Singer Murray Gee Mac has enjoyed an emotional reunion with the former Bognor Regis producer, promoter and agent who made everything possible.
Now Murray is hoping to stage a benefit gig in Bognor to help raise the funds which might make his long-time friend and mentor Jock Campbell see again.
It was Jock who put Murray on the road to a successful showbiz career 35 years ago; now, after seeing him again for the first time since 1987, Murray is hoping to help secure an operation which could restore 85-year-old Jock’s eyesight after six years of blindness.
Both Murray and Jock believe their reunion has been the answer to a prayer.
Murray said: “Jock was a legendary south-coast producer and promoter and manager and agent. He made a lot of stars! He managed a lady called Audrey Squires who was a Welsh singing star who was very big in Scotland. She won female vocalist three years running.
“She was in Scotland working at the Glasgow Pavilion with ourselves, the 3 Macs, me and my two brothers, and while we were there she said to her agent Jock Campbell in Bognor ‘You must see these three lads!’ We came down to Bognor, got out of the van and Jock thought ‘Oh my goodness!’ This was April 1980, and by July Jock had made me and my two brothers recording artists. I was only 15. My middle brother was 17, and George was 22. We recorded four songs, and Jock released it on his own record label. The record did great on the south coast. It sold out.
“We were resident at the Riviera Lido at Pagham for four years. It was the five-star holiday centre on the south coast. We did six months a year for four years, and when we were out, we were working with Bobby Davro, Brian Conley, Bradley Walsh, people like that.
“I had a golden childhood. I was very, very lucky. I was surrounded by positive people that gave me such a great childhood life.”
But it was Jock who allowed Murray to take it all to the next level.
“We were at the Glasgow Pavilion, and we thought that was great. But when we were introduced to Audrey Squires who introduced us to Jock Campbell, for us coming from
Scotland going south was like reaching for gold. Now Simon Cowell is the master, but at the time it was Jock Campbell who was the master.”
The three brothers stayed together as an act until 1987. The two others went their separate ways, and Murray remained the only one in showbiz, pursuing a solo career: “It has been fabulous. I have done everything. I have worked with everyone, Sir Norman Wisdom, Cannon & Ball, Bob Monkhouse. It has been great.
“But when I went solo, Jock tried to contact me by telephoning my agent, but the message was never passed on. He just thought I didn’t want to know, that it was all in the past, that I had moved on in life. But I am just very, very personal and private. It was only last year when I opened up a Facebook page that Jock’s daughter traced me down. When I first spoke to Jock, the emotion was incredible. He said to me ‘Do you believe in miracles?’”
The answer was yes, Murray most certainly did. As he says, the power of prayer had pulled Murray’s own father back from the brink of death, deep in a coma with a brain haemorrhage.
“I said to Jock ‘Yes, I do believe in prayer’, and he said ‘Murray, so do I.’ The last time I saw Jock was 1987, but it was just instant together again. The reason he wanted to contact me was because he had been doing a lot of writing plays and scripts and things and a lot of thinking, and he wrote me a song, all about my life, called My Scottish Home. I am going to record it now.”
Murray is hoping it will be out in July; he is also hoping, as soon as possible, to organise a Bognor concert for Jock: “There is an operation that blind people can have. It is 50-50, but Jock wants to see his beautiful wife and family and grandchildren again. I said ‘Let’s try to make that dream come true.’”
Jock said: “I am so pleased. It is unbelievable to see him after 30 years. I thought that was all long gone. Audrey Squires introduced them to me, and I took a chance. They had confidence right away. I got Murray to sing, and at that time he was like a choirboy. He was 14 and he looked 12! But it was great. Everything I put in front of them, they could do. I thought I had to get them into one of my shows. I opened up with them, and it was very successful.
“Murray had tons of confidence, and it went very well. The record sold out, and I put them in other venues. He had that young voice. I thought he would lose it, but he kept it. When they broke up, I made a bloomer that I should have signed him up solo. I could have made a lot of money out of him! But that’s just my Scottish side speaking! His voice is still great. He could do any show!”