Friday, 17 January 2014

The Story behind Rudy's Roadrunner and The Boland All Star Show.

In 1991 I was invited to join Jimi Howson for a coffee in Estepona Port. I had never met him but he explained that he was playing a round of golf when he inquired if any of his mates knew someone in entertainment. My name came up and hence the coffee date. He asked if I had ever heard of Karaoke and I told him I hadn't and asked was it some kind of martial arts? He explained that someone would get up and sing to a backing track with the words on a TV screen and that it was becoming huge in UK. I hated the idea and told him so, a load of drunks singing 'My Way.' I thought, do me a favor! How wrong I was! In the end I agreed to give it a go.
The first job in hand was to find someone who could present and sing. I was a great fan of
Laurie Scott's then a well know DJ on Onda Cero radio. He loved the idea and was a hell of a good singer to boot. Jimi had brought over a large Karaoke rig from UK all we needed now was a venue. I persuaded a gentleman called Graham to give it a go in his bar Christoper Columbus Bar in Estepona Port. From the very first night it was packed it seemed everyone else in Spain had heard of the Karaoke phenomenon but me! We agreed that we would return every Tuesday and soon people were traveling from as far as way as Torremolinos and Gibraltar to join in the fun.
One Tuesday morning I got a call that was to make a great change in my life, it was from Laurie to say that he couldn't host the shows anymore as he was tied up with the moving the Onda Cero studios and helping to relaunch the station. He had left it until today Tuesday to let us know. Tuesday as you remember is our Christopher Columbus gig in which Laurie had built up a large following. What to do? Jimi suggested I do it. "ME! are you crazy I cant sing, can't read!" I exclaimed, not a good thing when presenting Karaoke show. I made a few phone calls looking for someone else to host the show but to know avail. 'It's you or nothing' exclaimed Jimi. I would have loved to have been the lead singer when I was in the band but I had no voice so I took up drumming instead because I thought it was sexy. Faced with the fact it was now lunch time and the show was scheduled for that evening, myself,Jimi and Jimi's wife carol started trying to get me at least to sing one song somewhat in tune so I could get the show underway,
by 7pm and after many, many disastrous attempts lot we eventually settled for Sugar Sugar by the Archie's to open the show. When we arrived at the venue (the equipment set up in the afternoon by the roadies) we explained to Graham that Laurie couldn't do it but I would try for FREE. He wasn't very happy but it was to late to cancel, the place was already heaving, I spent at least 10 minutes in the toilet to nervous to come out. Eventually I took to the stage and what ever happened during that evening the crowds loved it (I covered up my tuneless performance with comedy) Graham insisted in paying and wanting ME every Tuesday!!!
As word got out about the success of the Christopher Columbus shows and the mad presenter more venues along the Costa started to book us. One day whilst driving passed a large stand alone chines restaurant called Dragon D'Ora that had a small bar attached to it called the Roadrunner I decided to call in to see if I could sell them Wednesday night, now the only night we had free during the week. Luckily the owner a bigger than life Belgian with his handlebar mustache and huge cigar was working in the office. I introduced myself and tried to sell him the idea of putting me on on Wednesdays, he had never heard of Karaoke but said he would give it a go but said he would only pay me 25% of what ever drink we sell. the first Wednesday I earned 6 Euros!! Rudy added a Chines Buffet and the Wednesday night shows started to take off and so did the money. Within a few months there was queues waiting to get into the show. One day Rudy called me and asked me how I felt about him closing the large restaurant and knocking through from the Roadrunner bar to make one large 100+ seater show restaurant. I told him he was mad. Firstly it was the end of September secondly filling the Roadrunner was one thing but to try and fill the much bigger venue on a Wednesday night in winter with no tourists around would be all but impossible. Driving by the roadrunner a few days later I spotted a builders rubbish skip and a few vans outside, I called in and there was big Rudy and a load of builders with Kango hammers battling their way through the walls into the restaurant intending to make it one huge venue!!!! I nearly collapsed, Rudy had a big smile on his face. " Don't worry" he said " all will be ready by next Wednesday" All I did was shake my head as I walked away worrying how we could get enough people in to make it look at least half busy!!! I hardly slept all that week. Finally Wednesday arrived and I made my way towards the now very large Rudy Roadrunner Show Restaurant. First thing I noticed were queues of cars parked all the way down the road leading to the Roadrunner ,
I remember thinking someone must be having a very large party in one of the large neighboring houses, not for a moment did I believe it was for my show. As I arrived in the car park I noticed the newly erected a large lit up sign with my photo on it announcing the show and throngs of people making their way into the venue!! I simply couldn't believe it! I quickly realised that Rudy had actually pulled it off, perhaps a couple of hundred packed into the restaurant and knee deep around the bar!!. I couldn't believe it. By 10 O'Clock I was back stage changed, ready and extremely nervous, all I could think was, 'what if they don't like my show, we will be empty every Wednesday from now on!!!. I always opened my show with Achy Break Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus. The lighting and sound were outstanding. The crowed loved it. The atmosphere was electric. I loved it, it was like a dream come true. Rudy's Roadrunner became THE place to be on a Wednesday night for that day on. So popular was the show that I added my own dancers for the opening. Many celebrates began to turn up whilst visiting Marbella to get up on stage and join me like Lionel Blare (see photo), Faith Brown, Bonnie Langford (see photo), Mike McCartney, Peter Stringfellow even Eric Morcambe's widow and many famous footballers and show biz celebs would turn up on a Wednesday at Rudy's.
What the audience didn't know was that we used to rehearse every Wednesday afternoon. Each performance from Vaz (from Morocco, see photo) singing his comical version of Wild 'TING' which turned him into somewhat of a personality around Marbella as did the more mature Alma performing her off key operatic version of I Could Have Danced All Night (see photo) All was met with raptures applause. By this time I realised that I just didn't have the time or energy to do these type of shows 7 days per week as I was also on Radio Onda Cero every day, live on Malaga TV every Wednesday afternoon (no Sky in those days) and had Marbella Auctions on Sundays, so I stopped all Karaoke Shows only leaving the the hugely successful Wednesday night Show at Rudys Roadrunner.. I was to say the least a busy young man!!!! The show ran for many years (not sure how many I'm sure Rudy will ,let me know) But what a great time we all had with it.

Next week The Mandy Smith Story


  1. We hardly ever missed a Wednesday. Always used to bring visiting family and friends, guaranteed a brilliant night out. As you used to sing Maurice, Those Were The Days.

  2. Yes they were the days. We loved Rudy's. The Costa had never seen anything like then or since. Remember Maite what ever happened to her? She was amazing.