Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

Radio Go Go

Everything is still a little bit strange and more and more issues are arising as a result of the ongoing fun and games. If you have received your exam results I hope you got what you were expecting, which seems very unlikely, if you feel that you have not been treated fairly do speak up and fight your corner. It is such a long time ago now that I got my A Level and G.C.S.E results I can barely remember how it felt. They have never been any direct use in helping me get any of the jobs I have had as an adult, so far at least.  

If you are determined enough to pursue what you want to do, you will get there no matter what setbacks arise. I have still got over fifty rejection letters from various radio stations that I received before I even got my first paid gig in the industry. It took me until I was twenty-five to get my first full time presenting job. Therefore you have time on your side, you have got this and good luck for the future!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have been trying to be a bit more social but I still favour outside meetings with people. That is just my own personal choice in the unusual constraints that are currently placed on our normal lives. A few weekends ago on the Saturday I went to a barbecue at a friend’s place just outside Reading.

It was only a small gathering with five of us in total enjoying the sunshine in his garden. The host fed us with a huge selection of traditional Jamaican dishes, which were amazing! They included a few things that I had never tried before. It made me want to go back to the Caribbean for another holiday.

St Lucia
St Lucia

I had a great time eating too much good food and chatting while also enjoying a few drinks. I had booked a hotel in Reading for the night. It fulfilled my current requirements for these things. The following morning I had breakfast in a well-known coffee shop. They were also on top of the ongoing extra demands. That was the first inside food or beverage place I had visited since this lock down thing began. On the way back I stopped in to see a really good mate and his wife and their children in their back garden. I was not driving the person I was with was fortunately for me in charge of our transport.  

My pal offered me a beer which would of course been very rude to refuse so I politely accepted. We were just planning to stop in for a little bit of a catch up as I had not seen them for over five months. It was a lovely warm and sunny day. We were all having a brilliant time chatting and laughing away. Anyway six hours and a few more beers later we finally left. But not before my friend’s wife had fired up the barbecue and cooked us a tasty dinner. It was a wonderful afternoon spent in fantastic company, the time just flew by.

I had really missed seeing them. I cannot wait to see them all again at some point soon hopefully, probably in similar circumstances. It is so nice to be able to see your friends in person again. You realise how important they are to you and how they can instantly lift your mood. If you can and it is safe to do so I would totally recommend it. Things are getting better and you can start doing more as long as you follow all the rules and you are sensible. One thing we can take from this is that if you invite me round to your place there is a very good chance that I might overstay my welcome.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A friend of mine is an actor and a singer so he is not exactly having a great time work wise at the moment. Most of his jobs for this year have already been cancelled sadly. It must be really tough when all your income is stopped suddenly through no fault of your own.

He is an amazing performer and such a lovely person. His name is Mike Sterling and he actually sang at my fortieth birthday party. He was due to be in Spain now working out there for the next month but like seemingly everyone else this year all his gigs were postponed and he could no longer go there.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

This is proof of what a nice bloke he is last Friday he did a special online gig to raise money for a charity in Spain that he would have been working with if he could of made the trip. It was on Facebook and came live from his house. He had set it all up perfectly with a nice stage backdrop featuring some of the huge musicals that he has starred in. It looked and sounded great as did he in his suit.

He did an hour show, singing a mixture of songs from the musicals and standard classics. His voice is spectacular. It did feature a guest appearance from his youngest daughter. She must be about eleven or twelve now. I remember when she was born which I must confess makes me feel very old. She was absolutely brilliant doing a bit of Ed Sheeran with her dad. I watched it online with a nice cold bottle of beer. I really enjoyed it but I am looking forward to hearing him sing live in a theatre once again at some point.

Mike Sterling
Mike Sterling

I first remember becoming seriously interested in radio when Fox Fm launched in Oxford. There were adverts and news reports about it on television. I saw inside a radio studio for the first time and guess it switched on a light inside my head somewhere.

