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Memories of Johnny Collins

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GUEST,Keepers Lock 13 Jul 09 - 05:09 AM
George Papavgeris 18 Jul 09 - 05:13 PM
Leadfingers 18 Jul 09 - 05:41 PM
The Sandman 18 Jul 09 - 05:59 PM
Bill D 18 Jul 09 - 07:57 PM
Padre 18 Jul 09 - 09:14 PM
Leadfingers 19 Jul 09 - 06:52 AM
skipy 19 Jul 09 - 09:16 AM
Charley Noble 19 Jul 09 - 01:35 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Jul 09 - 01:41 PM
Emma B 19 Jul 09 - 02:09 PM
Dave Earl 19 Jul 09 - 02:16 PM
barnacle 19 Jul 09 - 03:17 PM
Songster Bob 19 Jul 09 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Jan 19 Jul 09 - 05:20 PM
Hovering Bob 19 Jul 09 - 05:54 PM
Pigstrings 19 Jul 09 - 09:09 PM
Leadfingers 19 Jul 09 - 09:22 PM
breezy 20 Jul 09 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Ben Campbell 20 Jul 09 - 05:19 AM
Phot 20 Jul 09 - 05:41 AM
the lemonade lady 20 Jul 09 - 06:01 AM
Nessie 20 Jul 09 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,scowie 20 Jul 09 - 11:33 AM
chrisgl 20 Jul 09 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,Chris Brady 21 Jul 09 - 07:59 AM
George Papavgeris 21 Jul 09 - 08:23 AM
BB 21 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM
Charley Noble 21 Jul 09 - 08:21 PM
George Papavgeris 28 Jul 09 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Webmaster - Folk London 29 Jul 09 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,Wemaster - Folk London 29 Jul 09 - 12:00 PM
Eye Lander 30 Jul 09 - 04:57 AM
GUEST,Brewhouse 30 Jul 09 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Graham Bradshaw 30 Jul 09 - 07:19 AM
Mrs Scarecrow 30 Jul 09 - 03:06 PM
BB 30 Jul 09 - 03:11 PM
George Papavgeris 30 Jul 09 - 03:16 PM
JohnB 31 Jul 09 - 12:56 AM
GUEST,Beverly 03 Aug 09 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,Justin Burnett 03 Aug 09 - 10:12 PM
SunrayFC 04 Aug 09 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,burl 04 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM
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Subject: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Keepers Lock
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 05:09 AM

Johnny Collins - Wonderful Singer, Incredible Man, Generous Friend
Loved by so many. The World will be a poorer place without you my friend. Rest in Peace.


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Subject: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 05:13 PM

I am purposely starting a separate thread for this, rather than append to the "obit", as I want to keep the sad news separate from the celebration of Johnny's life. (Joe please bear with me on this.) The intent is twofold: To collate information that can eventually be put together into a single document commemorating Johnny's many achievements and ways in which he affected people's lives; and to allow people to air their thoughts and memories of the great man as a way of coming to terms with his passing.

It is very much with the latter in mind that I am writing now. For, despite the fact that Nessie and I have only known Johnny for barely 9 years, his impact on me/us has been disproportionately great. And having helped with other Herga regulars today to empty Johnny's mobile home and sift through a lifetime's accumulation of memories (something I thankfully never had to do for my own parents as my sister in Greece took care of all that, bless her) my head is spinning and my heart is thumping. I hope that writing this will help me and perhaps give to others one man's perspective of a slice from what surely has been a rich and colourful and productive life.

We met Johnny and Joyce at Herga, when Tim Frost took us there for the first time in October 2000. And here's the first observation: We have only ever known Johnny as one half of a pair of what became our best friends in England. The relationship and interactions between Johnny and Joyce, the dinners and overnight stays at each others' homes, the conversations under increasing influence of samples from their extensive collection, the gigs with Joyce meticulously noting the songs Johnny sang, as he sang them (he used to joke about writing his setlists after the event), Johnny's look towards Joyce asking for help when he forgot the words (very rare) or when he couldn't get the last song out of his head ("trouble is, that last song had a great tune!"), the little touches of affection and the loving exasperation and ordinariness that are part of the fibre of any happy relationship, are all adding their own hues to our memories of Johnny.

Tim had played me a cassette of Johnny's singing before we went to Herga, so I thought I knew what to expect. Wrong, so wrong! Because the magnetic presence of the man, his love and care of the songs, his ease in delivery, were all part of the finished product to which no recording could ever do justice. Being newbies, at first we would position ourselves in a corner from where to observe proceedings, but we soon moved to sit behind Johnny and Joyce (themselves sitting at centre front in the Royal Oak's function room), all the better to enjoy the velvet of his bass. He was the only singer I know that could be heard loud and clear from behind. And as a result of this, the couple in front soon struck up conversations with us, and the rest is history.

When Mayday 2001 was approaching I wanted to sing a traditional Maysong, but was in too much awe of Johnny's stewardship of the tradition to dare to stand next to him singing a traditional song. My way out was to write my first song, "May memories never fade", as a direct result. And Johnny turned round from his front seat and smiled approvingly. So whatever other additional causes there might have been behind my songwriting, the catalyst was definitely Johnny.

