Kenny Lynch

Photo Kenny Lynch - copyright Newham Story
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Interview Date(s): 
22 Mar 2013
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Interview notes

Kenny Lynch interview: Interview number HP0653 

 Notes taken at interview 22 Mar 2013. Interviewer David McGillivray. A full transcript will be available in due course.

Roughly chronological, interview starts by clarifying Kenny’s status as “uncategorisable”. He talks about his big family in Stepney (Cornwall Street); sister Maxine Daniels (singer) worked with Benny Green, recorded for Oriole label. KL’s Nickname: “Kipper”. First stage work with Peggy O’Farrell’s Stage School.

Left school at 14 ½ working for tailor (Mills, Cartwright & Reynolds – made police uniforms) and earned 10 shillings- a night with Johnny Dalton’s Rhythm Boys; later worked with Bob Miller & the Miller Men. Signed for EMI’s HMV label working for 12 years with Wally Ridley. Pals with Johnny Kramer (boxer) at the Black Lion pub, Plaistow. KL boxed (lost only one fight).

Talks about working with Mort Shuman and visiting the Brill Building in NY, recording “Up on the Roof”. Package tour with Helen Shapiro top of the bill, Beatles were supporting act, who gradually moved up the roster as the tour progressed. KL was the  only act prepared to go on before the Beatles. He was happy to do just a couple of songs (“lazy”) this way. Recorded first Lennon-McCartney song outside the band (Misery). Talks about helping host Ready Steady Go! with Harry Fowler: Elkan Allan encouraged them to run wild. Incidents recalled include cutting Ray Davies’s hair, working with Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones; and the feathers from a pillow fight which were still dropping off the gantry lights several years later. He and Harry Fowler banned for 3 years from the BBC for performing as “Alcock & Brown”, which didn’t matter as their work was almost all with commercial television. Talks about playing in Showbiz XI and sport. Recalls a TV production, The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown, with Johnny Dankworth, Millie and Elisabeth Welch.

Chats about racism – he didn’t really experience any – the film Just For Fun and Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, and how the 6am start did not suit. Tubby Hayes scene that led to him and Roy Castle being chucked off the set. BREAK

1962 KL sang Eurovision – eliminator “There’s never been a girl”. Eric Hall (then working for ATV Music); 1978 KL wrote No2 (?) song “Don’t Bother To Knock” [performed by Midnight]; Recalls Mort Shuman (who spoke 11 languages) who wrote 72 songs for Elvis (KL wrote 65, and none were used). KL produced John Mayall’s “Crawling up a Hill” album, worked with Linda Lewis.

TV show “Get This” (with Harry Fowler) [4 million viewers] led to offer of new show “Record Breakers” but Norris McWhirter declined to employ them as he viewed them as communists. Talks about his politics (socialist) and his TV work with Jimmy Tarbuck, TV shows, Harrry Secombe and others = reckons to have made 2000 non-singing shows. “Room at The Bottom” (BBC, 1960s) with Derek Guyler and Brian Wilde, Curry & Chips, Alf Garnett. {KL has recording of this} Johnny Speight was a great writer (and former neighbour in Canning Town) and KL talks about his own views on jokes about race and political correctness.

Talks about his film career (15 films, of which in 12 he played himself really) and his OBE, which Harry Fowler persuaded him to accept because KL thought they should be for “lollypop ladies” and the like.

Talks about The Plank, Mr H is Late, Carry On Loving (he was a friend of Gerald Thomas) and his work in soft porn – David Sullivan – Diana Dors – Alan Lake and Mary Millington.

Recalls more on Spike Milligan and his love for sticky buns, and Jimmy Tarbuck,

Talks about The Riddle (his latest film to Date at time of interview): PH Moriarty – Vinny Jones – Wally Downes. Meeting Derek Jacobi.  Admits not to understanding the plot of The Riddle (who does?) Often cast as a villain, and based his performance on Charlie Kray.

Talks a bit about “The Rat Pack” touring show he is in (current at time of interview) = he just does about 15 minutes on stage, 3 numbers and the finale (New York, New York) prefers to appear at Ronnie Scott’s, or working with Bobby Davro  in Swingin’ [Sinatra tribute].

He was an accredited FAA extra for 3 years. Talks about working on “The Criminal” and says his first appearance was as a 6 month old baby* in “Sanders of The River” and Caesar & Cleo (Claude Rains). Also mention of Colin Chapman (Lotus cars), Leapy Lee (singer) various gangsters (Krays, Richardsons, Foreman) and footballers (he is a West Ham fan) , especially Bobby Moore, who invited him to Mexico for the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

*subsequent checking casts doubt on this because the film was 3 years earlier than KL’s date of birth.


Notes by David Sharp.