tribute by bruce brandt
was just under two years from the day I met Carl Wayne, July 28, 2002, until the
last time I spoke to him on June 22, 2004.
Wayman knew Carl for 36 years. Jane Simpson first met him in the mid-70s. Martin
Kinch, the man Carl once said "knows more about me than I do", just
seems to have known him forever. And Helen, who was closer to him than any of
us, met him as a teenager in the early 90s.
I wouldn't change my (and eventually Beth's) own relatively short and unlikely
friendship and experiences with Carl for any of theirs.
untimely death two weeks ago was not part of the "script" I
envisioned. On the other hand, nothing in the past two years has been a part of
any script, if there is such a thing in this life, that I could have written at
the beginning of April of 2002. A time when I was cruising through
life, secure in the knowledge that I was never going to see my favorite band
since the mid-1960s, The Hollies.
don't want to reprise much from my various journals here, even though that will
be impossible to avoid altogether, as they contain the story of how I got to
know Carl. Most of you have read them anyway. The following will hopefully be
a bit illustrative of the man I knew off the stage, rather than the performer too
many people never had the good fortune to see.
the first journal, I wrote how I yelled "Carl, Carl Wayne!" over at
him when I saw him on stage for the first time at the sound check in Stillwater,
Minnesota. What I didn't mention was that in a moment of silly inspiration, I
added, "Helen says hello!" Now, I had first written to his website
just days earlier, and had not even joined this mailing list. But a very nice
woman had bothered answering my e-mail, and something told me two days later
that she would not mind a greeting on her behalf. Knowing what I know today,
Carl would have probably come down and talked to Terry Flamm and me anyway. As
so many of you have seen for yourselves, that's just the way he was with the
fans. No artificial walls between the performer and audience, no star complex.
Just a regular guy who said at the time, "I like to figure out what makes
people tick". He was genuinely curious about the varied folks that he
crossed paths with, and that's why he became the band's beloved ambassador.
Never saw, or heard of, him turn away from a single autograph-seeker, or fail to
listen to a fan's story about seeing him in "Blood Brothers" or having
been to a Hollies show years before he joined.
you could not miss the charisma he projected. And he was instantly
thing I soon realized about him was his loyalty to his friends, and the
great pride he took in the website Helen ran. Of course, Carl had no idea that I
really didn't know Helen at all, but clearly was NOT going to take any chance on
offending someone who might just be a friend of hers, or a regular contributor
to the site she administered to celebrate all aspects of his career!
Another example of the durability of his friendships - when I called him a few
weeks before last June's trip, I mentioned how much I had enjoyed "One of
the Family", the biography about Wilf Pine, a former "minder" for
The Move in the late '60s who later became involved with the American
Mafia. More than 35 years beyond his days with The Move, Carl mentioned that
Wilf had been over to his house just a few days before.
thing I didn't say in the first journal was that in that first e-mail to his
site I had the audacity to offer, either after the show at Stillwater or the one
at Kearney, Nebraska, to TAKE. THE. BAND. OUT. TO. DINNER. Then cringed at how
presumptuous I was being after I sent it. "Riiiight - The Hollies are going
to go out to dinner with you." In her reply, Helen very charitably (I
thought) acknowledged my "nothing ventured, nothing gained" comment
regarding the invitation, but said the band was already here in America and she
had no way to pass along a message. No, I never did actually treat the Hollies
to dinner. But nine days later, following the band's final American show at a
casino in Connecticut, I found myself eating a late night dinner at the casino's
upstairs grill with Carl, Coatesy and Ray, plus Rob and Ian from the crew. His
graciousness and personal interest allowed me to expand my own horizons of what
was possible, and that I might be on the verge of establishing a friendship of a
different type than I had even considered before.
