Matt Monro’s daughter shares family stories on QVC

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Michele Monro Do you remember the Frank Sinatra tones of Matt Munro? His daughter Michele is appearing on QVC on Tuesday 27th April at 9am, 1pm and 6pm with his new 'Greatest' CD, DVD and book collection to share her stories. We caught up with her to find out more…

Tell us a little about your dad's career

Terrence Edward Parsons, as he was born, started singing in pubs anywhere, anytime and mostly the punters would pass a hat round for him at the end of the evening.

By the time he entered the army at 17, he was hooked. He started entering talent contests but having won so many times, the organisers banned him thinking it would make the contest look rigged.

Instead they offered him his own radio show on Hong Kong Rediffusion. The offers started coming in but although he was able to earn good money he was constantly in trouble for being absent without leave.


Michele as a child with her mum and dad There was a constant curfew in place and Terry was frequently busted for returning to base later than allowed. He couldn't risk the front gate as it was all lit up with guards so he used to come in over the wire at the back of the compound.

The night before his first broadcast, Private Parsons returned to his unit rather later than allowed. Coming in over his usual spot on the perimeter fence, he jumped straight into the arms of the RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major). He was promptly placed under house arrest and sent to the cells.

Luckily he was on fairly good terms with his C.O. and persuaded him to allow his appearance on the pre-booked programme. Two armed guards escorted him to the radio station and stood either side of him throughout the broadcast. The story goes that the C.O. listened to the radio show and must have enjoyed it for on return to the barracks, the charges had been dismissed.

Michele with her mum and dad That was the start of an outstanding career and with a name change from Decca Records, Matt Monro was catapulted to stardom. The crux was that he was a normal guy who could sing well and part of his charm was that the audience felt he was only singing to them.

He was a humble soul; never quite understanding what all the fuss was about. Every performance was important whether a working men's club or a Royal Command performance.

He was up against many fads of the age – rock and roll, flower power, long-haired youths – but his achievements ensured he stayed in style while most of his peers fell by the wayside, and decades on his name is still remembered with great fondness.

What was it like having a famous dad?

I first became aware my father was different when I was at school. I didn't understand why people were always asking him to sign bits of paper and the like and I remember watching him on the television but not knowing what he was doing there.

Michele with her dad People were always coming to the house and I had to be quiet, which was really boring but I used to sit on the stairs and try and listen to what was going on but it never made much sense.

When I first saw him live, it sank in that my father was really famous. People applauded each song and after the show I was literally pushed out of the way as loads of excitable girls forged their way to his side. But I was secretly pleased that at the end of the night he came home with us.

Who are the biggest names you remember him working with?

In a career that spanned some twenty odd years, there were many outstanding performances and special shows that I bore witness to – the Royal Variety Show, the coupling with Tony Bennett at the Talk of the Town and a duet with Sammy Davis Jr in Vegas. But there is one moment that has stayed with me always.

Michele with her dad In 1984, Dad was booked with Don Rickles at the Resorts International, Atlantic City and I went with him, which was hugely exciting. Meeting Don Rickles was also a great thrill – the man's comedic timing and insulting comments were hilarious and I understood why the two men got on so well. Their humour was so well matched.

When I took my seat before the curtain went up, I was beside myself with excitement. One would think by looking at me that this was the first time I had seen the show, but the truth of the matter was that it all felt so new, so fresh, so full of suspense.

When my father made his entrance on to the stage bathed in spotlights to thunderous applause, I realised I was holding my breath. The audience's acceptance of the artist before he had even sang a note brought a lump to my throat. I felt so proud that this singing sensation was my father.

By the time Dad took his final bow I had tears in my eyes and hugging him backstage I was so overcome with emotion I could hardly talk but I savoured that private moment. Minutes later the spell was broken as the dressing room was overtaken by a deluge of well-wishers and show folk wanting to bask in his glory and Matt Monro was lost to me in the crowd.

Michele with her dad An early ambition when he first started in the business was to sing with the Ted Heath Band, nothing could be better. He couldn't know that years later they would be his backing band on broadcast.

The unique quality of his voice made him a star amongst the stars and earned him the title The Singer's Singer as evidenced by his celebrity following. Names like Sammy Davis Jr, Doris Day, Hoagy Carmichael, Steve Lawrence, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin had lauded his efforts and every night he went on stage there would be a liberal sprinkling of American show business in the audience including such names as Quincy Jones, Count Basie and Billy Eckstine.

