Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

American Road Trip Part Two – Memphis

Hello again. After a brilliant two days in Nashville. It was time to climb in to the trusty black Ford Fiesta, set the GPS and head to Memphis. It should have been a fairly simple two hour drive. But there was an accident on the interstate. Which caused massive delays and meant the journey took about five hours in the end.

I was getting used to driving on the two or three lane interstate roads. But once you hit the City. There are five lanes, traffic flying everywhere and you need to be in the right lane. I was still finding this pretty terrifying. So I was actually quite relieved when I turned on to Elvis Presley Boulevard and saw the hotel ahead of us on the left.

The Guest House at Graceland
The Guest House at Graceland

I am a big Elvis fan. I will often spend whole evenings listening to his music and watching live performances of his amazing stage show’s. I am friends with a couple of brilliant Elvis Impersonators. Who I have seen perform and enjoyed countless times. Therefore the main point of going to Memphis was to see Graceland. Which for me meant the only place to stay was The Guest House At Graceland.

The Guest House at Graceland
The Guest House at Graceland

The hotel opened a few years ago. It was built and designed by the people from Graceland. Even Priscilla Presley had some input in to styling the place. So it had the feel of Elvis about it. It looks a very impressive sight. When you pull in to the car park. There are a few nods to the actual house. The familiar looking pillars by the main entrance. And the steps between level two and the ground floor. Which are a replica of the staircase in “The King’s” home.

The Guest House at Graceland
The Guest House at Graceland

There are also lots of other nice touches. Like the great man’s music playing everywhere you go. A picture depicting him in each room. A dedicated TV channel. Even down to the naming of the restaurants, the design of the furniture. And the fact that Elvis liked more than one shower head in his showers. Let me tell you the double headed showers in the bathrooms are amazing. I now really want one at home.

The Guest House at Graceland
The Guest House at Graceland

After the long drive I was pretty tired. So we thought we would just have a relaxing evening at the hotel. Mainly because I had already pre-booked a Graceland Tour for the following day. While I was still in England. I wanted be fresh for that. And I was too excited to want to do anything else. There are lots of services provided by the hotel. Which means for food and entertainment, you do not need to go out at all.

That first evening we ate at EP’s Diner. Which is, as it sounds just a traditional American Diner. The whole menu looked great. But one thing stood out for me. I had to try the Memphis Burger, because it sounded amazing. And I can confirm that it was. The size of the thing and the portion of accompanying fries were epic. I know it is cliched but the American’s do really love their food. A great meal with ace service.

They have a movie theatre on site. Which shows an Elvis film every night. While we were staying there and waiting to see his house. We thought it was only fitting to catch that night’s film. Which was Blue Hawaii. We even managed to get hold of some popcorn. Thanks to a very kind lady. Who was only meant to be giving it to the children.

It has the song “Can’t Help Falling In Love” in it. Elvis often used to close his concerts with this. And as he never did an encore. Would often be in his car driving away from the venue before his band had finished playing it. Hence the announcement “Elvis has now left the building”. At the end of his gigs.

The Guest House at Graceland
The Guest House at Graceland

Every night they also have live music in the bar area. Once the film had ended. We went and enjoyed that. As you can imagine they only select great acts to play there. So the bloke singing was brilliant. As in Nashville, it is still very hot at night in Memphis. They have a nice garden area. That over looks the outdoor pool and hot tub. I ended the night enjoying a glass of red wine in the heat. Taking in the view. Which was extremely relaxing.

The next day I leapt out of bed and jumped right in the two headed shower to get myself ready to visit Graceland. The focal point of the whole trip for me. And the thing that I had been looking forward to the most.

As this was probably a once in a life time chance to do this, I went big. I booked the Ultimate VIP Tour. Which as previously mentioned. I was very excited about. Although it is only about a seven minute walk from the Guest House to Graceland itself. We decided to take the free shuttle bus from the hotel straight there.

Graceland
Graceland

You get taken to the Visitor Centre at first. I found the desk where I needed to sign in for my tour. Collected my pass. And was told where I needed to be at what time ready to start it. There is a maximum of eight people on the Ultimate VIP Tour. And you get a tour guide, who will be with you for a total of four hours.

Right on time Sheila our tour guide appeared. And we were off. We were going straight to the house itself first. There is a bus that takes you across the road from the visitor centre to the famous building. It was a brilliant moment when those iconic gates opened inwards and we drove up the drive way.

Graceland
Graceland

The first thing that struck me approaching the house is that it was dressed for Christmas. And there was fake snow on the ground. It turns out that they are currently filming a “Graceland at Christmas” programme for the Hallmark Channel. Which they are doing during the evenings and night. When the attraction is closed to the public.

Graceland
Graceland

Then before I knew it. I was standing by those imposing white pillars and making my way through Elvis’s front door. The doors are all left open but all the rooms are roped off. Members of the public are not allowed upstairs. But you can see the famous staircase and look in pretty much all the other rooms. Each of the rooms is so individual and has its own look and feel. Elvis himself was heavily involved with the design of every room. It was very much his home.

Graceland
Graceland

He had everything you would want in a house. A music room, games room, television room, bar area and that cool, odd enchanting room. That is the Jungle Room. Although Elvis never called it that himself. It was influenced by Hawaii. As he loved it there and wanted to style the room around the Island. It was only after the press saw it. That they christened it the Jungle Room. It really does have a cool vibe to it. I would say it was probably my favourite room in the house.

Graceland
Graceland

I mentioned the TV room. Elvis loved his phones and TV’s. He had one in every room and in most of his cars. In the TV room there are several televisions in a row. He got the idea after seeing a clip of the then President. At home watching many different news programmes at the same time.

Except Elvis used his bank of them to watch lots of different American Football games at the same time. He liked his NFL. Graceland had its own touch football team. Which he made himself the Quarter back of. Well nobody was going to argue were they? It was his team. Plus he was an eighth Dan Black Belt in two separate martial arts.

Graceland
Graceland

It was odd but amazing being in his house. Getting a feel of how he relaxed in his free time and lived. We left the main house and went through the Car Port to an outhouse. Which was his dad Vernon’s office.

When Elvis bought Graceland he moved in with his mum, dad and auntie. I get the impression there were always lots of people at home with him. Vernon used to pay all the bills. And look after the financial side of home life from his office. It is also the place where Elvis did his first television interview after he left the army.

Graceland
Graceland

Next to the office. There is the smoke house. Elvis turned it in to a shooting range. He did like his fire arms and had several hand guns. As you head out from there you see his paddock. Where he kept the horses he rode. There is another building back towards the house where he used to keep his concert outfits and gold discs. This is now used as a mini museum containing some memories of his life.

Graceland
Graceland

You walk out of that room past the swimming pool. Then as you continue up the path. You come to the Memorial Garden. Where he is buried alongside his mum, dad and auntie. They is also a plaque for his stillborn twin brother. It is really a poignant and reflective place. It was strange seeing his gravestone. But lovely that he is still at the home. Where he enjoyed some of his happiest times. I had a nice quiet moment there by myself before moving on.

