In the ’18’ years I have been living on this wonderful island, I have been entertained by some of the greatest exponents of music, song and laughter on the planet…period! Next month I will be attending this years ‘Entertainers Awards’ extravaganza at the Castillo De San Miguel, where men and women from all four corners of the entertainment spectrum will be converging for this rather prestigious event -several of whom will be walking away with such coveted titles, as ‘Best Variety Act, ‘Best Band’, Best DJ’ -and ‘Best Newcomer’ -to name but a few. The award ceremony-cum-concert will also include personal appearances by several of the top male and female singers on the island -each of whom could stand toe-to-toe with many of the most famous singing celebrities in the world…Fact! And so in appreciation of the thousands of hours of unadulterated pleasure that these dedicated individuals (many of whom are also very close friends of mine, I might add) have given me over the years, I have taken it upon myself to find-out what it is that makes these guys ‘tic’ -and to discover why they are not only ‘totally professional’ on stage, but once off-stage they become ‘totally ordinary people’ -with extraordinary talents.
First on my list is Gary Nelson -one of the nominee’s for the ‘Best Compere’ on the island -an accolade which is well revered -and duly respected by all of the entertainers, as they know only too-well how hard it can be to warm-up an audience -let-alone keeping them on the boil until it is time for the acts to take to the stage -and being able to continually do this -night-after-night, is where their true-professionalism really shines through. Gary and I have been great friends for almost two years -and so interviewing him was a very pleasurable experience for me -and I have to say that some of the answers he gave to my mountain of questions simply had me in stitches. Gary was born into a musical family, his grand-father having played in an orchestra for many years -and he grew-up in a tiny fishing village in England -called ‘Birmingham’ (his joke-not mine!) As a child Gary was weaned on the music legends of the 50’s and 60’s, such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, but ironically it was his fear of hearing the sound of his mother’s vacuum cleaner, that made him turn to listening to music instead -an escapism that would inevitably change his life forever!
Gary has a younger brother -and also a son, whom he worships more than life itself; indeed when I asked him what was the saddest moment in his life, he said that it was the day that he said “Goodbye” to his 12 year-old lad, as he flew-off to live in America. He then added that the proudest moment in his life was singing on stage with him one year later -and after seeing the pair of them singing together in the Volare Music Bar this year, I can fully-appreciate the magical chemistry between ‘father-and-son’, which is obviously unbreakable. Gary’s first appearance on stage was at the tender age of ‘7’, when he sang that all-time classic by Paper Lace, entitled ‘Billy, don’t be a hero’ (I’m saying nothing), before moving-on to slightly better attributes, such as singing with ‘The Searchers’ and ‘Edwin Star’ -and getting up-close and personal with ‘U.B. 40’ and ‘Sir Paul McCartney’. Gary first came to Tenerife many years ago, as a holidaymaker, where he says he was immediately induced with an inexplicable attachment to the island -and several years later he moved out here on a permanent basis. -primarily because of its amazing climate -but also as a sanctuary, where he could be alone with his thoughts for the son whom he was still missing so much.
“Discovering the Beatles, was probably the most inspirational moment of my musical life -although when it comes to verbal excellence, I have been seriously influenced by the likes of Chris Evans, Jeremy Clarkson, Derren Brown -and Jonathan Ross, whom I have a lot of respect for. I also think that Fawlty Towers, with John Cleese, is the most hilarious series ever to grace our television screens. However, my personal turning-point in show-business was watching Chris Tarrant on his Saturday-morning ‘Tiswas’ show -and I remember thinking to myself “I could do that”. The rest is history, I suppose”. I then asked Gary what was his most-disastrous gig, and he said: “Driving 200 miles to an out-of-town show -and omitting to do a sound-check before going on stage -only for the music-system to suddenly break-down -and for me to be stuck in the middle of nowhere without any replacement parts -what a nightmare!” Gary has now been living in Tenerife for 10 years, and he has no intentions of moving anywhere else, preferring instead to continue-on with his illustrious career here on the island. He is currently the resident full-time entertainer at the ‘Drop-Inn Bar’ in Las Americas, which offers alfresco dining, along with spectacular sunsets -a bar full of every conceivable drink -and a variety of singers accompanying Gary on stage throughout the week. So why not ‘Drop-in’ to the ‘Drop-Inn Bar’ and say “Hello” to a man who could soon be crowned as ‘THE BEST COMPERE IN TENERIFE’.