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The Danny Wilde Story!
words by Graham Rhodes pics by Anthony Springall
....who the hell is Danny Wilde?
Scarborough has many attractions. There's the Castle, the Spa, the Harbour and Danny Wilde. Danny Wilde? Oh yes, make no mistake Danny Wilde is one of Scarborough's main attractions. When you come to think about it, in the 16 years he's been playing along the foreshore he's probably played to more people than both the S.J.T. and the The Krankies put together. In fact season by season, he probably pulls in a bigger crowd than Scarborough Football Club. But who the hell is Danny Wilde? Well the other Sunday we popped down to the Lancaster for a pint and a chat. This is his story.
Skiffle was his bag and Lonnie Donegan his god.
Back in the days when rock 'n roll was still a mewling infant whose voice could only be heard via Radio Luxemburg and American Forces Network , a 14 year old boy got a guitar for Christmas. Skiffle was his bag and Lonnie Donegan his god. In a short space of time young Danny had teamed up with his music teacher Barry Mitchell and became a member of The Vikings, a skiffle group that played around Danny's home-town of Rochdale.
...earning the princely sum of £5 a night...
As Danny reached his late teens he was earning the princely sum of £5 a night playing the pubs, clubs and colleges throughout the North West in a group called The Ramblers. Then the phenomena called Mersey Beat burst all around them. Within weeks the band were playing hits by new upcoming bands like The Beatles, The Hollies and The Searchers. But fame eluded the Ramblers and when their guitarist John Osborne left to join Classical Gas our lad went solo. Playing around Manchester and the North West he was soon in demand, supporting such acts as Marty Wilde, Sounds Incorporate, Sandie Shaw and the maddest of them all, Freddie Starr and the Delmonts.
....never one to hide in the shadows
As those of us who have seen him know, Danny is never one to hide in the shadows and when he supported Billy Fury, despite being on a damn sight less money, he hired himself a Rolls Royce complete with a hat wearing chauffeur to take him to the gig. It completely phased Billy Fury who though Danny actually owned it - and Danny sure didn't tell him anything different!
"Karve - the best dressed folk singer"
Back in the clubs Danny felt the mood of his audiences shifting. Beat groups were on the way out and songs with a message were in. Danny changed his act and re-emerged as "Karve - the best dressed folk singer", playing the songs of Bob Dylan, Donovan and other protest singers. The solo act soon became a duo when Karve teamed up with a girl called Vanda. Together they embarked on several years of gigging in clubs throughout the North, especially Manchester (at Bernard Manning's Club), Newcastle, and the Isle of Man. (The Lord Mayor of Douglas is still a fan and comes to Scarborough every year to see Danny).
...no trouble getting him eight gigs a week
The start of the 70's saw Danny once again going solo - and for the first time working under the name of Danny Wilde. He bought himself a camper van (a trusty Bedford CF complete with bed and sink.) and hit the road. Singing songs by Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones and other hits of the day he played the North Western club circuit, did a stint touring London Bingo Halls and then moved up to the North East where his manager, Ronnie Nesbitt, a successful racehorse owner, had no trouble getting him eight gigs a week playing the North Eastern club circuit where he supported such acts as Cozy Powell, The Merseybeats, Wee Willie Harris, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Picketywitch, and Roy Wood.
...working with a drummer who was the spitting image of Elvis.
Meanwhile, over in America, the King had made his famous come back TV show and Danny (always a fan) added a couple of Elvis numbers to his act. They went down rather well! Ironically at the time Danny was working with a drummer who was the spitting image of Elvis. He saw what was happening, downed sticks, and left to become one of Britain's first Elvis look-a-likes. All in all Danny spent around two years in the N E before moving back to the North West and Wales where he still worked seven nights a week with an extra gig on Sunday Lunchtimes. Towards the end of the 70's, after a gig in Crumpsall Danny's van got broken into and everything got pinched. All he had left was a suit and a pair of stack-heeled boots. A mate helped to fit him out again and Danny remerged not only with a new suit, but with a new act that contained more Elvis songs.
Danny Wilde had entered the building...
In 1979 Danny was signed by a Yorkshire based agent and arrived in Gods own Country complete with the first version of Danny Wilde show that we know and love today. Oddly enough the first time he arrived in Scarborough he was only booked for a night, then for a weekend, and then for the full season. The following year, after spending the winter playing other parts, he returned for a second full season. Danny Wilde had entered the building - he was to stay for the next sixteen years!
...Michael Caine himself dropped by, (but not a lot of people know that!).
As a measure of the guys standing is worth remembering that, when "Little Voice" was being filmed in Scarborough the word went out. Danny Wilde was the hottest ticket in town. Brenda Blethyl was an audience regular. Hollywood heartthrob and Jedi Knight Ewan McGregor joined him on stage to sing American Trilogy. Even Michael Caine himself dropped by, (but not a lot of people know that!).
At Christmas his mantelpiece boasts cards from around the globe.
Now, seven or eight weeks into his new location at the Lancaster Danny's audience is getting bigger. In addition to visitors from the Isle of Man, fans come from a far a field as Texas, South Carolina and Europe. Some even pay homage by bringing him gifts they bought at Gracelands. At Christmas his mantelpiece boasts cards from around the globe.
...to lift our souls, put a spring in our step and a smile on our faces.
If Elvis is King, Danny Wilde is the Prince that sits at his right hand side. In these trying times of war in the Middle East and Afghanistan, rail problems, pensions crisis, and council tax rises, everyone needs a bit of Danny Wilde in our lives to lift our souls, put a spring in our step and a smile on our faces. Cheers Danny long may you reign. In the words of Van Morrison, "Rave on....Rave on....Rave on....".