Fast forward a few years later to when I was attending Aylesbury College. A brand new radio station launched in the town I was born in Aylesbury. For me it was exciting and I started listening to it from the start. It was called Mix 96.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

At this time I was doing a Travel and Tourism Course and an A Level in Physical Education, while also thinking that I could still become a Professional Footballer. When I realised I was never going to make it as a footballer I then decided that I wanted to be a radio presenter. I wrote to Mix 96 to enquire about Work Experience. To my surprise they got back to me and offered me a week there. I am not sure who made that decision but whoever it was, thank you very much.

I somehow managed to convince my lecturers to let me do it even though it did not relate to my course at all. I had a great time there everyone was so nice and helpful to me. They all took turns to be stuck with me for a bit so I could see every aspect of the station. I learnt a lot. I even got to sit with Jon Earley during the evening show. I thoroughly enjoyed my first real taste of radio.

This was during the first year of Mix 96’s existence. Thanks to my work experience stint I did end up going along to the Mix 96 first birthday party at Stoke Mandeville Stadium with Jon and Max Hailey. I remember there being some live music and a bar area. I must confess it felt really cool hanging out with all the presenters at such a big event.

On the suggestion of the presenters at Mix 96 I then joined Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio to get some presentation experience with the aim of one day getting on Mix 96 myself. I used to send regular demos to the Programme Controllers at Mix. If they got fed up with me they never showed it, which was very decent of them.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio
Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio

Three years later thanks to Colin Morton and Pete Simester I had an in at the station at last. I came in as a volunteer to collect and read out all the local football results on the Sports Show with Colin on a Saturday afternoon. This led to me going to my first fireworks night that the station used to be involved in at the Aylesbury Rugby Club, but more on that later. I was so happy to be on the radio in my home town even though it was for about one minute a week at that stage.

From here I then ended up there on a Sunday morning producing the Phil Angel Show from the studio. It was a recorded show so I had to play everything in myself. Another step forward! It was a slight bit of confusion that led to my first live show on Mix 96. Pete Simester agreed to let me cover for Phil one week when he was away. He thought I was going to record the links and play them in like I did for Phil. I thought differently and did the whole two hours live. It went alright and I had made my debut doing my own show.

As time went on I ended up presenting the Sports Show myself for several years. I also did the Saturday Night Party Show for a while. It then got to the point where I was covering the evening show when the regular presenter was off. I really enjoyed doing that and it was at that point that I finally felt I was starting to establish myself at the station at least a little bit.

Neil Quigley

From there and thanks to one of the presenters shall we say leaving a bit sooner then we and even they were expecting I got six months presenting Drive Time on Mix 96. Seven years after first walking into the place for work experience I had now made it to presenting a regular show during the day. Glory Days! Dreams do come true!

I then moved to the morning show for another six months, which was a lot of fun. At that point a reshuffle put me back to just the sports show, which I had continued to host. This ultimately led to me leaving for Yeovil to work at Ivel fm. After five years in Somerset I then returned to Buckinghamshire. Thanks to the legend that is Danny Cox I managed to get a weekly Saturday Afternoon show back on Mix 96. I felt I was home. It was brilliant to be back. This led to me hosting the Evening Show for a couple of years and being in charge of the events team.

Neil Quigley in a still from the Mix 96 behind the Scenes Video

As head of events I had to organise and produce the Fireworks Night at the Aylesbury Rugby Club and the Christmas Lights Switch On in the centre of town, as well as many other events and occasions. I was also covering the Morning and Afternoon Shows when people were off.

I had such an amazing time and lost count of how many shows I presented from the famous Friars Square Studios. I was lucky enough to work with so many talented and fantastic people at the station over the years.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley point’s the way on stage at the Mix 96 Fireworks.

I had an absolute blast. I was honoured to be on my hometown radio station for in the end quite a long time. From work experience to presenting most of the programmes on the station at one time or another it was all great! The laughter, the fun and everything that went on behind the scenes that were often actually more amusing than what was happening on air.

Why I am suddenly reminiscing about my time at Mix 96 you might very well ask? It is because from next month Mix 96 how we know and love it will in effect be no more. Firstly my thoughts are with all my friends at the station who will be losing their jobs. It is so sad. My mate Nathan Cooper has been there for over twenty years, he is basically part of the furniture. I think he might be like the Ravens at the Tower of London.

