Fan of the Month – MIKE PENBURTHY
Soon after my grandmother gave me my first piano, I commenced pianoforte training. The year was 1965, and I had just turned 8.Television had not yet come to Inverell, a small town in Northern NSW, Australia. Our radio - or wireless, as we called them in those days - would go all day, playing all the best music the 60’s had to offer. My mother and her sisters loved to sing and dance and I remember us singing to the top of our voices with the radio up full volume. As a child I did not realize that this music was being nurtured within me, and that this era in music would become my personal favorite.
We often visited my uncle and auntie’s farm, about 10 kilometers out of
Inverell. It was usual for us children to organize a concert on the back
verandah to entertain the adults. We used the wood box as our stage,
and of course we sang and “performed” only the latest hits the radio
was playing. I remember quite vividly singing what was to become my
favorite Petula Clark song “Colour My World.” I was chosen to do the
introduction melody, which went something like “Dang Dang Dang Dang”
. We sang to a packed audience of four adults. And boy, were we good!!!
It was not until 2004 that I had the pleasure of being at Petula’s first ever
Australian concert, held at The Queensland Performing Arts Centre,
Brisbane. Following that concert I spoke to Petula as she signed my
programme. I asked her if she would write “To Mike, Colour My World, Petula”. She stopped, looked up at me and paused, then said “I’ll just sign it”. I went on to tell her that that was my favorite song of hers.
She replied “How strange”. I’m not sure what she meant by that?
As a child, and I guess well into my adult years, I didn’t give a lot of thought to who actually wrote the songs I loved so much. And I was quite ignorant of the common thread in the songs of Petula, which I enjoyed most:
“I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love” (just love those words!)
“Don’t Sleep In The Subway”
“The Other Man’s Grass”
And of course, “Who Am I”.
In the midst of all this musical discovery, another song was starting to get a lot of local air-play.
I didn’t know the singers name at first, but I really loved the song; and that voice!!!!!
The song was “Where Are You Now” and of course the artist was our Jackie Trent.
And a fan was born.
It was not until years later that I discovered that Jackie had co-written the Petula songs I enjoyed so much. I have always admired and envied the gift of a wonderful singing voice. However the fact that someone has the gift to write words and music that millions of people can relate to and enjoy, is simply amazing to me.
By my mid teens I was confident enough with my piano to play my favorite music for my own enjoyment; and for family and friends. At sixteen I commenced playing the pipe organ in our local church for services, plus weddings and funerals. I have remained the church organist for nearly forty years. (Paul – photo at organ)
Over the years I have become quite well known in our community for my modest musical ability.
Once, and once only, I played a much slower, slightly disguised “The Other Man’s Grass” as the processional at the beginning of the service. No-one made comment, so I am not sure whether it was frowned upon, or simply not recognized?
My dad Col is a carpenter, and as I had no idea what career path I would follow when I left school; it was easier to go with dad and learn the trade. Soon after starting my apprenticeship I knew it was not what I wanted to do. However I did complete the course, having a personality that always likes to finish what I start.
The Inverell Hospital (although much smaller today than it was thirty years ago) is one of the main
employers of our community. In fact I am one of eight membersof my family
who have been employed there. Both my sisters currently have clerical
positions and it is now over thirty years since I commenced my nurse
Meanwhile, by this time I knew the name “Jackie Trent”. I have always
been drawn to her strong, individual, beautiful voice, and I associated
her with Tony Hatch. I had also seen photos and now could identify her.
I had added to my record collection “The Two Of Us”, “Love Is Me, Love
Is You” and “Make It Easy On Yourself” - to name a few of my favorites.
It was not until Jackie and Tony relocated to Australia, and became
regulars on Australian variety television programmes, that I realized how
attractive Jackie is: and what a vibrant, charismatic and humorous
personality she is. Yes, I was infatuated! I made sure I watched any programme that guest-starred Jackie.
As time moved on I married and raised four children in a simple three-bedroom cottage in an ordinary street in Inverell: such a lovely environment to raise a family. Just this month
I have welcomed my third precious grandchild and yes, just like his two
cousins, “Poppy” was present at the birth. Paul – photo with new baby?)
Now in my “matured” years, I have been developing a new interest: I have
trained as a volunteer radio presenter, on Inverell”s local community radio,
STA-FM. My weekly programme is - you guess it – 60’s Music - with a
certain lady receiving more than her fair share of air time!!!!! It is amazing
how many people in this community listen and enjoy the music of their youth.
It was during one of my programmes, playing “Make It Easy On Yourself”, that I decided to try and contact Jackie. After a little “Google” I built up the nerve to e-mail her. To my utter amazement and delight, she replied…….Well, the e-mail is in my “SAVED” folder.
I missed seeing and hearing Jackie on her last concert tour of Australia. It was during the break-up of my marriage and a very emotional time for me. Thankfully, I have my C.D’s. My most favorite song of Jackie’s is “I’ll be Near You”: so beautiful; such lovely words. I love to lay on my sofa with the stereo full throttle and take the words and music in. The trumpet accompaniment gives a definite Burt Bacharach feel.
Well, I think so!!!!
To any reader of this article: if you don’t have this track, do yourself a favor and seek it out.
It is Jackie Trent at her best.
Inverell Northern NSW