In the mid to late 50's Lonnie was a regular visitor to Great Yarmouth where he starred in Summer Shows. I was around 12 years old at the time growing up there and used to wait for him to arrive at the theatre to get his autograph. I was fortunate to meet him first at the stage door of the Regal which no longer exists today.
The following year he starred at the Royal Aquarium cinema and theatre on the seafront and I remember waiting eagerly for him to arrive in a Lagonda saloon before getting his autograph again, always willingly given.
I had a friend at school whose father was the projectionist at the Aquarium and as he knew I was a massive Lonnie fan he arranged for me to assist the man operating one of the spotlights, so I got to see two shows every night for around six weeks of the Summer. As a 12 year old this was as good as it could get.
Supporting Lonnie in the show were Miki & Griff, a very young Des O'Connor and a female Australian singer Lorrae Desmond.
Lonnie played to packed houses every night and had to do several encores of Battle of New Orleans which was one of his big hits at the time.
He was a great entertainer and not only sang but took part in comedy sketches with other members of the cast.
The BBC televised one performance that year, when TV was still in its infancy and in 1959 the Aquarium was used for the live recording of "Sal's got a sugar lip".
I recall hearing Lonnie many years later giving a radio interview following his initial heart problems saying that his doctor had told him to take things easier. He said that once on stage he had to give a 100% performance there was no alternative for him.
That's how I shall always remember him.
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