the site's guestbook, Carl wrote that he was a Leo, "...I say what I think
but I never mean any harm". Yet his candor that first day was stunning. I
had asked him within the first five minutes of talking to him why we were not
seeing any new recordings the from the band - was EMI or were the two
senior Hollies to blame? I was astounded when he confided to Terry and me,
"I'm planning to have a little talk with Tony and Bobby toward the end of
the year; if we're not going to record then I've got some other things I want to
do." Obviously his operation that fall derailed any plans he had in mind
(apart from the Et Cetera collaborations). Carl had seen and done it all in his
career - The Vikings, The Move, solo work, later collaborations with Roy,
theater, panto, cabaret, television, radio, jingles...yet some subsequent
conversations with him in our trips over to the UK made clear his continued
frustration with the Hollies' failure to record, to progress. Toward the end,
though, while I know he would have loved to see what a reunion of The Move could
have accomplished, I think he had accepted where he was and what he was
doing. More on that later. But his directness was always refreshing, if
that you ever saw that frustration onstage on with The Hollies...because Carl
LOVED the spotlight! And I never saw anything less than a 110 percent effort from
him at the American shows I went to, or the UK and German shows Beth
and I attended with Helen, and later, Peej. He appeared a bit tired before
the Wisley show, but a week later in Heppenheim, Germany, the last time we saw
him sing, he was his usual outrageous self - kissing Tony on the cheek, lewdly
sticking the mic down his trousers, and I won't even get into that pose with the
worked when we were at play, and it was clear to see his only priority was to
make sure we had FUN during our leisure time.
himself acknowledged that he had availed himself of many different singing
opportunities in his career, some unusual for a rock singer - and that it was
more than just a case of "art for art's sake" or even for the sake of
success. A few months ago, listening to an interview Martin had done with him
years ago, he mentioned that had never followed the established steps
of how you become a superstar. His first and foremost consideration in his
career decisions was for the noblest of reasons. He simply noted that he
"had a wife and young son to support" and said he had to think
about them in deciding which singing jobs to take, as well as which ones to
reject. I understood a lot more of why he did things the way he did after I heard
could also take a compliment. When I flew to Boston during the American tour for
the last two shows, I had regretted not being able to tell him after the
Kearney, Nebraska show what I thought of his performance. Most fair-minded UK
fans had come to accept Carl by that time, and had learned to appreciate the
different approach than Allan Clarke he brought to the some Hollies classics
they had heard dozens or even hundreds of times before. But this was his first
time in the US, and he must have known that he would have to again sell himself
to new audiences who knew the songs but not him. At the Cohasset sound check, I
marched right up to Carl, grabbed him (gently) by the shoulders and told him
that the best way I could describe the Nebraska show was that I had not even
thought of Clarke until hours after the show - that he did that great a
job. He was clearly moved, responded with a heartfelt "thank you" and
told me how much he appreciated the support – "I really mean that".
And it was clear he did.
wrote everything up to this point last Friday, and then simply couldn't write
anymore - it just took too much out of me emotionally. I tried writing the
rest Sunday on an unfamiliar computer and ended up losing everything new I
mentioned how Helen continually had to caution us that it was difficult to get Carl
to make firm plans with regard to getting together socially; how well she
knew from personal experience that he tended to wait until the last minute to
commit to anything! But I also wrote how he always showed up
for whatever we had planned while we were in England or Germany and
never once disappointed us. I wrote about that "rubbery",
expressive face of his, and the great fun we had at dinner in Covent
Garden one night when, back at our table, we mocked the behavior of some nearby
diners we had just been over visiting with, using nothing but the expressions
on our faces.
wrote about how much his dedication of "The Air That I Breathe" to me
meant when we saw The Hollies at Wisley this past June, with Carl knowing
that I had lost my mother to a heart attack on the eve of our trip a few
days earlier. How I had discovered just that afternoon from one
of Elaine's scrapbooks that his mum was also named Dorothy.
I noted how sad I am that friends like Beebs and Nathan will
now never be able to see Carl perform.
talked about how Beth eventually also became a friend and a fan of this
amazing performer and person. After his operation in the fall of 2002, she
had asked me if Carl might enjoy some "get well" cards from
her first-grade students. I was stunned at the suggestion, and told
her it was an absolutely brilliant idea, one I would never have thought of.
It took a few days before she could actually make some room in the schedule, but
one day she took one of Carl's CDs with her to school and the children produced
their cards as only six year olds can while they listened to him sing some
Andrew Lloyd Webber songs. The next day, I mailed the
cards off to Carl, along with a cover note from Beth that described her class.
I later found that when he received those get well wishes from the students,
he had already handwritten a note for Helen to send to the mailing list and
put on his website, thanking everyone for their cards and good wishes during his
convalescence, and saying how much he was looking forward to performing again.
