Over the years, there has been a wide variety of double acts in
Scottish variety theatres: siblings working together, husband and
wife acts, and comedians have shared the stage. Some of these acts
were formed for a particular show, others remained together for
a number of years and a select few have spent most of their lives
together, on stage and off. One of the most enduring husband and
wife acts in Scotland is that of Joe Gordon and Sally Logan whove
been singing together for 48 years. Theyve appeared in more
than 400 television shows, played in theatres and venues all over
Scotland and taken numerous overseas tours.
To learn how their success came about, I meet with Joe and Sally
in their home in rural Ayrshire. When their front door swings open,
theyre standing side by side with broad smiles, as if on stage,
and just when I think theyre about to break into song, Im
Their home is a treasure chest of fascinating memorabilia collected
from theatres and shows in which theyve appeared. On the walls
theres a wide variety of posters and photographs ranging from
their early days when they were individual acts, to when they formed
the double act in 1966 and continuing to the present day. Framed
photographs show them meeting members of the royal family
and there are numerous framed cartoons; the origins of which are
With their lives together in show business covering an amazing
total of 120 years, Im unsure of where to begin, so I ask
how they started. They answer in harmony, as if on stage, finishing
each others sentences, or when one hesitates, the other takes
up the slack and fills in the details. Their recollection is wonderfully
Sally comes from a musical background. Her father Frank Logan was
Clifford, one half of musical duo Clifford and Clinton, and sister
Jean is known as chanteuse Anne
Fields. (Theyre not related to Jimmy Logan - real name James
Short - whose parents were the music hall act Short and Dalziel).
Every year at Hogmany, the extended Logan family would get together;
first at their home in Carntyne and later when they moved to Queens
Park. At these soirees, everyone had to perform - either singing,
dancing or playing piano. As a result, young Sally grew up with
no fear of performing in front of an audience.
She was twelve years old when she made her first stage appearance.
Dad had signed to compere and perform at the open air concerts
held in Glasgow Parks bandstands, says Sally. These
afternoon and early evening shows were very popular and drew large
crowds. When dad asked if Id like to appear with him, it didnt
take much persuading. After rehearsing together, I accompanied him
onstage, harmonising and doing a soft-shoe shuffle, and because
the shows were held during the summer months, they didnt interfere
In the autumn, she entered the Evening Citizens talent competitions,
competing in heats held at venues throughout Glasgow and at one
of the heats, the promoter, Archie McCulloch, said he liked her
rendering of the song Finder Please Return. He asked
if he could hear something else from her repertoire and she obliged
by performing a song and dance act to the tune of Back in
the Old Routine. He suggested incorporating both the song,
and the song and dance routine in the final at St Andrews
Halls in 1952, which she did. And with pianist Harry Carmichael
(later from the White Heather Club) accompanying her, she took runner-up
Around this time, Sally was attending singing lessons with teacher
Mary Clements. Mary suggested the youngster should audition for
BBC Radios Auntie Kathleens Childrens Hour hosted
by Kathleen Garscadden. This led to Sally recording three of the
shows. Once again, this didnt interfere with her schooling,
as the shows were recorded in the evenings.
Unbeknown to Sally or her dad, the earlier St Andrews Hall
show had been recorded by the BBC and producer Pat Walker had been
listening to the tapes. Pat wrote to my dad offering me a
radio show he was working on, singing with the Andy Currie Dance
Band. I became the resident female singer throughout the series,
with guest artists coming in to do one-off shows, adding,
Payment for these shows was always made in guineas.
By this time, Sally was approaching school leaving age and her mother
didnt like the idea of her going into a career in the theatre.
But dad was keen, says Sally. He was confident
because hed seen the audience reaction to me in the parks;
so he arranged an audition with George Bowie, and from that, I was
given my first professional summer season. It was at Barrfields
Pavilion in 1955. There was a total of thirteen acts on the show,
with Clark and Murray topping the bill. Mum stayed with me in digs
in Largs throughout the season and each Saturday dad would drive
from Carntyne, see the show, then take us home. On Mondays, mum
and I would return to Largs by bus.
During that season, I did my first BBC Outside Broadcast.
It was recorded at Bobby Jones Ballroom in Ayr, she
recalls and led to a series of similar shows, all of which
involved mum and I travelling by bus from Largs to Ayr, then rushing
back to Barrfields in time for the first evening performance.