Picture: Dinner at J+J's, and Johnny shyly asks if I minded if he learns "Heart of a sailor boy"! The first artist to want to sing one of my songs, and it had to be Johnny, and he was shy about it for chrissake! When lesser artists can be so full of themselves, the modesty of the man was immense.

Picture: February 2002 - my first gig, at Maidenhead FC. It seems that most of Herga is there to wish me well, but the biggest honour is seeing Johnny and Joyce there, beaming encouragingly at me and joining lustily in all the choruses, physically dragging with his voice everyone else to join along. And in February 2003, at Bishops Stortford FC, Johnny & Joyce are still there with the rest of the Herga folk, giving rise to Leadfingers' statement "I see you've brought your Georgettes along"). How could I not mention Johnny in "Friends like these" then - it was written for the Herga folk, with Johnny at the front.

Picture: Recording "Ordinary heroes" in the studio. Johnny offered to bring copies of the lyrics for all 11 participants and turns up on the first day with 12 (one for the engineer) beautifully bound booklets printed single-page and with lovely titles and front page. Such professionalism and loving care was unheard of by this slapdash Greek.

And then, during the recording of the choruses, I discovered that Martin (the engineer), who knew Johnny well, had to have separate settings for Johnny's voice ("stand a little further back, Johnny!").

Picture: Workum, Netherlands, the day before the Shanty Festival there. Strolling with Johnny through the town during the morning, looking for Joyce and Nessie who have been let loose on Workum's antique shops and galleries. It takes us more than 30 minutes to walk 200 metres, as everyone not only recognises Johnny, but wants to stop and talk with him. And Johnny remembers them all and asks about their latest news, and he is genuinely interested!

Picture: New Year's Eve 2008 - Johnny and Joyce coming to us. Johnny knows our love for the Dutch mustard soup, so he has made some to bring along. The labels on the containers are beautifully, lovingly constructed and printed "Vanessa's Mustard Soup". One of them is now stuck on our fridge to remind us. J+J also did the catering for our Nessie's and mine joint 50th birthday bash, and we have spent many hours exchanging recipes and trying recipes on each other.

Picture: Johnny standing to sing, the most enormous bunch of keys jangling from his belt loop, including bottle opener of course. He plays with them absentmindedly as he introduces a song. To my mind those keys are symbolic of the hearts he unlocked.

Picture: This morning, at Johnny's mobile home (more like dumping ground/safe storage for a lifetime's memories). In a presentation box there is ship's biscuit - hard, indestructible thing. "Presented to Johnny Collins on the occasion of...". From a cardboard box full of cards I pick out an old Heavy Goods Vehicle driving licence. It is Johnny's - I never knew he had an HGV licence. I rationalise that there was too much to the man, for one person to know.

But what I do know fills me.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 05:41 PM

For me , among MANY memories , the number of times Johnny asked me to play Whistle with him on Pedlar of Songs !


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 05:59 PM

well many memories.
but a similiar situation to George,when Johnny asked if he minded whether he recorded Sailortown.minded,I was delighted.
but that was Johnny, politeness and good manners personified.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 07:57 PM

Memories then....since as I posted in the thread, I only met him once, at a house concert in the USA, I have only the memory of him kneeling before me, hands together in supplication....*smile*

I suppose that needs explaining:

That concert with Johnny & Jim was at Mike Rivers' place in Virginia, across the river from Wash DC...it may have been 23-24 years ago. I lose track.


Not sure how this story will hit a non-beer drinker...but...(Johnny CARED about his beer)

We had a very nice opening set, then at the break, someone asked them if they'd like a beer. "Ummm...what have you got?", asks Johnny...

"Well", says Mike..(or someone)" some Bud, or some Millers..."

Johnny looks...dubious, but prepared...(He later explained that in the US, they often drank "Iron City" beer from Pittsburg, because "It at least had a flavor.")

Bill D steps forward with his cooler. (always be prepared).."Would you like some Sam Smith's?"

With about 2.4 nanoseconds pause, Johnny drops to one knee in front of me, hands in prayerful position..."Jim... Jim!", he calls.." 'es got Sam Smiths!!!"

"Ale or stout?" says I. "Oh...ALE!", they say in unison. I opened 2 Sam Smiths ales for them, with Johnny happily telling me about suffering with Iron City in order to get ANY flavor...I drank the stout. Johnny was SO polite in his genteel condemnation of American beer - which at that time was pretty accurate.
The rest of the concert was quite nice....

A fine memory......


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Padre
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 09:14 PM

One year at the Ponterdawe festival, I had nackered my voice during the evening pub sing (too much smoke, and not enough beer?). The next morning, we (The Boarding Party) were scheduled for an early set, with Jim and Johnny. When I showed up in a whisper, Johnny proclaimed, "I've got just the thing for you." He left the tent, and returned with two cans of Guiness and the following instructions: "Drink one now, and open the other just before the set begins. Sing softly at first, and keep sipping on the second can." Darn if it didn't work, and by the middle of the set, I could sing at full throttle (not his full throttle, but mine).

