Sunday, 16 March 2014

CHAPTER 11

FIRST STOP CUBA AND THEN MANDY SMITH




Since I started this journey of writing my memoirs I hadn't really touched on my religious beliefs, except, that is, in the first chapter when I tried to explain what it was like being a Jewish kid brought up in a catholic country. Maybe I would be better off leaving religion and politics out of My Story, it’s suffice to say that I’m a practising Jew, of sorts, I try to attend Saturday service at our synagogue in Marbella, The reason I’m bringing up being Jewish now is because that’s where the next chapter in my life begins..

It was early 1986 whilst attending synagogue that I was introduced to Larry Spence. Larry had recently moved to Marbella from Scotland after marrying the daughter of one of the synagogues elders. We seemed to hit it off almost immediately, must have been our Celtic blood.

Over lunch one day Larry asked me if I was planning anything new? I told him about a large premises that I'd viewed which was
formerly a Marbella cabaret club that had been extensively damaged by a fire some years ago and was now up for rent. It was perfectly positioned on Marbella’s Golden Mile between Puerto Banus and Marbella Town practically opposite the fashionable 5 star Marbella Club Hotel. I explained my idea for a club with live bands as well as disco, something that would be new to Marbella. Larry insisted we go and see it. I made an appointment with the letting agent and the next day we were shown around the burnt shell. Larry immediately could see the potential that I had seen earlier, he told me he'd loved to get involved and that he had some friends back in Glasgow that had just sold their discotheque for a lot of money and coincidentally had asked him to keep his eye open for an opportunity to do something similar in Marbella. They were Mark Goldinger, Harold Ure and Ron McCullough, the club that they had sold was Henry Afrikas one of Glasgow’s most successful discotheques of all time.

That evening Larry called the guys back in Glasgow explaining what he had seen and my ideas for the club. Before you could ask what a Scotsman wears under his kilt all 3 had arrived in Marbella. I arranged for them to view the premises and like myself and Larry they loved the layout and could see the great potential. After spending a morning with lawyers we ended up signing a contract to lease the premises. My next big thing was about to happen!

Ron McCullough, was an award winning interior designer specialising in bar, restaurant and club interiors. He immediately set about concept designing the club. Within 24 hrs he came up with the idea of calling the club Cuba simply because he liked the Cuban flag.
He based the interior design on the flags colours of white furniture set off with red cushions with the walls were painted blue, dozens of Cuban flags hung from the ceilings over the tables and bars. It looked amazing, i'd never seen anything like it, in fact I feel safe in saying Spain had never seen anything like it.

It was Almost 3 months to the day I originally found the premises that Cuba was ready to open. Outrages singer Divine was flown in from New York for the opening night. He was currently riding high in the US and UK charts with a cover of Walk Like A Man People magazine described him as the "Drag Queen of the Century".
The opening party was a sensation.

(Unfortunately This is the only photograph I have showing the Cuban flag design and was taken outside to the left of the main entrance. I think the girl in the photograph was TV stars Des O'Connor's daughter)



One day I was walking through Puerto Banus when I bumped into my old mate Irish rock star Phil Lynott, we hadn’t seen each other for years, he invited me to join him for a drink and it wasn't long before we started reminiscing about the good old days back in Ireland. I eventually got around to talking about Cuba and asked if he would like to make a special guest appearance for old time sake? At first he wasn’t too keen as he said he was on holiday with his Mother Phyllis and daughters (He had just broken up with his wife Caroline the daughter of comedian Leslie Crowther), but by some gentle persuasion and a few more drinks I eventually got him to agree, but he added one important proviso and that was that I got the members of Thin Lizzy over to Marbella to appear with him. This was an exciting challenge for me to stage Phil Lynott at Cuba. So without thinking I agreed. Little did I know what a nightmare that was going to turn out to be!
After days of phone calls etc I eventually tracked all member of the band down. At first they too were also a little apprehensive about coming over as by that stage Thin Lizzy had broken up and I’m not sure they had parted with Phil on the best of terms but again my Irish charm seemed to have worked and all members agreed to fly over.
Two were flying from Paris and one from Dublin, they were scheduled in Malaga at around 5pm on the day of the show. I had sent a car to meet both flights. As there was no mobile phones I had to wait for a call from the driver to inform me of the bad news that the band were on neither of the flights. I told him to wait at the airport and not leave until the last flight got in . I said nothing to Phil who I was having dinner within in his hotel. Around 10’clock I received another arranged call from the driver telling there was still no sign of the missing musician! I instructed him again not to leave the airport until the last flight got in. I still had said nothing to Phil as I was worried he just tell me to forget it and go to bed.
We left the hotel for the club around midnight, on arriving I could see the each side of the Golden Mile was jammed with cars for as far as the eye could see, in fact it was bedlam, so much so that the police were on the road guiding traffic. Even before you entered the club you could feel the buzz it was electric. Phil and I entered direct to the dressing rooms through the back of the club.
I simply had no Idea what I was going to do. I had a packed club, a stage full of instruments and sound technicians standing by to drive the concert, but still no band, on top of that I had no way of communicating with the driver, anyway by this stage the airports were closing! Back in the dressing room Phil started drinking and worse cocaine was everywhere, he also was beginning to get agitated and kept asking. “Were are the fucking band?” By 1:30am the crowed were becoming restless, Phil was getting wasted and started suggesting he would go home. I was now finding it hard to keep calm. By 2am Phil was well greased and getting very angry he was suggesting the he would go out and entertain the crowds himself, this is the last thing I needed for Phil Lynott staggering on the stage making some drunken excuse why Thin Lizzy hadn’t turned up . The crowed, that must have numbered over 600 had started to slow handclap demanding Thin Lizzy. I had to keep going on stage promising that the show would start shortly. Then just as we approached 3am the dressing room door burst opened and in walked three very dishevelled drunk musician who looked a lot worse for wear, Thin Lizzy had arrived. They were efing and blinding about delayed flights and what the fuck they were doing in Marbella etc , Lynott started swearing at them, tempers flared and punches were almost thrown!!! I immediately ran on stage announcing; " Ladies and gentlemen, one of the worlds greatest rock bands.... Thin Lizzy" the crowd went wild when they spotted Phil and the boys take to stage. They opened with their massive no1 hit The Boys are Back In Town and all I could think was ‘Thank G-D they are!’. I can remember no more of that night. I probably passed out on the dressing room floor!! As a sad side note to this story, this was to be Phil Lynott’s last public appearance before he died shortly after by an alleged drug overdose.