Graceland
Graceland

We then returned to the front of the house to get the bus back to the visitor centre. We were then taken around his car museum. He did like his motors and owned some very impressive vehicles. From here we moved on to his concert year’s section. With many of those famous jump suits out on display.

Graceland
Graceland

There is currently an exhibition there called inspired by Elvis. Which features items from singers. He either influenced with his music or with his style. These include Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holly and Justin Timberlake to mention just a few. There are so many cool items to look at right the way through the place.

Graceland
Graceland

One of the extra things you get on the Ultimate VIP Tour. Is to actually hold something that belonged to Elvis. At the end of the tour. We were taken to a private area. We were each given a pair of white cotton gloves to wear. And then we got to hold and have our picture taken with one of his own personal microphones. Which I have to be honest was pretty awesome.

Graceland
Graceland

This was where we said goodbye to our excellent guide Shelia. Next we claimed our free lunch at Vernon’s Place. Luckily by this point we had made friends with an American guy called Chance. As eating at fast food places in the States. Can be a mine field. Unless you have somebody to talk you through ordering sides to go with your main. With his help we managed it. I must say the pulled pork and BBQ sauce in this place was sensational.

Graceland
Graceland

The package we bought meant that we had access to the whole site all day. After lunch we went back and looked through a few more of the exhibits that we had missed. Including taking a look at his plane display. He had two. A Boeing Jet which he named Lisa Marie after his daughter. Which was fantastic. It had a dressing room, a dining table, a bathroom. Elvis even had his own bedroom on it. I would love to travel everywhere in that plane. So cool.

He also owned a smaller jet. He used the Lisa Marie when on tour. And tended to use the smaller one for personal use during his down time. When he was doing big tours in America. His manager Colonel Parker would normally fly ahead in the jet to set up the next venue. Then Elvis and the rest of the band would follow on later aboard the Lisa Marie. You do get to step on and look around both of the planes.

Graceland
Graceland

We then went back over the road to have our second look around the house. This time on our own. This meant we could spend a little more time in each room and take a few more pictures. And drink in a bit more of the atmosphere. Now that we were more familiar with the place. I am glad we went back to go round again. It gave me the chance to fully appreciate it a bit more the second time.

Graceland
Graceland

The gates to the house close at six in the evening everyday. By the time I had spent far too much money in the gift shops. I would like to say buying presents. (But it was mostly on stuff for me). It had gone past the daily closing time.

Which meant with the gates now shut. We could hop back over the road and get some pictures of ourselves in front of them. The wall outside has been signed by many of people who have visited. Sadly this was the one time that I did not have a Sharpie on me. So I could not add my name to it.

Graceland
Graceland

As we only had a few nights in every place. Time was at a premium. So after a long day at Graceland. It was back to the hotel. To get ready to have a night out on the famous Beale Street of Memphis. This is the main street. It is full of bars and restaurants. All with live bands continuously playing. We got a free shuttle bus from the hotel and arrived there just after eight. It was already busy and happening with lots going on.

Beale Street
Beale Street

We met our friend from earlier Chance in the Hard Rock Cafe. As we walked in. There was a college band performing. They were all only about eighteen. It was a big ten piece band, plus the singers. They sounded amazing. There is a lot of musical talent in the States. We left there to grab a quick snack in a burger joint.

Then we found this bar with a brilliant live band. Who were playing a really varied and wide range of music. We stopped in there for a few drinks. I do like to try and sample some of the local ales. When I am in a new place. I did try the Memphis Beer. But I will be honest it was not to my particular taste.

Beale Street is a cool place. Which has a fun, musical vibe to it. Like Broadway in Nashville. There is live music all day. Plus bright neon lights above the bars. To try and lure you in. Memphis is known as the Home of The Blues. So we thought it fitting to finish the night under a sign declaring this. Before we got the bus back to The Graceland Guest House.

Beale Street
Beale Street

We had one day left in Memphis. And a lot of things left that we still wanted to do. The first one of these was a trip to the famous Sun Studio. Where Elvis wandered in off the street to make his first ever recording. Again there was handily a free shuttle bus to take us to it. So we hopped aboard that.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

There were quite a lot of people at Sun Studio. But we managed to get ourselves on to the next tour. It is not a massive place. The whole tour only takes you in four different rooms. The first one has some items tracing the history of Sun. Through the years. It was started and run by a man called Sam Phillips. With the intention of recording Blues singers. But to make extra money. Anyone could come in off the street. Pay their cash and cut a record.

One morning Elvis did just that. He said that he wanted to record a song for his mum’s birthday. Now he was either very organised or telling a little white lie. As her birthday was two months before he appeared at Sun. It is now thought, he wanted to hear a recording of himself to see how he sounded. But was too shy to admit that. So he just pretended he was doing it for her.

When he went in that day Sam Philips was not there. His assistant and partner Marion Keisker did the recording. They always used to give the customer a copy and keep the original. So a very happy Elvis walked away with his record. And then Marion left Sun’s “copy” for Sam Phillips to listen to. With a note attached saying “Great Ballad Singer”.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

Sam did not like ballads at all and they were not what he wanted to record. So he did not listen to the Elvis recording. It took her about a year just to convince him to listen to it. When he did he called young Presley back in. That is when they recorded “That’s All Right Mama”. And as they say the rest is history.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

A very special part of the Sun Studio Tour. Is when you step in to the actual recording room itself. As well as Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and U2 have recorded there. In fact U2 left a drum kit there in 1987. They said they would come back for it. But it is still there.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

They have the original mic there. That would have been used by Elvis and all the other greats. Which they let you have a picture with. It is an exciting end to a brilliant tour. If you are a music fan. It is yet again another magical place to visit.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

Apparently Bob Dylan came to visit once. He walked in to the recording studio. He did not say a word to anyone. He just kneeled down, kissed the floor. Then got up and walked straight back out again. It is still used as a studio today. Lots of bands and singers record there in the evenings and during the nights.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

We then had a quick look around the Memphis Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Which contained items belonging to some of the Cities best known singers. Last year I saw a very special Stax Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Which was top quality. Therefore, while in Memphis. I had to see the Stax Museum.

Stax Prom Royal Albert Hall
Stax Prom Royal Albert Hall

It is on the site of the original recording studio. They produced soul greats like Booker T and the MG’s, Ike & Tina Turner, Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes. Or if you only know his later work Chef from the cartoon South Park. It has once again got great history and stories attached to it. It came from nowhere was successful made some money. Then ultimately disappeared. But in the meantime it was responsible for giving us a lot of great music to enjoy.

