MORPETH Rotary Club was pleased to hear from one of its own members, George Brown, about his musical life and upbringing in Newbiggin and Ashington.
In 1930 his mother Sadie Brown was invited to audition at the BBC as a mezzo soprano.
She was in a concert party with Jack Chalder as leader that travelled all over the North East, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Westmorland in his Standard 8 car. She was organist at Newbiggin Methodist Church for 35 years and was 102 when she died.
At 10, George started piano lessons with Sadie Tully and was regularly smacked for not practising.
At 20 he had singing lessons with Miss Welsh of Newbiggin. Alex Swailes, the Morpeth Gadgy, went to the same teacher.
George was encouraged by his mother to join the Ashington Choral Union at Methodist Central Hall.
They sang Messiah with Norma Proctor, Kenneth McKellar, Isabel Bailey (soprano) and the Blackpool Tower organist who had been at the Regal Cinema, Ashington.
The Kirkintilloch Junior Choir sang there and Moira Anderson.
A violinist was George Brownrigg. He and his brother Leslie were Pitman Painters. John Hall attended the Methodist Chapel.
George Brown and others formed a group and a friend put them forward for the Carroll Levis Discovery Show at Newcastle Empire.
They got to sing on TV in the same programme as Bobby Thompson.
They got an introduction to the BBC for the What Cheor Geordie show.
They sang Diana at the City Hall, Newcastle, and were spotted by George and Alfred Black and given a contract.
They had an audition for Tyne Tees Television and had a 12-show run, appearing in the same shows as Jackie Milburn, Len Shackleton and Brian Clough, with Bill Maynard as compere. They even did songs for the daily Epilogue religious programmes.
In contrast, there were night club opportunities at Gray’s Club and The Blue Parrot with David Macbeth, Jimmy Wheeler and Danny Williams. Folk club gigs were at The Lampglass and The Cellar Club at Ashington. Billy Connolly was a regular.
George also played in a dance band for 10 years.
He said that Morpeth Rotary should change the format and always start with music like a Rotary Club he had visited in Norway. He would of course be the lead singer.