Mandy Smith part one

Cuba had got off to a flying start and within a very short space of time had established itself as THE club to be and be seen in through the 1986 summer season. My job was to look after marketing and the management of the club. The boys had flown over Colin Barr one of Glasgow’s trendiest male models and hugely popular with the ladies to work with me on the marketing also from Glasgow Harold’s son Paul and his best friend Keith Daly, who were going to run the bar and floor. We also employed a team of a dozen great looking boys and girls to PR the beaches. Every day an open army style jeep, which was togged out in the Cuba colours, would deliver the crew to the beaches to hand out publicity pamphlets publicising the evenings parties at the club. One of the girls was Keith’s girlfriend called Mandy. I can remember my first impressions of her, she was breathtakingly beautiful with a great fun personality.
We had a brilliant summer, and by the end of the ’86 season Cuba had been an outstanding success. Keith, who it turned out to be a distant cousin of mine, came around to my house one day with Mandy to ask if they could stay for a few days before flying back to Scotland for a break. One evening I was watching TV with Keith whilst Mandy was out with Wendy when out of the blue he dropped the bombshell that Mandy was in fact Rolling Stone Bill Wyman’s girlfriend and she had been since she was 13! I was speechless, Keith went on to tell me that the British press had been trying to legalise the story for sometime but could never find enough proof of the affair. He explained if this had ever got out the aging Rolling Stone would end up in prison! A few nights later I had my friends Pat and Barry Tracy over for a BBQ.

(Photo: This is a very rare photo of Mandy playing with our youngest son Daniel days before her story was to break)

The Tracey’s were freelance journalist from Lamington Spa that we had known for some time and would always look us up when over in Marbella. Mandy and Keith had made plans to go out that evening but changed their minds at the last minute so they could join us for dinner. Whilst we were all in the garden having a pre dinner drink Keith told me Mandy was making a very important phone call and would join us shortly. As we sat down to eat Mandy came running to the table shouting excitedly to Keith “I’ve just told Bill were all over!” Remembering what Keith had told me about the dangers of the Wyman story getting out,I tried to signal to Mandy to be carful what she’s saying as she didn’t know the Tracy’s were journalists but it was too late. Barry started to ask Mandy was she the THE Mandy Smith Bill Wyman girlfriend? Mandy confirmed she was and as much as I tried to shut her up she just continued giving details to Barry and Pat about her affair with Wyman, in fact, they agreed to meet the next day for more revelations . After dinner the Tracy’s left rather promptly I remember thinking at the time. What I didn’t know was that they headed towards the hotel where there was a teletex machine, there was no fax machines in those day, and lodged the whole story with the News of The World. The next day, being a Sunday, the Mandy Smith Story ran over 8 pages including the front page!