Stax Museum
Stax Museum

There was one more place that we just had to visit. While we were in Memphis. That was the Civil Rights Museum. It was a very popular place. We had to queue for an hour to get in. It was worth it. It is quite heavy, upsetting and in many respects a bit of a depressing look at humanity or rather the lack of it over the years. I am glad I took the time to see it, though.

It is on the site of what was the Lorraine Motel. Which is the spot where Martin Luther King was shot on 4th April 1968. They have an exhibit showing the final two rooms at the Motel that he was in. You can also from the outside of the museum. See the balcony where he was murdered. The exact place is marked with a reef. It is quite a poignant and reflective place.

The Lorraine Motel
The Lorraine Motel

The final day in Memphis was pretty full on to say the least. But I was still desperate to get some time just relaxing by the pool at the hotel. Which I managed to do at about seven o’clock. It was still lovely and warm. I had a nice swim and float in the water. Before enjoying the benefits of an out door hot tub. Which after a long day on my feet, was a nice treat.

It was while around the pool. We got chatting to a fellow guest. Who told us the singer turned priest Al Green had a church in Memphis. Just a few blocks from the hotel. And that he was taking a service there at eleven thirty the next morning.

It was rumoured that he sang a few of his hits. And was very happy to chat to everybody at the end. As much as we would have liked to go. We had a five and an half hour drive the next day. So we needed to already be on the road by that time. It was a shame to have to miss that though.

It was Saturday Night. And at the Guest House. That means it is Movie on the lawn night. They drag out a big TV and put an Elvis film on. As we were shattered from our very busy day. That seemed like a fitting way to end it. We grabbed a seat on the grass. Then watched Viva Las Vegas. As the darkness fell. The perfect way to end an Elvis inspired couple of days.

The Guest House at Graceland
The Guest House at Graceland

After a traditional American breakfast of pancakes, syrup and berries. It was time leave Memphis. And make the long trip down to New Orleans. I will tell you all about that in the next instalment. Cheers Neil

American Road Trip Part One -Nashville

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you are well and have been enjoying the nice weather. I have just returned from an amazing holiday. To an area of America. That I have been wanting to visit for sometime. I am a massive fan of music in general. But I am also a person who very much  enjoys Country and Western Music. Which is why the home of it, Nashville was the first main location on my American adventure.

Nashville
Nashville

It started at Heathrow Airport. From where I flew Delta Airlines to Atlanta. I think they were trying to prepare us for the States. As they just seemed to keep bringing out food. Almost constantly, it seemed. I think I must have had at least two meals plus the same number of snacks. It was that and the countless episodes of The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory that I watched. Which helped me through the eight and an half hour flight.

Atlanta is five hours behind the United Kingdom. Therefore despite leaving England at around Midday. We touched down at just gone four o’clock. I had hired a car to get around. I picked it up from one of the many hire companies at the airport. After I had signed the paper work. They gave me a whole row of vehicles to choose from. I chose a Ford Feista. As I have driven them a lot over the years, it is a car that I am familiar with. Which I thought might help.

My American Wheels
My American Wheels

Their motors are all left hand drive but thankfully I had ordered an automatic. So that took the confusion of having to change gear with my right hand out of the equation. We collected the GPS devise. We had sensibly requested. Then headed off for my first taste of driving in America. Remembering to stay on the right hand side of the road. We made our way to our first overnight stop. Which was a hotel two hours from the airport in Chattanooga.

I went on this trip with my friend Kayleigh. It had been a long day travelling. Therefore we were delighted just to get to the hotel and get some sleep. We got up fairly early in the morning. Ready to grab a bit of breakfast. Then head to our first proper stop, Nashville. We could see a Waffle House sign right near the hotel. The plan was to go there. But despite getting directions from the receptionist. We could not get to it and just ended up going round in circles.

Nashville
Nashville

In the end we spotted a burger bar called Krystal, so we decided to go in there. We later found out that it was actually Elvis Presley’s fast food chain of choice. They did a breakfast menu. I chose my meal and asked for a tea. That is my hot drink of choice for all occasions. So for me it was the obvious thing to request.

On ordering this the server gives me a paper cup. And I thought she said “you get your ice over there” and she pointed to the corner. But then I thought I do not need ice for a cuppa. I must of misheard. Then she says it again. But rather than question it or ask her about it. I just did the most British thing ever.

Not wanting to cause a fuss. I just put the ice in my cup. I then go back to her with it. She asks if I want sweet or unsweetened. I am thinking at last we are getting somewhere. I am back on track. I like my tea with sugar. It was not until she handed it over that I realised tea over there is in fact iced tea.

I drunk it and it was actually not to bad. The meal was nice. Although the breakfast roll came in what they call biscuit. Which is basically a sweet scone. Which gives your burger a slightly different taste. I got chatting to her and she told me at the last restaurant she worked at. An Englishman used to come in everyday for his breakfast. After a while she got talking to him and found out he was a famous singer back home in the UK. It was none other than Adam Ant.

We finally set off for Nashville. Which was about a two hour drive. We checked in to the hotel there. Then went straight back out to explore the place. This meant hopping in a taxi for a twenty minute ride across the city to the World Famous Grand Ole Opry.

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

It is a County and Western music concert venue. Where the weekly radio show of the same name comes from. It started in November 1925. It has been going ever since. Anybody who is anybody in the world of Country Music has appeared on the programme and on the stage there.

We took a tour of it. Which was fascinating. We were told about its history. We saw the artists entrance. The changing rooms. The TV studio there were the Nashville television series is filmed. Plus we got to walk out on to that iconic stage. The venue is not the original one. As its popularity started to grow and grow it moved to a couple of different places in and around the city. Before finding its current home at the Ryman Auditorium back in 1943.

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

On the stage right where the singers perform. There is a circular piece of wood, set in the stage. It has been taken and carefully preserved from the first theatre that the show was broadcast. Therefore every singer, who has ever performed throughout its entire history. Has stood on the same bit of special timber. I was happy to be able to get a picture stood on it. While holding a microphone, as part of the tour.

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

As a nod to regular guests and to Country Music greatness. There is an invited Grand Ole Opry Members list. Which reads like a who’s who of amazing singers. They normally induct only one or two new members a year. On the night they are inducted. They get a special “Welcome to the Family” dressing room and close the radio show with a twenty minute headline slot.

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

It is a beautiful venue. I really enjoyed looking round. You can feel the history and the aura of it. It was just a shame that on the nights we were there. That the radio show was not on. I would have loved to have watched that live from the audience. Never mind, may be next time.

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

A five minute taxi ride away from the Grand Ole Opry. There was a little museum. That I was desperate to visit, while I was there. It is called Cooter’s Place. Which was also the name of the garage in one of my favourite American televisions show’s. When I was a kid, The Dukes of Hazzard. This is not just a coincidence as this shrine to this brilliant programme is owned by Ben Jones. Who actually played the mechanic and friend of the “Dukes” Cooter.

