Thursday, 12 April 2012

Bernard Holley Remembers Heartbreak Hotel

Bernard Holley (right) pictured with Joan Sanderson
in an episode of Please Sir! (1972)
I was pleased by the responses I received on Twitter last weekend when I asked a collection of people I follow or indeed those who follow me to share what was the first record they purchased. The choices were varied from the 1950s to the 1990s and hopefully raise good memories or a smile for all that participated. 

It was particularly interesting to hear from the actor Bernard Holley (PC Newcombe from Z Cars, Axos in Doctor Who as well as recent roles in A Touch of Frost and Holby City to name a few) who shared a glimpse into his first record purchase. A record as it resulted which would change the history of music. 

Bernard takes up the story: 
"I was about 16 years old and just managing to listen to Radio Luxembourg on my parents creaking old set (probably worth a fortune now) and they played samples of the latest 'Rock n'Roll' which to my young ears was wonderful stuff but hated by the stuffy establishment. I went to school in Kilburn and in the local record shop that I frequented the owner, who I knew well, give me a record one day telling me that it was a demo disc and that it was a load of incomprehensible rubbish. 
Intrigued I took it home and was knocked out by the voice, power and the rhythm of Mr. Presley singing Heartbreak Hotel. The only problem was I couldn't understand a word he was singing! I played that record over and over and over and over again writing down the lyrics as I deciphered them. 
All this happened about two months before the record was released over here. I played the record to all my music mad friends and they all loved it too. So I reckon I was one of the first people in the UK to hear Elvis and for years I claimed I was partly responsible for his British success. 
The record shop owner sold me for the disc for one shilling (5p) and I so wish I had kept it, probably priceless now!"
One of Bernard Holley's most celebrated roles as Axos
in the 1971 Doctor Who story: The Claws of Axos
Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel entered the Billboard 100 in the US in March 1956 reaching the coveted No.1 position the following month. It was released in the UK in May that year and reached No.2 in the British chart in June, ultimately staying on the British chart for 22 weeks. Elvis had arrived!

Bernard continues: 
"I have to say that I was very surprised at the subsequent success of Elvis as I thought that me and the mates were the only fans!  When my wife was in her late teens she bought an early Elvis LP and it is the only memento of those early rock and roll years. 
It's pretty battered but you may like to look at the attached photo of the cover.  It includes all his early hits Blue Suede Shoes, Money Honey etc but sadly not Heartbreak Hotel."
The Holley's well-loved Elvis album from 1956 -
with thanks to Bernard Holley
Thanks to Bernard Holley for taking time out to share his memories about Heartbreak Hotel. You can find out more about Bernard, his career and his current work by visiting Bernard Holley's official website.

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