My phone started to go crazy non stop from very early on Sunday morning. One of the calls was for Mandy from her very angry mother Patsy Smith demanding to know what the hell was going on and for Mandy to stay exactly where she was as she was on the next flight. As I said it was still early on Sunday morning when I noticed the paparazzi starting to gather at our gate. I just thought this is all pretty exciting stuff and didn’t take the unfolding events very serious. Little did I know that this was about to change my life.
Later that morning a car pulled up our drive, the driver informing us that he was sent to pick up Mandy by her mum, at first Mandy didn’t want to go but after Keith agreed to go with her they left and that was that .
I was sorry to see her go and the press disperse. Excitement over, so I thought.
The next morning I got a call from Keith saying I was to come over to the house, that Mandy, and her mum wanted to talk to me. When I got there I was greeted by a very agitated Patsy Smith who wanted to know if i knew what I done and had I realised how dangerous this situation left Bill in? Also in the house were the Rolling Stones legal team who had also flown over with Patsy, who were also equally forceful in their condemnation of me. Hold on, I thought, surely the mum should of have been more concerned what Bill had done to her daughter rather worrying about what the consequences of his actions would do to him. I was very confused as to why Patsy was so supportive of Bill until she dropped the bombshell that she was in fact Bills twenty one year old son Stephen’s lover!! So Mandy could have been her mums step mum, this was all very bizarre to say the least, I should have just turned around and left but for some reason not only did I not leave but I started to tell Patsy that perhaps this could be wonderful opportunity to launch Mandy into a career of modelling, music whatever?” Patsy was far from happy when Mandy kept pleading with her to allow me to help her become a model. The Stones lawyers went berserk at the suggestion, insisting this just couldn’t happen that anymore bad publicity could end with their client in prison. Patsy now seemed to be ignoring them and called me aside and asked me what I knew about management? I lied and told her I guaranteed that I would turn her daughter into a superstar model within 12 months. I seemed to have hit the right spot with Patsy and much to my surprise Patsy agreed that I should manage Mandy! The Stones legal team started accusing me of jeopardising Bill’s future and that he could end up in prison. All I said was he’s big and rich enough to look after himself.
When we got back to the villa I got on the phone and booked 3 flights back to UK for the next day after all Mandy’s Story was front page news in practically every newspaper in Europe so I thought if there was ever a time to give it a go this was it.
Somehow the Spanish paparazzi got wind of our departure the following afternoon from Malaga airport and when we got to check in the press where over us like a swarm of bees! Although Mandy had experienced this type of carry on before with the Rolling Stones it was all new to me and to be honest very exciting. I was starting to enjoy the ride. When we eventually boarded the plane and waiting for takeoff reality suddenly struck home; what was I going to do when we got to London?



After collecting our cases at Gatwick we made our way out to the main concourse, I still had no plans what I was going to do I only knew that I would stay with my cousin and Mandy and Keith would stay with her sister. As the automatic doors pulled back we got such a shock when we were greeted by the noise and flashes from hundreds of motorised cameras and the lights of TV cameras. The noise was incredible. I remember Mandy shouting that she thought someone very famous must have arrived. It was only after a fraction of a second did I realise that the shouting was for Mandy, all you could hear was shouts of “Mandy, Mandy” from the camera men. We just stood there like rabbits caught in headlights until a couple of kindly policeman came to our rescue by helping us through the crowds of pressmen who by now were pushing microphones in front of Mandy shouting questions; “Did you sleep with Wyman?” or “Did he know what age you were?” it was none stop, in fact it was quite scary. With the help of the police we edged our way towards the exit to try to find a taxi. It was then a woman grabbed hold of us saying she was the beauty editor of a well known daily tabloid, that she had a car waiting outside that would give us a lift. We were more than thankful with the offer and even more delighted when we saw it was a chauffeured limousine


As we made way away from the airport the journalist explained that she would like an exclusive fashion shot of Mandy the next day and was willing to put us up in a 5 star hotel,and pay us a generous fee. 'A fee?' I hadn’t thought of that. “How much?” I asked “How much do you want?” she replied back. I don’t know where I came up with the figure but I said “£7,000!” (Worth £17,000 in today’s money!) She agreed readably, possibly to readably I thought! Without knowing it I was already filling the managerial role! We arrived at the 5 star Kensington Palace Hotel, Mandy and Keith were immediately escort by the newspapers staff to their room and the journalist and myself went to the bar to go over details for the next day’s photo shoot. She explained that it was very important that Mandy shouldn’t be photographed by any other newspaper before her paper had finished the shoot and publish their spread or the fee wouldn't be paid. I agreed to keep Keith and Mandy hidden away until we leave for the photo session the following day. It was then that we heard a lot of noise coming from the hotel foyer. One of the newspapers security guards informed us the whole of the front of the hotel was overrun by press and that we should get out of their immediately. How they knew we were there? I suppose hotel porters earn a few bob tipping off the press when someone famous is staying in the hotel. Within 10 minutes we were back in the limo having checked out of the Kensington Palace on rout for the Swiss Cottage Hotel. By this time we arrived at our new and I hoped our final destination we were all shattered. Mandy and Keith headed to their room. I sat again with the journalist enjoying a much welcomed cup of tea and sandwiches when one of the hotel receptionists came over to say there was a gentleman at the foyer wanting to see me. I excused myself and went out to see what he wanted. The waiting man stood well over 6 ft and was built like a heavyweight boxer all in all a very unpleasant looking man. He asked me could he see me outside for a moment as he had some important news that I should know. I was intrigued, so I agreed. No sooner were we outside the hotel that he aggressively grabbed me by my collar almost lifting me off my feet and told me in no uncertain terms that he worked for ‘the firm’ and told me: "You are to leave fucking London within the next 24 hrs or things could turn very nasty!"

To be continued.....

Part 2 of the Mandy Smith Story will follow shortly including, touring, TV shows, record deals and heartache.

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