Cooter's
Cooter’s

It is filled with lots of memorabilia including signed photos, scripts, props, toys, card board cut outs of the stars and more. The best thing about it. Is that it has one of the Police Cars, Cooter’s Car and Truck, Daisy’s Jeep and one of the actual General Lee’s used in the show.

When I was about eight or nine me and my sister used to play in my parents car pretending we were the Dukes of Hazzard. Including climbing in and out of the windows. I think I once may have put a slight dent in my dad’s motor by trying to slide across the bonnet.

While you are there they offer you the chance to have your picture taken in the General Lee. This was one opportunity I was not going to miss. I think you can see from my smile in the picture. How much I was enjoying it.

General Lee
General Lee

I absolutely loved it. I had to treat myself to A Good Ol Boy’s T-shirt. Which I will regularly be wearing with pride. Three days before I was there Catherine Bach who played Daisy was there. I must confess I am a little gutted to have missed that.

Hall Of Fame
Hall Of Fame

An activity I had already booked in advance was a combined trip to The County and Western Music Hall of Fame and the famous Studio B in Nashville. This is how we spent day two there. First up it was the Hall a Fame.

They had a special Loretta Lynn exhibition. Which was fascinating. It told her life story with lots of artefacts from both her life and career. Including guitars, outfits and awards. Every country music singer or musician that you can think of has something of theirs on display there. It is a huge place spread over three massive floors.

Hall Of Fame
Hall Of Fame

There is so much to see. That after two hours we were only about half way round. We had to take a break to go on our scheduled tour of Studio B. There is a tour bus that takes you there and back from outside the Hall of Fame. You are accompanied by a guide. Studio B was owned by RCA. They were the record company that signed Elvis from his first label Sun records.

Studio B
Studio B

This studio was built very much with him in mind. In fact he recorded many of his albums in this famous studio. He used to stay at an hotel just around the corner. That had a guitar shaped swimming pool. You may have seen pictures before of him in that pool.

At first the studio had stripped lighting. Elvis said it made the place feel like at office and not a creative space. He requested lights were put in that could be changed to several different colours. For every song that he recorded. He would try to find the right vibe and feel by changing the colour of the room with the lights.

Studio B
Studio B

He was an insomniac, so he used to often record during the night and normally on a Sunday. Typically everybody would already be there. He would then arrive about six in the evening. He would order some food for everybody from Krystal. Then they would spend a few hours around the piano singing Gospel songs. After which he would be ready to start recording. Setting the mood with the lights for each song. The sessions were known to last all night.

There is a blue cross on the floor. Which marks where the singers would stand or sit. It is the premier acoustic spot in the room. We could see exactly where the King would have been positioned. When laying down the vocals for those huge iconic tracks of his. When he was recording “Are You Lonesome Tonight”. He just could not get the ambience to feel right with the lights. So he could not capture the mood he wanted. In the end he just ended up recording it in the dark with no lights on at all.

Studio B
Studio B

At the end of the first take. He gets up to walk over and speak to the  Jordanaires. He hits his head on their mic. When the recording is still going. At first thinking he had ruined the take. The studio engineer assured him. He could virtually remove the thud and no one would notice it. He did a great job but if you do listen closely and loudly to the original album version. You can hear a slight click, right at the very end. Which you now know is Elvis’s head connecting with a microphone.

Some of the other stars who have recorded at Studio B include The Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Jim Reeves to mention but a few. Your could really feel the history of the place. It had a special magic to it. Especially when they were playing you some of the actual recordings, that were done there. While we were standing right there. It was quite emotional at times.

Studio B
Studio B

After Studio B it was back to finish off looking around the Hall of Fame. After finally seeing all the exhibits and witnessing the world’s biggest wall of Gold Discs. We arrived at the actual Hall of Fame bit itself. It is in a special circular room. That looks as spectacular from the outside as it does from the inside.  You have to have achieved a certain status to be inducted. Once you are accepted by the board. Then you get your own plaque put up on the wall.

Hall Of Fame
Hall Of Fame

Everyone of the people up on that wall is an absolute Country Legend. I made sure I looked at every single person. Who was represented. If you ever visit Nashville.  This is somewhere you have to visit to get a feel of the place. And how important music is to it. They call it music city. And you can really see why.

Hall Of Fame
Hall Of Fame

The main strip in the centre of Nashville is called Broadway. It is a road filled with bright neon lights and lots of bars and restaurants. We spent two nights enjoying its hospitality. In pretty much every place, they have live country music from full bands to singers with guitars.

The music goes on all day from about midday to closing time. With several different acts performing in each venue. The bands earn their money through tips. If you like them drop some cash in their bucket or you can pay them to play any songs that you request.

Broadway
Broadway

The first place we went on the first night was a place called Whiskey Row. They had a band on who were fantastic. Plus they did possibly the best steak and chips I have ever tasted. It was lovely. The food we had in America was on the whole absolutely brilliant.

That night we sampled a few other bars and acts. It is so warm in Tennessee even at night. Most of the pubs have roof tops bars. To enjoy the views of the street down below and the night sky from. We finished the night at one of those. Before returning to the roof top bar at our hotel for a quick night cap.

Broadway
Broadway

On our final night we went to an Italian place. Which was so popular. That we had to wait twenty minutes to get a seat there. We ordered just a pasta dish each. But did not realise they offered a three course meal with every main. A massive plate of salad comes out first. Then the food we ordered. Followed by some ice-cream. I was not even that hungry before we started. Portions in the States are definitely bigger than in England. That said I did manage to eat it all.

We then visited Coyote Ugly, so Kayleigh could have a quick dance on the bar. Lastly we checked out some of Nashville’s most famous bars including Nudies, (it is not what you think, it is just a music bar, get your mind out of the gutter). And Tootsies, which had two great bands playing at the same time at opposite ends of the place. All to soon it was time to head back to the hotel to get some sleep. Before heading off to our next stop the following morning.

Broadway
Broadway

Nashville was a wonderful experience. Next it was Memphis and the home of Elvis Graceland. Something I was really looking forward to. I will tell you all about that in the next instalment. Cheers Neil.

Viva Las London

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a good couple of weeks. Mine have been nice and busy, with quite a few fun things going on. I have made no secret of my total appreciation for Ant & Dec. And the great job they do on our televisions. I was watching Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV player a couple of Sunday’s ago and was surprised to see Wembley Stadium featured on the show.

You know how they always use different locations to display the audiences faces for when they randomly select one to play “Win the Ads”. Well they were using the giant screens at the front of the stadium to do this. Now I was working in the Wembley area on that Saturday evening. I did wonder why the central Arch was fully lit and bright red in colour, as I was waiting at the train station to go home. Then obviously when I caught up with the programme the day after, I realised why. If I had known in advance I would have gone there and tried to get myself in the shot. May be that is why nobody told me.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Well I can confirm I did use my surname and my minimal Irish roots to justify going to London to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style this year. I went to my favourite pub in the capital. Which just so happens to be the Irish Bar in Rupert Street off Leicester Square called Waxy O’Connors. I have long maintained that they serve the best Guinness in London.