Neil Quigley at Mix 96 Tour De Vale Bike Ride
Neil Quigley at Mix 96 Tour De Vale Bike Ride

From next month the station will become Greatest Hits Radio and the name Mix 96 will be no more. It will still be on 96.2fm but the presenters will all be different. This has happened to a lot of other radio stations I have worked at already.

But Mix 96 as far as I was ever concerned was my local station. Thanks Mix 96, I will miss you. All the best for the next chapter in your life! To quote my favourite Spice Girl from one of her solo hits “Never Be the Same Again”.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Sunday 16th August was the forty-third anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. He was just forty-two when he died at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. I am a big fan of “The King”. A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Memphis.

I did the VIP Tour of Graceland. It was amazing to walk through his house and see all the spectacular rooms. I am not a believer of these things at all but there did appear to be a presence in the place and a special feel to it.

Graceland
Graceland

He had a Racket Ball Court and Gym area built away from the main house. There is a piano in there. The day he died he returned from a drive and played a few songs on it including “Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain” That was the last time Elvis ever sang.

Right at the end of the tour I had to put on some white gloves for the chance to hold one of Elvis’s own personal microphones. That was a big highlight for me.

Graceland
Graceland

While in Memphis I also went to Sun Studios where he recorded his first ever record. Originally as a present for his mum as they offered the chance for people to come in off the street and pay to record.

A long time after this the owner Sam Phillips invited him back in to record a few other songs and as they say the rest is history.

Sun Studio
Sun Studio

As part of the trip I also went to Nashville and Studio B which is where Elvis recorded a lot of his best known songs. He installed different coloured lights in there and he would alter them to get the right mood for the song he was recording.

He could not find the right atmosphere for “Are You Lonesome Tonight” so in the end he ended up recording it in the dark with all the lights off. He suffered from insomnia so his recording sessions were often overnight starting around 6pm and finishing at 6am!

Studio B
Studio B

The voice, stage presence and the way he inhabits each song in my opinion makes him the best singer and performer there has ever been. This really shows when he has the full TCB Band behind him. He is the one conducting everything from the front.

He had the best musicians and backing singers in the business, which all added to the overall quality. I would recommend you watch some of his early seventies stage performances. They are as close to perfection as you can get.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley

I have now managed to get fully up to date with the Netflix show After Life. Series Two for me was about the same as the first one in that it was easy to watch and it had a nice mixture of sadness and comedy. Ricky Gervais seems to be on a mission to make legends of comedy say the worst swear words he can think of on screen.

It is not a laugh a minute programme but there are lots of big laughs in it. I guarantee you there are jokes in there that you would not find risked in any other sitcom. I just need to wait for him to finish writing and then film series three. Although I reckon it will not be released until next year at the earliest. But it will be worth waiting for though, when it finally arrives.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

The Wonder Of You

I have mentioned before that with these busy lives we all lead how hard it is to arrange a simple night out with friends. You have to plan these things well in advance or get lucky by picking a random date you can all make. Happily the stars aligned for me and a group of my mates recently, as at fairly short notice we managed to agree to all meet up for drinks a couple of Fridays ago.

I will admit in theory it should be easier for me to be available, as I am the only one of the gang who is not married with children. In my defence though, I do keep myself nice and busy. I tend to book things in the diary months in advance. We decided to go out in Windsor as it was a pretty good central location. Plus we had not been there for a while. I stayed at one of their houses and met the other two there in a pub.

Windsor Night
Windsor Night

We actually started off in Eton. There are quite a few good venues in that area, many of which we had already experienced in the past. We got the evening underway at The Henry VI. It is a quality pub and it normally has some live music during the weekend. There was a guy singing and playing the guitar, while we were in there. Next we then headed just up the road to The George Inn to sample some of the ales from the local Windsor & Eton Brewery.

We ended the night in The King and Castle in Windsor, which is right opposite the Castle. It was a top evening. We spent the entire time chatting, joking and laughing. None of us can remember what we talked about, but we know we spent a large part of the evening just laughing, which is the sign of a good night. That is exactly how things should be with great friends, who you feel totally at ease with just being completely lost in the moment with them.

