John Wheeler lives in UK firstname.lastname@example.org
John has just launched his web site
RHMS Amerikanis May 1970 to
A bit of background��..
Shirley and I had some success during the years 1964 through to the time
we boarded the beloved �A� in May 1970. A number of singles were released by
EMI on the Parlophone label + considerable TV and radio coverage, but a hit was
not to be. We had just finished an album for Philips records when we signed the
contract with Chandris and as work in the northern clubs was becoming tedious we
decided a year afloat would be good for us. Shirley had married Australian Banjo
player Mel James in
1969 so the agreement was that Mel would not only act as our MD but do a number
of solo spots too. After a few rehearsals with the rest of the cruise staff we
were all flown out to
off on the gig of a lifetime (or so we thought). Looking back it was a fantastic
experience but at the time there was a lot of grief too! I�m sure anyone who
has worked on the ships will agree it wasn�t all laughs. However, one can�t
help but remember the great, boozy nights and sun filled days spent on the old
tub. More sex than even a greedy man could wish for! No wonder I only weighed in
at eight and a half stone when we returned to Blighty! We met so many lovely
people too, not just the fabulous members of the cruise staff & crew but
passengers also. I�m still in touch with a couple of our gang and have
�met� a couple more since logging on to the �A� web site a few months
ago. I was endeavoring to find Gene Crowley who was the lounge entertainer on
board. Then out of the blue I received an
his grandson who had also found the site and seen my letter concerning Gene.
Sadly Gene died in 1989 but one can�t feel too sad, that man lived life to the
full. As I look back now I have very fond memories of all those beautiful
islands we visited, living on a shoe string but we still had SO many laughs and
made many, many friends and got paid for doing it! Oh, and we made some music
I feel I must mention my lovely
girlfriend on board, Debbie Roberts. We kept each other sane
when the pangs of home sickness and living in such 'confinement'
for so long kicked in. As an aside, I was cruising about three
years ago on a Celebrity Cruises ship, Galaxy, guess who was the
master of the vessel. Yep Korres, I couldn�t believe the
coincidence. I asked him if he remembered the �A� when we were
on board, he did, then smiled!!
Above-Back, - Derek Jason - Me - Jan
Soprovic (hostess) - Angela - Mary - Shirley & Mel. Front - Paul
Freeman (ass. cruise director) - Carol - Debbie - Brian - Marianne &
A formal night in the restaurant. Back -
Mary Copeland - Paula ? - Derek Jason -Me- Mel - Shirley - Angela (ooh)
and some French guy! At the table - Pat Doolan - Carol Okey - Debbie
Roberts - Brian Harrison - Marianne Courtney? - Jennie Jones at the front.
|One of those
boozy nights that were SO common! Me & Debbie on top bunk, Jennie
Jones looking a little worse for wear! At back member of crew talking to
Angela (?) a dancer. Pat Doolan (ballroom dancer) grinning at camera. Next
to her Marianne (?) lead dancer. Next to her is a guy I can't
remember at all then Shirley trying to devour the bed. Derek Jason
(singer/comedian) is the half naked bloke behind her.
||Above, BACK R.
- Paul Freeman (ass cruise director) Me (John Wheeler of
Shirley & Johnny), Shirley James (S&J), Mel James (Shirley's
husband + S&J
musical director), Malcolm Baldwin (cruise director- deceased), Jan
Soprovich (hostess). Gene Crowley (pianist/singer/comedian - worked
bar area - deceased 1989), Pat Doolan & Brian Harrison (ballroom
Brian later became ass. cruise director), Derek Jason (singer/ comic
joined the Rockin' Berries), Jo Michat (band singer- now in New
FRONT ROW- Angela ? - Jennie Jones - Debbie Roberts - Paula ? -
- Mary Copeland - Carol Okey.
I have lived in High
Wycombe for the last 27 years. I'm in touch with Shirley & Mel
who live in Sydney - Gene Crowley's
grandson mailed me recently - Pat Doolan I saw a few years ago but
in touch - Jennie Jones (now Fraser) lives in Poole and we speak
occasionally. Debbie lives in North Devon we send cards
& Carol have mailed me recently.
I would love to hear from anyone from the 'A' during mid
One could go on reminiscing
about the good times on the ship but for me it�s time to get ready for tonight's
gig in Harefield!! (That's me on the left on my 60th B'day). Still going strong at 60 can�t be bad, it must be a legacy
from those days on the �A� eh?