Eulogy for Gordon Hardie

beach ballroom aberdeen

14/05/14 Aberdeen BEACH BALLROOM

14/05/14 Aberdeen BEACH BALLROOM

Gordon Hardie loved jazz and one he brought to the Beach Ballroom was Tubby Hayes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXTWRivFU3w

hardie 1961

James Taylor [Nairn, Scotland] began promoting with Gordon Hardie [Aberdeen, Scotland] in 1975. Gordon was best man at James’s wedding and the two were close friends until Gordon’s recent passing. Gordon, who worked with Albert Bonici for several years after they met in 1961, was keen to present great music to the north of Scotland. In the process, he saw many popular bands in their early days besides interesting conversations with the likes of Dusty Springfield, Mick Jaggar, and other music legends. Gordon spoke of the first time he saw the Beatles who finished their first tour in January 1963 at the Beach Ballroom where Gordon Hardie often promoted and helped manage shows. http://www.multiplusbooks.com/630106.html

“I thought that I was the jazz person of north-east Scotland until I met Albert Bonici… his tactics were excellent.” https://bonici.wordpress.com/

Gordon worked for Albert on many occasions thereafter. Gordon Hardie speaking about meeting Dusty Springfield, Mick Jaggar, and the the Beatles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfEVUzUBiZU

Besides a good working relationship with Albert Bonici of LCB Agency, Gordon bought shares in Norco Record Limited in 1964/65 after Albert began recording Scottish musicians and vocalists in 1963. Gordon Hardie kept several of the 45’s [record singles] that were produced in the early ’60s. See  https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/norco-records/ for a list of recordings…

Norco shares 1964

Norco shares 1964

img365

Gordon Hardie with cat and friend James Taylor

Gordon Hardie with cat and friend James Taylor

James Taylor ran a discotheque in '72

James Taylor ran a discotheque in ’72

GORDON HARDIE’S EULOGY 12 OCTOBER 1933 2 NOVEMBER 2014

I first met Gordon when I was a student and he was running his entertainments agency known as Stag Entertainments. STAG was an acronym, for which words I cannot now remember. I suspect that Gordon quite liked the name STAG. Perhaps it reminded him, just a little, of how he saw himself back in the sixties and seventies.

Gordon, a bit of a Stag: By this time, most of Gordon’s activities as an impresario were behind him. He had formed, I think with David Ross, Finlay Baxter and Ernie Thomson, The Abergeldie Jazz Club in Aberdeen. A club still remembered to this day by many. On one of the last occasions Gordon was in Nairn for the Nairn International Jazz Festival, someone asked me if this was the same Gordon who had been involved with the Abergeldie Jazz Club. He had also met Albert Bonici. His meeting with Albert opened up other avenues and Gordon was much to the fore in promoting among others, The Beatles when they were at the beginning of their career and playing among other famous stadia, Dingwall Town Hall and The Beach Ballroom. Many were Gordon’s promotions at The Capitol on Union Street with names such as Peter and Gordon, The Fortunes, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black and, of course, The Rolling Stones appearing on the bill. Gordon always pointed out that The Rolling Stones did not top the bill on the first occasion that he promoted them. I think it was Peter and Gordon but I stand to be corrected on that matter. Not many people can say that they really liked Mick Jagger’s company and carry it off without appearing to be pretentious; but Gordon could and did.

Gordon the Impresario: When I think back to these days, my memory is very much of Gordon at some gig with a very attractive lady on his arm. Given his disability, following a childhood illness, some considered his conquests to be very impressive; although I suppose the cars helped. If it wasn’t an Alfa Romeo, it was a Porsche or an upmarket VW. Spiders, Carreras and Siroccos were very much the order of the day. And one cannot forget his eloquence and the charm which oozed from every one of Gordon’s pores; if he wanted to turn it on. And one of Gordon’s best kept secrets is now out. He was born on 12 October 1933. Gordon was 81 when he died on 2 November. I suspect that he protected his age because he probably thought of himself as a latter day Peter Pan. And if his real age was known, would he have had all that success with the opposite sex?

Gordon was 46 when he finally succumbed to the charms of Kathy Reid and put his Romeo days behind him by marrying her in 1979. I married Lesley the following year. I still remember chatting to Gordon in the kitchen in Findon just after our respective marriages. He looked wistfully at me and uttered the unforgettable line “Kathy and Lesley just don’t realise the sacrifice we have made for them James; we have given up our hobby.”

