Elio’s personal tribute to the late, great Sir Terry Wogan

Getting back to ‘normal’ after being away from home for five weeks is tough enough, let alone having to get your head around the death of someone who so positively changed your life. I make no apology for this reading like a chapter from an autobiography I may or may not write one day but trying to be succinct about what Terry Wogan meant to me, proved impossible.

I first met Terry in August 1988 when I was 20 years old as I was fortunate enough to appear on his live ‘Wogan’ TV chat show. Boy, was I excited about meeting him! Are you kidding… the guy from Blankety Blank??? And he didn’t disappoint. Warm, funny and interested.

Fifteen years went by before we bumped into each other again and to cut a long story short, I was invited to provide the entertainment at both of his two son’s weddings, the first of which was at Terry’s beautiful house in southern France. Being welcomed as a guest by the family as well as performing for them and their friends was a massive privilege.

The next thing I know, in August 2003, he’s playing my cover of Delbert McClinton’s ‘Two More Bottles Of Wine’ on his ‘Wake Up To Wogan’ Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. At the end of the record he uttered these life/career-changing words:

“Now, Elio Pace and his band, they’re kind of unsung. They travel the country, in front of thousands of people, they play brilliantly but, you know, they don’t often get played on the radio. So we’re rectifying that”.

He then went on to play that same record EVERY SINGLE WEEK for the next SIX MONTHS.

This was the first time anyone had ever played one of my recordings on national radio. The track was never meant for general release but instead part of an album made purely for promoting me and my band to get bigger and better corporate work. Terry and his then producer, the late Paul Walters, would’ve had to get special permission to play a record on air with such frequency and one that wasn’t readily available to the public and by an unknown, unsigned artist… on the most listened to radio show in the UK. I didn’t even have a website when he played it for the first time. I got one done, pretty sharpishly. Needless to say, the phone rang many more times each day than it had done previously and I got busier. Terry had opened a massive door for me.

I thought THAT was an incredible feeling but what followed with my Christmas single, ‘What A Day’, my own song, in 2006 was beyond my wildest dreams. By this time, due to the sad death of Paul Walters, Terry had a new producer called Alan Boyd who had been sent a copy of my new song and who said he loved it on the first listen. Alan played it to Terry who also loved it. And so, in December 2006, a few days before its release, Terry became the very first person to play ‘What A Day’ on national radio anywhere in the world and went on to feature it heavily in the run-up to that Christmas. He also used it as the opening record of his Christmas morning show that year… and again in 2007 and 2008. This obviously opened the floodgates (even wider) and it eventually led to the track being playlisted for rotation on Radio 2 throughout December 2009. It was that month that Terry did his last ever breakfast show and guess what? Yep… ‘What A Day’ was in that programme too. All my Christmases had literally come at once! And to Alan’s insistence, the songs main theme later became the theme tune for ‘Weekend Wogan’.

When my (proper) debut album was released in March 2009, Alan Boyd kindly put it in front of Terry’s nose and again Terry became the first to champion the lead single, ‘Addicted To The Phone’. He played it for weeks and every time continued to say the loveliest of things about my music and my band. He even sent his best wishes to me over the airwaves at becoming a dad when Marcella was born in the July of that year.

As well as Terry, for all I’ve retold and more, I have an awful lot to thank Alan Boyd for and I’ve made sure he knows it.

So you can appreciate my utter euphoria at being asked by Terry to be his Musical Director and ‘featured artist’ on his then new, upcoming BBC Sunday morning show, ‘Weekend Wogan’ in 2010. For 36 live shows that year, I got to share a 10-minute morning chat with him sitting in his dressing room whilst having some shine-reducing powder applied to my hairless head and then go out and share the stage with this broadcasting legend as we performed together, side by side on national radio and television. Before we would go on at 11am, myself and the boys and girls in my band would be standing ready, suited and booted backstage and Terry would always join us at that moment, a few minutes before going live. Without fail, he would compliment us on the work we were doing on his show, he would make us laugh, he would relax us, he would find interest in what everybody in my band was doing with their lives. It is safe to say that we all absolutely loved him. The footage of us on the show testifies to that.

