PETE PRICE LIVERPOOL ECHO THUR 27 FEB 2020 ' PEERLESS SINGER JOE NOW IN LINE FOR PIER TRIBUTE'
The Sedgwick family, owners of Blackpool’s world- famous North Pier, have dedicated and renamed the Pier’s theatre The Joe Longthorne MBE theatre, in honour of the late entertainer, who sadly passed away last August at his home in Blackpool in the arms of his beloved other half, Jamie.
When Mr Sedgwick bought the North Pier, he always said to his wife jokingly: “One day I will buy that and give it to you as a wedding present”. The couple have been married 40 years, she finally got her present.
This is a great accolade to Joe, but isn’t it sad that it never happened while he was alive.
I must tell you before I talk about Mr Longthorne, I had one of the happiest times of my show- business career at the North Pier.
It was 1982, a summer season with the Krankies and the Black Abbots and the late, great, Liverpool comic, Al Dean.
Tickets were £3, at the time, the Krankies were big stars and so were the Abbots.
I didn’t want the season to end, it ran from May until Oct-ober.
We were playing to capacity audiences at every performance.
Our social life was one long party and I had a new bedsitter across the road from the theatre, which was the icing on the cake.
The next year, the show uprooted and went to Yarmouth - that’s another story.
I hated the place.
In fact, I drove home every weekend, six hours each way, just to get back to Merseyside.
After losing Joe last year, I thought about him a lot, especially the break he gave me, which I’ve talked about before.
It was his 60th birthday, he’d taken over the London Palladium, which was a sell-out, and asked me to be his support act. It was a dream come true and something I can never thank him enough for.
Did you know that Engelbert Humperdinck made it possible for Joe, the Hull-born singer, to appear in Las Vegas? The American audiences just loved him.
Joe first made his mark on a children’s talent show in a local park, singing If You Knew Suzy. at the age of 14, he won Yorkshire Television’s Junior Showtime and from that day he began to learn his craft and we saw this amazing talent being created before us.
So, Blackpool’s adopted son, who also is loved by so many in Liverpool, who is the voice of the world’s greatest stars, from Tom Jones to Shirley Bassey, is to be honoured at the North Pier, which is synonymous with summer seasons and has had many of the world’s top stars tread the boards there.
On Sunday, May 31, there will be an all-star tribute evening to honour this great man and his glitzy career.
Twenty-five acts will appear at the newly-named theatre. Jamie, Joe’s other half, has been overwhelmed at the response to the line-up and support given from people like the Nolans, Darren Day, Bobby Davro, the Grumbleweeds - the list goes on.
The gala evening is one of a weekend of celebrations, which falls on the date of what would have been Joe’s 65th birthday.
I could imagine his face if he was with us and someone presented him with a bus pass, which, of course, he would have been entitled to. He’d have loved that and laughed his socks off.
Last time I worked with the man, it was a charity event in Liverpool for Herbert. All the proceeds went to the Lord Mayor’s Charity.
Me, Crissy Rock, the Real Thing and Claire Sweeney rocked the Adelphi Hotel, along with a big band and the star of the night, Joe Longthorne.
I have lots of happy memories with me and lots of stories, but I always remember the proud look on his face when he described his visit to Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE, given to him by Prince Charles on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2012.
Joe took Jamie with him.
The Gala Night will be a huge success, and what an accolade to have a theatre named after you.
Miss you very much, Mr Longthorne.