Tuesday, 18 March 2014
The Mandy Smith Story Part Two.......
To say I wasn’t scared by the threat from one of ‘The firms’ Henchman would be a lie! I was left shaking in my boots wondering that maybe this is much bigger and more dangerous than I thought at first. I went back inside the hotel and thought it best not to mention the threats fearful that the waiting journalist would write about it. I could just see the headlines; ‘Boland gets threatened by the Rolling Stones etc’. I was sure that would make things a lot worse so I just made my excuses that I was tired and made my way to my room. To be honest I was terrified and seriously thought that I would leave UK as soon as possible.
It seemed where ever you looked Mandy’s face was plastered everywhere making headlines in practical every newspaper covering her arrival at Gatwick. Before leaving Holborn studios I received another call from a national newspaper asking to meet me as they wanted to negotiate a fee for a photo session and interview with Mandy. So after the car dropped us back at the Hotel I took a taxi to meet the journalist and again a fee was agreed which also included a move to the Savoy Hotel. This was all incredible, a few days ago I was at home in Marbella now I was in London been wined and dined by journalists and now moving into the Savoy Hotel. You wouldn’t believe it if you had read it in a book, on the other hand you ARE reading it!
Before we moved into the Savoy, Mandy accompanied by her mother attended a police station saying she wasn’t going to lodge a complaint against Wyman. I’m sure a huge sigh of relief came from the Stones camp and their lawyers. Perhaps now the firm would withdraw their threat for me to leave UK? Anyway as much as a coward that I am all this was just to good to be missed . I was staying!
I must say the Savoy was unbelievable, for any of you who haven’t had the opportunity to stay there, please put it on your bucket list of to do’s before you die. Again the conditions for the photo shoot were the same as the first shoot, that there would be no fee if another tabloid got a shot of Mandy before they published their story. One of MY conditions was that Mandy would NOT talk about her time with Wyman. Mandy was incredible during the shoot , she was a natural and the camera loved her. That particular session lasted well into the evening and by the time we got back to the hotel and had something to eat we were all ready for bed. The next morning all the newspapers were delivered to my room and what I saw made me sit up boltlike. There on the front pages of The Daily Express, The Sun, The Mirror was a photo of Keith and Mandy at Stringfellow’s LAST NIGHT!!!
I too needed somewhere to stay and run this crazy show from so I rented the top half of a house at the end of Kings Road. The
I decided very early on that I should explore the possibilities of Mandy making a record. I called John Reeds office in Soho. John was managing some of the biggest recording stars at the time including Elton John. I thought, because Mandy’s name was absolutely everywhere, that at least he would see me. An appointment was made for me to meet Reed, which in itself was exciting. I remember sitting in his outer office waiting to be beckoned in by the great man himself but after an hour an assistant suggested I was wasting my time and that Reed wasn’t going to turn up. He handed me a piece of paper with the name and telephone number of a Pete Waterman scribbled on it. He advised me to call him as he had just started a new record label and perhaps he might be interested in Mandy. I was not a very happy man to say the least. When I got home I decided that I would call the Waterman chap and see if he might be interested in talking to me about Mandy so I called the number. I remember that how impressed that he had a telephone in his car. I introduced myself and mentioned Mandy etc. He told me that he couldn’t believe that I had called as he had just been with Pete Burn’s (lead singer of Dead and Alive) who was enthusing over Mandy saying she looked so like a young Bardot and he should consider a remake of the song Terry by Twinkle as it was about a motor bike accident and Mandy could pose for a photo on a motorbike like the iconic photo of Bardot for the cover.
Mandy was beside herself with excitement when I told her that I had signed a record deal for her. Mandy schedule was still very busy filled mostly with interviews, photo sessions etc so our appointment for the recording with Mike and Mat could only be done over a weekend. I remember sitting outside the recording studio waiting for Mandy to come out feeling like a parent at the dentist who’s kid was inside having a tooth extracted. It felt like hours when Mandy finally came out accompanied by Mike and Mat all smiles saying she was brilliant!