Padre


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 06:52 AM

I Should have added how FLATTERING it was to be invite to join such a superb performer


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: skipy
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 09:16 AM

On of my fondest memories goes back to the late 80s. Location Stanford in the Vale, Johnny had been doing the catering at the Horse & jockey. His van was in the car park next to the paddock where the marquee was located. At the entrance to the paddock there is an old tack shed, we used to use it to store festival equipment etc. It was the early hours of Sunday morning, probably about 4am, most punters had gone to the campsite. I was just closing the site down, we where in the middle of a formidable storm. Sheltering in the tack shed with Johnny & a few others we saw what looked to be a firework display! 4am in the rain? I think not! So I went to investigate, it turned out that a mains power cable had come down & was whipping across a road and across an old gentleman's garden! He was standing in his doorway in his PJs! Terrified! I got him back into his house & called for the emerg. services. Once they arrived (only a few minutes) I went back to the site, as I approached the H&J I could hear singing! On entering the tack shed, soaked & a little shaken I saw a sight I will never forget! Johnny & 3 or maybe 4 others, sat around a tin bath, boots & socks off with their feet in warm water (the contents of the Singing Chefs baby burcos). Each one was holding a midnight special, needless to say I joined in! After the singing stopped Johnny & 2 others where showing each other their operation scars!
Bare in mind, that Johnny had started the day serving breakfasts, manned the SC caravan all day, been to cash & carry & performed on main stage! Any person in their right mind would have gone to bed, hours ago! But that was not Johnny's way! He lived every minute & I for one am proud to have lived a few of them with him.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 01:35 PM

Keep 'em coming!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 01:41 PM

It was just such a privilege to have Johnny as a member of my home folk club since the mid 1970s.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Emma B
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 02:09 PM

Johnny and Joyce took me into their Singing Chef kitchen and hearts some years ago when I was at a low ebb and restored much of my belief in myself while working as part of a warm, supportive team, with moments of pure crisis as we unexpectly ran out of something :)

I'll never forget those wonderful silly late night sessions in the main hall at Warwick Folk Festival.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Dave Earl
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 02:16 PM

It was always a delight to see and hear Johnny do his stuff and a particular honour when he came and sang at my "Significant" birthday bash in Lewes.

The Whittlebury pancakes were wonderful

Dave


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: barnacle
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 03:17 PM

I've got memories of Johnny since the early 70s, when he was a regular guest at Hartlepool Folk Club. Lost touch for a while when I moved to Norfolk, but found Johnny again and as a Norfolk boy he visited his mum regularly and he and Joyce often came to stay with us.

We had great sings together at Lancaster, Bridgenorth and Bromyard, recorded an album with him (although it was never released, co-opted him into the odd gig and shared lots of happy times.

The fondest memories, however are those of ships and shanties, especially Brest as singers and as sailors. John (hubby) and I sailed on the Grand Turk and Johnny was on the Julia. My mobile rang, it was Johnny. "How are you?", he asked "OK".I answered "and what about you?" His reply was "I think we are sinking!". Julia didn't sink, we met up in Brest and had lots of singing (and a little drinking) on Julia with Tom Lewis, lots of Poles, Johnny, ourlselves and Ken and his crew.

Joyce, Ken and hubby share a birthday and together we celebrated Ken's 60th - hubby has never been so drunk. We shared Johnny's 70th at the Herga. He was as happy as a sandboy, surrounded by friends and family.

I last spoke to him the day he was packing to go off to Poland. I never thought it would be the last time - we were looking forward to he and Joyce staying with us for Great Yarmouth Festival. We'll think about him - always, and miss him - lots.

Sue and John


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Songster Bob
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 03:46 PM

Jim and Johnny stayed at our house in Arlington, VA during one tour of the DC area, and we took Johnny to Tyson's Corners mall, to Williams-Sonoma, as I recall. Johnny wanted to get a specific size cooking pot (or at least was on the lookout for one -- I don't recall that we went there for a specific reason). He found one that would have been far too much money, except it had a sizable dent in the bottom, so it was marked down. I asked how he was going to get it into his suitcase, and he said he'd just fill it with his dirty clothes!

And, since we don't keep beer on the premises, we went shopping for the good stuff, or made do with single-malt scotches. As I recall, their concerts were superb, too.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Jan
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 05:20 PM

Some years ago at Swansea Maritime Festival Prince Charles came to make an official visit - his first stop was at The Chantey Cabin and after the formal greetings and comments we began talking about Maritime music ( a subject he was genuinely interested in !!) and was looking at the display CD's spotting a picture of Johnny with full flowing beard " That is the face of a traditional British Mariner with a great beard" said HRH.

We related this story to Johnny later in the day and a huge smile spread across his face!!!

" My mum has always hated my beard but at last I can now tell her it has Royal Approval!"

He rejoiced in telling the tale many times

Good Night and God Bless dear friend


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Hovering Bob
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 05:54 PM

Well, where to start! I met Johnny and Joyce at Cheddar Folk Club, where I was considered a 'resident singer' for a short while even though I lived and worked in Reading. Having been introduced as a 'London' singer (to Snab Reading was London!) Johnny got talking to me and invited me to go to Herga Folk Club with him and Joyce. The next thing I knew I was recruited to join 'The Singing Chef' team.
        It certainly changed my life and my friendship with Johnny and Joyce saw me through some very difficult times in my life. Their support and guidance held me together.
        They were with me during the bad times and, I'm delighted to say, the good times. It was through the Singing Chef that I met Helen and Johnny was my best man when she and I were married.

