When we went to see Jerry Lee Lewis live at The Gaiety Theatre in Dublin in 1993, I thought he was an old man.
Turns out he was only 58 at the time. This, of course, is another story, the one where people in their 20s tend to think people in their 50s are ‘old’. They’re not really.
That May night in 1993, I remember thinking The Gaiety was not in the best of repair, though its worn appearance gave it a definite charm. The very same could be said for the Rock ‘n’ roll legend on the stage below us. Lewis wasn’t in the best of repair – a reflection on his legendary lifestyle – but he too oozed charisma and charm.
For me, just seeing one of the greatest figures from the history of Rock ‘n’ roll in the flesh was a great thrill. Lewis died today at the age of 87. His hits included ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’.
The highly controversial singer, songwriter and pianist was nicknamed ‘The Killer’. Notoriously, he married his cousin when she was just 13 years of age. His turbulent personal life was marked by more than a hint of uncontrollable wildness.
In 1976, he was arrested at the gates of Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. Brandishing a gun, Lewis apparently told security guards to tell “the King” that “The Killer is here to see him”. He was arrested and, er…left the building.
In the Gaiety in 1993, the not-quite-old rocker was sensational, his rapid-fire piano playing mesmerising. He was a master showman. On his last song, he switched from playing the piano with his hands to playing it with his feet. Lewis then finished in a crescendo, standing to acclaim the applause of the audience as he fired the piano stool across the stage.
His personal life was blighted by scandal; as a pioneering performer, he belonged in the company of Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry. May he rest in peace.
I gather that Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, will be a guest with ‘Tubs’ on the Late Late Show tonight. I’m grateful for the online ‘heads up’ and will of course be avoiding this tête-à-tête.
It’s nothing against Ryan Tubridy or Ms. Lagarde, it’s just that I can’t stand what has become of the Late Late. I have essentially ceased to be a viewer (occasionally I bear it for 10 or 15 minutes, but usually only so I can join the other critics on Twitter).
Regular readers are probably aware that I have long railed (in vain) against the Late Late policy of ‘Misery TV’. The producers have become obsessed with sad or tragic stories. These interviews are more appropriate for a Prime Time-type programme, not for the poor suckers who excitedly dressed up and arrived in studio looking forward to some light entertainment, not to mention the rest of us at home, clutching our Friday night glass of wine, forlornly hoping we’ll be treated to some ‘wind down’ TV.
The Late Late ‘team’ know better, however! Now they have the gall to ask the President of the European Central Bank on! So, the ‘squeezed middle’ is sitting back on its collective couch, hoping to wind down after another stressful week, and our Friday night entertainment is Ms. Lagarde talking about interest rates and rising inflation. It’s madness!
Thankfully, I was rescued from this fate tonight. When someone on Twitter posted a clip of the great American comedian Don Rickles, I poured myself a glass of wine and went on YouTube. Soon I was enjoying wonderful footage of Rickles, Bob Hope and Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie) on the Johnny Carson Show. TV gold from the 1970s. Gloriously non-PC, not a book or film plug in sight, flowing and funny, and with Carson lighting cigarettes as he let his stars do the talking, this was a proper chat show. There wasn’t a word about interest rates either.
Scrolling through the TV channels early today, I see the prospect for a Halloween horror show: tonight, Leeds (currently on a scary losing streak) travel to play Liverpool in the Premier League. Sky Sports will show it live. I have zero confidence in my club’s chances against Mo Salah and company and am convinced that a Halloween horror awaits.
As it turns out, it’s a fabulous game, a real Saturday night thriller. There were a few Halloween scares for all watching Leeds fans before our lads pulled off a sensational 2-1 win. In fairness to Liverpool, they contributed greatly to the game, and Leeds’ goalkeeper (Meslier) was man of the match. The result eases the pressure on beleaguered Leeds manager Jesse Marsch, although I’m far from convinced that he’s the man for the job.
Elsewhere in the Premier League (over the weekend), a rampant Arsenal marched on, and Manchester United are significantly improving under Erik ten Hag. Even Ronaldo is smiling, for now at least!
After Saturday’s thrilling Junior Football Final (see our report on page 39) this afternoon’s IFC decider is less dramatic, but nonetheless a good, honest contest. Éire Óg threw everything at favourites St Dominic’s, but ran out of steam, or maybe it would be fairer to say that the Knockcroghery club gained the upperhand during the second half. St Dominic’s deserved their win, and after the heartbreak of recent years, nobody will begrudge it to them. I was delighted to see them get over the line.
Congratulations to Tomás Gilleran and his management colleagues, to all the playing panel, and to everyone associated with the club. It was a great weekend for St Dominic’s, with their camogie team winning the senior championship on Saturday.
A relaxing bank holiday, punctuated by a few hours’ work behind closed doors in the office. In Creggs, the annual Harvest Festival is continuing. In Knockcroghery/Lecarrow, celebrations are ongoing after St Dominic’s claimed the Intermediate Football title yesterday. In Roscommon town, there’s a steady flow of young people out trick-or-treating, despite very poor weather. Behind other closed doors, staff in shops are putting the Christmas decorations and goods in place!
The blurring of real life and so-called reality TV continues. I was stunned when I saw the online headlines, informing the world that the former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock is joining the new series of ITV’s ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ which starts soon. This is shocking, or so we’re conditioned to say. What else can I say? Can’t wait for it to start!
I see Marc MacSharry has resigned (again, but even more this time) from Fianna Fáil today. The bould Marc resigned the party whip last year – and has since been operating as an Independent TD in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency that includes parts of County Roscommon.
In recent weeks MacSharry appeared to be on the point of being readmitted to the party, but then the plot thickened. A Sligo councillor issued a complaint about the aggressive tone of WhatsApp messages MacSharry sent.
Our hero (Marc) donned his full victim outfit and kicked up a stink about the councillor who was kicking up a stink. The return of the prodigal son was put on hold.
With the nation holding its collective breath, news came today. Marc – accused of bullying by the councillor – has managed to spin the story around, and he’s quitting the party due to his (alleged) anger with how Micheál Martin has dealt with Cllr. Donal Gilroy’s complaint.
Marc will continue to serve his people as an Independent TD, while also spending more time with his ego.