Cherry Wainer

The lovely, vivacious organist Cherry Wainer hailed from South Africa, daughter of a famous stage producer. She once worked at the Windmill Theatre in London as a piano/solovox player (see further down for reminiscences by Tony Hancock).

After the end of Oh Boy!, Cherry went on to play in the weekly Boy Meets Girl show, as did many of the old Oh Boy! regulars, along with her drummer/husband Don Storer.

She also played piano in the band that backed Gene Vincent when he appeared on the show, along with Joe Brown, Brian Daly and Eric Ford (guitars), Red Price (sax) and Andy White (drums).

In 1959 she appeared in the film Girls Of The Latin Quarter along with Cuddly Dudley.

She moved to live in Las Vegas and passed away there on 14th November 2014.

Husband Don Storer predeceased her in 2006.

[At right, a really great colour photo of Cherry on the cover of TV Mirror]

She had several records issued in her own right:

  • Pye 7N15161 (1958) Itchy Twitchy Feeling/ Cerveza
  • Pye 7N15170 (1958) Valencia/ Blue Cha Cha
  • Pye 7N15197 (1959) Spanish Marching Song/ The Happy Organ
  • Pye 7N15217 (1959) Song Of Lotus Lee/ Iced Coffee
  • Top Rank JAR253 (1959) I'll Walk The Line/ Saturday Night In Tia Juana
  • Columbia DB4528 (1960) Happy Like A Bell/ Money
  • Honey Hit TB128 (1963) Red River Rock/ Sleepwalk





[2 Cherry screen-shots from last "Oh Boy!" show]

  [Cherry at her Hammond keyboard clapping along to Cliff Richard]


[Seen here chatting with Cliff Richard backstage and in "Oh Boy!"dressing room]


[Jack Good takes a back seat whilst lucky Cliff has his arms full of women! -
Cherry Wainer and a member of the Vernons Girls, to be more exact.]


Here's a report from the Daily Dispatch of Sunday, January 27th 1957 when comedian Tony Hancock was reminiscing about The Windmill Theatre, London:

It is less than ten years ago Cherry Wainer, the famous stage and television organist, was dancing at the Windmill. She'd just arrived from South Africa at the time Van Damm booked me for the 'Mill' and out in South Africa Cherry's father is a famous stage producer. Here her name meant nothing. So when Van Damm gave her an engagement playing the piano and solovox she jumped at the chance. It would get her well known in London she thought.

We were working together in Revudville No. 214. In between shows Derek and I used to entertain Cherry Wainer to endless cups of tea in the canteen: and then, lounging on the wicker clothes hampers backstage, we used to plan our bright lights.

"I don't know what you boys are grumbling about," Cherry said one day, "I think this is a swell joint. I'm going to stay on for the next show as a dancer." "You're crazy Cherry," I said. But Van Damm was listening. "Why? - can you dance?" he asked. And Cherry explained she'd won her solo prize at the Royal Academy of Dancing in South Africa. There were almost tears in her eyes as she pleaded with the Old Man to let her stay on as she so loved the jolly comradeship with its happy-family backstage atmosphere. The Old Man generously granted her wish, and for Revudville No.215 she stopped being a star guest artist and was one of the line-up of flimsily clad dancers. She got her wish. But there was a typical touch of the old Van Damm. "Of course," he said, "I can pay you only what the other girls get. You'll have to take a salary cut of more than 50 per cent." I've never seen a girl look happier for getting less. But from that small beginning Cherry Wainer became the star artist she is today.

FRIDAY April 3rd 1959

ORGANIST Cherry Wainer makes her West End debut on Monday. She is the latest name to be added to the big variety bill headed by American comedian Alan King at the Palace Theatre, London. The Mudlarks and singer-comedienne Audrey Jeans have already been named as other attractions. The first performance on Monday has been sold entirely as a charity performance in aid of the Jewish National Fund.

[Benny Hill's impersonation of Jimmy Hanley can be seen
next to that famous organist - Cherry Wainer Hill!]

 After "Oh Boy!" finished its run in May 1959, Cliff and Cherry maintained their close friendship. As Cliff 's career blossomed and he was offered his own TV specials for Lew Grade's ATV network during 1960-61 he invited Cherry to guest star on two of his shows.

On Cliff's Saturday Spectacular broadcast on 30th July 1960 (his third that year!) he dueted with Cherry on a song tentatively titled "Do You Remember When We Worked On That TV Show?" which was a number specially written as a tribute to the "Oh Boy!" series.