And his generosity and humility towards me on that stage was incredible. The way he constantly and endlessly made sure that the listener knew how much he was loving doing the show and how much he appreciated what we were bringing to it was flattering beyond description. He had absolutely nothing to gain from that. He did it all for us.

Terry taught me a great life-lesson once. Approaching a big private event I was booked for, where my job was to not only entertain the crowd but to back up some huge musical stars and for which he had learned I was a little anxious about, he sent a message to me saying “Remember, they’re only people”. Those four words literally changed my life and my whole approach to everything I’ve ever done since.

And so, fast forward to October 2015 when out of the blue, I heard that he had given me and my Billy Joel Songbook show a nice plug on the radio. This was quickly followed up by an email saying how Terry would love to have me on his show in December to talk about my tour. I knew he was a big Billy Joel fan and to say that I was excited about talking to him about my show is an understatement. My disappointment was palpable when I heard that Terry was not well enough to present the show on December 20th. Taking nothing away from the brilliant Richard Madeley who I was truly looking forward to chatting to on air (and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this) I had been so thrilled about seeing Terry again after five years of not doing so. It wasn’t to be.

I thank my lucky stars that I was someone that Sir Terry Wogan liked a lot. So much so that he himself went to the bosses at BBC Radio 2 to let them know it was me he wanted for ‘Weekend Wogan’. I feel unbelievably privileged to have met and worked with him so many times over the years and to have been part of both his professional AND private life and I will forever treasure the memories I have of him. It is a badge of honour that I will carry with me for the rest of my days to be associated, in some small way, with such a kind, brilliant and immensely-loved man who also just happens to be the greatest, smartest and classiest broadcaster this country has ever known.

And due to his overtly, humble nature, I know he would never have let me say any of this to his face, he would have cut-me off at the first sentence as he had done quite a few times in the past when I had tried to thank him for what he had done for me. And I had planned to try again, this past December when he would have been sitting opposite me for that live chat on air. As I say, it wasn’t to be.

So, I never got the chance to properly tell him what he meant to me but I hope he knew and saw just how much he changed the course of my career. Though being the modest and truly altruistic gentleman he was, I bet he never once stopped to dwell on it.

Well, I have. Many times. And for what it’s worth, I’ll say it now…

Thank you Terry. Thank you so very very much for really, REALLY hearing my music and then doing something amazing about it… over and over and over again. Thank you. Thank you for being my friend.

Elio Pace

February 2016

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2016 TOUR DATES NOW AVAILABLE!

IT’S BEEN QUITE A YEAR FOR THE BILLY JOEL SONGBOOK!

The 2015 tour of ‘The Billy Joel Songbook performed by Elio Pace and his band’ has drawn to a close with a sensational final show at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich.

Blown away”, “mesmerised“, “enthralled”, are just some of the superlatives used in the hundreds of comments and reviews that the show has received.

One of our national treasures, Robert Lindsay wrote via social media;

“Everything about The Billy Joel Songbook is sheer perfection. We can only marvel at Elio Pace’s talent”

We would like to thank all of you for your incredible support and to those of you who have taken the time to add your own review of the show to the website. It is much appreciated. You can see all reviews for the show by clicking here.

DRUMROLL PLEASE…

The 2016 tour will kick off on Friday April 8th at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

We hope to see you at one or more of these shows, details can be found here

Please note, more dates will be added to the 2016 tour as and when they are confirmed. As soon as theatres put tickets on sale or whenever new dates are added, we’ll provide a link on the gigs page on this website.

“Goodness Gracious…”

JLL advertWe are thrilled to announce that Elio has been asked to perform at ‘The Jerry Lee Lewis 80th Birthday Celebration Concerts’ at The London Palladium and the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow.

The shows will see him reunite with two other greats – Albert Lee and James Burton, in a show that promises to be a masterclass in rock ‘n’ roll.

