Now, here’s a thing. In the ‘60’s Andy Warhol famously said that ‘Everyone would be famous for 15 minutes’. A comment upon the rise of celebrity and the modern speed at which communications operate. Also, the limited attention span that people now have (much truer now than when he said – apparently the average number of words most people will read on the internet is 150 – this article is about 500 words).
A classic example of this are ‘one hit wonders’ who have one popular song and are barely heard of again. One such person ‘famous for 15 minutes’ was the singer Ricky Valance who had one number 1 hit in the UK in 1960 with a cover of the song ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ (Ask your Mum or your Grandma if you have never heard of it). In fact it was banned by the BBC because they did not approve of ‘teenage tragedy’ songs of that sort.
The key section goes:
He drove his car to the racing grounds
He was the youngest driver there
The crowd roared as they started the race
'Round the track they drove at a deadly pace
No one knows what happened that day
How his car overturned in flames
But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck
With his dying breath, they heard him say…
(Altogether now!) Tell Laura I love her, tell Laura I need her
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, Ricky Valance. Well after that nothing in his career matched up, and he followed a predictable downward path and had some fairly predictable problems, including two car crashes, a nervous breakdown and severe bouts of depression. Two things helped him – one was his wife Evelyn (they were married for 61 years) – later he said, “Were it not for Evelyn I’m not sure I’d have made it through the next couple of years.”
The other was an encounter he had playing golf, where his playing partner invited him to Church. “I went out of curiosity the first week,” said Ricky, “but the people there showed me such kindness that I found myself going back, again and again. Then I was invited to attend an Alpha course which the church was running, which is a programme designed to introduce people to the Christian faith. It was following that course that I asked Jesus to take full control of my life.”
Oddly , Ricky ended up living in Skegness, where he died a couple of weeks ago.
But priorities had changed in Ricky’s life, he still suffered from depression occasionally. However, he took every opportunity to talk – and sing – about his faith.
We sometimes shy away from inviting people to our Church services, for a variety of reasons. But the truth is, the worst they can do is say no. For some who say yes it could be the experience that Rick Valance found. In the end, it wasn’t Laura he needed.
For the fuller story of Ricky’s experience read Ricky Valance The veteran singer from South Wales