        Memories of Johnny are of a very genuine, generous, unpretentious man with no awareness of his own greatness. He would do anything to help if he knew you were in trouble or there was something he could do for you.

        As EmmB has said, we all had some wonderful times working for the Singing Chef; late nights and sharing midnight specials after a long day as we mulled over the days events. I think we all worried about Johnny's health as he pushed himself, as we all did, in the heat and pressure of a catering operation, but he never hid behind his condition.

        Many have commented on Johnny's amazing voice, but the thing that stays me is that whenever he was joining in the choruses at any event, yes, you could hear his wonderful bass harmonies, but he never pushed his voice above the level of the lead singer - and he certainly had the power to do so, had he so wished.
        He was a very skilled guitar player although he rarely used it.   Like many of the really great performers, his choice of material was one of his great strengths; I don't think I ever heard him sing a 'so-so' song, they were all gems!

        Many, many good memories that will cheer me for years to come. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have known Johnny and to have called him friend.

BobH


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Pigstrings
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 09:09 PM

I am saddened to hear Johnny Collins has left us. Anyone else remember the excellent Cellar Bar sessions at Bracknell South Hill Park Festival in the late '70s, early 80s?

Johnny was one of those singers who made you want to sing. His talent and his love for song was inspirational. In that respect, he is with us still, every time anyone sings a song they learned from him, or one they shared with that magnificent voice.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 09:22 PM

Pigstrings - Bracknell Folk Club still meets regularly in the Cellar
at South Hill Park - Alt Wednesdays at the moment ! And the acoustics are still as good , though there arent the numbers for the harmonies to bounce back off the ceiling !


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: breezy
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 04:37 AM

Johnny made me feel most welcome when I went to Herga on my 3rd attempt after meeting George Papavgeris at a singaround.

His warm smile and words of praise and encouragement and 'who wrote that' and 'can I get the words' to a song by Sav

I had a gig in Bedford 2000 ish and took along George and Johnny accepted an invitation to be a backing vocalist! he sat with us in the Blue Anchor in St Albans on a St Michael's folk evening.

He always accepted the invitation to sing with me and I so enjoyed the opportunity to accompany him, maybe bathing in reflected glory, and on a recent gig in Watford to have George, Moses and Johnny Collins join me for the last song was for me a golden moment.

If you had to follow him as a performer, you had to be on your toes, but his 'end of evening after gig words' that I took away with me will be cherished for always.

'Do you give guitar lessons?'

he didnt need them , he was an true artiste, of the old kind

I'll recount the time I booked Ben Campbell to appear in St Albans, Johnny said 'I'll come', Ihey hadnt since they were in Singapore together where Johnny was running the folk club, and Ben got somewhat pissed and got thrown in jail !!

maybe someone can get Ben on here, maybe I will

t b c


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Ben Campbell
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 05:19 AM

In 1968 I was serving as a Royal Marine in Singapore. I had never been to a folk club but had been singing at family gatherings and in choirs since 2 yrs old!
A corporal called "Bungy" Williams had told me of a folk club running in the Sergeants mess of the Malaria Control Centre – the club was called "The Anophele Inn" and was run by this guy called Johnny Collins.
After a three month trip on HMS Bulwark we got back to Singapore and decided to give the club a visit. Unfortunately we drank way too much rum and became very rowdy! Johnny politely but firmly grabbed me by the arm and propelled me out of the door along with my even more drunk mate. Two hours later we were arrested by the shore patrol and spent two weeks in Tanglin prison on detention!!
After being released I went back to the club – Johnny was a bit concerned and even more surprised when I asked if I could sing a song – I have been singing and running clubs ever since!
Johnny introduced me to a whole new world of songs and singers. The first LP I listened to was borrowed from him – it was Louis Killen's Ballads and Broadsides – I was hooked.
Johnny was an inspiration to me, he was always ready to lend a hand with a song and when Johnny let rip on a chorus nobody slept!
The world of folk music will not be the same without his deep and beautiful voice and his lifelong commitment to English songs and singing.
Rest in peace old friend – we will sorely miss but never forget you.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Phot
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 05:41 AM

Some years ago at Bridgenorth festival, I stuck my head around the door of the big sing, huge hall with about 2-300 people in it. Johnny was in the middle of the guests on stage, and 'pinged' me straight away. "I know you can sing" he said pointing at me. How can you say no to a bloke like him? I let fly with Blood Red Roses, and in that big hall, his huge voice came over the top of everyone elses'. And that will stay with me forever.

Wassail!! Chris


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 06:01 AM

Johnny lovely tones asking for a special lemonade (with Canderel)and his laughter will be missed.

sal


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Nessie
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 08:58 AM

Johnny and Joyce took us under their wings, as they must have done for countless others, when we returned to the UK in 2000 and rejoined the folk community and have been the best of friends since. I don't believe George would have found his voice as a songwriter but for Johnny's gentle encouragement and support. He was so often the first person to learn and sing out many budding songwriters' songs, a true champion of our music. I know Mike Sparks was choked when he learned his 'Reach for the Gin' was Johnny's last public song.

