Hall of Fame - Willie Deery

Willie Deery, a well known builder and out and out Springtown Camper born and reared,also wellknown through out Ireland in the entertainment world was instrumental in starting the re-union dances and bringing Derry people to-gether from every corner of the globe. Among his many achievements was bringing many world stars to Derry in the early 1990's, one such being multi million record selling artist, Don Williams .The American superstar refused to play in Northern Ireland because of the troubles. Willie wouldn't take no for an answer and he bombarded the American's office so much they relented, as they put it "Sheer relentless determination". Don William's management team in America said ," How can you say no to such determination?".So Don Williams, who was red hot at that time was playing two venues in Ireland on his sell out European tour,one was the massive Point Theatre in Dublin,with it's 5,500 seater and tickets selling at £25.00 sterling and the other was the Rialto in Derry with its capacity at 990, with tickets, at wait for it, £9.00!
Of course, Don William's first visit to Northern Ireland at the Rialto sold out in hours,without out doubt one of the best entertainments coups in history! Others were to follow. American super star, Glen Campbell was next up to the Rialto. Glen Campbell, again a multi million record seller and film star who starred with John Wayne in John Wayne's only Oscar winning performance "TRUE GRIT"and who also performed with Elvis Presley in many of Elvis's top world hits.
Next on Willie's hit list was yet another multi-million record seller, American singer, songwriter and film actor Kris Kristofferson who he again brought to Derry's Rialto. All these world superstars appeared in Derry for the first time. Derry City never had it so good as far as entertainment in its history. What was amazing was the fact that the North of Ireland was in the throes of the worst troubles in its history,yet Willie Deery was still able to sell Derry to these world superstars.No mean feat in anyone's book!! He kept the stars rolling into Derry.



George Best was famous for failing to turn up for his chat shows and when Willie Deery announced that he was bringing him to Derry it hit the headlines in the local press.All thought George Best was "a bridge too far" for Deery and that he wouldn't turn up! Their stance was boosted when George failed to show at a major show in Donegal. The press contacted Willie Deery and asked was he confident George would definitely appear in Derry. Willie had this to say to the press and I quote, "George Best is contracted to appear in Derry for me and George Best WILL appear in Derry on the said date and at the said time!" The DU-PONT was sold out in hours! Most were dubious he would appear. Well, all the doubters with all their snide remarks, pressmen, celebrities were made eat their words when on to the stage at the exact minute, as advertised by Willie walked "THE ONE AND ONLY, GEORGE BEST" to give one of the best chat shows ever to be held in this city! Willie was asked "How did you swing that?" Willie  replied. "I told George I would buy him the best fish n' chips he ever tasted in his life. Best said "Willie, you're my man." I took George over to a fish and chip shop in Spencer Road and bought him fish 'n chips.To this day the girls who served George fish n' chips still talk about it .
The stars kept rolling in to Derry, The Drifters with Johnny Moore, David Essex, Shaking Stevens. Now he was as hot as toast! All the 60'S groups; Tremeloes ,Searchers, Marmalade, Ivy League,The Fortunes, to name but a few arrived in Derry. The list was endless. Derry who was living in the shadows of Belfast and Dublin was brought to life by the man known as "MR.SPRINGTOWN CAMP"
When Willie was asked one time what was the best compliment ever paid to him he replied, "A woman unknown to him walked over to him in William Street and said, "Son, fair play to you,you never forgot where you came from .Don't ever change!"

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