So back in May, I went to Beccles to watch world-famous whistler Ronnie Ronalde do a two-hour show of singing and bird impressions. Back in the Fifties he was an incredibly successful performer, selling out New York’s 6500 capacity Radio City for 9 weeks running, doing 4 shows a day. A day! Here’s a clip of him singing and whistling on his biggest hit, a cover of the Irish folk song, If I Were A Blackbird:
He told us some very amusing stories of his time performing during the Second World War. Once, in Africa, while entertaining the troops with bird impressions from the back of a truck, eagles mistook him for a bird and began attacking him. Apparently the troops hadn’t thought much of his act but found this hilarious – Ronnie, however, had to take evasive action ‘because they were going for my eyes’ and dived into the crowd.
He’s 90 now, but still managed a two-hour show (with a break for tea). His whistling is as impressive as ever, but it was the show’s finale that really wowed me. Rather than summarise it, I’ve included my tweets live from the event. I think they capture something of the excitement of the moment, and it seems oddly fitting to have been ‘tweeting’ at this great old bird impressionist’s final gig.
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