Johnny was one of those rare and special people who focused on whoever he was with and who cared for all he met. To see his face light up when he saw you, the arms go out for that enveloping hug and growl made every meeting a joy. We'll all have our own precious memories of him; a couple of mine are his singing 'Bound for South Australia' very shortly after we'd joined Herga because I was off to see my son there for the first time, and experiencing THAT voice in a canal tunnel.

Though he joked he'd been told he was a 'living leg-end', his humility was such that he never fully grasped his status. We're thankful, lucky and richer to have know this kind, generous and erudite man.

Vanessa P


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,scowie
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 11:33 AM

Johhny was a regular guest at Bury Folk Club, but i really got to know him at the old Poynton Folk Festival in the former village school. he would cook me an omelete for breakfast that surpassed all others.
I took my father along when he retired, and Johnny was made up because the old feller could sing superbly in the manner of Josef Locke, and didn't Johnny like that some! they became mates. Many of you will know the song When All Men Sing, the words got written on the return from that great sing. The next year i offered the words to Himself, but he declined saying that this could be a really great song , but give it to Derek Gifford, as he himself did not think he could do it justice by way of a tune. Many a lesser man would have grabbed hold and not let go even if they thought that was the case.
This is my measure of the man, his generousity of Spirit made him a giant in this world of mortals, and earned my undyinging admiration.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: chrisgl
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 07:33 PM

The Monday before Johnny went to Poland I sang "The Old Sow" at Herga. My mother had taught it me and /she/ could whistle using fingers, a trick I've never managed. The song demands a good, loud whistle so I use one of those siren whistles.
My version is a bit different to that in Digitrad:
There was an old farmer, 'e 'ad an old sow
[FX: snort] ow
[FX: raspberry] ow
[FX: whistle] idle dee dow

At the end Johnny announced with that twinkle in his eye that he thought it'd be much better if I just used the whistle and left out the words.

chris :-)


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Chris Brady
Date: 21 Jul 09 - 07:59 AM

Please can someone email me Joyce's address so that I can send her a card. Also does anyone know about the funeral arrangements please? Many thanks - chrisjbradyATyahooDOTcom


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 21 Jul 09 - 08:23 AM

Done


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: BB
Date: 21 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM

Memories - too many to enumerate, but a few...

I can't remember when we first met Johnny, but it would have been at somewhere like Berks. Midsummer or Bracknell FF. But the sheer joy of singing, particularly singing with others was always immediately evident, particularly the leaning towards others singing in harmony in order to relish the sound they were all able to make. It was never a case of competing with others, but blending with others.

We were very sad when he couldn't make the very first Song & Ale at Rockbourne in 1980 as he was working in Saudi Arabia at the time, and he was quite jealous of everyone who WAS able to be there - he didn't miss another one for many, many years, and in fact he and Joyce were in charge of the kitchen at Whittlebury for a long time.

Someone above said how meticulous Johnny was when recording, preparing sheets with the words on for all the chorus singers - which he did at a time when it was far more time-consuming that it is now - and sent them out with a tape well in advance.

And at an advance rehearsal for the 'Free and Easy' album, Johnny and Jim had just come back from Holland, they'd brought back some cheese. Now Tom and I had never really liked Edam, but the one they brought back was a MATURE one, with caraway seeds in, with the information that the Dutch think we're mad eating Edam so young. We've been looking for some ever since! Found it with cumin seeds, but not caraway.

It was always a joy to sing with him, and it's hard to have to get used to never doing so again.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Jul 09 - 08:21 PM


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 04:17 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Webmaster - Folk London
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 11:57 AM

Details of funeral arrangements posted at www.folklondon.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Wemaster - Folk London
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 12:00 PM

Sorry, typo on the link, try this one: www.folklondon.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Eye Lander
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:57 AM

My memories are few as I haven't been on the folk scene for many years but they are of a very lovely and generous person.

My second ever folk festival was Bridgnorth 2002 and the trip on the train to another town was exciting. We went to a pub where Johnny and Jim started the singround.   Johnny stood up and told us that the first time they sang together was at the Sloop Folk Club on the Isle of Wight in the late 60's. The pub is just a stones throw from where I live now. I have asked myself a thousand times (especialy as my friend went every Friday) WHY DIDN'T I GO!!

I saw him again at Chippenham where he was singing in the church, his voice rang out and filled the church with 'Lines Upon the Water'. How I loved that song and he later emailed me the lyrics and the details who wrote the song. But I didn't have the tune. The following year we were at Bridgnorth again, same pub, I asked him if he would sing it for me. He asked 'Do you have a song stealer with you'? I said yes and he took it and almost used it as a microphone. I am so very grateful, it took me another couple of years to pluck the courage to sing the song but I did and now I shall sing it with even more pride.

Whittlebury - no Johnny's pancakes?

Jillie


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Brewhouse
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 05:44 AM

We recorded Johnny with the Norfolk Shanty group Mollyhawks. Very happy days.He was big hearted, big voiced and a great human being. We will miss him.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Graham Bradshaw
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:19 AM

I was privileged to work with Johnny many times, and we became good friends. There are so many occasions, but one legendary time still sticks in my mind.