Gordon the ladies’ man: What I have so far said may hint at a man who was a bit flash. That would be an unfair picture. Gordon did not lead a high life. Apart from his cars I cannot really recall any extravagance. His clothes were always smart but far from designer label. I do remember the leather patches on the elbows of some of his jumpers. He rarely touched alcohol and was as happy with a bottle of coke as a glass of wine. Notwithstanding his liking for cricket, he refused to subscribe to Sky Television when cricket left the terrestrial channels. He and Kathy did not eat out regularly which, on one view, was not surprising given the excellence of Kathy’s cooking. I do not know if Kathy ever did manage to persuade Gordon to take her to The Silver Darling Restaurant.

I’m sure that I was not alone in witnessing, from time to time, Kathy’s frustration when trying to persuade Gordon to buy something or other and he wasn’t for it. He was my best man and I recall in my wedding speech telling those in attendance that on one occasion I swore I saw a moth fly out of Gordon’s wallet. I was also able to recount that Gordon was the first person ever to be charged with breaking and entering – his own wallet. He was admonished. It was his first offence.

Gordon the canny Aberdonian: And to think of Gordon as just a mean Lothario still fails to do him justice. Gordon was very much a man of principle. His word really was his bond. This was very clearly illustrated in 1975 when Gordon came out of retirement, as a promoter, to enter into a joint venture with yours truly. He and I would promote Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen in The Capitol Cinema. Gordon, always the risk taker, thought it would be a good idea if we booked Kenny for two nights and sold him on the second night, at a profit. So Gordon put the deals in motion. A company in Peterhead agreed to take Kenny for the extra night. All seemed well. Then disaster struck. The entertainments convenor for the Peterhead company was sacked. The company did not want to know about Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen performing in their works canteen. None of the agreements had been reduced to writing. Could we get out of the deal with Kenny to take him for two nights, said I. Not a chance said Gordon. Gordon’s reputation would be thereby damaged. Although there was nothing in writing with Kenny’s management, Gordon was not going to seek to change the agreement. I applauded his principled stand although it did hit our pockets when we ended up having to promote Kenny for a second night in Aviemore. My uncle, who was in the very sparse audience in Aviemore, suggested that we just think of having made a sizeable donation to every one of those who attended the Aviemore concert. Gordon was very kind and settled all the bills. He allowed me to pay off my share of the debt over an extended period.

He also had standards which he thought should be maintained. I recall him becoming quite agitated when he saw Tiger Woods spit during a televised golf tournament. Perhaps adue to his father’s influence as a former principle of the College of Education, Gordon as also a stickler for grammatically correct English.

Gordon the man of principle and standards: But Gordon’s contribution to Aberdeen life and culture went well beyond promoting concerts in the Capitol Cinema, running the Abergeldie Jazz Club or making sure that there was a good band at the wedding or party. For many years he was the manager of Aberdeen Arts Centre which seemed to flourish under his leadership. He was also in his own way a generous man but firmly believed that charity began at home. That is why he championed local charities and was for a time the chairman of what was then known as Voluntary Services Aberdeen. And it should be no surprise to Gordon’s friends to learn that VSA will benefit from Gordon’s generosity following his death.

The caring Gordon: He was a meticulous man with a great attention for detail. He was not the promoter who stayed in his office and collected his commission the day after. No, Gordon would be out and about attending as many of the events for which he was supplying the band or artiste as was possible. If a problem emerged, he was so often on the spot to resolve whatever the difficulty happened to be. And what the bands and artistes really appreciated was that Gordon was there to make sure that they were paid on the night, always under deduction of his 15% commission of course.

Gordon the good businessman: There was about Gordon a rather endearing naivety at times. He told many stories against himself in this regard. The two which I enjoyed the most involved Gordon the entertainment agent and impresario in the sixties. On one occasion he had cause to drive the glamourous Dusty Springfield from one concert to another. Not surprisingly, this was too good an opportunity for Gordon to miss. He chatted her up. But she was not to be charmed by our friend. He made no headway and was perplexed by the lack of success which his patter normally secured. Gordon recalled that Dusty seemed to be saying to him that he was not alone among men in making little progress with her. On the day Gordon thought she was trying to put him down gently. He failed to pick up on the huge clues which she was dropping that she was in fact gay. It was some years later before the penny dropped for Gordon.

