Gordon’s comeback

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson -
Warning: This isn’t about sports. With your indulgence, I’ll digress once more to write about my other passion–’60s British pop music.

Last night, Gordon Waller–the voice of the British Invasion duet Peter and Gordon–topbilled a star-studded show and enthralled a large audience at the Aliw Theater on Roxas Boulevard.

Gordon, 59, sang Peter and Gordon’s biggest hits including "A World Without Love" his all-time favorite "True Love Ways" "I Go To Pieces" "Nobody I Know" "Woman" "500 Miles" "Soft As The Dawn" "Lady Godiva" "If I Were You" plus "Let It Be Me" "So Sad" "Love Me Tender" "It’s Alright, Mama" "When The Girl In Your Arms" and "Can’t Help Falling In Love."

Chris Montez got the concert to a rousing start as the crowd sang to his popular hits like "Call Me" "Day After Day" and "The More I See You." Then he was joined on stage by Ramon Jacinto who sang Tagalog lyrics on "There Will Never Be Another You."

John Ford Coley was next in line and he, too, was a smash. He sang a slew of his hits like "It’s Sad To Belong To Someone Else" "Where Will I Go From Here" "Just Tell Me You Love Me" "We"ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again" and "I’d Really Love To See You Again."

The four-man acoustic Beatles specialist Area One came on for three numbers capped by "Silly Love Songs." Area One is made up of Bert de Leon, John Lesaca, Cash Manalang and Roy Marinduque. The group draws a huge crowd every Wednesday at the Hard Rock Café and is much sought after for live performances. It’s booked to do a Star cruise gig in April.

Finally, Gordon was introduced, brandishing the same Fender Telecaster guitar he took on his first Manila tour in 1966. Gordon was accompanied by Area One with Cash filling in for Peter who couldn’t make the trip due to work commitments as a Sony Music consultant and producer in Los Angeles.

All the artists got together for a rousing finale, rocking to "Summertime Blues."

Gordon said he recalls performing before audiences of over 20,000 at the Araneta Coliseum in 1966.

"Someone mentioned we did shows for a combined half a million people in the Philippines," said Gordon. "It was fantastic. We even did a show at Subic Naval Base."

There were many memorable moments during Peter and Gordon’s visit here nearly 40 years ago.

"I met a beautiful young girl named Jen during a press conference," said Gordon. "I’ll never forget her face. She must have been about 14 then. Peter and I were also invited to dinner at Elvira Manahan’s home in Forbes Park. She even rode with us in the car to the airport the day we left and gave me a jade ring encrusted with diamonds–very expensive. I wound up losing the ring when I had an accident on my left hand and the ring had to be cut off because it got imbedded into my skin. There’s a big scar on my hand to remind me of the accident. I tried to recover at least the stone in the ring but I guess someone in the hospital took it."

Gordon is in the process of writing his autobiography he tentatively calls "Living It."

"I’ve done it all," said Gordon. "Peter and I performed all over the world–South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, everywhere–before millions of people. When we broke up, I did lots of things I enjoyed. I did landscaping and won awards for my exotic gardens. I worked on boats and dinghies when I lived in a coastal village in England. I still do model trains, write music and perform. I used to be a Rank Xerox salesman. I conceptualized the Pharoah scene for Tim Rice in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and appeared in the musical in England for two years. I did the Pharoah and was stage director in the Sydney production. I’ve got two music companies, Steele Wallet and Closed Circuit. I continue to receive my share for Peter and Gordon record sales every quarter."

Gordon’s mother, two children and grandchild reside in England. He lives in Glendale near Los Angeles with his wife Georgina. Every year, Gordon visits his family in England and performs in benefit shows for the hospital which his late father, a doctor, founded. He also makes it a point to sing at the annual Beatlefair in San Diego.

A sports fan, Gordon said he admired former world lightheavyweight boxing champion Freddie Mills of Dorsetshire as a boy. He did some boxing himself and broke his nose in a street fight when "a girl with a guy looked at me, I looked back and the guy didn’t like it."

Gordon is also here to promote his solo CD, the soundtrack of the movie "James Dean–Live Fast, Die Young" starring Robert Mitchum, Casper Van Dien, Connie Stevens, Joseph Campanella and Mike Connors. It was originally titled "Race With Destiny." Gordon sings lead vocals on the album which has enduring songs like "You Are The One" "Believe" and "I Love You My Darling"–all written by him.

The CD isn’t available in the market and is extremely hard-to-find. Luckily, Gordon brought in a few copies which he put on sale last night.

It’s not too late to catch promoter Steve O’Neal’s show which is called "The Golden Legends." Gordon, Montez and Coley are performing at the Hard Rock Café tonight and tomorrow. You might still be able to score the last few copies of Gordon’s CD if you go to Hard Rock early.

Postscript. The second part of Olympic swimmer Jackie Pangilinan’s essay on being a Fil-Am will be the subject of Tuesday’s column. Incidentally, Jackie’s winning time of 2:17:44 was registered in the 200-yard breaststroke event at the recent Harvard/Princeton/Yale triple meet in New Haven. US collegiate and NCAA swimming competitions are usually staged in 25-yard short course pools.

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