I was at the Haddenham Ceilidhs with Peeping Tom (prob in the 90s) and they got him up to do a song with them. The Carter Lad i think, but he donned Pete's Stratocaster, and somebody found him a black leather jacket, and he launched into the song with the Peeps thundering away behind. No slouch on the leccy guitar either. And the Collins glint in the eye of course. Magical.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:06 PM

Johnny has always encouraged me as a songwriter and I'm not sure whether I like the memory best of the first time I met him when he asked if he could learn one of my songs, sadly he never got round to it, or the last time I saw him when he joined in one with gusto and made everyone else join in too, or all the times imbetween when we always had to have a hug. A truly wonderful man


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: BB
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:11 PM

I've just remembered, Johnny used to occasionally sing with the Portsmouth group Long-Felt Want (Tom Lewis, Sooty Broughton & Pete Watkinson) and when he did so was introduced as the hyphen - in fact, they all had T-shirts with the individual words on, including Johnny with the hyphen!

What a sound, too!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:16 PM

SOmething Eye Lander said triggered a thought. I know that Joyce would love to have a recording of "Shine On", a song Johnny added to his repertoire recently, and hadn't therefore recorded on any album. And I would love to have a recording of him singing "Heart of a sailor boy".

So, if there is anyone out there with recordings from Johnny's concerts in the last year or two and would be willing to send me a copy, please PM me or email me at george(squiggly "a")folk4all(fullstop)net.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: JohnB
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 12:56 AM

The first time I met Johnny was in Beverly's kitchen in Toronto, we spent a couple of days driving around the wineries in teh Niagara region, Beverly driving, Johnny and I in the back singing. I never even realized how lucky I was.
I had downloaded the words to Scowies "When All Men Sing" from mudcat about six months earlier but didn't know the tune. There it was on one of Johnny's CD's and there on another, another song tune I wanted, well I ended up with five of them.
I went to Lancaster Maritme Festival when in the UK in 2004 walked out of a pub and right into Johnny "what on earth are you doing here he said" a couple of the guys I had gone with later said to me "what's all this you come over here from Canada and end up carousing with the "Star of the Show"" well what did I know.
That's also the day I met Scowie (another story for another day".
Well we had some good times at Bromyard as well on our visits there.
Also at hte Millrace Folk Festival in Cambridge Ontario, where Johnny also appeared a few times.
It's this weekend, the sing around in the Golden Kiwi is now entitled the "Johnny Collins Memerial sing around, if you are there, I will be the one singing "When All Men Sing"
JohnB.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Beverly
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 09:47 PM

I wasn't planning to add to this thread, since there are so many memories tumbling constantly through my head - however, it is sweetcorn season in Ontario, as it was last year when Johnny, Jim and Graeme came over to perform at Millrace, as well as several house concerts. As I was preparing dinner tonight (complete with fresh sweetcorn) I recalled with a smile Johnny helping me get ready for "The Opening Act", a dinner party welcoming the lads to our side of the pond. Johnny was shucking corn, 4 dozen ears, - one leaf at a time - and then one strand of silk at a time; all the while talking to me, singing to me. Finally though, I had to remind him just how much there was to do, and how much time we had to do it in.

He gave me his signature grin, and said "Right then. I'm a good boy, really.".

Beverly


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Justin Burnett
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 10:12 PM

My acquaintance with Johnny was brief, but I found him quite delightful. I introduced him in my role as MC at last year's Mill Race Folk Festival in Cambridge, Ontario, where he was performing with Graeme Knights and Jim Mageean. They were immensely talented and entertaining, and great gentlemen to have a chat with before and after. I had been hoping to see them all perform again at some point, but I guess that's not to be. I do, however, have some video footage of them, which I'll get online at some point.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: SunrayFC
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 01:44 AM

Happily we did manage to record quite a few songs of Johnny when he visited the SUNRAY FOLK CLUB, back in Feb 09.

Happy memories....

The list of songs we have are found here.....


http://www.sunrayfolkclub.co.uk/PikandMix.htm


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,burl
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM

My memories of John (I don't know why, but I always called him John rather than Johnny) go back a long way. I first met him in either the mid 1960's or early '70s, can't remember for sure and I've long since lost the diary, when I arrived in the West country for a tour. In those days there was a federation that handled 2 geographically arranged tours,each one taking a different route around the area. There were plenty enough clubs for this in those days. On arriving at my first club I was surprised to find that the guest advertised was one Johnny Collins, someone I'd never heard of, and furthermore I thought I was the guest that night, and had a contract to prove it. We talked, compared notes, and found that we each had been booked on the same tour, neither of us knowing this in advance. There had obviously been some admin mix-up, but we sorted the problem amicably by each one taking the guest spot alternatively,whist introducing the other as a 'special floor spot',and dividing up the money afterwards. I was a non-driver, so John drove me in his van which happened to have a passenger seat unfastened to the floor. Hair -raising, but interesting journeys resulted. We became friends on that trip, and remained so ever after, He was recently out of the army and just starting to get himself known around the clubs. I was happy to help him do so for a man of such devotion to song, and such ability,belonged on the scene. Johnny Collins adorned our folk world with his music and personality for a long time, and we loved him. I can't help feeling that had he taken things more easily when his illness grew serious he might have stayed longer with us. But, he loved to perform, and he went out in harness, just the way he would have chosen I suspect. I have many other memories of my long association with the Pedlar of Songs,but they are for another time.   One thing is certain,I will never forget him.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 03:49 AM

Sunray (sorry, don't know your name) - have you thought of advertising a Johnny Collins CD? You've got 18 songs listed by Johnny; if my maths is right, that would add up to a tenner including postage, for what I'm sure would be a cracking CD. If you didn't want to appear to be profiteering, you could donate any profit you did make on it to one of the charities nominated by Johnny's family (RNLI and Diabetes UK).