He was so moved by the sweet sentiments of those students that he tore up the note
he had just written and re-wrote it, simply to get a mention of Beth and
those students in. He later sent us a thank you note that Beth
read to her class, along with his Internet message, and asked how those children
were doing for months afterward.
did not meet Carl until the following summer (2003) when we saw the band
perform in Germany, and she discovered for herself what had finally gotten
me to cross the Atlantic - this highly talented singer and showman, this
intriguing if unlikely friend. Things may never have been the same after
that - I suspect Carl had already discovered who my "better half" was
and just put up with me in order to spend time with her! Beth was so
shocked at the news two weeks ago and continues to mourn his passing
along with all of us, perhaps a little more than most. But I know she
will always treasure the seven concerts she saw in the UK and Germany, our three
trips over in one year to see him and the band, and the time she was able
to spend getting to know him when we went to dinner or visited with him before a
show. Not to mention those hugs and kisses she got from Carl - she
loved those! And I believe she will always cherish the memory of some special
holiday greetings by phone the past two Christmases, even as something will
seem to be missing when Christmas 2004 has come and gone.
mainly, I wrote about how Carl's greatest gift to us was the dear
friendships we have formed with so many people as a result of getting to
know him. How Helen has become a close and beloved friend in her own
right and, I sincerely hope, will always remain so. How we have
enjoyed meeting all of her family! How Peeji has become such a great
traveling companion around England and over to Germany, and how her love
for The Hollies is so delightful to see in someone her age. How I
have come to rely on Beebs' wisdom and loving nature as much as she
has come to depend on me, and the joy I have experienced over the past few
months as she and Ruud have persevered over the many obstacles placed in their
path and are now where they belong - together. How we so recently
enjoyed Shari's hospitality and the chance to meet her family in Nebraska,
and how it helped to spend a weekend with another great Hollies
fan who could appreciate the pain I felt at a very difficult time for
all of us. How much fun it was to surprise Jen in Connecticut last
summer, see her perform at one of her coffeehouse gigs and meet her
wonderful family. I am going to stop right there, with some of the
people we have visited, because there so many others we have
been fortunate to meet and I will forget someone. I hope you know who you
know how Carl's death is affecting us, and I can't even comprehend what it
is like for Sue, Jack, Helen, Rob Caiger, his long-time friend George and many
other people I've never even heard of, who knew him far than Beth and I did.
last time I saw Carl was when Helen, her brother Alex, Beth and I walked
out of a pizzeria in Richmond, Surrey, where we had enjoyed dinner with him
on our last night in the UK in June. As we left, I asked him a
question, in the form of a statement, that had been on my mind for some
time. In retrospect, it brought everything full circle to our first
conversation thousands of miles away on a riverbank in Minnesota, nearly two
years earlier. Keep in mind that I said what I did as a Hollies fan whose
priorities had changed over the previous 23 months. I made the
comment to him: "I'm kind of surprised you're still with these
guys...". In the form of a question, Carl gave me an
answer: "Well, what else am I going to do?" I had a few ideas
about that, but kept them to myself. Had I known what was coming and
I could revisit that moment, I would have replied with one word:
of course, he couldn't. His final marathon was ending, and he was about to
cross the finish line.
he WILL continue to live on, as long as I have those CDs, those photos, those
notes, those personalized items, those valued friendships and those memories.
one other item. It is a cassette tape of an answering machine message
he left for me in August of 2002, when he called a few days after returning to
England from the American tour (we had gotten separated after dinner in the
Connecticut casino). Only one or two people besides Beth have ever heard it.
In closing, I want to share it with all of you:
Carl here, Carl Wayne. Oh, you're obviously at work. It's six
o'clock over here, God knows what time it is over there, probably around midday.
Tonight before I go to bed, I just want to thank you for everything while I was
there. Sorry I missed you...what happened was, when you went to drop off
your camera, the boys moved off to a different end of the casino. I then
came back looking for you, but I couldn't find you. I felt you had
probably ducked out because you had to be at Boston early the next day, and
had taken the short route out. Anyway, good to meet up with you, I'm grateful to
you for all your help, it was a pleasure to meet you and I hope you'll stay in
touch and I'll call you later. God bless, old boy!"
bless YOU, "old boy". The pleasure was all mine.
and a good journey to you, my friend.