1970 Life - all at sea
30th May and 1970 was in full swing, this saw S&J + new husband Mel James (more about him later) jetting off to Athens (Piraeus) to join the Chandris America Lines cruise ship RHMS Amerikanis (originally Kenya Castle) which was to be their home and place of work for a full twelve months until 7/6/71! Looking back one might say this was ill-timed as it coinsided with the release of their Philips album 'This is Shirley and Johnny', although quite a large number were sold on board. Working alongside Shirley, John and Mel were Derek Jason (he later joined the Rockin’ Berries), veteran lounge singer and funny man Gene Crowley and Cruise Director Malcolm Baldwin (sadly, both decesed) and a team of dancers, they cruised from New York to The Bahamas and The Caribbean. It was a tough life!
The duo was not idle during that period and with hubby Mel doing his own solo spots plus acting as MD on the ship it gave them time to re think the act. This was now the era of the ‘Super groups’ and singer-songwriters so with Mel a prolific songwriter they soon built up a repertoire of songs, which were recorded on a Sony TC630 reel-to-reel bought in St Maarten, and shipped back to the UK to dear friend Brian Shepherd. The idea was to return to the UK with an albums worth of material and for Philips to sign them as a trio. It was not to be! Sometime after their return a new head of A&R was appointed as Paddy Fleming had to leave Philips Records due to ill health. He was an Australian, Fred Marks bought in from ‘Fantasy Records’ in Aus to endeavour to boost the company’s profits. SO, once again 'the kids' were without a record deal.............
Left - RHMS Amerikanis in It's prime.
Right - It's sad demise in 2001
Johnny, Shirley and Mel with the Master of the vessel (staff captain behind)
'This is Shirley and Johnny'
RHMS Amerikanis cruise staff 1970/71