Up to you, obviously, but I'm sure there'd be a lot of interest.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: SunrayFC
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 05:25 AM

My name is Bob Kirkpatrick and I run the Sunray Folk Club. Johnny did a wonderful evening for us in February 2009 which was recorded. Joyce and Johnny stayed overnight with us, so in many ways I have wonderful memories. That should help explain who I am.

So far I hadn't decided what to do, to be fair.

The recordings however, are great- I am sending two out today for the two people who have requested them. Was listening to it myself and it brought back the evening. To hear the audience joining in is lovely too.

There is a bonus track of an interview Johnny did before the club started.

Hope this explains.....


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: BB
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:33 PM

I understand that Dave Webber, Jim Mageean, and Tim Frost of Herga FC are looking at the possibility of a CD of live recordings of Johnny. This may assist you in deciding what to do with yours, Bob.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: SunrayFC
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 03:13 PM

The CD's are available now by email, and the RNLI will benefit.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,The Goose Is Out
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:14 PM

discovered Johnny and his music only a couple of years ago . very glad I was lucky enough to see him at Chepstow a couple of years ago .. It was brilliant ... sad that he has gone .


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: bavis
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 02:57 PM

Once upon a time, a very long time ago I was walking across the camp site at a festival and spotted a gentleman trying to blow up his blue lilo. He was struggling and hyperventilating so me being me stopped and asked if he wanted some help. The rest is history as they say but for those who don't, know that evening in the packed car park outside the pub (in those days we had to wait for them to open) someone (I believe Dave Field) shouted at the top of his voice 'Sarah gave Johnny a blow job'. By the end of the evening Dave Holden had added a verse to a song (memory fails me) and by the end of the festival badges were in existence that sported the words 'I gave JC a blow job and survived' or things like 'what's a blow job and who the hell is this JC anyway' We became friends JC and I but as often, life got in the way and I did not see or hear about him for many years due to me being absent from the folk scene. On my first foray back into festival life I met Graham King, another old friend who introduced me to Joyce by saying do you know who this is? On her negative reply he made a circle with his thumb and forefinger and blew through it at which point her face split into a grin and she uttered the words 'I have waited eight years to meet you. Boy was I relieved. Not only did JC remember me but to our surprise he also remembered my telephone number which is amazing after his ill health but a testament to the his ability to learn and carry songs not only in his mind but in his heart. Several years of Singing Chef eventually followed thanks to Bob H and I am so very glad that for a very small time compared to some I could call him friend and that I came to know Joyce through that chance blowing up a lilo.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 09:02 AM

The CD's are available now by email, and the RNLI will benefit.

Mine arrived at the weekend - I'll get the cheque in the post today, Bob - and I can confirm it's a terrific album. Here's the track listing. I was curious about where some of the songs came from, so I've googled up author details where I could find them. (Some of the titles are different from the ones given on the CD sleeve.)

1.        Introduction
2.        When all men sing (Keith Scowcroft and Derek Gifford)
3.        Hooks and nets (Ian Woods)
4.        All the good food (?)
5.        The curee of Langton (?)
6.        I polishes shoes (?)
7.        The boys of Killybegs (Tommy Makem)
8.        Let peace prevail (Joyce Nelson)
9.        Poor old man (Trad.)
10.        Shiney-O (Trad.)
11.        Blow the man down (Trad.)
12.        English ale (Harvey Andrews)
13.        Reunion (Cyril Tawney)
14.        Time enough tomorrow (Alex Glasgow)
15.        Shine on (John Richards)
16.        Parting song (Dave Webber)
17.        Last Shanty (Tom Lewis) and Marching Inland (Tom Lewis)
18.        The Minstrel Song (Alan Bell)
19.        Encore: The shores of Jordan (Iris DeMent)

I'm curious about the three songs I haven't managed to track down - "All the good food" (a poaching song - not sure about the title, as Johnny seems to be singing "wood"); "The curee of Langton" (a poacher's gallows song - wonder if the title should be 'curse'?); and "I polishes shoes". The Langton song (supposedly sung by a poacher from Worksop, if that helps) seems to be traditional; "I polishes shoes" sounds Victorian or early C20, and the "good food" song sounds contemporary. (And some of the material on this CD is quite surprisingly contemporary - the Joyce Nelson song was written after September 11th.) Anyone recognise any of these?

Excellent CD, anyway, and I'd encourage anyone who appreciated Johnny's singing to get a copy - PM Bob (SunrayFC above), or have a look at this page.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST,Griff
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:04 AM

Pip,
I believe song #4 is "Oh the Good Wood".


