October 27th, 2013 | Today all the Duran Duran fans, including me, are celebrating Simon Le Bon's 55th birthday, what a milestone! Congratulations Simon a very happy birthday from us all!

Simon and us have something more than his birthday to celebrate... in fact this year is Simon's fiftieth year on the scene!

A 50 years long career! Simon has started modelling, then acting in commercials when he wasn't even 5-years old so we can surely say that he has been on stage for 50 full years.
He certainly is the one who has been in the show business longer than any other member of Duran Duran.

We want to pay homage to this special anniversary celebrating Simon's early years on stage as actor, choir boy and singer. Those years, the 60s and 70s, are probably the more obscure ones so it's worth to explore them a bit.

A study about Simon Le Bon early career | I opened my Duran Duran archives to share with you some cool documents, some really nice and unseen photographic gems and I also interviewed a couple of interesting gentlemen who worked with Simon when he was just a little boy, the Music Director of the Pinner Paris Church, where Simon started singing as a choir boy and Dougal Rose, one of the actors who played alonside Simon in the Tom Brown's Schooldays musical, back in the early 70s.

These two nice gentlemen shared their memories giving us a slice of history, telling about the atmosphere breathed behind the scenes in those years when Simon started his first steps in the singing and acting camps.

I just hope this special installment, a study about Simon Le Bon early career, will help to shed light on those years and will also add some interesting information [and pictures] to your "Duranian-knowledge".

L'Enfant Prodige | I have to say that working [for months] on this piece, has been an incredible experience, possibly the most exciting and fascinating of all the special installments and interviews that I have published on this webzine over the years, and the reason is very simple, Simon has a long and incredible artistic history, he has done a lot of things prior to his Duran Duran days, he was actually an "Enfant Prodige".

It's been an incredible trip through the memory lane, trying to locate info and newspapers, pictures and memories. And it was lovely and very interesting to re-read some articles that were buried in my Duran archive and re-discover and put into perspective the importance of Ann Le Bon, Simon's mother, a wonderful mom for Simon and a very talented artist who has always encouraged his son and helped him to develop and improve his artistic attitudes and his great natural vocal talent.

Reading this page you might discover a few things about our favourite frontman but I'm sure there's still a lot more to know about those formative years [artistically speaking] of Simon Le Bon. Only an autobiography, if he will ever write one, could bring more light to those years.

This is just my little contribution to help fans getting a full picture of the talented Sir Le Bon. I dedicate this page to Simon, obviously, wishing him once again happy birthday, and to all the Duran Duran fans out there, the old ones like me who [duranly speaking] lived the 80s, and probably remember and know half of what is reported below, and to the new generation of fans, the ones who weren't even born in the 80s and probably don't have a clue of the long singing and acting career that Simon has behind him.

 

What a knit, Simon modelling a ‘Sunshine Special' on Woman’s Realm magazine in 1964. The article was tilted "knitting pattern". At the grande age of 4 1/2 years.
   

 

Ann Le Bon was a singer herself before she got married
and she taught Simon to sing.
She also encouraged him in flute, piano, drama and ballet lessons.
“He has a fantastic voice as a boy soprano,” she recalls.
“ We used to go to auditions and he waited for his turn,
he was just an oridinary little boy.
”But once on stage he just switched on. He had a brilliance about him.
“I can see why he sends the girls wild when he’s on stage.
He has a lot of charisma.”
Ann Le Bon 1985
 


Simon's pre-duran history
 
SINGING & ACTING

Pre-Duran history | Simon is the eldest of three brothers, coming from a showbiz background, his Grandmother was one of the original Tiller Girls, his mothers aunt once danced before the Queen with the famous Ziegfeld Follies and his Grandfather was part of the respected Ernest Read Choir.

His Family is descended from the Huguenots [a 16th Century group of French Protestants], Simon's aunt believes their coat of arms can be found on the Huguenot crypt in the Canterbury cathedral. At a very young age Simon showed signs of being artistic.



Ann Le Bon recalls
“Even at a very young age Simon was very, very sensitive, very artistic and imaginative. He used to say poetry from the time he was 2 1/2 years old. He even said things for me to write down.
He was almost writing poetry at that age.”


As Simon began to mature he developed a strong interest in arts:

Ann Le Bon recalls: “I noticed he devoted most of his time to drama and singing. He went to acting lessons at a very young age and started doing telly commercials from around the age of five.
He made his debut as the ‘dirty’ shirt in a Persil advertisement. He also did ads for Coke and a french coffee manufacturer as well as posing for knitwear patterns in a womens magazine.



