03 April 2011

Orville's Song - And Beyond...

Charting on 25/12/1982 (what a Christmas present!), Orville's Song reached its chart peak on 15/1/1983 at No. 4.The song was written by pianist Bobby Crush.

Interviewed in the 1990s, Keith Harris recalled his heady days of pop stardom: 

"Bobby Crush wrote Orville's Song - I Wish I Could Fly - and we recorded it at Abbey Road Studios in 1980. I thought if Abbey Road was good enough for the Beatles, it'll do for Orville and me! The major recording companies laughed when I suggested we had a hit on our hands and Orville's Song was 'buried' for two years until it was released in 1982.

"It sold three quarters of a million copies, reached number four in the Top 20 and won us a gold disc.

"We appeared on Top Of The Pops. I don't know who was more gobsmacked - Orville and me or the groups on the same show. They couldn't believe they were sharing the same stage with a 'vent' and a dummy. Brilliant."

Some 1982/83 people sang a very unkind version of Orville's Song...

"Orful, who is your very best friend?"

"You are."

"I'm gonna help you mend your broken NECK!"

But then some people were/are just plain insensitive.

Some 1980 blurb on Keith Harris reveals that he had wanted to be a ventriloquist ever since he was a small boy. Apparently he'd worked all over the world and starred in TV programmes including Cuddles and Co, and two series of the Black and White Minstrel Show.

In 1980, Keith was sharing his home in Bournemouth with his wife, Shari, Orville the green duck ventriloquist puppet, and Cuddles - his ventriloquist puppet monkey. Keith's hobbies then included designing puppet characters, interior decorating and tennis. He hated violence and cruelty to any living creature.

For those wanting to follow in his footsteps, he advised: "Be original and have plenty of practice."

The Sunday Mirror article above, from 9 June 1985, contains concerns that some of Orville's material was rather too adult.

I never noticed that.

I couldn't stick Orville - green ducks with soppy voices were not and ARE not my thing, but my sisters (and my mum) loved him dearly. I think they still do!
What do I know, anyway? Cynical little swine...

Advertisement from the "TV Times", 1987.


Anonymous said...

apologies because this digresses insanely from the topic of Keith Harris & Orville, but i love looking at the scans of newspaper pages you regularly post. it's a nostalgia thing :) and on that page there is a chart top ten and reading that has just just reinforced the fact that the 80's was THE decade.

thanks for posting it and having/maintaining this site!

(i alway knew that Orville was a wrong 'un):)

Drew said...

I aim to please. Thanks for writing! ;)