Goodbye, Pat Upton!
Danee Samonte (The Philippine Star) - July 31, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Just last year, I spoke with Pat Upton and told him I would like to bring him back to the Philippines for a concert tour. He sounded very excited because it’s been years since his last performance in Manila. I planned to take him to Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo and other cities after the Manila show. I made the necessary preparations and venue bookings for the shows when he suddenly called and said he can’t make it. I felt so disappointed because he didn’t even give me a reason why. I only found months later that he was ailing and wasn’t allowed to travel long haul (Pat lives in Alabama). This morning (July 28), my heart sank when John Gummoe told me he passed away.

Words cannot express my profound gratitude to the one artist that started my career as concert promoter during Valentine season 12 years ago. Despite having tough competition from other artists like Toto, James Ingram, Patti Austin, BoyzIIMen, Brian McKnight and America at that time, the concerts of Pat were a big success with SROs at the NBC Tent and Hard Rock Café. Pat’s first Philippine tour despite negative advice from close friends gave me enough confidence to push through with promoting artists for the adult market. I haven’t looked back since then. I clearly remember lots of incidents funny stories from that tour in February of 2004.

Upon reaching the rehearsal studio for our first session, I handed Pat a list of songs I requested him to perform. There was puzzlement on his face when he read the list. I asked why he had that look and he quickly replied, “I don’t know most of these songs.” I then said, “Pat these are the songs you composed for the first Spiral Starecase album and they are big hits here.” He pondered for a while then broke into a wide smile and said, “I guess I’ll have to learn them again.” He later intimated that most songs he sang on the Spiral Starecase album were forgotten after the recording session and were never performed live.

After the phenomenal success of the first album, Spiral Starecase split up and Pat embarked on a solo career. He signed up with RCA Records and had two hits including the Pinoy favorite She Said Goodbye. After his stint with RCA, Pat joined the late teen idol Ricky Nelson’s band and toured extensively. Because he never imagined in his wildest dreams that he was popular in the Philippines, he had sudden stage fright when he saw close to 2,000 people in his sold-out concert at the NBC Tent applauding him. He started forgetting the lyrics of his monster hit More Today Than Yesterday but the crowd was very forgiving and sang along with him.

One request Pat had when he arrived was to taste native food. I tasked my comadre Eileen Macapagal (wife of Joey de Leon), who is an expert in native delicacies and cuisine, to prepare something native. She went a little extreme though by serving lechon, pancit, kare-kare and binagoongan, sinigang na bangus, lumpia ubod and pinakbet on banana leaves sans spoon and fork. Pat did enjoy the food but had a difficult time eating kamayan-style. At the end of the dinner, his shirt and pants had kare-kare and lechon sarsa stains and reeked of bagoong.

In 2004, Ayala Malls theme was More Today Than Yesterday. It was fortuitous that Pat was in Manila at the same time, therefore it was natural that Pat became part of the ad campaign and an advertisement of the mall was shot with him singing More Today Than Yesterday.

Pat incidentally wrote the song. Unused to long hours of shooting from early morning ’til late night, Pat talked to me and said he didn’t want to be part of the TV commercial anymore. I panicked because I signed a contract with Ayala Malls and I could be sued for breach. Fortunately, Long Tall Howard came to the rescue, talked to him like Don Vito Corleone and he went on to finish the shoot. Whew!

After performing at a couple of Ayala Malls without any problems, Pat became paranoid when he saw a huge crowd gathering to watch his final mall performance at the Alabang Town Center. He needed to calm down before going onstage and his only way to relax was to have a glass of Jack Daniels while performing. Because alcohol wasn’t allowed in the mall back then, we had another problem in the making. Some genius in my staff thought of replacing the contents of a Coke can with Jack Daniels. Pat went onstage with a Coke can filled with Jack Daniels and performed flawlessly.

A couple of years later, I brought Pat back for a couple of concerts at the Aliw Theater and Manila Hotel which were both well-received with matching standing ovation. We will miss you Pat and that heavenly sweet voice. Pat is now in Rock ’n Roll Heaven at 75.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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