She and Don Lang then join The Shadows to back Cliff on a raucous version of "Love".... the fast paced rocker featured in the film "Expresso Bongo" which at that time was Cliff's latest film feature having been released 6 months previously in January 1960.

The song's instrumental break features a drum solo where Cliff, Cherry and Don all unite centre stage to 'bash the bongos' simultaneously!

Cherry was also invited back for the very last show of Cliff's 6-part 1961 series broadcast on Thursday, 23rd March 1961. She plays an instrumental introduction to the Little Richard classic "Lucille" and then joins Cliff in a duet of the song.

Now that we've settled the key and rhythm problems, my toes are tapping like mad (one of my rehearsal habits) as we go over the song maybe six or seven times to smooth over the rough edges.
My manager TITO BURNS comes over and finds the beat is so catching that his toes start tapping too. In fact, he breaks out into a spur-of-the-moment dance that has us all in hysterics. "Well, having delivered the star to rehearsal," laughs TITO, "I now have to justify my own reason for remaining!"

Next comes a run through of my duet with pert and petite PAT LAWRENCE. Gosh, she's such a pretty redhead, I wonder how I'll ever be able to concentrate on the music! We're singing "A Fella With An Umbrella" - and incidentally, although you can't tell from these photos, it actually was pouring rain outside.

What could be more appropriate, eh? Maybe that's why PAT and I get such a kick out of doing this song...we just glance out-doors once in a while, and feel completely inspired!

Before PAT and I start working out our stage "business" (the official term) with the umbrella props, CHERRY WAINER bounces in with an armful of records. "Hi, Cliff - I've got just the tune for our number together. Wait till you hear this!" and she plunks the Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen MacRae recording of "Happy To Make Your Acquaintance" on the gramophone.

Guess you've all heard the tune...Carmen sings the main song, the language is kind of straightlaced and old-fashioned - and Sammy sings cracks like "Man, that's the squarest thing I've heard in years!" in the background.

So I tell CHERRY, "I think it's great. One of the big hits from 'The Most Happy Fella', isn't it? Be terrific fun to sing it in our show...." And she winks, "I knew you'd agree with me, that's why I brought it along. Let's listen to it a couple of times to get the timing for the duet part, and you can try and memorize Sammy's catch phrases." The trouble was, the song is very strong on laughs, and CHERRY and I were chortling so much over the wisecrack parts, we had to play it 6 or 7 times before we could keep our faces straight enough to try our own version!


[ Three shots of Cherry Wainer, one with Marty Wilde, Joe Brown and Don Storer, taken on the set of 'Boy Meets Girl". The other two are with her drummer Don Storer]


[Peter Elliot, Cherry Wainerm and Cliff Richard enjoying a drink together.]


Cherry Wainer ...South Africa's first female rock 'n roll star!

Cherry, a talented organist, collaborated with Nico Carstens to recorded the "Flying High" instrumental album in the late fifties. - Carstens went on to became South Africa's most recorded artist with over 100 albums to his credit. This gifted composer also scored internationally with his composition "Zambesi" (a UK No.2 hit for Lou Busch in 1956).

She had 3 Albums released in S.A.:

  • Flying High, 10" Album, Columbia, 33JS 11007 - The First Rock 'n Roll album recorded by South African musicians!
  • Cherry Rock, 10" Album, HMV JDLP 10006, 1959
  • Cherry Pink, 10" Album, HMV JDLP 10007, 1959

(Don Storer played drums on both of the HMV albums)



Here are some more wonderful photos that Cherry sent me to share with you all:

[Cherry and friend seen here with two of
the chart-topping Crew Cuts vocal group]


[Chatting with one of the Beatles - George Harrison, mid-1960s
and a later photo having fun with Elton John]


After hiding her legs away behind her Hammond organ for years,
Cherry shows us all what we've been missing!
Seen here in Nevada circa mid-1970s with drummer Don Storer]


[Here's Cherry and Don with ex "Oh Boy!" guest artiste Bertice Reading (centre)
Bertice appeared in both of the two "Oh Boy!" trial shows in June 1958
that were shown locally in the UK ATV regions before the show
went nationwide in September of the same year.]


[A more recent photo of the talented Cherry.]

Read 4904 times Last modified on Friday, 14 October 2016 14:47
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