Carlo Santanna- his take on Clubs
Club Historians had the privilege to obtain an interview with the great entertainer Carlo Paul Santanna, formerly lead singer with Paper Lace, who then went on to make a successful solo career for himself. Here is our scoop for our readers.
Carlo grew up in the mining village of Shirebrook. Carlo readily acknowledges that he owes a lot to clubs and the groups who played in them. That is where it all began for him, in and around Nottinghamshire.
Carlo told Ruth that he started off playing in local groups and it was through them that he got into entertainment when he was still in his teens. He carried on playing with them, doing stints with various groups, into his twenties.
‘I was 14 and 15, still at school, but would play in bands in clubs and pubs. I’d be studying for my school exams but play some evenings with the band and go home afterwards. It was different back then, you could do that, it was safe. I was with guys who were about 5 years older than me so they were sort of my chaperones.’
His school work didn’t seem to suffer and he went on to study art and graphic design at Chesterfield College of Art. But the lure of the entertainment business was too strong for Carlo. ‘I turned my back on my academic career, I threw it away because I wanted to perform.’
His mum and dad, both very religious Roman Catholics with his mum Italian and dad Polish, were disappointed he went in that direction but he became a star and a son to be proud of. ‘My dad was a very intelligent bloke, he went down the mines when he came to live here and that was that. But I think he could have been something else. He spoke 6 languages and it used to be like a consulate in our house. People would come to ask dad to help fill their forms in.’
Clubs for Carlo represented not only great places to perform in but also were places where entertainers could practice and perfect their skills. ‘They were a great training ground for young artists. Where do young people practice nowadays? Those that want to make it on X Factor and the like. The training ground of the clubs isn’t really there anymore.’
He turned professional in 1972 and in 1974 joined Paper Lace as lead singer and guitarist. They had world-wide hits with songs such as ‘Billie Don’t be a Hero’ and ‘The Night Chicago Died.’
The clubs served Carlo well as he was becoming famous and he still performs widely, when he is not away on the cruise ships entertaining the passengers. ‘You couldn’t survive on the clubs money alone, it isn’t as good as it used to be. We’ve had the best years.’ But he quickly pointed out that:
‘There are still some great clubs around. We have to encourage younger people to go in. Good entertainment is important as well as offering cheaper beer.’
Cutting back on entertainment in clubs won’t help in the long term and this is needed to bring people back in, according to Carlo. But some clubs are doing well and he plays in many that still pull in the crowds for a good concert. He also does a lot of charity work, which has always been a key part of club life.
Carlo has passed on the baton, so to speak, to one of his daughters, Maxine who is a singer and performs in clubs. You just can’t keep this family off the stage!
Thanks Carlo! And please keep on entertaining folk out there in club land.
If you want to find out more about Carlo, check out his website:
March 10th 2010
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