Simon joined the Boy Scouts but refused to return as he said the other boys had kicked him, instead he joined the local church choir at St Johns in Pinner High St, Middlesex. where he took choir practice under the supervision of Mr Turvey the church organist:

"Simon used to look forward to choir practice with Mr Turvey, the church organist. He went twice during the week and twice on Sundays". Ann Le Bon

This in fact was where Simon made his first record, he was about 13. Unfortunately this was never to be released, just copies made for him and Mr. Turvey.

”The local recoding company came along and recorded Simon with Mr Turvey. I remember going along to watch them.
Simon sang ‘He Shall Feed His Flock’. You’d never believe it if you could hear it now. " Ann Le Bon.
................................>>

 


"Le Bon Boys"

Rare acting Agency Z Card dated 1973. The page reports info and list the specialities of the young singer and actors members of the Doreen English Agency.
This is quite unusual as Simon appears in the photo with his brothers Jonathan and David Le Bon.
The trio is presented as "Le Bon Boys".
The caption says "All sing and dance. Commercials"


Top left, Simon’s first performance - he did a great song and dance in front of the camera says Ann Le Bon. Below Simon 7-years old.


Simon was just six when he was picked for the commercial of a Persil washing powder. It showed one child kitted out in dazzling white and his unlucky pal looking
grubby. Simon was the grubby one. But he didn’t see a penny for his work. His parents were paid a fee of less thank £ 50.
   


As a teenager, although Simon had a lot of friends, he would spend a lot of time quietly sprawled out drawing and writing stories, many of which were published in the school magazine. Above-left an illustration by Simon, from the school magazine Quill. Follows a picture of Simon when he appeared as Little Lord Fauntleroy.
In the center and on the right two picture of Simon 12 year -old.
   

In the pic the Gondoliers Production Team March 1972.
Taken at Pinner Grammar School.
Some schoolmates still remember Simon singing solo Once in Royal David’s City at the start of the annual carol concert in 1968.

>>
Simon attended Pinner Grammar School, the same school as Elton John. Simon was branded a dreamer by the teachers,

 
The teachers used to say he was a dreamer.
One told me if he had a piece of blank paper, he’d think about all the wonderful things he was going to put down on it and then, at the end of the lesson, he’d thought so much about it he hadn’t written a thing.

“Another teacher told me if Simon could have just three lessons a day - music, art and drama - he’d be a brilliant student.
“Even so, he left Pinner with siz ‘O’ levels and two ‘A’s in Art and English. Simon always did his homework at the last minute. I left it entirely up to him. He was very reasonable. He knew that if he hadn’t done it, he hadn’t done it.

I never chased him because he always had so much to do.
“But he had to try and fit it in because he realised he needed some academic qualifications. He didn’t want to be a one-sided person.

Simon appeared in several amateur stage productions such asThe King and I when he was 7, The Gondoliers, Bless The Bride with the Harrow Light Opera Company, Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Man For All Seasons.

 

Below the programme of "The King and I" of the Harrow Light Opera Company.
   





"(at school) Simon realised he needed some academic qualifications.
He didn’t want to be a one-sided person".
Ann Le Bon 1983






Poems and reflections from the school magazine.
These were published during the 70s in the Pinner Grammar School's mag "The Quill"
 
DOCUMENTS

 





School plays at the Pinner Grammar School 1971 / 1977
   




Simon Le Bon, first on the right, as an angelic looking page boy in The Gondoliers, March 1972.
One of Simon schoolmates in Pinner recalls: "I remember a library period with Mrs Williams in my first year when in walked a second year wearing a cravat. Mrs Williams made us all sit in a circle and got Simon Le Bon to tell us all about his appearances on stage and try outs for TV commercials. Simon, was definitely a performer even then.
   

"Simon Le Bon as Henry VIII gave a remakable portrayal of the bluff, extrovert king, arrogant & intolerant
of all opposition.
Apart from a few lapses into a faultless
London accent, he really sounded like a monarch’.
 

 

 


I got a chance to speak to Geoff Barr, Archivist at The Pinner Old Students Association, and he was kind enough to help me with this project and this is what he found out for us:
 

On the acting side, Simon took part in 4 school plays as follows.

  • March 1971 - He was a page-boy in The Critic by R.B. Sheridan.
  • March 1972 - He is listed under Chorus of Gondoliers & Contadine, Men at Arms & Pages in the production of The Gondoliers by Gilbert & Sullivan.
  • March 1975 - he played the part of Mr Podgers in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime by Constance Cox based on a short story by Oscar Wilde.
    In the critique of the play it was said ‘I think the fortune - telling charlatan Mr Podgers managed to suggest that he felt somewhat ill at ease in his formal dress. He certainly looked “no gentleman”. ’Simon Le Bon as Mr Podgers expressed by voice & movement the common bounder & outsider.’

