The above picture shows me proudly holding a framed copy of my first demo record, "The Soho Serenade" in 1965. This song traveled a long and diverse road before it was finally released.
It all began way back in 1961 when I wrote the first version of "The Soho Serenade." I was inspired to write it after listening to a record I liked, "My Bonnie," by the English rock n' roll singer, Tony Sheridan, and his backup group was none other than The Beatles as they existed at that time.
A few years later, I was dating a sweet English girl working in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Her name was Sadie. Since we both liked the record of "My Bonnie" and she was English, I dedicated my song to her. She was thrilled to receive it and told me she would try to find a singing group to perform it when she returned to England. She never found that group. At least she never mentioned it in her many letters she wrote me after returning to England.
She was an amazing letter writer and sent me long letters quite regularly. Maybe she eventually got married and forgot all about my song. In any case, as far as I know “The Soho Serenade” was never sung in the London district I wrote about and got to finally visit in 1963, after my song was written.
When I returned to the U.S. after being discharged from the Army in 1963 I told my friends about the Beatles. All they could say was -- "never heard of them. Who are they?" I told them to just wait until the Beatles get some attention in the U.S. which came the next year.
The Beatles arrived in America on February 7 for their live television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Two days later, February 9, 1964, they made their first televised appearance in the U.S. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Beatles became a huge success, while I was still struggling to get my song recorded.
In April of 1964, I prepared a lead sheet and copyrighted the words & music for "The Soho Serenade," but I still had no recording of the song.
After looking for a place to record my song, I found Star Recording Studio in my hometown of Bloomfield, New Jersey and arranged to have a 45 RPM demo record made.
The singer featured on “The Soho Serenade” record was the very talented Ethel Regan. Whatever happened to her? I wish I knew. She had so much class. I learned from her manager that she loved my song and had worked all night recording it with the other musicians and she never received any payment for it. I asked Bill, the studio owner and a jazz musician, what he had done with all the money I had given him. He said he had used most of my money to pay the utility bills. Hey, wait a minute! I told him that money was supposed to be for the musicians, not to pay his damn electric bill. I expected Ethel to be paid and gave him extra money which he agreed to give her. She deserved to be paid for her long hours spent recording my song.
Bill may have been a slippery business owner but he was a good musician and did come through with a professional demo of "The Soho Serenade." I had several copies of the demo pressed in New York and the engineer there said he liked my song too and it should be picked up by a record company.
When I was at the studio in Bloomfield before the demo record was finished, a group of singers stopped by for a quick visit. It was only after they left that I found out they were the now famous singing group - The Four Seasons with Frankie Valli. And they never heard my demo record. Would they have possibly recorded my song later on? Who knows? I just wish I could have given them a chance to hear it at least once.
Now I'm pleased to finally share my song with others.
The song has been traveling down the long road of time with some bumps and bruises along the way, like trying to find a record company to release my song. No luck there.
After all these years, I hope you will find it was worth the wait.
"The Soho Serenade" has finally hit the Internet music highway and now available for the first time in 50 years.
Give it a listen on CD Baby and hopefully you will buy a copy for the same price as a 45 RPM record from the 1960s.
-- Roger Lee Hall, songwriter
To order "The Soho Serenade" (©AMRC) from CD Baby,
"The Soho Serenade" is one of the songs on this CD album:
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