I first saw Billy Raymond at 7 p.m. on Monday 9 January 1961 as the new young compere of “Spot the Tune”, the popular Granada TV musical quiz, which had returned to our screens after a six-month break the week before, on 2 January 1961. The quiz show had a regular hostess and singer, Marion Ryan, who was with the show throughout its long run from 1956 to 1962, but the comperes changed almost yearly. Previous comperes had been distinguished actors and entertainers like Ted Ray, Robert Morley, a very young Des O’Connor, comedian Ken Platt, Pete Murray and Canadian Jackie Rae. And then along came this happy, bouncy, handsome young Scotsman called Billy Raymond, with a smart line in suits, hairstyle, smile and a lovely voice. And he could sing, too! They said I had a “teenage crush”, but it’s a teenage crush that has developed into a friendship which endured for 52 years.
I soon found out that he was from Paisley, just 4 miles from my home. I wrote to Billy at Granada TV and he sent me back a 2x2” autographed photo of him and Marion Ryan. He had a Fan Club, which I duly joined, and I still have the membership card to this day! However, Scottish Television, a month or so into the run, decided to stop taking “Spot the Tune” due, I discovered, to “programme pressure”. Disaster! This had never happened before (or ever happened again, for that matter!). However, once every 3 weeks he was the compere of Granada TV’s “International Variety Show”, so I did see him then. STV decided to transmit the last “Spot the Tune” of the series in May, but again I didn’t see it, because it was a holiday weekend and my parents decided to take a bus run up to Killiekrankie that day and insisted that I join them. I was in Callander at 7 p.m. when “Spot the Tune” was transmitted - and I never saw the show.
In October 1961 a friend phoned me to tell me that Billy was topping the bill at the Glasgow Metropole the following week! I was going to see him live and “in the flesh” for the first time. And yes, I saw the show twice, on Tuesday 10th October and Saturday 14th October 1961. My Dad took me on the Tuesday evening and said he’d take me to the stage door to meet Billy, but I was a specky, spotty, shy 14 year old and I couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask to meet him. How I wish I had, now. His performance was so full of energy! He sang: “I’m Happy” (“Let Me Sing a Dixie Song”), “My Blue Heaven”, “Time”, “Sitting On Top of the World”, “Keep Right On to the End of the Road”, the novelty song “Who Put the Bomp”, “Up the Lazy River” and others. He also did take-offs of Shirley Bassey, Fyfe Robertson (a Scottish presenter), and Chick Murray.