  • March 1977 - He played the part of Heny VIII, King of England in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.
    The critique says, ‘Simon Le Bon as Henry gave a remakable portrayal of the bluff, extrovert king, arrogant & intolerant of all opposition. Apart from a few lapses into a faultless London accent, he really sounded like a monarch’.
Mr Barr says: "The black and white photo [above right] possibly shows Simon in the role of Heny VIII, seated alone on the right hand side but I do not have a confirmed identification."

"I have been in two bands before. One was a 1977 punk band called 'Dog Days' which was based in Harrow. We played one gig at Harrow Technical College - then decided to knock it on the head.
We used to to go down really well, although we were really dreadful. It was because we were all local boys I suppose. I have still got some tapes, and if I listen to them they make me cringe.
We were really awful, the songs were good but we just couldn't play them properly, so in the end they sort of pulled the plug on us.
That was the worst gig I have ever played."

>> Simon's first professional stage appearance was at the Cambridge Theatre, London where he appeared alongside Roy Dotrice in Tom Brown's Schooldays playing the part of one of Tom's friends at Rugby School.

Simon was a soprano but his mother feared for his voice and that if he pushed it as it broke he could have no voice left, so Simon gave up singing with the church choir from which he had been awarded several trophies in various festivals.

His mother, who has operatic training, continued to coach Simon with his singing and along with valuable lessons from drama and his stage work, Simon had the groundings for a strong voice for the future.

First experiments in the rock/punk scene | Simon's first performed with a punk band called Dog Days when he was 17, at one gig they were fourth on the bill and were not allowed to play on the stage, they had to play on the floor!

According to some sources Simon also sang with Bolleaux - a pub style R&B band, [but this info is still unconfirmed] Eddie and the Hotrods - a rock band and a Electro punk band called Rov Ostrov.

Before heading for University Simon spent some time working on a kibbutz in the Negev desert in Israel in 1978, where he encountered a completely new way of life, there he learnt to drive tractors, lumberjacking, orange picking and looking after children, he loved it he considered it absolute paradise, 4 hours work in the day then swim, sunbathe followed by chatting up Israeli women.

Simon recalls:

I have traveled a bit peviously. I went to Israel for on or two weeks and actually ended up staying for three months in a kibbutz. It was just great. I was really glamourous hard work. I was a Lumberjack most of the time and I'd go again if I had the time. [Quote from a 1981 unknown interview published in the 1982 Rock Show calendar].

It was while Simon was studying Drama in his freshman year at Birmingham University, Edgbaston that Fiona Kemp [a girlfriend working as a barmaid at The Rum Runner] gave Simon's phone number to John Taylor whose band "Duran Duran" were looking for a singer.

Simon turned up for an audition wearing pink lepoard skin print trousers, a 60's brown suede jacket, sunglasses, pointed boots and carrying an exercise book with lyrics such as "Underneath The Clocktower","On A Dead Child", "Nightboat" and "The Chauffeur" the other members of the band played him a backing track they had been working on, Simon listened to it twice and within half an hour "Sound of Thunder" was complete, within a month they had ten songs written and ready to take on the world.

Le Bon agreed to "try [Duran Duran] out for the summer" and his first show was on the 16th of July 1980 at the Rum Runner club in Birmingham. Within six weeks the band was playing steadily around Birmingham and London, and a national tour supporting Hazel O'Conner led to a record deal with EMI Records in December.

Le Bon never returned to his acting career.

All the rest is history!


Simon Le Bon, some experiences as actor and singer on TV in the 70s
TELEVISION


Simon as a teenager,
words by Ann Le Bon, 1983


Simon had a lot of friends and grew into a very all-round person.
Still a the same time he had a quiet side to his nature and liked his own space.

“As a teenager, he was a reasonable lad. I never had to say him ‘Simon, you be in by 11 pm or else’. I couldn’t because he had a mind of his own. But he didn’t have ‘bad’ friends, and as long as I knew where he was and who he was with, everything was fine.
”As a mother and son we had, and still have a very good relationship. We trusted each other and that’s important.

“But he was a real boy and got up quite a few pranks.
I can remember him and a friend going to the coast one bitterly cold winter’s day to see a group.
“He didn’t come home that night. I was worried because I knew he didn’t have enough money to stay in a hotel.
”He turned up the next day and told me he’d missed the last train home. ‘But how did you keep warm? I asked.
’We slept in a gent’s loo, ‘ he replied, ’and to keep warm we jammed the hand dryer on so it blew out hot air all night!’
“That was Simon - quite ingenious at times.”


SIMON ON TV IN THE 70S


'First impressions'


Above an unseen picture of a young Simon Le Bon filming 'First impressions' with Perry Clayton and Lisa Vanerpump. Picture was taken in a Birmingham hotel room.