He also recounted the time when he was promoting Millie at The Capitol. Some may remember the one big hit which she had in the early sixties with My Boy Lollipop. Perhaps she had Gordon in mind. In any event, Gordon recounted how he found himself down at the Aberdeen prom alone with Millie. To his surprise and not a little delight, Millie took Gordon’s hand as they walked along the prom. Now this had been the first time that Gordon had had his hand held by a black woman. And then he disclosed his lack of worldliness. He enquired of Millie if the palms of all black people were light in colour notwithstanding that the backs of their hands were black.

Gordon; the delightful innocent: It was Kathy who bore the brunt of Gordon’s illness in the later stages of his life. Many of us did not realise the extent of his dementia until Kathy fell ill and died some three years ago. Gordon was then fortunate in being accepted as a resident in Maryfield West Care Home where he was so well looked after in the last part of his life. I am sure Gordon would endorse Maryfield West Care Home Residents Comfort Fund as a well deserving recipient of the collection today.

So there we have it, Gordon the Stag, the impresario, the ladies’ man, the man of principle, the canny Aberdonian, the caring Gordon, the good businessman and the delightful innocent. He died on the same day as Acker Bilk, Sunday November 2nd 2014. Had it not already been allocated, we could have nominated that as the day the music died.

Gordon, you may not have agreed with everything I’ve said today. But for the first time in our friendship, I have the last word. [James Taylor – Nairn]

James Taylor - Nairn, Scotland

James Taylor – Nairn, Scotland

“Today I attended the funeral of Gordon Hardie who was also a neighbour of mine. Gordon was a founder member of the Abergeldie Jazz club that flourished in the late fifties and early sixties. It played host to local bands like the Sandy West Jazz Band and even promoted Aberdeen appearances for big stars like Dizzy Gillespie.

Gordon’s Stag Entertainments in the sixties, often in association with Albert Bonici, Brian Epstein etc booked many shows in the North East including a Sunday Concert by the Beatles into the Beach Ballroom in December 1962.  Later on he would promote shows at the Capitol Theatre Aberdeen featuring The Rolling Stones, Millie Jackson, Dusty Springfield, Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen etc etc.Gordon was a very successful promoter and when I was about 14 he would come into my Dad’s shop in Rosemount and he always parked his Porsche right at the door. Having a Porsche back in 1958 really was something else. Over the years Gordon must have had dozens of them. I remember him selling one once because the colour of the bonnet clashed with the colour of the upholstery!
It was mentioned today that he was quite a ladies man and didn’t get married till he was 46.  Once he was driving Dusty Springfield between shows and took the opportunity to chat her up but to no avail.  It was a little later that he learned that Dusty was gay. Gordon was very good at helping young musicians at the start of their careers and his work at Aberdeen Arts Centre was much also much appreciated. He came out of retirement to help book my piano playing friend Kyle Esplin get his first TV engagement that led him on to great success.  http://kyleesplin.com
Gordon lived just down the road from me and whenever I heard the roar of a high powered engine and a friendly toot on the horn – it was always Gordon passing by.  There was never any point in waving back as he would be long gone. Sadly Gordon himself has now gone and another link with Aberdeen’s musical history is no longer with us.” Edited by Graham Knight, 18 November 2014 – 05:49 PM.

 

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About

My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 SCOTBEAT.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference https://scotbeat.wordpress.com when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music
2 comments on “Eulogy for Gordon Hardie
  1. Patricia Thomson says:

    What a lovely eulogy to Gordon Hardie . Thank you James . Gordon was certainly a stag and admired beautiful women and talented musicians .Pat ans Del Thomson.

    • scotbeat says:

      I found Gordon to be a friendly and considerate guy with a lot of great memories. We hung out for a few hours one afternoon in ’07 and enjoyed our time together. Several years later when deciding to develop a historical account of the ’60s music scene, I was seeking Gordon out only to learn of his passing which came as a surprise to those who knew him around Elgin including Albert Bonici’s nephew, John. Fortunately, I met James and his family, after he received a card I sent to Gordon’s former abode. It was a good experience to meet one of Gordon’s closest friends and also to read his heart felt eulogy to hold up Gordon. I am pleased to rightfully include his as a tribute to his contributions… Btw, special thanks to Gordon’s sister-n-law for providing most of the diaries Gordon Hardie [Stag Entertainment] kept regarding dates of performances, etc. that he maintained whilst working in association with LCB Agency [1962-69]. David Dills

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