And I certainly enjoyed having a few pints of the black stuff in there on this special occasion. It was as you would expect packed full of lots of very happy people, who were dressed mostly in green. There was traditional Irish music being played by a live band. The atmosphere was great, everybody was just there to have a good time, a few drinks and a bit of a sing-song. I really enjoyed it. It was a great way to spend the day.

Waxy O'Connors St Patrick's Day
Waxy O’Connors St Patrick’s Day

While I was in London celebrating I managed to also catch up with a couple of friends, who I used to work with. Including one who just happened to have randomly been up in London for a few days from his home in Cornwall. It just shows you the power of social media. I put on Twitter my plan’s for the day ahead. I then saw that he said he was coming to London, so we exchanged messages. Then a few hours later we were meeting up in a pub for a couple of drinks.

His name is Scott Temple. I used to work with him at Ivel Fm in Somerset. So it was great to see him and have a good catch up. Which did of course include a bit of reminiscing, as well as a more general conversation about radio. He is currently working at Pirate Fm in Redruth. So all things considered the day worked out perfectly. I think I might do a very similar thing next year on March 17th.

Neil Quigley and Scott Temple
Neil Quigley and Scott Temple

I went to see the Book Of Mormon last Wednesday. It was a musical I have been wanting to see for a while and I had heard some brilliant things about it. So I was excited to finally get to see it. I have to confess that prior to going along I did not do any further research on it at all. So I had no idea about the plot, the cast or what to expect at all. It is currently showing at The Prince of Wales Theatre. Which is one I do like and one that it easy to find, as it is right in the middle between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. I had a decent seat near the front of the balcony. Which I settled in to just before curtain up, with absolutely no idea of what to expect.

Prince Of Wales Theatre
Prince Of Wales Theatre

From the opening number, which was an upbeat real show setting song. That was brilliantly written and cleverly performed, I was transfixed. It does warn on the tickets that it contains explicit language and I would agree it is not for the faint hearted. But you need to remember that it is written by the people behind South Park. So you should already realise that no subject is taboo. And that they will be happy to use the full colourful range of the English language that is available to them. As they confirm beyond no reasonable doubt about ten minutes into the performance.

Neil Quigley Drawing
Neil Quigley Drawing

It is so hard to do a funny musical with songs that are catchy, that contain great lyrics and that make you laugh out loud. But the team behind this production manage that with ease. The cast many of whom have come with the show from Broadway are all brilliant. Aside from the main plot itself. There are so many small sub plots and lots of random and sometimes surreal visual jokes. That you really have to concentrate on what is happening on stage or you might miss something.

It is a totally brilliant show, thoroughly entertaining, extremely funny. And you might find that it can actually start some big serious conversations about life and your views on it. If you are not easily offended, are open minded and fancy a laugh. I would go and see it while you can, as it closes in London fairly soon.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I finally got round to going for a meal at my local Indian Restaurant last week. It has only been open for about ten years. May be I have been somehow subconsciously avoiding the place. As the building it is in used to be a library when I was a young child. So I think the last time I had previously been in there was when I got a book out when I was about five. Anyway the reason I went along really was because my mate Alvin was there doing his Elvis Show.

It was an all in fixed price for a set menu meal with the entertainment included. Firstly I have to say the food was fantastic. A great big selection of starters to share. Followed by a huge selection of main courses to pick from with rice and naan bread included. So for that alone I will be definitely be going back there. The staff were really friendly and helpful to. So it was a nice all round dining experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have seen Alvin perform many times in the eighteen odd years I have known him. In anything from small venues to big West End Theatres and he always puts on a great show. With the same energy and enthusiasm. Which is the mark of a great performer. My mum is a big Elvis Presley fan so he once made an appearance at one of her birthday parties for me. He was brilliant and brought the house down. As ever on this night in the Indian he was great to.

He is a massive fan of the man he portrays and has studied every detail of the performances his idol used to give on stage. And brilliantly recreates them. Alvin is also a very good comedian, so he mixes his great vocal portrayal of the King with lots of jokes and lots of humour. If you know anything about Elvis. You will know that he himself had a great sense of humour. He liked to laugh, be a bit cheeky and have some fun while on stage performing with the audience. Which is something Alvin replicates in his shows. So we had a funny night, enjoying classic songs, effortlessly sung by a mate, who was rocking a very stylish Elvis Presley white jump suit.

Alvin Printwhistle
Alvin Printwhistle

My comedy teacher has just released the third version of his book “Get Started In Stand Up Comedy (Make Em Laugh). That man is Logan Murray. As well as being an author on the subject. Logan also runs lots of Stand Up Comedy Courses at various locations throughout the year. I was lucky enough to attend one of his eight week courses in Tring a couple of years ago. When I became part of the brilliant Roving Comedy Night as part of the Tringe Festival.  This was when I finally got my first taste of doing some stand up comedy. After thinking about giving a try for about the previous five years. Logan is a hugely experienced comedian and a brilliant teacher.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was quite intensive in that the sessions were three hours long. But the time flew by as it felt like we were just messing about and having a laugh the whole time. Doing many improv and joke writing exercises. While trying to release our inner child. Then after seven weeks of basically pratting about each of the group had produced five minutes of original material to perform four times in four pubs in Tring on the Roving Comedy Night. Not only is he a great teacher, funny, interesting and engaging. He is so encouraging and is happy to give up his own time for you to go through your routine and to give you some one to one coaching in the lead up to your first big performance.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

If you have ever wanted to try stand up comedy. My advice would be just go out there and give it a go. You will never know if you are any good or not until you try. I would recommend having a look a the book first or even better if you can why not do one of the courses. Even if you do not become the next big thing and if the gig at the end of it is the only one you ever do. It would still be worth it for the great experience. And you will still learn things that will help you with your everyday life. Doing the course does give you a great insight into comedy and it will certainly give you a good giggle, which I personally think is very important in life. Make jokes not war.

Neil Quigley doing Stand Up
Neil Quigley doing Stand Up

I did manage a celebrity spot, while I was in London recently. Well I did thanks to a little bit of assistance anyway. It was while me and my sister were walking through the ticket barrier at Marylebone Station. As we were going through I saw a women with blond hair heading towards me. I thought I recognised her. I was convinced I knew her or had at least met her before somewhere. So I gave her a very nice polite smile as she walked past. Then moments later my sister turned to me and said did you see Jo Joyner just then?

Now I have to confess I do not really watch Soap Opera’s. So I did not realise it was the actress who played Tanya Branning in Eastenders. Now as I said she did look familiar, but I have never met her previously. So I now just hope she did not think my smiling at her was too weird. I was only being friendly to someone I thought I already knew.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

April is already looking like it is going to be a really fun month. It is of course Easter Weekend next weekend. So that means you can legitimately have chocolate for breakfast right? And who doesn’t enjoy a nice Hot Cross Bun or two? I am going up to Liverpool for the Grand National weekend, which I am looking forward to. It will be absolutely buzzing up there for that event.