First Impressions | It's a series of ten films produced by ATV intended to introduce children to a range of different ways of finding out about man. The films are linked with slide/tape programmes and pupil packs developed by the Schools's Council Integrated Studies project, which were available from Oxford University Press. Intended for children aged 10-12 years. A teachers' handbook is available with the films



Cast
Christian | Simon Le Bon
Andrew | Perry Clayton
Mrs Wallis | Elaine Wells
Mr Henlein | Graham Lines
Carla | Lisa Vanderpump


Sweet Wine of Youth, Season 6, Episode 6, BBC2 Playhouse [1979] TV episode

In 1979 Simon was also in the cast of Sweet Wine of Youth [Playhouse, BBC2] The episode was broadcast on December 12th, 1979.



"Perched atop a ladder, fixing large white letters to the front of the Nicolson Street church, a young Birmingham University drama student helped transform what is now the Southside Community Education Centre into the Nicolson Street Theatre"
THEATRE

Simon recalls his early days as actor and his first trip to Edinburgh and his funny role in the rubbish show “Dragoman”.

"That was in 1980, Simon says: “Do you know the church on Nicolson Street?” he asks excitedly. “And do you remember it used to have white letters on it wich said:
”THE NICOLSON STREET THEATRE”?
Well I stuck those white letters on. I cut them out of paper and stuck them on with glue.
They were up there for at least a couple of years because we came back two years later with another show and they were still there.

”Recalling that first visit to the Capital, the singer continues, “I was at university doing drama at the time. I had just joined the band - we’d played a couple of shows but I wasn’t yet sure if I wanted to leave university. ”The show was called Dragoman. It was rubbish, but it was fun. I played a ringmaster who half way through changed out of his ringmaster outfit and put on a dress, hence the title. It was actually a tight little woolly cardy and short skirt and fishnet tights and I loved it, “he laughs." As reported on duranasty in 2009 and originally published in The Guide [Evening News]


Very old press articles and reviews
 
LOCAL PRESS


"His beautiful rendering of “The Holy City” gained him 92 marks - the highest individual mark of the whole festival."
   

A great review in the local rag, The Post, dated June 9, 1971 | "Simon would seem destined for a theatrical career."
   

The adjudicator of the “Weekly Post” Newspaper Cup competition in the Ruislip and Northwood Music Festival, Mr. Harvey Alan, Hon. R.C.O, was so impressed with the quality of the winner that he asked him to “sing for his supper” and repeat his performance.
Twelve - year - old Simon Le Bon, of *** Avenue, Pinner, [*Ed. street name edited for privacy reasons] was the winner of the coveted trophy and his beautiful rendering of “The Holy City” gained him 92 marks - the highest individual mark of the whole festival.

Simon, who attends Pinner Grammar School, would seem destined for a theatrical career.
His mother, Mrs. Ann Le Bon, is a member of the Harrow Light Opera Company and both her parents had stage and film careers. In fact her father is a tenor with the widely respected Ernest Read Choir.

Much of Simon’s success can be directly attribuited to his mother as it is Mrs. Le Bon who is Simon’s singing teacher.

And as well as winning the “Weekly Post News-papers” Cup, this combination of teacher and pubil have won many other accolades.

In April, Simon was awareded the Richmond Festival Cup for choir boys’ solo, and only last week he was asked to sing at the Watford Festival Prize winners Concert where he won the cup awarded for boys and girls solo class.


Early starter

Eleven-year-old Simon Le Bon has little time for the usual interests of his age. He has discovered that he has a flare for singing and recitation.

When he was aged five Simon who lives at *** in Pinner [street name edited for privacy reasons] studied drama at the Studio School in Pinner.
And then at the age of seven he took part in his first major performance - the Harrow Light Opera Company production of “The King and I.”

Last week he took part in the company’s production at the A.B.C. cinema, Harrow.
Simon, who attends West Lodge School in Pinner, is a member of the Pinner Paris Church Choir and his fine treble voice has won him trophies at music festivals.

Full timetable

Last year he won the poetry section for his age in the Watford Festival. He received a siver trophy at the Richmond Festival for his solo performance and also came first in the poetry section. He also gained first place at Amersham for a solo performance.

Simon finds he has little time for his other interests - football and art - as his time is taken up with drama lessons or choir practice.

He comes from a musical family, his grandmother was one of the first Tiller girls and his mother Mrs. Ann Le Bon studied music for many years.
he says he planss to continue his study of music and drama to continue the family tradition.

Simon hit the headlines in 1970 when the local paper - Midweek Observer & Gazette - discovered his flair for singing and recitation


Click hereto get a larger version scan of the article!
   

Simon Le Bon 14 from Pinner, has been awarded numerous trophies in various festivals, for his singing and acting.


Simon Le Bon, who is fourteen-year-old, at present appearing in one of London’s brightest West End musicals - Tom Brown’s Schooldays” - comes from Pinner.

Simon’s grandmother started her career with John Tiller and seven sisters all in the theatre in the early 1900’s, which has probably contributed to the natural talent and ambition for the stage that Simon has had since the age of five!