Ascot Beer Festival
Neil Quigley

I first became aware of the Mischief Theatre Company when I was talking to an actress friend of mine, who said she was hearing good things about a show that was a success at the Edinburgh Festival. It was due to come to the West End and she said it was worth seeing. That play was “The Play That Goes Wrong”. I eventually got round to seeing it. I went with a mate to see a matinee performance. We sat in the stalls. I really cannot remember the last time I laughed so much during a theatre show. It was brilliant from start to finish.

The members of the company write produce and perform in all of their shows. Well they do initially until they move on to their next show or when it goes on an UK Tour. The original cast of the “Play That Goes Wrong” even took it to Broadway. It was a huge hit in New York. It is actually still on in London and well worth seeing. The next play from them was Comedy About A Bank Robbery. I watched this in the West End with once again the original cast of the Mischief theatre players in it. It was also amazing, fast paced clever and funny.

They then thought they would try their hand at something festive and came up with Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Which was again brilliant. I happily also saw this with the original cast. In fact I have seen all of their shows early enough to see the founding members of this great collective perform in them. I recognise them all and know who they all are now. They are all fantastically talented actors with excellent comedy timing. Why am I telling you all this, you may ask?

Groan Ups

Well last week I went and saw their latest offering called Groan Ups at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was very original and funny. While still keeping with the style they are known for. Nobody is doing what the Mischief Theatre Company is currently. They have developed their own brand of craziness and creativity. That is extremely slick and very funny.

Groan Ups follows the lives of four children from their first year at school through to secondary school then on to a reunion. It is full of well-structured topical jokes and quality visual set pieces. There is a lot of silliness but I would expect nothing less and be disappointed if there was not. The staging and transition through the years is also so nicely done. I had a wonderful time seeing this show. It is ace.

Groan ups

The Mischief Theatre Company has a residency at the Vaudeville Theatre. They will be putting on a few different shows. The next of these opens on the 14th December and is called Magic Goes Wrong. That they have put together with help from the legendary American magicians Penn and Teller. I am already sure this will be excellent. I will definitely have to see it.

I want to wish them all the best with it. They seem like a decent bunch of people. Who as well as creating and performing very amusing shows, do a lot of charity fund raising to.

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

My mum and I are both big fans of Elvis Presley. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Graceland, which was amazing. She celebrated her 70th Birthday in September. For her present I got us tickets to see Elvis Presley in Concert Live on Screen with Live on Stage The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and some members of Elvis’s TCB Band. It sounded fantastic. I was looking forward to it as much as she was, I think.

To make the experience extra special I also booked us a night in a hotel right next to the O2 Arena, where the gig was taking place. It was last Sunday. We made our way to London around lunchtime and arrived in North Greenwich with plenty of time to relax before the gig. We were staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, which is so close to the venue, it even has its own walk way to get there. Which I must admit was very handy.

Intercontinental Hotel

I treated her to a lovely meal in the Brasserie Restaurant that they have there. We just went for a main and a pudding, both of which were fantastic for the record. They also have a Sky Bar there on the eighteenth floor. We popped up there for a quick drink. It has great views over the river and the Canary Wharf area of the City. It was really chilled and relaxing in there with jazz music playing. Then it was time to get ready for the main event.

Sky Bar

Using the special walk way between the hotel and the O2, we went and firstly collected our complimentary programmes and bags that I had organised, before going into the venue itself to enjoy a drink. It was then time to take our place ready for the start. I had got us some decent seats. We were seven rows from the front. Firstly the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra came out and played just an instrumental version of an Elvis song. Then Priscilla Presley appears on stage to set the scene and explain how this collaboration came about.

Elvis at O2

The orchestra then strike up and on the big screen right at the start of the first vocal Elvis appears singing totally in-sync with the music. The sound was brilliant, the live music was faultless and it was so cleverly done with Elvis singing and thanking the audience at the end of the songs. I was very impressed with how well the whole thing was put together. It cannot be easy to tie up live music with a video play out. Congratulations to the technical team. They did an excellent job.

We then had some more stories from Priscilla and Elvis’s great friend Jerry Schilling. They then introduced on to the stage what was the highlight of the night for me, some original members of the TCB Band. This was Elvis’s band of musicians he hand-picked, who played with him from around 1969 until the end of his life. For any non-Elvis fans TCB stands for Taking Care of Business. That was his mantra for looking after family, friends and employees. Plus it made up the work ethic for putting on shows and performing for his fans.