A couple of days later I returned to the studios to hear the finished song. I didn’t like it, not that Mandy could sing she sounded great but I felt the song sounded dated and ask could Mike and Mat not write an original song for her? After some gentle persuasion from myself and Pete they agreed and wrote a wonderful song called: I Just Can’t Wait. (see Video below)
The front cover of Mandy's first single I Just Can't Wait. Photo by Brian Aris
From that moment on Mandy’s career reached a whole new level. It was nonstop record promotions. I launched the record on the then Stringfellow owned massive Hippodrome Club in Leicester Squire (formally the Talk of The Town, coincidently the last time I had been there was to see Bruce Forsyth’s cabaret show, little did I know years later I would be launching Mandy in this very same spot!) Again it was a huge success and as it was Mandy first live performance it seemed the world press turned out to record the event (below you’ll see a cover photo of Mandy on Bravo magazine in the outfit that was designed and made by Vivian Westwood especially for this occasion)
Almost daily we found ourselves at Gatwick Airport at some unearthly hour of the morning taking off for one country or another to appear on their versions of Top Of The Pops (see photo of Mandy on TV in Germany) . It was then that we suffered out first real set back in when Pete Waterman called to deliver the bad news that the BBC announced that they had banned Mandy’s record and the only excuse they gave that they didn’t think the standard was good enough. So I decided to ignore UK and tackle the European market especial the German where the market was even bigger than that UK. I achieved almost the impossible by negotiating with Bravo, the biggest selling music magazine in Europe, to put Mandy on the front cover, it was to be the first time in this famous magazines history to put someone on the cover that hadn’t yet scored a hit record!!
My phone was going crazy, every evening when I returned to my home it would take half an hour just to listen to my messages. One evening there was message from Peter Stringfellow’s office inviting me to join Peter for dinner at his club Stringfellow’s the following evening. I couldn’t believe it, here was the undisputed king of London night life inviting little old me for dinner! In many ways, going back to my years in clubs, Peter Stringfellow was somewhat a hero of mine and to receive this invitation was so surreal for me.
It was my first time in Stringfellow’s and here I was sitting at the owners table having dinner, drinking champion with the big boss man, this was madness! Pete told me he was about to open a new Stringfellow’s in New York and wanted to fly myself and Mandy as his special guests for the opening party, that we would be flown out by Concord and given a suit at the Plaza, I just couldn’t believe what i was hearing nor could wait to call Mandy and tell her the good news. I excused myself from the table and called her immediately. She just shrieked with joy.
Peter and I seemed to have hit it off and we started to meet up quite a lot, most of our conversation was focused on the up and coming trip to America. I remember one particular night we were having dinner in Stringfellow when Peter suggested we
One day I had a call from Vanity Fair one of Americas leading magazines requesting a photo shoot with Mandy which coincidently was to be scheduled the day before we flew to New York for the launch of Peter Stringfellow’s new club . This again was fantastic news and was arranged that it would be shot by Andrew Macpherson at an extraordinary hotel called 11 Cadogan Gardens. This shoot was to stand out in my memory for a number of reasons. It was the Jewish holiest day of the year, the Day of Atonement, the Yom Kippur. On this day Jews throughout the world took part in a very strict fast that started the evening before, a fast that didn’t even allow a glass of water, a day when one stayed in synagogue all day. So here I was spending the day interspersed with the visits to the hotel seeing how Mandy was and how the shoot was going. It was felt like a tossup between the Almighty and Mandy Smith! I remember being starving and watching the crew enjoying sandwiches and ice cold Perrier water! Eventually when the fast was over and I got by to my house, no sooner was I in the door than I started to play the days messages. One of them was from Bettina Brown in New York to call her urgently; another message was from Peter Stringfellow saying he was looking forward to seeing us at the airport the next day for our flight to New York. I called Bettina first as it sounded urgent. She thanked me for the shoot and told me that Joe McKenna, the stylist, said that it went very well. Before I had time to thank her she dropped a bombshell saying she was sorry but cancelling using it in Vanity Fair! I just sat down not believing what I was hearing, she went on to tell me that she was informed from Joe that Mandy was flying to New York the following day as guest of Stringfellow and that she believed all the tabloid papers and gossip columns would be full of
As Mandy’s work was increasing and the pressure getting greater I noticed that Mandy was beginning to find it hard to cope, remembering how young she was I didn’t blame her, she was suffering boats of tiredness and I could see an eating disorder developing, it was very worrying, Mandy didn’t know it but I was beginning to feel guilty, all Mandy thought was I was only interested in making money. We hardly had a day off, It was none stop touring and seemed our lives were spent in either photographic, TV studios or airplanes, I hardly got back to Marbella to see Wendy and the kids. That is until one day when I had a call offering a photo session for a magazine called Fitness allowing me to chose anywhere in the sun for the shoot. I immediately chose Marbella.