Simon has appeared in several amateur productions including the musical “The King and I” when he was 7 and also “Bless The Bride”, with the Harrow Light Opera Company.

He also sings with Pinner Church Choir and has been awarded numerous trophies in various festivals, for his singing and acting.

Simon first professional appearance is in “Tom Brown’s Schooldays”, in which he playsone of the young Tom’s friends at Rugby School.

Along with thousand of other boys, he faced the harrowing experience of an audition and was talented enough to be one of the lucky chosen few.
In his spare time, Simon likes to paint, he is also interested in music and writing poetry and the study of heraldry. [
Harrow Post, July 1972]



The A.B.C. cinema in Harrow


 

duranasty interviews Dougal Rose,
one of Tom Brown's Schooldays boys
 
THEATRE

Dougal Rose is an Actor, Musician, Presentation & Media Coaching, Music Producer
Check out Dougal's work on his webpage www.about.me/dougalrose
   


Simon in front of the Cambridge Theatre, London, where he appeared in Tom Brown’s Schooldays alonside actor Roy Dotrice.

salvo@duranasty.com | How was London and the West End in the early 70s?

Dougal Rose | It was exciting. There were leading shows starting up like Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. London wasn't as clean then as it is now, but it was vibrant. Billboards had photos of Marc Bolan, David Bowie and David Cassidy.

Who where the producers and the director of Tom Brown’s schooldays. There was a theatrical company behind the show or they were all individual artists?

The show was created by Jack & Joan Maitland, directed by Peter Coe who was a well known and respected theatre director, and financed by MAM Management who represented Tom Jones and Englebert Humpledink.
I think this was their first attempt at backing a West End stage show. They spent too much money on the set and, consequently, the show finished two weeks before it's running period because it wasn't making enough profit.


Did you all have to do an audition to get in the cast, was it hard to pass the selections?

We all had to do an ex-factor type audition to show we could sing. I sang 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing'. Then those who were being selected for parts had to read a piece of script too. The London Evening Newspaper reported that about 10,000 boys had been auditioned. I don't know how true this is.

Can you describe a typical day of work at the Cambridge theatre for the Tom Brown’s school days show?

During rehearsals we would work from about 10am to 4pm, learning the songs, dance routines and script. The rehearsals were intensive for about three or four weeks. The main part of the set was a big metal frame with spiral staircases and a bridge to represent the school. It moved electronically and fitted together in sections. So a major part of the final rehearsal days were focused on ensuring the dance routines worked safely with the set.

Did you guys rehearse a lot? Did you all have to follow any singing lessons to improve your technique? Did rehearsal happen at Cambridge theatre or in some other places?

I think the rehearsals were split - initially at The Adelphi [I think], and then at The Cambridge when it became free. We weren't given singing lessons because we were all chosen for our singing and acting ability in the first place, but an American choreographer taught us the dance routines. He was a very brash character who could be humorous when he wanted and equally pick on someone to ridicule if he was in a bad mood, or if people failed to pay attention. We were also given stage fighting lessons for some of the scenes that involved. The opening scene of act two involved us all playing a mock game of rugby, so that took quite a bit of rehearsing!



Above pictures from Dougal's personal scrapbook of memories, Simon doesn't appear in any of his pics but I think they are a nice photo document and give the idea of the joyous atmosphere behind the scenes of the musical. In the picture below instead you can spot Simon, the guy who looks upward in the second row.

"I remember Simon saying he
wanted to be a pop star!"

How was the atmosphere in the theatre in general, among the kids, the adult actors, the production and the crew? Do you have good memories?

Absolutely great memories. For me, it was the best time of my life. I'm sure it would be a good memory for Simon too. We were all 13-16 years old doing something we loved doing. A small fan club started attending regularly and we often signed autographs at the stage door after the show. We dated some of the girls and I found a lifelong friend from the show in Richard Willis, and a number of us are still in touch.

Can you remember the excitement of the day the show started, the day of the premiere?

Not so much, although I know I was nervous. I remember being told the next day that the write ups in the papers could have been better. I have many memories though. We explored the theatre a lot, including sections you shouldn't really go to, like high up above the stage. We made water balloons to throw out the dressing room windows. I remember Simon saying he wanted to be a pop star!

It was a resident show, always at Cambridge theatre, how many shows you did in all, can you remember?

It was only ever created to run during the summer holidays at The Cambridge. It might have moved on from their if it had been popular enough, but although it was successful, ticket sales were lagging towards the end because of a hot summer and M.A.M. had over spent on the set.

About the Tom Brown's Schooldays 12" vinyl soundtrack album… it was released by Decca in 1972. According to our files the album was done at the Decca Recording Studio, near Charlton Athletic football ground [The Valley] in London.