Then at the end of the month I have been offered the chance to go along and see an episode of Celebrity Juice being filmed at the Elstree Studios. I am a big fan of the show. It normally gets some very good guests on it. It is crazy enough on television, so I am expecting it to be total carnage in the studio and lots of fun of course.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

So Here It Is Merry Christmas

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a good couple of weeks. Mine have as ever been very busy, with plenty going on. So it was my birthday on the tenth of December. Thanks very much for all the nice messages I received on the day. I have to confess this huge annual event is something I do like to celebrate with at least a couple of different gatherings. On the day itself I just went down my local pub for a couple of drinks with a few mates in the evening. It was great to catch up with everyone and we did have a good old fashioned laugh. Although I did somehow manage to knock over a whole pint. When I managed to catch it with my bottom. I am still not exactly sure how this occurred, as I am not exactly Kim Kardashian in that department. But it did not spoil what was a brilliant night, despite me having to do a bit of mopping.

Neil Quigley Birthday Selfie
Neil Quigley Birthday Selfie

As I have already stated I never knowingly under celebrate the occasion of being born. So on the following Saturday after my birthday I then went out in London with a few friends. It was another top night out. We went to a combination of my favourite bars in the capital, mixed in with a few places that I had always wanted to go to. But had not got round to, including the Radio Rooftop Bar. I have to confess I do like a bar with good views over London. And as the name suggests this one very much falls in to that category. It is the set piece bar of the ME London Hotel on the Strand, just near the Covent Garden theatre district. So it would be a great place to visit for a pre show drink in my opinion. It is a very stylish bar, with friendly staff, a nice selection of drinks and stunning views over London. I was in there just as it was getting dark, so when I went and had a look out on the terrace everything was lit up and you could see a lot of the big tourist attractions very clearly, it looked amazing.

View from Radio Rooftop Bar
View from Radio Rooftop Bar

I was once again back at Elstree Studios the other week to see a recording of the Christmas Day and New Years Eve Top of The Pops specials. I do not think I am giving too much away by saying this. I am pretty sure everybody realises it is not live and that all the bands and people have not chosen to spend the day together in this way. To give you some idea how difficult the logistics of organising all the acts and giving them the relevant recording time is. I can tell you it was filmed in four separate parts over two days. So when you sit down to watch it there will be four different audiences featured on the programme, with it cutting between them as they move from song to song. So bearing this in mind the bit I saw featured performances from three different artists.

Top Of The Pops Fun
Top Of The Pops Fun

The first performance was from the great George Ezra. Now as this was for the New Years Eve Show the production staff handed out New Years Eve hats. They then run through the song twice, so they can record lots of different camera angles, then pick the best ones in the edit.Then we moved on to the Christmas Show, so had to change in to Christmas hats before seeing Professor Green perform his song twice next. Then we had Tom Odell on to do his current song, you know the one. The song from the John Lewis advert featuring the penguins. He ended up doing this three times, with him on the piano while being backed by a full strings section. Lastly George Ezra came back out to record “Budapest” for the Christmas Show. All the acts were great and so consistent. Every performance was a complete replica of one previous.

Top of The Pops
Top of The Pops

In between the live music elements the brilliant Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates were there recording their links to the camera. They to had to start out in their New Years Eve outfits then change in to the Christmas clothes to correspond with which one of the two shows we were currently filming. Complicated business this TV stuff you know. They were so good, really on it, and virtually one take wonders with no auto cue. They were learning the bits first, just before delivering them. A nice presenting master class from the both of them. It was weird but great being in the famous Top of The Pops studio. A quick mention for Danny the warm up man stroke head of motivation and stage direction. He did a great job keeping the energy up and things moving along nicely. It was a great fun afternoon out. Which now means you can all play the can we spot Neil on television on Christmas Day game. To help you out a bit I will be the one dancing, just out of time with the rest!

Top of The Pops
Top of The Pops

With it being the run up to Christmas I have like everyone else been out quite a bit for food and drinks, with lots of different groups of people. I had a really nice catch up with a former work colleague at Giraffe on the South Bank in London. Decent meal with great company and conversation. I arrived at the restaurant a little early so had a bit of walk around first and discovered a German style log cabin pop up market. Which seem to be everywhere at the moment. It was a chilly night and it felt quite festive so I treated myself to my first glass of mulled wine of the year, from one of the stalls. Which tasted good and certainly left me with a bit of warm glow.

I have also been out for a few seasonal drinks at my favourite pub in London, with some work associates. It is Waxy O’Connor’s just off Leicester Square. A place I have been going for around eighteen years now. In my opinion not only does it serve the best Guinness in England, but there is always a great atmosphere in there. The music is good and I really do feel very at home there. If I am in London and have some spare time, there is always a good chance you might find me in there having a pint.

View from the South Bank through Mulled Wine eyes
View from the South Bank through Mulled Wine eyes

So another series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here has been and gone. I really enjoyed this year’s show. I liked the fact that most of this year’s camp mates got on with each other and had a good laugh. I would much rather watch people interacting in this way than shouting and screaming at each other. I appreciate that there was a small amount of this that went on. But on the whole it was like an antipodean Hi De Hi. Huge congratulations to Carl Fogarty on winning the competition and being crowned the new king of the jungle. I am very pleased for him. Not only because I have met him and he is a top bloke. What you see it was you get. He his nice, polite, funny, tough and humble.

But I am also very pleased he won because he was the person I tipped right from the start to walk away with the title. I thought he came across as a lot of fun and just very real. He has been busy since he has been back in England handing out awards at the BBC Sports Personality of The Year Awards and The British Comedy Awards. Due to his success in the world of motorbike racing, he always signed his autograph with a number one on the end of it. And after this recent success he can of course continue that tradition. Nice one Foggy, well done mate!

Carl Fogarty
Carl Fogarty

I have always loved the Royal Variety Show and although I have never been to the theatre to see it in person. I have watched nearly all of them when they have been shown on television. I am a massive fan of variety acts in general. Obviously I like comedians and musical acts. But I do also like watching dance groups and some of the more off the wall acts that come from a traditional circus background. I do still think being selected to be involved in the Royal Command performance should be a huge highlight and even a pinnacle of your career. I think it is something that should be earned, as I guess I am quite a traditionalist. And I am aware of the long and great history of it.

