In gaining a better understanding of contracts and booking bands for Little Cross Buildings Agency, I recently spoke with Bill Dalgarno who served as booking agent for Albert Bonici in the LCB Agency offices at the top of the High Street in Elgin, Scotland from 1968-72. He first met Albert Bonici when working with an Aberdeen charity who sponsored dances and entertainers. Having various groups like “Findhorn Water Ski Club”, “Elgin Folk Music Club” sponsor events was the way Albert could gain a liquor licences for the concessions. After Neil Patterson who ran dances in Elgin left the firm, Bill became more involved in putting on the shows and a variety of tasks which involved everything from transportation of people and equipment to putting up advert flyers for coming shows. He also worked with Albert’s nephew John Ruggeri when John came on board two years later to help with bookings. Dalgarno, Ruggeri, and Bonici shared the large office facing High Street and at the end of year, sent out Christmas cards featuring the “three wise men” [sketch by Graeme Nairn circa 1970]. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/bonici-business-sense/ Bill had just finished his university studies when he started at LCB Agency with the task of booking shows in the north of Scotland. Morayshire’s capital city of Elgin was the epicentre for Albert Bonici’s promotions though the company worked with agents from Wick to Glasgow to bring bands into Scotland. By ’68, the Two Red Shoes Ballroom was primarily used for discos and house-band dances and guest performances were often held at Bonici’s Ballerina Ballroom in Nairn, Fisherman’s Hall in Buckie, or Elgin Town Hall. Working with Albert was a great opportunity for Bill who described his boss as “honest and astute” businessman “who was a nice guy though “wouldn’t let people walk over him” though wouldn’t lose his cool. When Bill left the firm in 1972, he ready for a change which led him to a successful 35 year career as store manager with Littlewoods. Though he respected Albert Bonici for his integrity, astuteness, and genial disposition, he didn’t like have to deal with “cut throat” managers and agents who would try to shirk their commitments in Scotland when other opportunities would present themselves nearer to London. Of course, it was easier for a London band to play closer to home but Bonici was firm when it came to contracts and agreements. It was such a problem that Albert came up with a policy to have bands call in at 1PM on the Thursday they were set to arrive to let him know where they were at. Acts were booked for over a 10 day period each week so there were two groups playing around the area from Elgin to Aberdeen. The standard pay scale for unknown groups was £180 per tour which included a weeks worth of Scottish gigs that often included Nairn, Elgin, Lossiemouth, Huntly, Cullen, Buckie, Forress, and finishing with the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen.
Bill occasionally performed tasks with Gordon Hardie, the Aberdeen promoter who often worked with LCB Agency. He enjoyed working with Gordon and remembers the time that they were canvassing a rundown part of Glasgow to promote a LCB Agency gig when the police showed up. The first officer was going to let Bill go with a warning until Gordon [with a bad leg] got out of his Porsche which got them a ticket after a slight altercation with the other officer. Gordon, who regularly bought shows from Albert for the Beach Ballroom besides working with Bonici’s organization, spoke about experiences at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfEVUzUBiZU.
To help get young audiences around the area to the shows in Elgin and Nairn, there was a transportation agreement with Alexander’s, the local bus company around the north of Scotland on event nights. Bus serves was free on Friday nights for those with a ticket to a musical event and a late bus that ran from Elgin to Forress on a Saturday night [no events were allowed beginning Sunday mornings]. Albert Bonici operated from his desk in Elgin, sold the gigs to various promoters besides using his own staff, and accepted payment after the shows and was able to pay the fees with those he resold. The performers paid for their own food, housing, and transportation, would collect their wages on Fridays in Elgin. Many would stay at McBean’s guest house on Lossiewynd [near the Park Café] and would get a complimentary meal after a gig at the Two Red Shoes. When asking Bill about meeting popular acts in his time with LCB Agency, he remember having a great time spending an afternoon with “The Searchers” Stand By Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29MGbbOYQZs.
He also remembered first working for Albert when they lined up a major tour with Dave Berry to earn funds for Aberdeen’s “Charity Café” in 1968. Bill Dalgaro was delighted by an impromptu and memorizing performance from Dave Berry in a gothic Aberdeen church. Dave climbed into the towering pulpit dressed in a black gown and sang “The Crying Game”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofac3kASGjw
“Little Things” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofac3kASGjw.
By the late ’60s, Albert Bonici, [who kept a framed copy of a 1962 contract to host the Beatles in Scotland above his desk], was most interested in booking jazz and pop groups on tour and occassional missed out on new talent notably Tom Jones. In the mid-60s LCB Agency featured and recorded various styles of music from Scotland and even brought in a few exotic dancers from London. Bill remembers Albert booking some cabaret performers including a snake-dancer who were enjoyed by their audiences…
Jennifer Scott: “I worked in a variety show put on by Albert Bonici in 1969… We played elgin, and many venues in the area, and the company was to be found every afternoon at the Park café. I [a Scottish singer] and the dancers from London… had never seen anything quite like Elgin. Albert Bonici was a very fat and very astute businessman, and I did more dates for him for a couple of years. I have never forgotten Elgin or Albert Bonici, as a time when I brought glamour to the Moray Firth. We were booked as a package show, and I was the singer. Albert Bonici made a big impression… he was a large man and very businesslike. I remember sitting in his office, while we went into details of the show, I think he was more interested in bands. Cabaret/variety was an unknown quantity to him. As I recall, he was discussing a band called Tangerine Dream at the time and was not very impressed with glamour girls. http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/01/r-i-p-edgar-froese-tangerine-dream-founder-dead-at-70/ The last show we did was for the air force at a base nearby. My other memory is us girls in the cafe, during the day, and being very surprised to see very tall boys dressed in short trousers, we wondered what their mothers were thinking of letting them out like that until it was explained they were from a boarding school nearby [Gordonston]. There were six dancers, a magician , me, a comic, and Julie Mendez, the snake dancer. [This is Julie Mendez, the dancer who features in the opening credits of From Russia With Love and her snake Lulu.] http://www.britishpathe.com/video/snake-charmer/query/01544800 http://www.britishpathe.com/video/out-takes-cuts-from-cp-614-reel-2-of-2-growing/query/exotic The costumes were somewhat risque, but it was all about glamour. The girls were recruited from London, as to the money, it must have been good to make us travel north. I think we must have gone out on the town. I remember we drank in a the hotel till the early hours.. a hotel run by a lesbian in Elgin who was the talk of the town, but we loved her. Her partner was a very butch artist, whom we also loved, so Elgin was a surprising town. The moray firth was lovely, and i think we went out in a lifeboat, the local people were lovely to us, all in all a great memory.” http://www.northern-scot.co.uk/News/Conference-digs-up-Moray-archaeology-8061.htm