On my path through life I have met many people – at school, at work and in my leisure time. Some have entered my life and after a few years exited it again. Some school friendships ended when I left school (although there were a few which lasted longer – my dear departed friend Roger Steele, for instance) and other friends came into my life and out again when I moved to take up a new job.
Some of those friends went on to make their mark on the world while others stayed put and made their mark on their own locality.
Then there were those who I only met because they had made their mark in life. Even in my teens in Rhyl I met a lot of entertainers who came to my father’s shop while they were doing weekend shows at the Pavilion, or other entertainment spots in town, some of them doing a full week.
Surprisingly there are the ones you meet again under completely different circumstances. People like Heinz Burt, or just Heinz as he was known professionally, who made a hit on the pop scene in the 60s beginning with an instrumental hit Telstar as part of the Tornados.
Heinz appeared more than once in Rhyl and was known for his clean-cut Germanic look with his peroxide blonde hair. The peroxide touch came from his manager, Joe Meek, who thought it a class idea. A view not shared by my father who once, when Heinz came in to our chemist shop to get some hydrogen peroxide, told the up and coming pop star: “You shouldn’t use it too often, it’ll ruin your hair eventually.”
Although Meek got him on tours with some of the big names of the time Heinz’s only real touch of fame came with the Tornados and briefly in 1963 as a solo vocalist with Just Like Eddie, an homage to Eddie Cochrane, one of the best-known American rock’n’roll pioneers.
Little did I know that I was going to meet Heinz again under very different circumstances.
As well as news features Tony Blandford, my editor, thought it a good idea to try out different sports on behalf of the readers.
One of these involved members of the editorial team, and a token representative from the advertising department, who at the time was also our “token female” (this was a period when women were only just beginning to be treated as equals by many), taking part in a “Banger racing” event at the nearby track in Rayleigh.
I wrote the introductory article for the report but then we all wrote about our particular experiences on the race track which were somewhat hairy to say the least.
Tony also knew that having been raised by the sea I had also been on a number of sea-fishing trips in my life. He said there was an advertising rep on one of our sister papers in Essex (we were part of the Westminster Press Group) who also enjoyed sea-fishing and belonged to a small group who made regular trips. The editor suggested I join them on an early-morning trip out from the Essex coast.
The advertising rep proved to be – Heinz Burt.
He was taking a break from the pop world and it appeared to be doing him good, at this stage his hair was more of a light brown than the peroxide blond he had become so well known for.
The more regular life seemed to suit him, I doubt if you would have seen many pop stars in those days bright and breezy at six am on a Sunday and looking forward to heading out to sea in an old wooden fishing boat.
The trip was entertaining, if not exactly successful, and once I brought up the Rhyl connection Heinz and I got on like two old pals. The fishing was less productive.
The article itself proved very popular.