Can you confirm and share some memories of the days you guys recorded the tracks?

Yes, you are correct. It was all recorded in one day in an enormous studio to fit in the orchestra and artists all at once. Very quick without much time for any re-takes. They added some extra singers for some of the tracks, which was a mistake because they didn't really add anything in my view.

What's the fondest memory you have of Simon Le Bon and the kids “working” with you in general?

Just the great great fun we had and comradeship. We were living the dream - in London - during a great summer, and we did make the most of it.

Since it was a musical, did the “Boys of Rugby” had to dance too or just sing?

As said above. The dancing was mainly marching around in unison!

Was is all live singing on the pre-recorded music or even the music was live?

The whole lot was played and recorded live.

There was a stage-microphone to amplify the artist’s voice?

Yes. In those days there were mics along the front of the stage and, I think, above too.

Can you remember any funny anecdotes happened during the show or rehearsal?

Three of the boys fell through a door and knocked part of the stage over during a scene in the headmasters study. Roy Dotrice was very quick to ad lib "nice of you boys to drop in"!

Tom's Brown - Boys main costume design drawing

Were you guys all friends? There were also some pretty girls acting in the show, any love-stories born behind the scene of the show?

We were all mates. Some of us became something of a dating ring. I don't remember Simon being part of that. But I dated two of the girls, and I also dated Lesley Ash who had become a fan of the show.

You guys became quite popular among the kids that year, the show soon got attention from the teen press, you said “we couldn't believe that we actually had to sign autographs on leaving the theatre”… what kind of impact had on you that fame?

It was just nice and helped with a level of confidence. Acting for me became rather up and down - periods of highs when it got you noticed, followed by lows when you weren't. I don't think that was a good thing for me eventually.

Do you still have the school scene-outfit? Was it comfortable?

No. The outfits were horrible. Really scratchy. I hated waring the trousers particularly.

During the weeks the show was on in the West End you were the London sensation, the press loved you… you were even called by a newspaper [which one?] for a photo shoot with Charlie George who was one of the top football players of the time with Arsenal. Can you share some memories of that day meeting the football star?

I'm pretty sure the Charlie George photo was in The Sun. He simply came to the theatre to be interviewed and we were all asked to join him for the photo. So we would have been told about it the day before. The photo shoot only took 15 minutes or so, but we were excited because Charlie George was kind of the David Beckham of the day.



click here to get a larger version of the above article

The stage setting, was metal and came on stage mechanically in three or four stages. It was big and high [at the very top] with spiral staircases going up each side, looking a bit like a prison. It was an expensive set for the time. Wasn’t a bit dangerous for you kids to stay up there?

It was a bit on the flimsy side and, in fact, there had been an original plan for boys to march across a bridge that ran across the top from one side of the set to the other. It was decided that the bridge might not cope with this night after night. I remember a couple of people refusing to do it anyway for fear of the height. I think one of them was Russell Grant.

Did you guys kept in touch during the Summer of 1972 and/or over the years?

Many of us went to the same stage school, so we were in touch for a few years after. Richard Willis and I remained lifelong friends, and I'm in touch with others through Facebook.

What did you think when you first saw Simon on TV singing “Bop Bop Bop Bop Bop Bop Bop… this is Planet Earth”, Duran Duran’s debut single, back in 1981, and saw him on cover of teen magazines such as “Jackie” and “My Guy”? Were you impressed?

I didn't realise it was him until 'Girls On Film'. Stupidly, I was at Top of The Pops when they did that song, but never thought to go and say hello.

You are a polyhedral person: actor, musician, you work on presentation & media coaching but also on music Production. What’s your favourite activity?

Performing music and recording. I love the process of making a recording, and I love performing in bands too.

You had your own pop-rock band in the 70s, Radar, can you tell us something about that time of your life? Where can we listen some of your music?

There are Radar tracks on YouTube placed on there by me. It was a great time. Three of us just wrote music and recorded our songs on to cassette and pretended to be pop stars. Radar never made it as a band, but I made other recordings produced by Herbie Flowers [who was with T.Rex at the time] and with Alan Merrill from The Arrows, who wrote 'I Love Rock n Roll'.

Did you ever attend a Duran Duran concert and what’s your favourite Duran song?

No, never, I liked Girls on Film best.

Last but not least, last year was the 40th anniversary of the show, you didn’t celebrate it… Would you be up for a Tom Brown’s schooldays Reunion for it’s 45th anniversary in 2017?

Absolutely!


Below some Tom Brown's schooldays memorabilia: the programme, the flyer, Simon's mention in the programme in the "Other Boys of Rugby", the cd and the original vinyl of the musical.
   

