With a career that spans six decades, Georgie Fame made his name in the 60s with three No.1 hits and over 20 albums since. At 17, Fame was touring Britain extensively and before long Billy Fury selected four musicians, including Fame, for his group The Blue Flames. When Fame and the Flames later teamed up, a string of hits followed, along with a residency in a top London club. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Bad Penny Blues – Humphrey Lyttelton

When I was 10, my 18-year-old sister was in a relationship and her piano-playing boyfriend decided to teach me some boogie-woogie to stop me from cramping their style. As my hands weren’t big enough I had to play it with two fingers, and it eventually became my staple boogie-woogie, which later on would get me my first professional gigs. A record that was in the charts at the time was Bad Penny Blues by Humphrey Lyttelton. I fell in love with it and soon after it got me into Jerry Lee Lewis.

What’d I Say – Ray Charles

In January 1960 I was told I’d be touring with Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and yourself [Vince Eager]. I went to a rehearsal room in Gerrard Street, London where Eddie was rehearsing with Marty Wilde’s Wildcats. Eddie played the most amazing intro on his Gretsch. At the end of the number Eddie told us that it was the Ray Charles number, What’d I Say. It was the hit number of the show and I think every band who went to see the show went home and rehearsed it.

Every Day I Have The Blues – Lambert, Hendricks and Ross

My first Blue Flames drummer Red Reece introduced me to vocalese. John Hendricks came up with the idea of vocalese where singers sing the parts originally written for jazz instrumentals and solos, and it was John who wrote the lyrics and did the first vocal version of my hit Yeh, Yeh. Red played me an album entitled Sing A Song Of Basie. On it Dave Lambert sang the trombone parts, Hendricks sang the sax part and Annie Ross the trumpet.

Always True To You Darling – Peggy Lee

Whilst on the road with Billy Fury in 1961, Red Reece always toured with a Dansette record player. Bed and breakfast digs didn’t have much in the way of entertainment so the record player was forever in use and at times was integral to our sanity. An album that was always on our play list was Beauty And The Beat! featuring Peggy Lee and the George Shearing Quartet. Billy was infatuated with Peggy Lee, especially Always True To You Darling. A great track.

Parchman Farm – Mose Allison

I didn’t get to know of Mose Allison until 1962 when I worked down the Flamingo Club in London playing from midnight until 6am. The club proved to be a popular venue for American GIs serving throughout the UK and they were always asking for music by American artistes we weren’t aware of. An American GI nicknamed “Smitty” introduced me to the music of Mose Allison, and it was Mose who became my biggest influence both musically and as a human being.

Green Onions – Booker T. & the M.G.s

At the Flamingo there was a great friend of ours named Count Suckle who was a top Jamaican DJ with an amazing sound system and record collection who went on to open his own club The Roaring Twenties in Carnaby Street, at which we were residents on Sundays for his all-nighters. My favourite record he played, and one that I bought and played all the time, was Green Onions. I couldn’t get over the brilliant Hammond organ sound on this album.

Midnight Special – Jimmy Smith

Green Onions and Midnight Special were the catalyst for me to go out and buy my first Hammond organ. Jazz legend Jimmy Smith helped popularise the Hammond B-3 electric organ, creating an indelible link between 1960s soul and jazz improvisation. Between 1960 and 1966 I purchased three different spinet sized keyboards, none of which gave me the sound I was looking for. So in 1966 I purchased a full-size Hammond and it really did the trick, and I’m still playing it 50 years later.

Every Time We Say Goodbye – Ray Charles and Betty Carter

In my humble opinion, this is the greatest duet album of all time Alongside Cleo Laine, Betty Carter is my favourite female vocalist and she and Ray Charles are just magic. It also goes to show that Ray Charles is one of the most gifted musician/vocalists of all time. Rock’n’roll, blues, jazz, you name it and Ray mastered it. Hearing Eddie Cochran
sing What I Say knocked me out to start with, but then hearing Ray Charles perform it, I didn’t know which way
to turn!

Moanin’ – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

This is from the album Live In Paris at the Club St Germain and is a wonderful example of jazz musicians rockin’ and rollin’. There’s a marvellous atmosphere in the club with Art Blakey playing a heavy backbeat on the drums all the way through and awesome solos from Benny Golson on tenor sax, and the pianist Bobby Timmons who composed Moanin’. This is a prime example of musicians who started out playing R&B – the step before becoming jazz players.

Nimrod – Elgar’s Enigma Variations Grimethorpe Colliery Band

The piano in our Lancashire front room was where I practised playing what still are, some of my favourite songs. We also had a colliery behind our house and they had a brass band that I loved listening to. Many years after first hearing them I was in Cleethorpes and decided to buy a ticket for a concert by the famous Grimethorpe Bass Band. I bought two of their CDs and one of the tracks featured a variation by Elgar entitled Nimrod. I still get emotional listening to it. I love it!