John Schroeder 40th Anniversary tribute to HELEN SHAPIRO

A TRIBUTE TO HELEN

The following is a transcript of the speech John Schroeder made at Helen's Celebration dinner on March 10th, 2001

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I feel proud and priviledged to have been asked to say a few words on this truly memorable occasion. Forty Years is a long time! Our honoured guest has achieved it with an incredibly enviable track record.

Helen, like you I shall never forget Maurice Burman, Baker Street, your audition in Studio Three at Abbey Road Studios, but above all, those immortal Norrie Paramor words on hearing that amazing voice for the first time- "He is good isn't he"!! And, following that - "Shapiro - we'll have to change that!"

Thankfully, we didn't, but at thirteen and a half year's old, finding a suitable song for you to record proved to be a six month nightmare.In desperation, Norrie turned to me , and ironically, it was your tender age that gave Mike Hawker, my partner in crime, and I the inspiration I'd been looking for. "Don't Treat me Like A Child" went to number three in the charts, followed by "You Don't Know" possibly our best song, which went to Number One and stayed there for six weeks. I have to say that the emotional thrill I felt in hearing you sing those songs for the first time was indescribable. You, and they were really made for each other.

The opportunity to write a song for a ten minute Documentary Film entitled "Look At Life" was for me the ultimate challenge. Needless to say, it gave me the worst and most diabolical weekend of my entire career. The mental door was shut and firmly bolted. I felt I was in prison. But somehow, at the eleventh hour, a reprieve - Oop Bah Oh Yea Yea - the song was born!

"Walkin' Back To Happiness" was in fact written in twenty minutes, the record went to Number One, sold a million, won the Ivor Novello Award for the biggest song of the year, and your career, Helen, literally accelerated from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds. your highly tuned performance was to drive you over the coming years to some amazing achievements, culminating in perhaps the biggest tribute of all, being the featured guest on "This is Your Life", and being presented with your very own personal copy of that infamous Red Book. to me, that says it all!!

"Walkin' Back To Happiness" is also celebrating it's fortieth anniversary. You know I shudder to think how many times you have sung that song. I shudder to think just how many times you must have cursed singing that song. Be Happy - we haven't had to change it's title to "Walkin' Back To Poverty"!!

Films, Records, Radio, Television, Clubs, Concerts, an Autobiography, Singing and Touring all over the World - you have done it all!! You have given so much to so many for so long. Helen you will never be forgotten. You are part of the History of British Pop Music.

The Sixties were unquestinably the most exciting and best years ever, but you will be singing your heart out with the same love and dedication, for many, many, years to come. I know it, you know it. Just don't forget to keep singing my songs!

Well Helen, on behalf of all of us here, a million and more congratulations on this your Fortieth Anniversary. I am proud to have played a part in your achieving it.

John Schroeder.

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Copyright © 2001 John Schroeder