Gary was a star from the day he was born...
...but he had asthma when he was young. I had a shop, selling tobacco and sweets, and we lived in the shop right on the main road in Kennington and the traffic was terrible...buses and trams, so I said we've got to do something about this. Someone said "why don't you go down the Council?", I said what can they do? Cut a long story short, they gave us a place in Croydon...it was a new house but the area was a dump...I didn't want it and we finished up moving to Slough. Gary used to go down London all the time on his bloody own because that's where he worked...honestly, he'd talk to anyone...he had hell of a way about him. He'd walk up to married couples and just start talking to them...I said "you can't do that Gary", and he'd be talking to people like they were his pals!! It was a waste of time moving to Slough because he never slept there!!
When Gary was about 8 or 9 he took dancing lessons and got all the medals for ballroom dancing, he was a fantastic dancer. I used to go all over with my first wife dancing and Gary would go with us and he picked it up. One time when he was 11 he was dancing against 17 year olds and he won the competition! He loved dancing, we'd go to holiday camps and he'd get up and sing and dance with the grown ups! One year we had his grandparents with us and he beat his grandad at singing in a competition. His Grandad didn't like that as he had a beautiful voice! That year on the holiday camp the manager came up to us and said "We'd like your son to work here" so Gary didn't come home with us and he was made the head of entertainment at just 15 years old. I always remember him at a School concert, he didn't tell us what he was going to do at all. He says: "I'm only gonna sing in the chorus" and all of a sudden he walks down the aisle dressed as a little tramp singing that "Mother Kelly's Doorstep" song...the people there were nearly crying laughing!
The first acting job he ever done was trippin' across the stage at Sadlers Wells as the raggamuffin and he got paid 3s 6d. He was acting at 11 years of age at the Old Vic with Maggie Smith and Lynn Redgrave. I used to get 3 pound 10 shilling to chaperone him and would stand in the wings watching. I was worried one time at the Old Vic. He had no nerves but he had a terrible asthma attack, I said "you're never gonna do it Gary..." and I was worried, but he got up on stage and it went just like that. Performing is all he ever done. I was quite a fair singer on the stage so he had that little bit of talent...apart from acting, I don't know where he got that from!! When he was up the Sadler's Wells in 'Love for Love' with Laurence Olivier, Gary would waltz into Laurence Olivier's dressing room without knocking! No-one else could walk in there, but he used to sit and talk to Laurence like I'm talking to you. Laurence thought the bloody world of Gary, and Gary thought Laurence was magic. He also worked with John Stride, he was a lovely man he was.
Moving on , it was my first wife's cousin that rang us and said there's a pub going would you like it? I said I've never done a bloody pub, but we went and had a look and that was it. The Wellington in Welshpool was a rough place, I was only there 18 months and I was sick of it - punch ups and all sorts. When we got it women wouldn't go in, they said it was the roughest pub in town, but eventually I made quite a good living out of it. I remember when Gary got on the piano in the Wellington, I didn't even know he could play! He done 'Whiter Shade of Pale', I said to him "I didn't know you could do that!" He said "There's no end to my talents Dad!"
Then there was the Crown and Sceptre, that was a lovely pub. Gary came in the pub while we had this band on, and he got up and sung with them...the locals went bloody mad! He got on with everyone there, they all liked him and that was it. His acting was like every day of his life, he didn't have to act if you know what I mean, he was a natural. He was no different wherever he went and everybody liked him.
When people found out one of my sons was in 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet' they asked which one was he? I said the bloke with coloured hair! "Oh him!" they said and they all loved him and said Gary was the best one out of the group, which was nice to hear. I personally feel if he'd have carried on acting, then he would've been here today and he would have been very popular. I always said Heavy Metal Kids were before their time, I remember when Gary brought the band in the pub when they played the music hall in Shrewsbury. He made us very proud that night, we was sitting in the balcony and he introduced us to the audience! My other sons, Nigel and Tony, idolised Gary. He took Nigel on tour with the Heavy Metal Kids and also to the Bradford City FC appeal video.
He was a lovely lad...I had a lot of fun with Gary.