing"
"Joe's repertoire is second to none," added Conference & Banqueting Sales Manager, Dianne Elsworth. "His vocal impressions of David Bowie, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey were amazing and, as a performer in his own right, he was top-class.
"We were always going to re-book Joe for the new year but now, after the amazing response we have had since his appearance here, we have booked him for a night in December as well as two nights next year."
Tuesday, 18th December 2007
Tickets £40 to include four-course meal (Xmas Menu)
Friday, 30th May 2008
Tickets £40 to include four-course meal
Saturday, 31st May 2008
Tickets £45 to include four-course meal
Book your tickets now, call our Events Team on (01922) 651 418. For more information on upcoming shows, visit www.m6j9.com