 

Back in 2007 I asked a question to Simon, through the official website, about his partecipation to the Tom Brown's Schooldays recording, he was kind enough to answer the question. I think it's worth posting it in this context:

March 26th, 2007

Hi Simon, I recently got a 33" vinyl produced by Decca Records in 1972 called “Tom Brown’s Schooldays, original London cast recording”. I did remember you were in the cast in fact you are mentioned in the back cover under the “Other Boys of Rugby”, which i assume was a choir. So, the question is, can you still rember in which of the 9 songs included in the soundtrack you actually performed as part of a choir? There are 3 songs credited to “The Boys of Rugby School” and no mention to the “Other Boys of Rugby.”

The songs are:

 

  • Head Up/In The Swim
  • Have A Try
  • A Boy’s Point Of View

 

Can you please clarify if you actually did some recordings for any of these songs [even if only in the choir]) or if your name is there only because you were part of the acting cast? It would be nice also to hear some of your memories of the whole theatre acting experience. Thank you so much! take care. Salvo in Italy

“Dear Salvo, I was a performing member of the cast in T.B.’sS.days on stage at London’s Cambridge Theatre for 60 days – that was the limit for a child aged 13 years old. Towards the end of that run the entire cast spent the day at Decca Recording Studio somewhere near Charlton Athletic F.C.’s home ground – “The Valley”. We made the record which you’ve just obtained. I actually have a solo line on the song “In The Swim” which is “swing the right kind of bat”.

It was a wonderful time of my life, a great experience of
independence which gave me a bucketload of confidence.
whooosh, s”

"It was a wonderful time of my life,
a great experience of
independence which gave me a bucketload of confidence."
Simon Le Bon, March 2007

The album was released on cd on january 16th, 2006. It's now available on amazon.co.uk

Product Description
The story of dear little Tom Brown and his troublesome boyhood at Rugby School has endured many adaptations, but none as invigorating as this 1972 London musical. Chris Andrews’ music for this spectacular, innocent and unpretentiously entertaining show is zestful and appealing, moving from sentimental to jolly to heart-rending in the switch of a schoolmaster’s cane. Here at last, in gloriously roomy Decca sound, we can relish the love affair at Rugby School between the upright (or should that be uptight?) Dr Arnold (Roy Dotrice) and his doting Matron, sung by the wonderfully torch-singing Judith Bruce. You can hear Dr Arnold ask the perhaps worrying question ‘What is a man?’ (he is supposed to be running a boys’ school, for goodness sake), and you can share in his shimmering ‘Vision of Youth’. A big show with a generous score.
With: Roy Dotrice, Judith Bruce, Leon Greene, Adam Walton



duranasty interviews Director Mr Turvey,
the man behind Simon's early steps into singing
 
CHOIR BOY

 


Above a recent picture of Mr.Turvey,
On the right a picture of the Director sitting at the organ in the Pinner church, the same organ used to practice with the choir and also used to perfom on Simon's recording.

 

Director of Music Michae Turvey | Michael's first organist post t was at the age of 15 near Lavenham, in Suffolk. He eventually arrived in Pinner in 1963 whilst still a student, and has stayed ever since! In 1965, the Pinner Music Festival was inaugurated and has continued under Michael's direction. The Festival has raised well over £60,000 for charities in that time and has given many local musicians a performing platform.
In 2005, Michael was awarded an MBE for services to music and the community of Pinner and a London Borough of Harrow 50th Anniversary Award for generous and unstinting public service. In May 2008, Michael was also made a Honorary Member of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in recognition to his work with the RSCM within the London area.

salvo@duranasty.com | Simon joined the local church choir - St John's in Pinner High Street- in the late 60/early 70s and used to choir practice with you, who were the church organist at that time. According to his mother Anne Le Bon, a former singer, Simon went to your lessons twice during the week and twice on Sundays. Do you have any memories of those lessons, where they individual or group lessons with the entire choir? How much time the lessons would last?

Mr. Turvey: Simon joined the choir on 9th December 1968 and left in April 1972. His singing with me was in the boys section of Pinner Parish Church choir. Every week, on a Tuesday there was a boys only practice for 1 hour, [as there still is], and on a Friday – boys for one and a half hours – joined by the adults for 1 hour, and 2 Sunday services, plus a considerable number of weddings on a Saturday. The boys were rehearsed in a group, but also had individual progress tests once a month.

 

"As the record demonstrates,
he had an excellent ‘quality’ voice as a boy"
 

An old postcard from the 60s of the Pinner Paris Church.

 

What memories do you have of Simon as a little boy? Was he an extrovert or a reflective and introvert boy? Did you have a good relastionship with him?

Mr. Turvey: We always had a good relationship – Simon was an outward going boy – much helped by his drama work which his mother was very keen on. As the record demonstrates, he had an excellent ‘quality’ voice as a boy.

Did you notice in him a particular determination to succeed in singing compared to other choir boys of his age?