I watched this year’s show, which I believe is the first one that Prince William and Princess Katherine have attended. It is nice to see that it is being passed on to the younger generation. There were some great acts on and some fantastic performances. The whole thing was marshalled brilliantly by Michael McIntyre as the host. The only thing that I wasn’t quite sure about was this. For me a few of the performers appeared to talk directly to the two Royals, which I thought was a no no. Sure a quick comment or joke at their expense in the right taste is good and traditional. But is seemed a bit weird when at times some appeared to be playing to the Royals and almost ignoring the audience. My view is you are there to perform for the audience in the presence of the Monarchy not the other way round. That said I did enjoy it and thought it was a good and very well balanced show.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

Last week I was back at BBC New Broadcasting House in London for another meeting about some potential work opportunities next year, Which is all very exciting and it will be amazing if it does come off. While I was there I did see a tanned and sun glasses wearing Scott Mills walk past me on the way to do his Radio One Show. There are four different lifts there and each one has a different BBC Radio station playing in them. It is a lottery which lift arrives first and therefore what your soundtrack will be. On this most recent visit I got the 1 Extra lift, which made for quite an upbeat journey up to my required floor. It is such a cool and yet such a busy building with lots happening there.

It is also now where the One Show Studios are. And you can actually look into the set through the giant window, you can see behind the presenters on the TV. The day I was there, it would appear that they were having a big musical performance on the show because they were setting up a stage and piano in the outside area. In case you are interested the man who sat at the piano and played on the show was Jools Holland. They also had Cameron Diaz on to. You have no idea how much I now wished I had stayed up there to watch the show and may be try to meet her. I just think she is an amazing person! Who is very attractive.

On the way to BBC New Broadcasting House
On the way to BBC New Broadcasting House

As I have mentioned before I am a big fan of Elvis Presley, both of the man and his music. He truly was an exceptional performer. Now my mum as a teenager had lots of his albums and his posters up on her wall. So it is fair to say that she is also a big admirer of his. So yesterday me and her went along to the brand new Elvis Exhibition at the 02 in London. It features over three hundred different items, which have been loaned from the King’s Graceland Estate. The display charts his life right from his birth all the way through to the Las Vegas years. With lots of very personal items including his actual Birth Certificate, some of his army uniforms, original recordings and even a couple of the cars that he actually owned.

Elvis Presley Car
Elvis Presley Car

It was both brilliant and amazing to see all these stunning things together in one place. I thought I knew a lot about him and his life but I learned plenty of new things about him, including what a well respected soldier his was judging by his discharge letter. And also how good his manager the Colonel was at supplying merchandise and making extra money on the side. Even to the point where as well as making and selling I love Elvis badges they also produced some I hate Elvis badges. Genius, why limit your potential market, when you can just please everyone.

Elvis Presley's American Eagle White Jumpsuit
Elvis Presley’s American Eagle White Jumpsuit

My favourite pieces on show, were the actual American Eagle style white jumpsuit that Elvis wore for the Aloha from Hawaii shows. Some of his other amazing jackets and coats that he had. And finally the massive TCB Ring that his wife Priscilla bought him. It is completely stunning. TCB stands for Taking Care of Business. Which was a kind of motto for his personal and professional life that he adopted. It was something which a select group of musicians and friends were included. Taken in to this kind of inner circle. It made sure people worked hard, got paid and got on with each other. It was his way of making sure everything was going well and everyone was looked after. And there was even a special TCB logo designed. Which was used on lots of different jewellery pieces that he and his friends used to wear. Although the ring he had, has to be the most spectacular item in that collection.

Elvis's Taking Care of Business Ring
Elvis’s Taking Care of Business Ring

The exhibition is on at the O2 in London until next August and if you have any interest at all in Elvis Presley or just the world of music in general it is a must see event. This is the first and possibly only time so many of these actual original items will be here in England. As you walk around you hear lots of the great man’s music and see lots of clips of him in action. Plus you can get yourself some fun photos at the end. Me and my mum had a great time there.

Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70's #crazydays
Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70’s #crazydays

It is another busy weekend for me, I have a Christmas Party at a hotel in London tonight and then on Sunday it is my families traditional pre Christmas Drinks gathering. With a schedule like that I am very pleased that I have already finished all of my Christmas Shopping. Which I did in my normal way, all in one day and all at one place. It simply involves just writing a list of everything I need to get. And then going to a shopping centre to buy it all in one go, it works every time.

Neil Quigley Happy Christmas
Neil Quigley Happy Christmas

I am planning to have a fairly quiet family Christmas with a traditional dinner, lots of chocolate and cheese. And may be even a couple of drinks. Whatever you are doing over the festive period have a fantastic time. I hope you have been very good this year and that Father Christmas brings you what you want on the big day. Have a very Happy Christmas! I will catch up with you in a couple of weeks, in the New Year. Have fun, Cheers Neil.

Multi Media Fun

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a good couple of weeks. Mine have as ever been very busy with lots going on. Last time we spoke I mentioned the big women’s International Football Match that was taking place at Wembley between England and Germany. And I was saying that a player who I knew would be part of the BBC’s coverage of it. So it was lovely to bump into Ellen White at the Stadium a couple of days after the game. And to have a very quick chat with her. Her recovery from injury is going well .She told me she should be back playing in a couple of months. Also congratulations are in order as she got married last weekend to. So I send my best wishes to her and her new husband.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I would like to say a big thank you to the team at the BBC World Service, who let me spend a brilliant day watching them in action the other week. I do happen to know a couple of people who work there. And it was through one of them that I managed to set this great experience up. They are based in BBC New Broadcasting House which is at the top of Regent Street right in the heart of London. It is also where the TV News, The One Show, Radio One, Radio One Extra, Radio 3 and Radio 4 all come from. It is a beautiful building both inside and out.

I have to say the studios and equipment there are out of this world. Being in the radio studios there is like being on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I was there to sit in and watch the Studio Managers in action on several different shows across the network. These included News Hour, The Newsroom and Outside Source. All of which were intriguing and fascinating to watch live from the studio. While they were being presented, produced and broadcast by a host of exceptional media professionals. It was a very enjoyable day moving from studio to studio and seeing how it all works. From the English Language programmes to some of the other many different language services the BBC World Service also provides.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Once I had finished at the World Service at the BBC. I then just went next door to the BBC Radio Theatre to watch a recording of the Radio 4 programme Dilemma hosted by the fantastic Sue Perkins. Before the show had even started we got a bonus treat, with a brief appearance from Tim Vine. All through December Radio 4 are playing out ninety second Christmas Cracker clips from different comedians. They were trying to record these in front of an audience. And as it is difficult to get an audience to come and see something that lasts less than two minutes. They were hijacking other shows to do this. It was different, fun, quirky and involved a guitar. That is all I am saying as I do not want to give to much away. Dilemma itself was very good.

The guests on the panel included the brilliant Sarah Millican and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. As a five year old child I actually got Janet’s autograph, when we saw her and a very young Sophie at a cinema in Richmond. We were all there to see the same film which was a double bill of Mickey’s Christmas Carol and The Jungle Book. Just in case you are interested. I do still have the autograph. I then interviewed her about twenty-five years later on the radio and asked about the previous meeting. Which for the record she didn’t remember but in her defence it was a much bigger deal to me than it was to her at that time. She was very good and amusing on the show. It is always a very pleasant way to spend the evening watching a radio comedy recording in the Radio Theatre, as far as I am concerned. I even love just hanging around in the BBC Cafe waiting to go in beforehand.