I think one of his favourites couplings was when he worked The Tony Bennett Show. Tony had arranged to come to England to record a series of shows and Dad was asked to appear on three of them. On each one they performed a duet together and the performances were absolutely sublime. They had a ball together and it showed.

What's your favourite song that your dad sung and why?

Dad & Michele 1a This is not actually an easy question for me as my response changes all the time depending on my mood. To me my father's songs are like close intimate friends, something I grew up with. Some I fell in love with instantly and some I learnt to love over time. Some are passionate, some sad and some are breezy, bright and uplifting.

I know them really well; they have seen me through my private nightmares, my highs and lows, my reveries and my demons. They take me to a wonderland of imagination and sometimes I can quite easily live there for a while and when reality hits, I'm better for the song I've heard.

He was a fantastic performer. The journey he travelled, the tragedies he endured, the sadness in his early life all gave him license to grow up to be a bitter and selfish man but he was anything but. That is what inspired me to document his life in the book 'The Singer's Singer' – his was a remarkable story from a remarkable industry and era. He was a wonderful entertainer, artist, father and friend – I miss him.

9 Comments

  1. Nina Weaver April 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm -  Reply

    Matt had a wonderful, smooth voice and was probably our best British male singer of popular songs. His voice had a soothing quality and was incredibly easy to listen to. He leaves a wonderful legacy of work for us. Thank you Matt.

  2. marsey April 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm -  Reply

    I watched a documentary recently about Matt Monro what came across most of all was how much of a gentleman he was and it seemed he was also a wonderful Father, his daughter must be bursting with pride. His voice is second to none!!!!!

  3. Anne Boyes April 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm -  Reply

    My father is a pianist and worked with Terry at Hornsey Town Hall in the 1950s(my Dad’s now 82!). He has many happy memories of their friendship and only this past weekend was talking about their adventures! We never tire of hearing about those times and he is very fondly remembered by my father.

  4. Fran Burton April 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm -  Reply

    Matt is fab….Ilove all his songs…….What a voice……..

  5. Patrick PAUL KELLY May 5, 2010 at 9:14 am -  Reply

    How wonderful to see matt in the news again.I cant believe how fast time has gone by.I new matt long before he became famous.Iwas a bus conductor rout 134 operating out of muswell hill garage and went to victoria somstimes extending to pimlico. Matt operated out of the camden garage which also operated the 134s Because of the high volumn of traffic’ yes even in those days traffic was very heavy we did’nt always complete our journy and get what was known as a turnround sent back in the direction of muswell hill this is where camden came in .They would pick up where we left off.Idont think Matts rout was the 134 but on the odd occasion you could work your rest day on a differant rout. ican see him now behind the wheel of the big routmaster and it was customary to show out with a wave.We would alsoget time for a quick chat at our mill break in the various canteens along the rout. Of course Matts love was always music and iam glad he made it.He has left us a wonderful legacy. Ilisten to his music now and it brings a tear to my eye.When he comes on the radio i proudly tell people i knew MATT MUNROE Those days on the buses are long gone but but i remember them as if it was yesterday.Iknow his memmorey will live on for he left us avast slection of his songs to listen to.What a guy Agentleman YES IAM PROUD AND PRIVLAGED TO BE ABL:E TO SAY I KNEW MATT MUNRO

  6. mrs valerie shaw May 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm -  Reply

    YES I AM OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER MATT I HAVE MOST OF HIS CDS STILL MAKES MY HEART BEAT FASTER WITH THE VOICE. IF ONLY HE WERE HERE TODAY SO ALL THE YOUNGER GENERATION COULD ENJOY HIS SONGS WOT A SELL OUT ON STAGE HE WOULD BE.

  7. barbara hassett October 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm -  Reply

    hi my dad was ronald day and he was your dads couson it would be nice to no more about his family we only new the days but my mum says the terry parsons was dads cuson it would be nice to here from you love barbara hassett’day xx

  8. Alan Hartogh July 4, 2013 at 8:16 am -  Reply

    Matt Munro a man of gifted talant,such a beautiful voice,so glad to have been around in his era to enjoy his music still do listening to his cd’s.Gone to soon but never forgotten.

  9. Joe Rabbitt August 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm -  Reply

    Matt Munro was no doubt one of the top two or three male pop singers of all time. In my opinion he ranks equally with Sinatra in ability but had a better voice. I’ve enjoyed him for many. many years and have always felt badly that his life was cut short before the world could come to appreciate his true greatness. From what I’ve read he was also a really good person.

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