Mr. Turvey: Simon was very much like the other boys in the choir – obviously enjoyed singing.

Simon recorded his his first record with you, he was about 13 and the local recording company came along and recorded four songs [please confirm the titles]:
Ave Verum, He Shall Feed His Flock, O, Taste And See, O, For The Wings Of A Dove.

Mr. Turvey: I can confirm that these were the [only] pieces performed and recorded.

We always had a good relationship – Simon was an outward going boy
 

Can you remember how the idea to make a record started? Was your/Simon and his mother's idea or the record company just offered you both the job because they heard some of your choir performances and liked it?

Mr. Turvey: I am fairly certain the recording process began with his mother’s enthusiasm and support.

Who chose the songs, you or the company? Did you play some other songs for the record that ended up not being used?

Mr. Turvey: I think I chose ‘O for the wings’, ‘O taste and see’ and ‘He shall feed his flock’, either Simon or his mother chose ‘Ave verum’.

Do you have any memories of that specific recording day? Was the recording done in the church or in the studio? Did you have to re-do the song more than once to get the best result or you got them good at first/second take?

Mr. Turvey: Most of the recording was done in one take – in the Lady Chapel of the church – the organ was positioned in the Lady Chapel at that time.

Was that your first professional recording experience? Where you and Simon tense for the recording session and what were the expectation for that record?

Mr. Turvey: No, it was not my first experience of recording and the atmosphere was very relaxed. As far I was aware it was a recording purely for family use.

Can you remember what the record company had in mind, just a local distribution or a wide release?

Mr. Turvey: Probably it was for nothing other than local distribution.

Were you paid for that recording? It would be funny if you could remember how much.

Mr. Turvey: No money came my way!

Were you happy about the final result of the recording?

Mr. Turvey: Yes – for a first take is was very good


 

A view of the interior of the Pinner Paris church, it's a postcard from the 60s


 

Do you know why the record wasn't actually released to the public?

Mr. Turvey: We tried to get publicity and usage of this record for church purposes, but Simon was under contract to I believe Decca at the time and it was not allowed.


Q: What would you say to him on the day of his 55th birthday?

‘Well done mate’ – see if can keep it up as long as I’ve been fortunate to.

 

Do you have any nice or funny anecdote or story about Simon as a kid that you'd like to share with our readers?

Mr. Turvey: Nothing particular to tell – he was one of a group of 18 – 20 boys.

Can you remember until what age Simon came to your choir practice? Did you completely lost contact with him after his phase in the church choir or you saw him after joining the pop band Duran Duran?

Mr. Turvey: Simon sang with me until he was thirteen and a half when his voice started to change. I’ve seen Simon a couple of times over the years – he came to his brother’s wedding in Pinner, and he often used to call into the church when visiting his mother – signed the visitor’s book once.

Can you remember the day and the feelings when you realised that the singer of that pop band on tv was 'your' Simon from Pinner?

Mr. Turvey: I have no particular memories of this time – I was contacted by various popular music magazines and teenage publications of the time and even had young ladies from as far away as Italy ‘camping’ in my porch seeking memorabilia like a ruff he might have worn as a choirboy!



Is the organ that you used to play with Simon and the other kids back in the days still there in the Pinner Parisan church?

Mr. Turvey: There is still a pipe organ in the church – but in a more usable position and more modern. It was rebuilt and repositioned in 1975.

You have spent all of your working life in education and for most of the time you have been Head of Music in a large North London Comprehensive School where many students proceeded into a full-time career in the music profession.

 

What is the main difference between today's kids and those who have trained at the beginning of your career?

Mr. Turvey: There is not much difference in youngsters now and then – it is the world around them and the expectations laid on them at a much earlier age by examinations and electronics which has changed. The chance of an easy going childhood is much rarer.

You have been awarded an MBE for services to music and the community and for generous and unstinting public service.

In May 2008, you were also made a Honorary Member of the Royal School of Church Music.

Simon has made a career of singing and is one of the most awarded singers in the pop-music scene. He sang alongside Pavarotti, won an Ivor Novello for his lyrics and is involved in many charitable activities.

Does that makes you feel proud a little bit? What would you say to him if you'd meet him today, on the day of his 55th birthday?

‘Well done mate’ – see if can keep it up as long as I’ve been fortunate to. Pity you couldn’t come to my 50th anniversary bash last year.

 

Special thanks to Mr M. Turvey, Dougal Rose, Geoff Barr and Geoff Hudson at the Pinner Old Students Association, Perry Clayton for the First Impression unseen picture. Without you all this page wouldn't have been so rich!

Thanks also to Graham Spinks for the King and I programme and the Choir-Boy record pics, to Ashley Rene for some transcriptions and to all the mags and newspapers that I have collected over the years, an incredible source of information and valuable archive material.

 

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