Biography Corner   Leave a comment

EARLY YEARS:

Alison Menuhin-Kennedy – Born 16th April 1891 Morningside, Edinburgh, Alison was intrigued in her early years by the gypsy caravan that would park at the end of her street, In particular the Romany violin player, Martinov who would entertain her with his tales and songs and dance. As the years went by Martinov taught Alison the violin which she picked up really easily and expertly. She would perform in the street with the gypsies and all the neighbours would come and listen and put a thrupenny bit in her collecting mug. It was this early attention that made her crave for the stage. Her disposition, being kind and gentle and yet with a spark that could be seen from time to time. From a young age she did not suffer fools gladly. Her gypsy background was never far from the service, as seen in her liking for “shiny earrings” and flamboyant clothes. She did little at school preferring to entertain the other children in the playground with her violin. On leaving school she had no qualifications, and used to “busk” on Princes Street with a dog on a piece of string at her side. She never made much money. She did this until the age of 21 when she decided things must change. She applied to White Star Line for job as a musician and was accepted and this is where she first met Tony.

Tony Liberace-Previn: Born 19th April 1891 Scunthorpe, Lincs. A philosopher and a dreamer by nature, imbued with the mystic oddities of true genius, he reminded one of some of the  heroes in some of the better modern day television programs. His earlier existence had been a very unusual, In fact, quite an eccentric one, and its history must be briefly told – for the better understanding of the present situation. His devout and modest early Salvation Army upbringing was a far cry from who he was to become, however he has the Salvation Army to thank for his early introduction to music. He learned to play the coronet in the band, sing in the choir, and as his dad was the Choir Master, Tony was given piano lessons from being an embryo of only 3 months so that he could “hit the ground running” and play for the choir once his mother’s waters broke. As he became older, the restrictions of Salvation Army life became too much for him and he began experimenting with cigarettes and alcohol. He left the Salvation Army at 20 and for a year took to drink. Almost in despair he applied to the White Star Line for a job as a musician and was accepted. This is where he first met Alison.

HOW THEY MET: It was April 9th 1912 and both Tony and Alison arrived in Liverpool, this was the day before the maiden voyage of the ship they had been employed to play on. They had both been assigned to the cabaret bar, where Alison was to sit on a stool and play the violin while Tony accompanied her on the piano, They eyed one another up nervously when they first met. Alison made the first verbal contact, “I’ll tell you this, I’ll be needing a good 4 inches sawn off the bottom of each of the legs of that stool if I am to climb up there and sit on it.” she said in her strong Scottish accent. Tony went to find a translator……. and a saw. Tony in a rather manly fashion, sawed the legs to a reasonable height and Alison was able to mount. They arranged their program for each evening on board (with hindsight they only need have bothered with a couple of nights programs.) Then, on April 10th, off they set on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. To cut a long story short, the events of the next few days could have a terrrible ending, however they were rescued from the terrible sinking of the ship that hit an iceberg. THe two of them were found in the sea hanging on to Alison’s violin case to keep them afloat. This terrible time, resulted in a bond between the two of them that would remain strong forever.

LIFE CONTINUES: After the terrible tragedy, Tony was never quite the same and returned to his drinking ways. Alison vowed she would never leave him. As the First World War approached they managed to get a job entertaining the troops over in France. It soon became evident that Tony had a rather special way of entertaining the soldier boys which Alison never found out about. I won’t go into that here, anyway, Alison became aware that Tony was “batting for the other side” but still she remained a faithful friend. At the end of the war the couple remained in Paris.

HOW THEY MET COLE PORTER: Tony used to go to a “special” bar in Paris and it was here he began to chat to the man who turned out to be Cole Porter. A relationship developed and whilst this has not previously been publicised, at the time that Cole was married Linda, it was a double wedding as Tony married Alison at the same time. In fact, the double marriage was a smokescreen for the fact that this was the first ever civil partnership between two men, Tony and Cole! The affair had to remain secret, Tony and Alison took up positions in the resident band that Cole formed, Alison as the leader, and Tony as pianist. Many happy times were had, until that damn horse went and fell on Cole………! The END.

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Posted November 27, 2011 by tony mcdonald

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