From 1993 to 1998 Sandy stared as the "Great" Patsy Cline
in Mervyn Conn's highly successful London West End show,
Patsy Cline - The Musical, with George Hamilton IV joining
the cast as narrator. Following this Sandy played Tammy
Wynette in another musical, Stand By Your Man, before subsequently
adapting the Patsy Cline musical to create a touring version
of the Patsy Cline tribute concert, Patsy Cline, Music &
Memories, with George joining Sandy once again as narrator.
George and Sandy first met in 1991 in Nashville when Sandy
was recording her album Heroes. George was one of the featured
guest artistes along with the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie
Nelson and Glen Campbell. At that time Sandy had her own
highly popular TV series on RTE back in Ireland and invited
George over to make a guest appearance on the show. The
following year both Sandy and George appeared on the bill
of Mervyn Conn's promoted Slim Whitman UK tour, singing
a duet together. Meanwhile George would hear Sandy singing
traditional Irish songs offstage which greatly impressed
him. Subsequently they began singing together occasionally
offstage and George soon found himself learning a whole
George wanted to record an album of the songs he had heard
Sandy singing. The release of We will Meet again sees 12
tracks blended together from four track from George, four
from Sandy and the pair coming together on four duets. Along
with the traditional 'Maggie, 'Isle Of Innisfree', the upbeat
'The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy' and sad introspective 'Rare Ould
Times', three numbers are penned by noted Irish singer/songwriter
John McEvoy, 'Long, Long Before Your Time', the harrowing
'Famine Song and the upbeat 'When The Rain Comes'. One song
'Leavin' Enniskillen' is included from contemporary singer/songwriter
Charlie McGettigan and Kentishman Ralph McTell lends his
own 'From Here To Clare, the only non-Irish song on the
The original Patsy Cline - The musical last run in1998
- pick up the story from there please.
"The original script was mine and when we finished in
the Mervyn Conn West End touring version of it around 98,
George and I went back to my original script and we have
been touring since that with our own concert type version
of it Patsy Cline - Music & Memories. We just finished an
eight-week tour last Tuesday fortnight...it's been great,
it has more of the songs...it still has the story by way
of George reminiscing, but it's got songs in their entirety
rather than just bits and pieces.
George and I would have spent an awful lot of time travelling
together and inevitably I would have been asked to sing
at charity concerts and I would always sing an Irish song
and that is how George became interested in some of the
folk songs for that album. It was his idea to do the album...I
wasn't that pushed to be honest, because I'd been singing
those songs for a while. But I'm glad that he talked me
into it, because it turned out very nice.
As you tell it is a very basic album, not a big production.
It was probably the first time in his career and most definitely
mine, that we had a chance to do something on our own, just
to go in and do songs that we liked...and just sing them,
rather than have producers telling us what we had to do.
So if it hadn't come out good we didn't care, it was done
because we wanted to do it."
How did you get involved with Mervyn Conn's original production?
" I had recoded 'Crazy' here in Ireland in 1989 and became
a Gold Record and #1 record in Ireland that year. On the
back of that I did a one woman show...Patsy Cline. I used
top present my own TV series and it was a segment in the
series every week. So Mervyn got to hear about it and living
in London he knew of the success of the Buddy Holly Story
and I suppose that he decided to put together a Patsy Cline
show much the same as he could. He called me up, I went
over to meet him and it took a wee while to put it together,
but I enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. George wasn't
involved at all at that stage and later they asked George
to narrate it, which suited me fine because we were very
George told me that while he was driving you during the
Patsy Cline tour, that there was an incident involving a
road sign, a roundabout and you rebuking him quite ferociously.
I believe the word egiot was mentioned. Would you like to
throw a little more light on the subject?
(Laughs) "That was very mild compared to the words actually
used. What freaked me out was that he dives up to the roundabout,
drives straight on to the roundabout and then stops. Then
when people start honking their horns at him, he waves at
them...hello...good morning...howdy. He's serious, but hey
think he's being sarcastic.
(more laughter) He is a very nice and polite man.
"Yes, that's right. He brings road rage to a whole new
How do you find having to fit in family life and touring?
"My has always been like this...I come from a family of
actors, actresses and musicians and at the age of three
years old I was on the road every night performing. We livid
in caravans like a vaudeville show, so my mother and father
had a routine, which didn't affect any of us, and we are
the same. We bring our children with us...my sister has
a four year old and when we do our concert tours in England,
she comes with us. I have a handicapped daughter who is
twenty and she comes with us. At time our dressing room
looks like a crèche. To our kids the dressing room is home,
and it works."