He had a massive TCB ring that he used to wear. Those initials were often on his clothes, in his cars and they were even on the tails of the two planes that he owned. They always featured alongside the logo a flash of lightning, meaning “Taking Care of Business in a flash” It is a philosophy and a way of dealing with things, which personally I really like and admire. Looking after people around you the best way you can. I own a couple of items of Elvis branded clothing that proudly display the TCB insignia.

Elvis at O2

The TCB band members performing at the 02 were his lead guitarist James Burton, who is just sensational, his keyboard player Glen D Martin, who also arranged many of “The Kings” hit songs and lastly his drummer Ronnie Tutt, who is considered by many as one of the best drummers of all time. Seeing those guys on stage together with a video of Elvis is the closest I could ever get to seeing the real thing. They had monitors on stage and just like they did when he was alive they were watching him closely on screen to feel the music and the direction from him on the flow of songs. For me it was truly magical.

The TCB Band members joined the Orchestra for a few songs at the end of each of the two halves. There was just something way more special about the songs they were involved with. During the second half Priscilla and Jerry came back out to talk us through some home videos from their private collection. They performed a lot of his big songs and as I said earlier they all sounded and looked great. They included his sense of fun on stage, the faces he would pull and how sometimes he would change the lyrics of songs for a laugh. I was in good company as Brian May from Queen was also in the audience watching it.

Elvis at O2

Both my mum and I had a brilliant night singing and dancing along. It was expertly put together and produced, I loved it! Afterwards we returned to the hotel, found the bar and had a couple of glasses of wine to relax and unwind, while talking about the gig. We then went to bed on a lovely post performance high. The power of music in life should never be underestimated. I am so pleased I caught this show.

Elvis at O2

I was involved in another Quiz show development run through recently. When you are trying to get something brand new on to the television, you need to test it to find out what works and what does not. If the thing you are producing is a game show of some kind, you need “contestants” to play it. This is where I come in. I really enjoy answering questions, so therefore I always like being involved with this kind of thing and jump at any opportunity to do so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

In this latest one, which took place in Central London I was paired up with somebody I had met previously, as it was a two player quiz. It was the first time I had played this particular game. I cannot tell you too much about it yet, as it is still in development. The production company are in the process of pitching it to television channels in the hope that they will buy it. In fact we were demonstrating it to a major channel’s representatives on this occasion.

What I can say is that it was an equally fun and frustrating game. It will be one of those that you can really shout along with at home. I like the idea behind it and the jeopardy involved throughout it. My partner and I actually won. Which I must confess I was pretty happy about. I am very competitive and I always enjoy winning. It was a fun couple of hours basically showing off in front of a crowd. It is always something I have a great time doing. I am hoping to do more of these things with this production company in the future. If it does make it on to the television, I will then be able to point it out to you.

Neil Quigley

I have now been to two Spurs home games with our new manager Jose Mourinho in charge. We have won both of these games, which is always a good thing. We still seem to have some problems at the back but we have no such issues at the other end with even Moussa Sissoko scoring his first goal for the club. Already in his short time with us the new boss has quite clearly tweaked the tactics slightly and adjusted the positions and roles of a few players. Which to be fair to him does seem to be mainly working.

He is already starting to win me over with what he is saying and of course the results he is getting. Unfortunately football is a results business and sadly for whatever reasons Mauricio Pochettino was not getting them this season. He is a great coach. He will get another big job soon and he will be very successful by the way. I am off to see us face Burnley at home this afternoon. Always a tough match, but one I hope and think we can win.

Neil Quigley

It is my birthday this Tuesday. Unusually for me I have not really got anything planned or organised this year for the day itself. Mind you I am off to The Comedy Store the night before, which will be good. I do also have plans for the following weekend. Therefore I am pretty sure I will manage enough celebrating of it.

It is not a landmark one as such, so no need to mark it with anything too special. But I expect I will end up doing something for it. I will tell you what that was when we speak next.

Neil Quigley

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

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.