Everyone Loves Raymond.
When Scottish entertainer Billy Raymond, who died last week aged 75, first came to the Gold Coast some years ago this was the headline on his Gold Coast Bulletin profile.
“That’s great Douggie,” he said in his distinctive Scottish twang.
“That just happens to be my favourite TV sit com just now.”
I hadn’t got the heart to tell Billy that I had only written the story, and someone else had coined the headline.
But Billy’s unbridled love of life, and enthusiasm for everything, was infectious and he was one of those characters everyone wanted to embrace and protect.
That’s a wonderful quality in what is quite frankly often a cut-throat business, where more often than not individual motives are driven by self-interest at the least.
I am looking forward to joining old show business friends at the Gold Coast Paradise Showrooms for what promises to be a great celebration of a life well lived.
Billy did live life to the full – I was in his company for some of those later get-togethers – but he also achieved a great deal climbing the tricky heights of show business fame.
He was born January 6, Raymond Jamieson Hubner in Paisley, Scotland, to a foreman dyer, Lawrence, and his teacher wife Mary.
The young Raymond was gifted with a beautiful voice, which earned him the moniker Scotland’s Wonder Boy Soprano, following a stint as a choirboy at Paisley Abbey.
The young show business hopeful, however, had to work hard to earn himself a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, but really earned his stripes in the professional theater and various talent contests, including the BBC’s Children’s Hour in 1952.
Raymond had done it all – theatre, singing, TV, radio and even pantomime – including three record releases in the early years including Charlie is Their Darling.
He appeared on several early rock ‘n’ roll shows as well as being MC on the ill-fated 1960 British tour of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, in which Cochran died in a road crash.
Raymond was quite a star and earning a thousand ‘quid’ (pounds) a week at the age of 20, according to his own blog, but in the early 1960s Australia was beckoning.
The performer came out to Australia in 1963 with the legendary Vera Lynn and, felt so at home here, decided to, wisely, to stay and develop his Scottish act.
Despite working in other areas of the arts – including being artistic director and manager of the Burdekin Theatre Ayr for 15 years and later front of house manager and jazz co-ordinator at the Gold Coast Arts Centre – his Scottish shows, with titles such as Scotland the Brave, have kept him in touch with audiences.
Raymond, who was still performing in March this year, is survived by his brother Jack as well as a wealth of friends who loved him dearly and will miss him.
The farewell to Billy Raymond will be at the Gold Coast Arts Centre’s Paradise Showroom from 11am on Thursday (May 16).
I am sure it will be an uplifting gig full of good humour and lots of laughs – the Billy would like it.