Here is the full show-biz story of the comedy double-act, Cannon & Ball, which tells of the ups and downs of their career and the changes in their lives when they both became Christians.
Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball broke all records for capacity audiences at the London Palladium and the longest running show in Blackpool. They are still doing summer seasons and pantomime seasons each year as well as their gospel shows. In this book they tell their own story.
Tommy and Bobby met in 1964 when they were both very young and working in a factory. It was to be the start of a lifelong friendship and a double act that would soon turn professional.
The famous duo chart their careers; the laughter and pain along the way; the changes that conversion to Christian faith brought for both of them. And it is all told in their honest, blunt, down-to-earth style.
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Comedians are a funny lot. To be sure, most of them, most nights, are a dab hand at the old 'funny ha ha'. But what we the audience prefer (too often?), is an unexplainable bout of 'funny peculiar'. Cannon And Ball do not disappoint.
In the 1980s Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball (surprisingly, not their real surnames) were very famous indeed. 1960's life in an Oldham factory had given way to a 70's merry-go-round of working men's clubs, pantomimes, and summer seasons at the Blackpool Pavilion. It was in the 1980's however, when Cannon And Ball were household names with their own top-rating ITV series (not to mention the huge earning power such fame entails) that the former welders found they could no longer hold it all together. At the height of their fame, when the on-stage banter was at its warmest, Cannon and Ball didn't speak to each other off stage--at all--for years. Meanwhile, Bobby's vicious temper earned the pair the reputation of being the nastiest in the business, sinking so low he threatened to kill a pantomime dame for bad custard pie technique. Something had to change. Bobby Ball found God in the dressing room of Bradford's Alhambra theatre. Tommy Cannon also made his acquaintance, albeit some seven years later. Unfortunately it wasn't so easy to put their hands on the £900,000 the taxman wanted. As their personal lives improved, the comedy career of Cannon and Ball wasn't so much rockin' on--it was rolling downhill at an alarming rate.
Rock On Tommyis told in the words of the people involved. Although not an exhaustive record of the world of Cannon and Ball (dates get a little fuzzy here and there) this is a fascinating and accessible read, despite not always managing to capture the raw emotion of such a truly extraordinary tale. Their memoir is written with humility in the light of past mistakes. It appears to gloss over little--despite Chris Gidney's difficult task of joining two very different viewpoints into one-and refuses to make excuses for the actions of its anti-heroes along the way. It is this readiness to accept responsibility and look to the future which, in the end, makes this read truly rewarding. Perhaps the most interesting people aren't always the nicest. And perhaps it's a funny old world after all. --Helen LamontFrom the Back Cover:
'All right, cock?'
Two ex-welders from Oldham tell how they became one of Britain's best-loved comedy partnerships. In their own frank story the famous duo chart their success and the laughter, as well as the pain they shared along the way.
'All right, cock?' was the first greeting Tommy Derbyshire ever had from Bobby Harper when they met on the factory floor in 1964. This was the start of a lifelong friendship and a double act that would lead to stardom. As Cannon and Ball they broke all records for capacity audiences at the London Palladium and appeared in the longest running show ever in Blackpool. In this funny and moving autobiography they also reveal the personal turmoil which was the price of success.
For many years they struggled in the tough club circuit and the stress of fame pushed their friendship to breaking point. A downward spiral of drink, violence and bitter back-stage feuds was hidden the audience behind their laughter and smiles. While still performing their successful double-act the pair did not speak to each other off-stage for four years.
Then the boys of comedy both hit rock bottom when the tax man came knocking. Yet with the help of their new-found Christian faith, they fought back to rebuild their lives.
''Rock on, Tommy!'' tells what it's really like to reach the top the hard way.
Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball started touring the northern clubs in 1964. In the decades that followed they secured top billing and sell-out audiences. First appearing in 'Opportunity Knocks', they later returned to star in their own long-running TV show, and in the movie 'Boys in Blue'
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