Two thousand screaming teenagers held up the programme at Larry Parnes' "Extravaganza" - which featured rock 'n' roll idol Marty Wilde - last Wednesday when an 18-years-old Dingle boy, Ronnie Wycherley, of 35 Haliburton Street, completed a three-minute spot in the star-studded programme.Ex-tugman Ronnie, with a little apprehension, took the stage at the Essoldo Theatre, Birkenhead, after the compere of the show said: "Larry Parnes has given breaks to young people in his time and tonight he has invited a young local boy to entertain you."

Wearing a two-tone Texan jacket and a guitar slung over his shoulder, Ronnie nervously walked on to the stage, and swung straight into the first number with an Elvis Presley inspired style.

His three minutes were constantly punctuated by screams and shouts from hundreds of teenage girls, which were intensified at the least move of his body.

Larry Parnes - manager of Marty Wilde, Tommy Steele and other top-line entertainers - came from the theatre dressing rooms and sat on the end of the eighth row smiling broadly as he chewed his cigar, weighing up the possibilities.

Afterwards in the dressing room, Ronnie sat on the corner an arm chair and told the Weekly News: "I was nervous, but it's only natural."

How did Ronnie get into the act? "I sent a tape to Larry Parnes a few weeks ago," he explained, "and I was asked to come here tonight."

Sure enough Ronnie went to the "Extravaganza" show on Wednesday evening and the first question Larry Parnes put to him was: "Have you got guts?"

Within 30 minutes, Ronnie stood against the gold-coloured curtains of the theatre to make his first big public appearance.

Last year he entered for the ODVA talent competition at Bootle but was not placed. He composes his own music and has written 25 rock 'n' roll tunes within two years.

He is a former pupil of Wellington Road Secondary Modern School, Dingle.

"What happens now depends on Larry Parnes," said Ronnie.

Also taking part in the show was 18-years-old Jimmy Tarbuck of 76 Queens Drive, Mossley Hill, who is gradually making a name for himself in different parts of the country.

On Wednesday evening Jimmy substituted for Pat Laurence, at present suffering froma throat infection. By choice he is a rock 'n'roller and has had one long-player released. However, since he won first prize at a Butlins talent contest - as a comedian - Jimmy is busy writing scripts for his next public appaearance on the Pavilion in the near future.- Liverpool Weekly News, October 1958. (First reproduced by the Sound Of Fury fan club magazine.)

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This is the programme from Billy's professional debut on October 2, 1958, kindly supplied by Vince Eager.  It was too late, of course, for Billy's name to be added.




In the 1960s, New Musical Express (NME) was by far the most influential and popular music paper, and its charts were the most widely-accepted.

Each year, readers voted for their favourite acts, and the NME staged a Pollwinners Concert at Wembley Pool, London.

Billy's record in the years 1959-63 was:

1959 3rd, New disc or TV singer (behind Craig Douglas and Anthony Newley).
1960 3rd, Artist for poll concert (behind Adam Faith and anthony Newley).
1961 3rd, British male singer (behind Cliff Richard and Adam Faith).
1st, Artist for poll concert.
2nd, Best disc of year for Halfway To Paradise (behind John Leyton's Johnny Remember Me).
1962 2nd, British male singer (behind Cliff Richard).
1st, Artist for poll concert.
1963 2nd, British male singer (behind Cliff Richard).
3rd, Artist for poll concert (behind Billy J. Kramer and Gerry and the Pacemakers).

Radio Luxembourg listeners voted for Billy as their favourite UK artist in 1962 and 1966. (For the benefit of our overseas friends, in the early 1960s, Radio Luxembourg was the only source of non-stop pop for British listeners. Trannies were tuned to 208 under the blankets at night.)