It was great get back home after months of being away. As soon as the local magazines and newspapers heard we were in town they all wanted photo’s with Mandy (Photo: Spain’s popular Lookout Magazine cover) . The photographer on the Marbella shoot was John Kelly who was once married to the stunning model Vivien Neves, the first British woman to pose nude in a tabloid newspaper when the Sun launched page three glamour pages in 1970. Vivien was tragically struck down with MS at the age of 30. Just before we left the villa for the days photo shoot I got a call from a journalist friend asking if I was in Marbella with Fitness Magazine warning me to be careful as it was published by Northern and Shell who also so published some of UK top shelf sex magazines. I insisted John Kelly signed an agreement that the photographs could ONLY be used in Fitness and nowhere else without my prior consent. He signed the paper and the session went ahead.
It’s true there is a full size bungalow on top of the hotel, 3 bedrooms, fully functional kitchen, a large living room and even a roof garden. Soon after we arrived Noël phoned to invite us join her and her gusts for lunch at the Mirabeau one of Dublin’s most famous restaurants. When we got there it was teaming with press who went crazy once Mandy stepped out of the limo. At the lunch the party included some of the guest who had also flown in for this evenings show were including well known Daily Mail columnist the late Nigel Dempster and the sometime star of the TV soap Dallas and Bond girl in Never Say Never Again Barbara Carreras. (see photo)
During the lunch I began to feel uneasy, there was something about Barbara Carreras I didn’t like, she seemed to keep fighting for centre stage, every time Mandy was mentioned she tried to change the subject,. One thing’s for sure she just didn’t like the fuss been made over Mandy, I felt she was very jealous of her youth and beauty. Mandy was also beginning to feel it so we excused ourselves and left saying we’d see them later at the TV studio. When we got back to the hotel Mandy said she wanted to have a rest whilst I called up the director Paul Cusack (son of the famous actor Cyril Cusack and brother of Sinead married to Jeremy Irons) Paul seemed distant for some reason and when I informed him that I would stay backstage with Mandy until she was called on set he sort of hummed and hawed saying that Mandy wouldn’t actually be called as a guest she would in fact b sitting in the audience. At first I was speechless before I exploded: “WHAT? Are you trying to tell me that you flew Mandy, possible the most famous teenager in the world, over from UK to simply sit in the audience?” He said this was not his decision. “I know whose fucking decision it was!” I yelled down the phone; ”it’s that aging washed out Hollywood nobody influencing Noël" I was preside myself with anger: “You can tell her to stick her show where the sun don’t shine!” I slammed the phone down and started pacing the suit until I calmed down. It didn’t take long before I came up with a plan. I called down to reception to enquire was there many press hanging about, they told me there was dozens waiting for Mandy to come down. I asked for canopies to be prepared for at least thirty, to send them up with a full functional bar and barmen. Next I needed to break the news to Mandy explain why I had cancelled her appearance on the show. Rather than be upset she was delighted. I then told her about the plan explaining that the suit would shortly be full of press and when I call her out of the bedroom she is to look heartbroken. I then called down to reception and gave them the green light to invite the press up the suit. Within 5 minutes the room was heaving with pressmen all enjoying free drinks and canopies, it is faire to say most
Early next day I went down to reception to get all the Sunday papers. My plan had worked exactly as planned for there staring out at me on all the front pages was Mandy Smith. The headlines saying: ‘RTE say Mandy Smith was too HOT to handle’! My decision got Mandy more publicity than any to bit TV show would have got her. Noël and myself have become friends again since.
Mandy's first record 'I Just Can't Wait' written by Stock Aitken and Waterman and recorded at the PWL studios in London (look carefully when Mandy gets out of the car and you will see my cameo role, somewhat like Hitchcock used to do in his moves!)
To be continued.....
Next up Mandy and myself eventually drift apart as her workload gets out of hand . So its back to Marbella and hello Shirley Bassey and singing for my supper on the beach