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:28 AM

I have a vague memory that " I polishes shoes sir" was written by "Old Father Ted" of Southampton or thereabouts.
Andy


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 03:48 PM

Having been away at Sidmouth and Dartmoor - there were so many songs sung that made me think, "Johnny sang that", and I will hear him singing them whenever I hear them sung!

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Menolly
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 04:31 PM

Like so many others I have many, many memories of Johnny going back over about 35 years but a very special one from the early days, I was eight months pregnant at the old Poynton Folk Festival at Easter. I was sitting in a concert and the baby was dancing. He learnt to appreciate the music very early on but having him dancing on my inside was extremely uncomfortable. Two gentlemen came to my aid, sat on either side of me. They laid hands on my distended stomach and pressed. The two gentlemen were Stan Hugill and Johnny Collins. Oddly my son did not grow up to be a shanty singer!
Gillian


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:08 PM

Thanks, Andy and Griff. So that's:

4. Good Wood (Fred Rooke)
6. I polishes shoes, sir (Ted Comben)

(I must confess I've never heard of either of these gentlemen before tonight.)

As for track 5, here's the first verse:

O my name is Thomas Hanley and in Worksop I did dwell
I meant no harm to nobody and the truth to you I'll tell
I took an inclination for to go and shoot some game
And for it I am summonèd and lose my honest name.


Anyone know this one?


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Houston_Diamond
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 06:43 PM

I wanted to write something but there are so many good memories.

I guess my favourite because I was so young I remember going to Johnny's catering van after the hurricane at Towersey, he had a great big pot of chili con carne which tasted the best, made me forget there was a campsite of devastation outside :)

Thanks


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 04:18 AM

"6. I polishes shoes, sir (Ted Comben)"


Not sure on who it's by but it is definitely called Boot Black's Lament.

Don't know if that helps


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Polly Squeezebox
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 06:18 AM

ARTICLE FROM WILTSHIRE GAZETTE & HERALD

Tributes to Chippenham Folk Festival singer
10:23am Tuesday 11th August 2009

Comments (0)   Have your say »

By Scott McPherson »


Organisers of the Chippenham Folk Festival have paid tribute to long-standing festival singer Johnny Collins who has died suddenly on tour.

Mr Collins, 71, who had been a resident singer at the popular festival for more than ten years, died of a heart attack while on tour in Poland last month.

A spokesman for the festival committee said: "We 'adopted' Johnny as a resident singer at the festival some ten years ago and have always found his contribution valuable and gave a common grounding to participation and singing.

"We will all miss him dearly and will do what we can to keep his memory alive at the next festival and in subsequent years.

"I think the best quote we have heard recently was 'if when you hear some distant thunder and it sounds a bit deeper than usual then that will be Johnny joining in'.

"Our hearts go out to Joyce and Johnny's family.

"All the more sadder for his loss."

Mr Collins' funeral will be held on Thursday in Ruislip, Middlesex.

(I suspect that thanks are due to Bob Berry for the inclusion of the above article in the local Chippenmham rag. It's nice to know that those outside the 'folk community' are able to recognise his passing. Polly)


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: BB
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 10:12 AM

If my memory serves me correctly, Track 5 is a song called 'Thomas Hanley' by Roger Watson, and was on Johnny's 'Free and Easy' album - can't check as I'm away from home at present.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 11:26 AM

But I am home and can check and can confirm exactly what Barbara said.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 04:47 PM

Thanks, all. I'm kicking myself for not spotting Thomas Hanley - I've actually got Free and Easy!

So here's that track listing again:

1. Introduction
2. When all men sing (Keith Scowcroft and Derek Gifford)
3. Hooks and nets (Ian Woods)
4. The good wood (Fred Rooke)
5. Thomas Hanley (Roger Watson)
6. The bootblack's lament (Dave Cutler)
7. The boys of Killybegs (Tommy Makem)
8. Let peace prevail (Joyce Nelson)
9. Poor old man (Trad.)
10. Shiney-O (Trad.)
11. Blow the man down (Trad.)
12. English ale (Harvey Andrews)
13. Reunion (Cyril Tawney)
14. Time enough tomorrow (Alex Glasgow)
15. Shine on (John Richards)
16. Parting song (Dave Webber)
17. Last Shanty (Tom Lewis) and Marching Inland (Tom Lewis)
18. The Minstrel Song (Alan Bell)
19. Encore: The shores of Jordan (Iris DeMent)
20. Bonus track: interview with JC

That's quite a collection of songs - and songwriters; only one writer favoured with two songs, and I think that was inadvertent (JC did the intro for Marching Inland then launched into Last Shanty by mistake). A fine album.


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: seaJane
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 07:00 PM

I was at that Sunray gig - loved it - was looking forward to the February booking :(

suspect Bob will remember me chiefly for having to get my car off the rock in the driveway


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: SunrayFC
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 02:45 AM

Remember you well seaJane!

Your CD's are packed and ready to go.

Thanx


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Subject: RE: Memories of Johnny Collins
From: Richard Atkins
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 08:51 PM

I gave a DVD of Johnny and Jim at Bromyard 2004 to Joyce and Jim at Warwick saying "put it away for later at this time"
Felt uneasy at that time and still do.
May there be special recorded moments later then from others as well.
Johnnys send away was the best ever.


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