From Cher to Diana Ross – my life on road with Des O’Connor | Bob Hind

Alan Clark, of Widley, is quite an unassuming man and on talking to him you would not believe the people he has met.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 6:00 am
Alan Clark, Pete Cross and Tony Power on the opening night of Granny’s nightclub June 29, 1978. Picture: Mike Scaddan.
Alan Clark, Pete Cross and Tony Power on the opening night of Granny’s nightclub June 29, 1978. Picture: Mike Scaddan.

After a short career in the Royal Navy as an electrical engineer Alan opened a shop at Milton, Portsmouth, repairing televisions.

He managed to win a contract with the South Parade Pier management as a sound man of which he knew much because Tannoy repairs were part of his naval duties.

He also worked at the Savoy, Southsea, where he met several stars of the time including Diana Dors and Kathy Kirby.

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Top of the helter skelter drive to the Tricorn car park in Portsmouth, an adventure which made drivers dizzy. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

For some years he helped Portsmouth DJ Pete Cross, now a presenter at Angel Radio, Havant.

Because Alan had a Jaguar he acted as Pete’s roadie and sound technician, to use the proper job description.

One Tuesday he was asked if he could be the sound man for Des O’Connor, for one night only. The following Thursday he received a phone call from O’Connor’s PA asking if he would like to be Des’s permanent sound man. For the next 30 years Alan worked with Des all over the country.

On several occasions he met stars and made the stagehands very envious.

The end of the Tricorn. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

Cher was one woman who Alan thinks was just marvellous with no airs and graces. He was standing beside her talking and the looks he received could have killed.

He also met Shirley Bassey and down the years he also met and worked with Bob Monkhouse, Diana Ross and Joe Pasquale. In fact there are not many whom Alan has not met or worked with at some time during his career.

In the photograph we see Alan on the left with Pete Cross and Tony Power, later of Radio Victory, on the opening night of the Southsea nightclub Granny’s.

• After my recent article on Albert Speller, who managed a fish shop in Albert Road, Southsea, I received this letter from Roger Smith.

He says: ‘I was an errand boy at Sidney Slape's Albert Road Shop for a short period in 1959.

'Three things that I remember: Albert treated me, a 15-year-old errand boy, with courtesy and kindness. He used to drink the melted ice water from the fish boxes and had a voice that would do justice to a company sergeant major.

'I remember taking live crayfish, on the trade bike, to the chef at the back of the Pendragon hotel so he could chose what he wanted. On the way down, the crayfish tried to escape and I had to use the tip of my shoe to stop them crawling out of the basket in front of the bike while pedalling.’

• For those of you who are Twitter users I am using it again. You can read my posts on @bobbyboy1950.