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Sunday 13 November 2016

Ticking All The Boxes

One-time Cincinnati lass. the 4ft 9in tall Brenda Lee, and, left, Benny Green.
My L.C. Smith No 8
Who connects an L.C. Smith No 8 with Tom Furrier of Cambridge Typewriter, Wisden cricket almanacks,
P. G.Wodehouse, Cincinnati and my Top 12 all-time music heroes: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ben E. King, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck? Surely someone very, very special indeed …
Dominic Green
ACK in 2010, James Buchan wrote in a Guardian review of the book Armies of God: Islam and Empire on the Nile, 1869-99 - The First Jihad of the Modern Era that author and jazz guitarist “Dominic Green's qualifications for writing about the Mahdist state established in Sudan between 1881 and 1898 are a degree in English from Oxford and a stint playing guitar behind Dionne Warwick. It proves a model education.”
In the six years since, Green has ticked even more boxes, and become, at least in my eyes, a model citizen of the world.
Bernard Whimpress
My friend Bernard Whimpress of Adelaide, one of Australia’s leading book reviewers, has pointed me in the direction of Green’s article “The Pulpit” in last month’s edition of the Literary Review. Green opened the piece by revealing he’d written it using a L.C. Smith No 8 standard typewriter. Green, who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then went on to say he’d bought the machine from none other than Typospherian Tom Furrier of Cambridge Typewriter, Arlington MA.
Digging a little deeper into the life and times of Dominic Green (1970-), I found he is the son of legendary British saxophonist Bernard “Benny Green (1927-98) and the brother of another remarkable saxophonist, Leo Green (1972-). These family ties link Dominic Green with all of the above.
For me, the pinnacle of Benny Green’s achievements was that he was a member of that wonderful late 50s British band Lord Rockingham’s XI.  The name of the group is a clear pointer to Green’s passion for cricket, and sure enough Benny edited and published the Wisden Anthologies, a summary of the famous cricketing annual. These four volumes cover the highlights from Wisden Cricketers' Almanack from its inception in 1864 until 1989 and stand as a major milestone in cricketing literature.
Lord Rockingham's XI was the house band on ITV's rock 'n' roll show Oh Boy! Its biggest single success was one of those long forgotten one-hit wonders, Hoots Mon, which reached No 1 on the British charts for three weeks in November-December 1958. Another track, Fried Onions, made the US Billboard Top 100. Lord Rockingham's XI  backed Marty Wilde, Cuddly Dudley and Cincinnati’s Brenda Lee (1944-). (Well, I say Cincinnati for obvious reasons, though the 4ft 9in tall Lee, as Brenda Mae Tarpley, lived there only briefly in the mid-50s - she was actually from Atlanta, Georgia. In Ohio she performed at the Jimmy Skinner Music Center.)
Tom Furrier at Cambridge Typewriter
Hoots Mon is a rocked-up version of the traditional Scottish song A Hundred Pipers, complete with such stage Scotticisms as “Hoots mon” (the Australian version of which is “Gidday, mate, how they hangin’?”), “och aye” (yes), "It's a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht tanicht" ("It's a fine, bright moonlit night tonight") and “there's a moose loose aboot this hoose [about this house]".
Benny Green loved the work of P. G. Wodehouse and wrote a literary biography about Wodehouse – who gets a mention in Dominic Green’s Literary Review article. As a keen student of English literature (at St John’s College, Oxford), a musician and an author, Dominic Green closely followed in his father's footsteps. He also studied the history of religion at Harvard.
Leo Green
      Similarly, his younger brother Leo Green became a musician, broadcaster, producer, actor, musical arranger and concert promoter. Leo played sax for Jerry Lee Lewis and was long-serving a member of Van Morrison's band. By the age of 30, he had worked with Ben E. King, Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan, , Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton, Georgie Fame, James Brown, Jeff Beck, Lionel Richie, Little Richard, Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Ray Davies and Ronnie Wood, to name but a few. Leo Green was the musical director and conductor for Burt Bacharach and Hal David during their show at the Royal Albert Hall. 
      And so, just to summarise, Dominic Green ticks all my boxes because:
1. He likes typewriters.
2. He uses a typewriter.
3. He has met Tom Furrier.
4. His dad loved cricket, edited my favourite cricket books, and wrote about Wodehouse.
5. His dad played on Hoots Mon
6. And his brother has recorded with all 12 of my all-time music heroes.
Enough said?
Ring Lardner
Donald Barthelme
Richard Wilbur


Bill M said...

Another one of your Great Posts Robert. To me it proves it is better to write on a typewriter than the computer.

Richard P said...

Lots of fun! I love Green's story.

Tom Furrier said...

Great story Robert! Dominic has become a regular customer over the last six months. Just an outstanding guy!