A few weeks ago my partner suggested we get tickets for a concert at the Palladium, organised by Radio 2. My heart sank. It was a Tribute to Don Black to mark his seventieth birthday. Who's Don Black, I said. I got a contemptuous look, which in itself is nothing unusual :).
It was then explained to me that Don Black is one of the world's most famous lyricists and that he has penned the lyrics to songs like Diamonds are Forever and To Sir With Love. Apparently some very famous people would be singing. Ok, I thought, anything for a quiet life. So I duly booked the tickets for the two of us and a couple of friends - in fact, I thought, why not splash out and get the Royal Box - that ought to be win me some brownie points. I knew not what I was letting myself in for...
Anyway, we got to the Palladium in good time and although the view from box was a little restricted, it was nice to have the extra leg room and comfy chairs. Michael Parkinson introduced the evening and the musical accompaniment was by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We got underway with a song performed by Peter Grant, who was followed by the likes of Marti Webb (Take that look off your face), Mica Paris, Jonathan Ansell (from G4), Hayley Westenra, Lee Mead, Elkie Brooks (Sam), Raza Jaffrey (who I recognised from Spooks, but was apparently the lead in Bollywood Dreams) and believe it or not Joe Longthorne who, it has to be said, looked a bit like a waxwork. I have to say the whole first half was hugely enjoyable.
As the second half was about to get underway the door to the box opened and a woman with a head mic appeared along with a man. She asked would it be alright if Mr Black watched the second half with us in our box! To bo honest I hadn't even realised the man was Don Black - he looked about 50, rather than 70. So she brought in an extra chair and we watched the likes of Lulu, Craig David (who murdered the Michale Jackson song 'Ben'), Maria Freedman and Gary Barlow (who sang Born Free) alongside the man who had written all the songs they were performing. Lulu did a brilliant rendition of To Sir With Love. Michel Le Grand conducted the RPO at one stage and Mica Paris rounded the show off with Diamonds are Forever.
It was a truly memorable evening and it really set me thinking. We always associate songs with individual people who sing them, rarely giving a thought to the person who actually wrote the music or the lyrics. Don Black has penned hundreds of songs, which we are all familiar with, yet I didn't know his name. That may be due to my philistinic ignorance, but I suspect I am not alone.
Anyway, if you would like to listen to the concert, I think it's being broadcast on Radio 2 next Friday night.