Thirty-five years ago (1977) I came in from the cold of freelance writing out in the provincial hills and took a job as Head of Press for United Records in London W1. Generally speaking it didn't make me happy, but now and then I was able to meet people I admired, including, sometimes, the rightly famous. One of these was the great Fats Domino. Back then the end of his run of hit singles was already fifteen years in the past, and the 1950s, his heyday, seemed at least as far away to me then as it does now.

This is my hastily written diary account:

Monday. To a hotel somewhere round Grosvenor Square [it was the Churchill] to babysit an interview with Fats Domino by Mick Farren, who was with the NME photographer Chalkie Davis. I'd been given one hour during Domino's visit for allocating interviews, so had decided to give it exclusively to NME. But when we got  there we found that the incompetent Irish promoter, Pat Malynn, had failed to make any of the promised arrangements, and though I spoke to Fats on the phone (I SPOKE TO FATS DOMINO ON THE TELEPHONE TODAY!) he knew nothing of any interview and couldn't do it. So had to give Mick Farren & friend an indifferent lunch and try again tomorrow.

Tuesday. This time it worked. Met Fats Domino! He was disappointingly short of massive and wore a sort of crimplene yellow suit. But he chatted happily to Mick Farren, Chalkie Davis took some photographs and I kept interrupting the interview because I knew a great deal more about his recordings than did Farren. He told me afterwards I had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Fats  -  which was a grand way of apologising for his own."

Later in the year the pleasure of meeting one of the truly greats  -  one of the very shapers of rock'n'roll  -  was almost topped by meeting Ingrid Bergman. United Artists, a subsidiary of the film company, had issued as a single the recording by pianist/singer Dooley Wilson of As Time Goes By', taken from the soundtrack of the magnificent film Casablanca  - a recording on which the voice of Ingrid Bergman can be heard (not quite saying Play it again, Sam", a common misquotation, but Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By'."). The 1977 single of this 1942 recording sold so well in the UK that it earned a Silver Disc. Dooley Wilson had died in 1953 and Humphrey Bogart in 1957, but twenty years after that Bergman was not only still alive (she was only 62) but happened to be in London, and I was asked to phone her at her hotel to see if she might like to accept the Silver Disc for this bizarrely retro hit. She didn't want to bother, so I didn't manage to meet her, but as my diary reports:

Thursday. I talked on the phone to a real star today. None of yer rock rubbish  -  a positive legend: I TALKED TO INGRID BERGMAN & INGRID BERGMAN TALKED TO ME! She gave a great peel of laughter and I could hardly speak."

Ingrid Bergman died in her sleep five years later, at the end of her 67th birthday. Fats Domino, now 84, survived Hurrican Katrina in his hometown of New Orleans, and is still with us.

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