Neil Quigley at the BBC
Neil Quigley at the BBC

The other month I went to see my friend Mike Sterling perform in a Stars of The West End concert in Sloane Square. Last week we managed to catch up in London for a few drinks and a nice bite to eat. Firstly we found a nice roof top bar in a hotel on Regent Street to have a quick drink in before food. It was a place that from the front you would never have actually guest how good the bar and views would be at the top of it. From there we then went and had something to eat right in the centre of the West End. With Mike having spent so much time in musicals in London. He knows the area pretty well to say the least. So he suggested a nice burger restaurant that he knew just off of Leicester Square. It was called Byron Burger and the food and the staff were excellent. Most importantly the company was good. It was fascinating finding out more about his time starring in both Les Miserables and Phantom of The Opera. And getting a real insight in to what the life of a West End actor is actually like. And to be honest on the whole it sounded like great fun.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A couple of weekends ago I took a trip up to Sheffield to surprise an old friend of mine. It was somebody who I met when I started doing hospital radio at Stoke Mandeville Hospital twenty years ago. When I joined I was put on his show and we became good mates, doing countless discos together over the years. About five years ago he then moved back to the Yorkshire area, where he was originally from. You know what it is like when you keep meaning to visit people but the time just goes and it never quite happens. But I was contacted by an employee of his saying they were organising a surprise 60th Birthday Party for him. Luckily it happened to be on a rare free weekend so I was able to go. I booked a hotel and took the train up.

Then the employee who was arranging it very kindly agreed to collect me from my hotel and take me to the do. He had absolutely no idea I was coming. When I arrived because there were already quite a few people there and because I walked in with the girl who works for him. He didn’t really clock me at first. He just thought I was with her. Then the penny finally dropped. And I believe he was happy to see me. It was a really good fun night and the birthday boy seemed to enjoy himself. I then met him and his wife for tea and a further catch up the following morning before getting my train home. It was really great to see everyone and lovely to catch up with a good mate.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As a lot of my friends are performers it means I can often have an entertaining night out when catching up with people. And this was very much the case the other Sunday. When I went to a pub in Aylesbury to watch my mate Alvin Printwhistle perform his Elvis Presley Tribute. I have seen him impersonate the king of rock and roll pretty much all over the country. In many different sized shows. Including a show with a full band and brass section at The Palace Theatre in London’s West End. He is extremely good and brings a lot of humour to his appearances. So they are always lots of fun. His repertoire of Elvis songs is huge, so he often performs different ones at different shows. At the latest one I saw the first part featured songs he sang in the movies and the second part was a full on Elvis in Vegas set complete with trademark white jumpsuit. It was great to have a quick chat to him before the show. He is a huge Elvis fan himself and clearly loves singing the songs. He is pretty much constantly gigging so do keep your eyes open and if you get the chance do go along and see him in action.

Alvin Printwhistle
Alvin Printwhistle

I was back at the Elstree Studios last Tuesday to watch an episode of A League of Their Own being recorded. The Sky One show is now into its ninth series. They filmed the whole series during the last seven days. And it is due to hit our television screens early next year. The one I saw featured tennis player Heather Watson, former Dutch footballer Patrick Kluivert and South African comedian Trevor Noah. As well of course as the regulars, host James Corden and panellists Jamie Redknapp, Freddie Flintoff and Jack Whitehall. It was brilliant fun everyone was on top form. Owing to the fact that James Corden is also someone who grew up in Buckinghamshire. I have always been supportive of his career and most importantly found him very entertaining. The show is perfect for him and gives him plenty of scope to mess around and have some fun.

I was once in the same pub as Jack Whitehall in London. He was out with his mates and seemed very chilled, low key and nice. I have always quite liked him but after seeing him live in that environment. I can confirm he is hilarious. His jokes and general banter really made the show. To be fair everyone who was there contributed to the end product and all played their part. Without giving too much away we saw three world records broken and two amazing team challenges. We may well have found a new star in the form of one of the official Guinness World Record adjudicators. We had some great acting skills displayed by both Jamie and Freddie. Plus we had a right good old laugh in the process. As ever with TV recordings a lot more happens than will ever be able appear on screen but it was such a good night I wish the team editing the episode the best of luck in getting it down to around one hour.

Arriving at Elstree Studios
Arriving at Elstree Studios

I was around the Covent Garden area of London one evening recently when I suddenly spotted a television camera with a big bright light on come out of the Hospital Club. So curious to find what was going on I stopped to watch and spotted none other than Johnny Vegas in front of the lens. They obviously wanted to mock up him arriving at the venue. They sent him across the road to start the piece and literally as soon as he stepped off the kerb a car flashed past and was inches away from running him over. Fair play to him he styled it out perfectly and just kept talking straight into the camera, as if it was all meant to happen. And it was all part of the plan. He then disappeared back inside and I moved on. I am usually rubbish at spotting random celebrity’s on the street. Mind you it does make it a little bit easier when they do have a large camera pointing at them.

Neil Quigley TV Presenter
Neil Quigley TV Presenter

When I was working at Ivel fm in Yeovil I had the pleasure and the honour of performing the official opening of a new wedding shop in Ilminster called Prima Moda Brides. This did involve making a very short speech and then actually cutting a ribbon with a pair of scissors. That shop is still going strong and has recently celebrated its tenth birthday. So if you are starting a new business and need someone for the opening. Do keep me in mind. I have quite a good record of being a good luck charm in these situations. All the best to the lovely Jean and the rest of the team at Prima Moda Brides.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I grew up watching Top Of The Pops every week when I was a kid. I always wanted to be in the audience for it but never got the opportunity. I thought the chance of doing that had passed me by when the show was cancelled by the BBC. But they do still have Christmas and New Year versions of the show. Where they look back at all the big hits of the last twelve months. They are recording both of these shows tomorrow (Sunday). And I am going along to see them. I am very excited to finally get to be in the that studio to see this iconic show being filmed. I have no idea which acts will be there but with it being a review of the year I will be a bit surprised if there are not some huge bands and singers there. I will tell you who was there, when we speak next.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have worked most of the New Year Eve’s for the last fifteen years. And once again this year is no exception. I am looking forward to getting dressed up in my bow tie and dinner jacket to perform the disco at the Ellesborough Golf Club this New Year’s Eve. It will be great fun and I am fired up and ready to get the party started. Bring it on.

Neither Shaken or Stirred
Neither Shaken or Stirred

This coming week it is one of the biggest events of the year..My birthday..it’s on the 10th December.. just in case you wanted to send me a card or may be even a present. Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.