The Liberace Show
long-running hit series in the USA and straight from a European tour, Liberace arrived at Elstree. Despite jokey early derision,
he quickly won over everybody with his geniality and sheer professionalism. From a sound perspective, he was a joy to work
with. The middle part of the hour show was the Concert Spot. With a sixty-piece orchestra behind his special personalised
Baldwin piano, Lee, dressed in one of his famous heavy brocade glittering suits would proceed to play any one of the popular
classics before four cameras almost invariably in one take. Interestingly, I never saw classically-trained Liberace read a
note of music throughout the three months on site. Three concert spots of approximately twenty minutes each were recorded
in one short day to avoid the set having to be erected every week. The specially made Baldwin piano was something that Liberace
was proud of. He always told his audiences that there were only two in the whole world - and he had both of them
After the very first concert spot recording, he was invited up to sound control
for a replay. The brocade suits were very heavy and even the walk up the sound stairs was arduous. My sound console was a
hundred-channel Rupert Neve desk. To reach both ends of the desk, a sliding chair had been installed on a six-foot track.
Lee sat in this chair and after joyfully sliding himself from side to side, greatly admired the desk, likening it to a Boeing
747 flight deck. I remarked that there were only two in the whole world, and he quickly interrupted saying ‘I know,
and you've got both of them. His laughter was infectious.
point, he had made a slight error in the Tchaikovsky 4th. When director Colin Clewes asked him if he wanted a re-take, he
replied, after a pause, ‘No, I think I'll quit while I'm ahead'. I had given his piano a very sharp
top end sound, which he commented on and admired. ‘Especially' he remarked ‘as I can't see any microphones'
(so, he noticed?) I had hidden three mics in the body of the piano, one top end, one mid and the third at the bottom
far end of the enormously long Baldwin piano. The level produced by the piano was such that even when all three microphones
were faded up, no other sounds infiltrated, not even the sixty-piece orchestra. Totally unseen in shot, all the cabling for
these microphones came out of the bottom end of the instrument down the hidden back leg and with the complicity of the design
department disappeared under the rostrum floor.
.Colin Clewes and his wife Joy had
just been presented with a baby boy. They named him Lee, and Liberace happily became the Godfather.I can think of no nicer
guy, no more talented an entertainer than Liberace and I wish that we could all see, and enjoy, programmes of this stature
again. More on this in CUE TAPE PLEASE, TED'