Click here to watch Elio’s own tribute to the great Jerry Lee Lewis taken from BBC Radio 2’s ‘Weekend Wogan’ in 2010.

Elio and Sky Sports pundits rework ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’

We are thrilled to announce that Elio and the band have been asked by Sky Sports to feature in their month-long TV and online coverage of The Ashes cricket tournament with a specially re-written version of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’.

Last week, Elio and the band took time out from their busy UK tour of ‘The Billy Joel Songbook’ to spend the day doing something rather different.

The band descended on the Sky Sports studios in South London to record and film the reworked version of ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’, featuring lyrics that cricket fans the world over will associate with – maybe even sing along to!

The advert will run right up to the start of The Ashes on July 8th, starting tonight when it will be played during the Champions League final on Sky Sports. However, if you can’t wait till then, Sky Sports have the advert featured on their website, so you can watch it online by clicking here.

If you’re on Twitter and want to follow the conversation going on about the advert and Elio and bands involvement, you can do so by using the hashtag #myashessummer.

If this whets your appetite, you should get along to one of the remaining shows of ‘The Billy Joel Songbook’, currently touring the UK. To find out if the show is coming to a place near you, please click here.

An amazing end to an amazing tour PLUS 2015 tour dates announced

What a year 2014 has been.

The 2014 tour of ‘The Billy Joel Songbook’ has sadly come to the end with a sensational show at The Pavilion Arts Centre in Buxton. This tops off an incredible 70 date tour of the UK and Ireland – a tour which has received critical acclaim.

LondonTheatre1 awarded the show 5 stars, saying the show was “enthralling, exciting and mesmerising”. You can read their review and take a look at what theatre managers and audience members alike thought of the tour by clicking here.

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But there’s more…

We are thrilled to announce that Elio and the band will be bringing ‘The Billy Joel Songbook’ back on the road again in 2015.

The 2015 tour will kick off on Monday, March 23rd at The Leicester Square Theatre in London followed by almost 50 other dates and venues across the country.

Some theatres won’t have the tickets on sale just yet, but when they do, we’ll provide a link to the box office on the website.

To see the new 2015 tour dates, click here

Elio returning to the USA to perform with Billy Joel’s original touring band

IMG_5923editFeaturing Larry Russell on bass, Rhys Clark on drums and Don Evans on guitar, Elio returns to America once again to front the band that were the first to tour with Billy Joel in 1971-’72 at the very start of Joel’s solo career.

Tickets for ‘LONG, LONG TIME: A HISTORIC TRIBUTE TO BILLY JOEL BY HIS ORIGINAL TOURING BAND’ are now on sale for two shows with a possible third show to be added very soon. Visit the LONG LONG TIME official website here to book tickets.

Click here to watch video of Elio performing ‘The Ballad Of Billy The Kid’ and ‘Captain Jack’ at last year’s ‘Original Touring Band’ reunion concert at The Bitter End in New York. Also includes David Clark performing ‘She’s Got A Way’ and ‘Everybody Loves You Now’.

The Billy Joel Songbook – 12 more shows before summer break

Before the summer break kicks in, there are 12 more chances to catch Elio and his brilliant band performing ‘The Billy Joel Songbook’ in June and July … so grab your tickets now!

even small billy joelDates and venues…

June 20 – Banbury, The Mill Arts Centre
June 21 – Chesham, Elgiva Theatre
June 25 – Swindon, Swindon Arts Centre
June 26 – Port Talbot, The Princess Royal Theatre
June 27 – Monmouth, Savoy Theatre
June 28 – Blackwood, Blackwood Miners Institute
July 17 – Southend, Palace Theatre
July 18 – Bury St Edmunds, The Apex
July 19 – Hunstanton, Princess Theatre
July 22 – Weston super Mare, The Playhouse Theatre
July 23 – Falmouth, The Princess Pavilion
July 25 – Torquay, Babbacombe Theatre

 

To check for the remaining autumn 2014 dates of this very first and unprecedented 71-date UK & Ireland tour of ‘The Billy Joel Songbook’, please click here.