Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Big Band Days Singer's Change; Singer's Change of Heart about the Geordies

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Big Band Days Singer's Change; Singer's Change of Heart about the Geordies

Article excerpt

LAST Saturday, I told the story of author Eva Ibbotson and of how she simply loathed the idea of having to come to Tyneside - but of how the down-to-earth Geordies finally won her over.

It brought to mind a lovely lady who I had the privilege of interviewing a number of years ago - the late Kay Rouselle, a favourite on the bandstand singing with the Don Smith band at the Oxford Galleries in the late 1950s.

Kay told me of how she came to Tyneside to audition for the band on a cold, rainy November evening and with her first sight of Newcastle being in the dark as she emerged from Central Station, looking for a taxi to take her to the dance hall.

"The cab driver started to strike up a conversation but, for the life of me, I couldn't understand a word he was saying. What was this strange place I had come to?" Kay wasn't at all enamoured with her first glimpse of Tyneside. "But," she told me, "I'm still here 40 years later and couldn't think of a better place to be."

Things actually started to change for the young singer within an hour of her arrival, when she was dropped off by her strange-talking taxi driver at the Oxford Galleries. As she walked through the door, she was greeted by the sound of the band rehearsing.

"They were excellent, it must have been one of the best sounds I'd heard, then again, Don Smith and the Oxford had a big reputation throughout the band circuit," she said.

Kay was only a young girl when she arrived in Geordieland but she was still a tough veteran as far as the entertainment industry was concerned.

She had come up the hard way. As a teenager she started out on the beauty circuit.

Then there was her page three girlie shots in the Daily Mirror - these were the days when they wore clothes and relied on beauty and personality.

Unknown to Kay, her mum applied on her behalf for a job as a band singer. …

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