Valentino - King Of The Music

"Valentino is the world's greatest keyboard entertainer" London Evening News

Valentino- the Fifth Beatle? Their first tour - Dublin



Jackie recalls “We played cinemas in those days and had to arrive early afternoon otherwise we would never get near the place. The crowds were unbelievable and the screaming was something else. You couldn't hear the music, drowned out with the screams. As soon as the curtain came down at the end of the concert all of us (the Beatles and the whole cast) were quickly bundled into the back of a Post Office van and driven a breakneck speed away from the cinema to a hotel. During the tour I got to know their manager Brian Epstein very well. He said I was wasting my time in Ireland and advised me to move to the UK. He promised to use me on his shows if I did. Shortly after I moved to London and true to his word he booked me for loads of concerts, among them several at The Prince of Wales in London with Dusty Springfield. "

"Next time I met up with the 'Fab Four' was when I made my very first L.P. for EMI at The Abbey Road recording studios. The album was called simply 'Valentino' and was on Studio Two in Stereo with a forty piece orchestra and the Mike Samme Singers and featured various famous conductors including Alan Ainsworth, Brian Fahey and Johnny Arthey. I arrived at the session really early in order to practice and get used to the beautiful concert grand piano they had at Studio one. When I opened the studio door there was a thick 'fog' hanging in the air. It smelled rather strange to an innocent young chap like me. In the monitor room were The Beatles and their recording manager George Martin as well as an engineer. They had been recording all night and were listening to some of the tracks they had recorded. I sat for ages listening and chatting. It was only in later years that I realised I had been fortunate and privileged to hear some of their most famous tracks before anyone else in the world ever did."

"As it happened I was doing a Beatles number on my album called 'All My Loving' interwoven with a Beatles medley arrangement that I had arranged. So I played it to them. They were tickled pink and most impressed as at that time no-one had done anything like that before with their music. I still remember the twinkle in Paul's eye and the big grin on his face when he heard how I had interwoven so many of their tunes together around the main song All My Loving. He was really chuffed."

"Later the members of the orchestra began to arrive for my recording session. As soon as they encountered "the fog" they opened all the studio doors and went around waving their sheet music in the air trying to get rid of the strange smell. They later told me it was one of the "happiest" sessions they had ever experienced! It's worth noting that we recorded the whole album in one day, three hours in the morning, break for lunch and three hours in the afternoon. Nowadays they can sometimes take years !"

"I met up with them lots of times over the years. The last time I saw John was four months before he was murdered.  I was with my American agent Phil Shapiro in his office at West 57th Street in New York when he mentioned that John was just over the road in another building so l popped over and had a chat for over an hour. Little did I know...."


The Stage & Television To-Day


One of the greatest pleasures for any critic is to witness an artist supreme at his or her craft. Such an artist is Valentino - a magical musician whose experiments over the years with that remarkable instrument the Cordovox have resulted in his ability to transport spellbound audiences to a rainbow-coloured never-never land of musical fantasies. Last Friday at The Starlight Rooms he played….and howling winds tore at “Ghost Riders In The Sky”…Orchestral strings swept upwards to an exciting pitch…..and changed miraculously into a sad cat chorus by a back alley choir….mandolins in the moonlight became dam-busting bombers with engines emitting deep, triumphant throbs. Hawaiian guitars serenaded, and the sounds swelled themselves into crashing chords from mighty organs….and yet in the tender treatment of the theme from Love Story, Valentino emphasised that in his hands the Cordovox cannot ever be dismissed as a gimmick and a box of tricks. A world-travelled performer (recently returned from a South American tour) and with several LP albums in circulation, Valentino is also a pianist of the highest order and one who can offer his music in a serious vein. As he revealed when he turned his attention to the grand piano to play a medley of passages from the classics combined with a sprinkling of light music. His fine fluency, touch, and interpretation gave rise to a concentrated silence, as though none dared breathe lest a note be disturbed. Valentino’s final flourish was the last dot in keeping with his overall presentation of handsome elegance, and brought a crowd of admiring females in search of him following the performance. They found an artist who remains at heart rather shy and one who is totally dedicated to his work

 Tommy Kane, music critic for The Stage & Television To-Day 1975.

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