George and yourself have just released a new album, which
was recorded at Tom Kelly's studio, is this a family interest.
"He's my brother in-law...and he was 'free' (giggles).
Where could we really go to do an album that we wanted to
do and wouldn't cost us a lot of money? Because Sanctuary
Records took the album after it was done, but we didn't
have a record company on board. We didn't want one either!
Tom has a beautiful studio in Mayo and he allowed us to
record there and actually it meant that we had more time.
A lot of it was done in the early hours of the morning...between
12 and 5 in the morning. We were just going in and out over
a period of two years and we didn't have to pay him until
it was all done."
Are there any plans for a follow up album between yourself
and George in the future?
"We would love to do...and I feel hypocritical, saying
we'll do another album, when I really wasn't fussed about
this one. There has been such a positive and a nice reaction
to this, if Sanctuary wanted us to do another, we really
would. We have sold an awful lot of this one on the road,
which is money in our pockets and not to a middleman. So
from that point of view being a woman, I'd be very interested
in another." (laughter)
Being a woman...In my interview with George, he said that
Patsy Cline kicked down doors rather than knocked on them.
In your own career, did you find doors were harder to open
in what was still a rather male dominated world?
" I suppose Graham...because I was always in it I never
made any point in my life that I was going to be in show
business, in fact I tried to be a real person if you like.
What would have attracted me was to have lived in a house
and go to work everyday and have an education and all of
that. I achieved some of that, only to find that I belonged
on the stage. So it was different to me. Obviously when
it came to getting recording deals and when I got my T.V.
series , went to Nashville and all of that, I had to do
a of knocking on doors. I don't really think being a woman
is different now a-days...it's not like it was in 50s &
60s when the woman was the window dressing on the stage.
It's not really like that anymore because we can hold our
own and if you look at the charts it's dominated by women
at the minute! No thank God, I have never had any problems
like that...and I'm a pretty tough cookie."
Do you still have a TV series on RTE in Ireland?
"No! That ran for three years. RTE is our national television
and unlike the stations that you have, but where you have
a TV show, they will contract those people for say at least
a few years. Here you are just contracted for just a series.
So I did a thirteen part series for three years. For each
series, although I was #4 in the ratings, I never knew that
I would get another one. So when Mervyn Conn offered me
the role in Patsy, it was money in hand and at the end of
the day I have to make a living. So I decided that I would
go for that and inevitably of course once I committed to,
the T.V. station asked me if I would do another series and
it was too late. But I wouldn't have got more than one more
out of it and considering all the years I've got out of
Patsy Cline, it was the right decision.
I miss it though, and funny enough I did a tour last Sunday
here...we did eight nights on the waterfront in Belfast...I
was part of a nostalgic tour...And the amount of people
who came up after the show , made reference to the T.V.
show and how much they had enjoyed it and asked if it would
be back again. So I've been off the screen for long enough
for people to want to come and see me and when I did the
series it didn't always materialise in bums on seats."
No! If they can see you on the telly, why bother coming
out to see you.
"That's right...show business is a funny old thing!
But I'm doing a play in New York, Graham, that you may
not know about. Which has been a project for the past two
years. A producer in New York took a synopsis of my childhood.
I started writing down various bits and pieces about my
family and my childhood on the road, with this travelling-set-up
road show and it's now become a play in New York. So I've
been to several rehearsals this year and I go back in April.
So that's a new project that I'm involved in. There are
some nice songs in that and probably the next album that
I do, will be from that."
It sounds interesting; we'll look forward to it. Are you
involved in anything else at the moment?
"At the moment we are starting our Christmas shows. George
is doing his Christmas church concerts in the America...we
do a T.V. show tomorrow and from Thursday we do our cabaret
and dinner, which we do right up until the first of January."
Are there any plans for another Patsy Cline tour?
"We are doing a new show starting in February on Jim Reeves,
which I have put together with my own band. It will feature
songs of Jim Reeves and just the duets that he did with
Patsy. Then there will be some of the other singer such
as Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell and Brenda
Lee. It will be a concert type version, so we won't be doing
Patsy again until 2003."
It's been lovely talking to you and I wish you all the
very best with the future plans.
"It's nice to talk to you and thanks for taking the time.