Alex Fruitin of The Metropole saw Sally perform at Largs and offered
her the four months winter show at Glasgows Stockwell Street
theatre. It was the first show in which Clark and Murray topped
the bill at that theatre, she says. From there, Tommy
Morgan booked me for his show at the Pavilion in Glasgow. He was
a lovely man to work with and so professional. And when the show
ended, Tommy transferred it to Edinburghs Kings Theatre
where I found myself, together with Dave Willis and Tommy, on the
bill of Meet Me At The Empire. These were wonderful shows to be
in and when that ended its run, the show - minus Tommy, whod
been contracted to the Pavilion - moved once again; this time to
Glasgows Empire. By the end of the Glasgow show, she
was now well established in show business
and she was only
was a time of great activity in the theatres Sally tells me. Performers
were constantly being auditioned for shows and while attending one
of these at the Alhambra in Glasgow - for a musical called Wild
Grows the Heather - I met another young hopeful. His name was Sydney
Mention Sally nowadays, and most people think of Scottish songs.
But in these early days, apart from the tartan shows
at the Metropole, her repertoire was from musicals, or musical comedies
as they were then known: shed sing numbers from The Flower
Drum Song or Oklahoma and would often finish her spot with Oh My
Beloved Father. In 1956, she moved to London for a couple of years
in order to be available for auditions. It was a good move; Richard
Afton and Freddie Carpenter gave her lots of TV work, including
the outstanding Goodbye Gaiety. She also did a panto with Freddie
prior to a long season touring Scarborough, Brighton and Bolton
with Dickie Valentine.
Back in Scotland, she was delighted to be asked to appear in Andy
Stewarts record-breaking show during the 1961/62 season, before
going south again. One of the London producers, for whom Sally auditioned
earlier, offered her the part of Lili, a leading role, in the musical
Carnival at the Lyric Theatre in Londons West End. And when
that show ended its run, she returned to a busy schedule in Scotland.
Appearing with Bobby Pattison at Dundees Palace Theatre came
first, then a short season at Walkers restaurant in Edinburgh
during the Festival, before joining Jack Milroy in the first of
his Widow Krankie pantos at Glasgows Pavilion. They
were long seasons then - the Pavilion panto used to run well into
February - and after that I did the three months summer season at
His Majestys at Aberdeen with Andy Stewart.
In the middle of that season, Andy was invited to do a one-night
show at the Worlds Fair in New York and he asked if Sally
would like to appear with him. Would she?! I stepped off the
stage one Saturday night and Andy and I were driven straight to
Prestwick Airport where we were ushered on to the first class section
of an overnight flight to New York. Once there, we managed a quick
rehearsal with the orchestra at the theatre before doing the Sunday
evening performance. When the curtain came down after the show,
a limo rushed us to the airport for another overnight flight, this
time back to Scotland, and when we landed, the time difference meant
we had little time to get to Aberdeen. However, a car and chauffeur
had been laid on and sped us to His Majestys, arriving just
before the first of the two Monday evening performances!
The summer of 1965 saw Sally appear in Alec Finlays show at
Perth Theatre. Also on the bill was a popular group - the Joe Gordon
Folk Four. Shed worked with
them before, on the White Heather Club, and liked them and as the
season progressed she became friendly with the front man.
Joes path to stardom took a different route from Sallys.
You could say my success came about by accident, he
says smiling. It was my appearances with the Folk Four on
TV that exposed me to audiences at home and abroad. The White Heather
Club launched me on a road to fame that I could never have planned.
But what was he doing before that? To find out, we have to go back
to his childhood.
Joe was born in the Springburn district of Glasgow and was six
months old when his parents moved to London. It was seven years
later when a curly fair-haired boy, who spoke with a London accent,
returned with his parents to their former neighbourhood. The
accent didnt last long, says Joe. Going to the
local school soon knocked the cockney out of me.
His early interests were drawing, keeping fit and running. Later,
he joined the Springburn Harriers and drew posters and cartoons
for the club; some of which came to the notice of Jim Bissell, a
marathon runner who worked in advertising. And when a vacancy came
up at Jims firm, he offered the job to Joe. In addition
to developing my art work, I learned about lettering, type-faces
and the overall space required for layouts, he says. And
that experience proved useful years later, when I produced all the
publicity material for Sally and I.
My interest in music began by listening to trad jazz on Radio
Luxembourg and Voice of America stations. My first instrument was
a mouth-organ and as soon as I bought, I was called up to do National
Service. He was stationed at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire
and qualified as a medic, later being promoted to corporal. While
there, he responded to an advert for musical acts, and with two
other conscripts, formed a harmonica trio. The other fellows
also sang, and one night when they were singing Glowworm, I joined
in the harmony. I suppose that was my introduction to singing in
public, he muses. And during one of the shows, a singer/guitarist
came on singing country songs and I remember thinking that it would
be marvellous to do that.
So when I got back to civvy street, I bought a guitar - a
Hofner - from McCormacks music shop in Glasgow. I was working
again as a graphic artist, so was able to pay for it
Id learned to play a few chords and was invited to join the
Black Diamonds Skiffle Group but found the guitar increasingly difficult
to play, and said so to Neil McCormack. When I showed him the chords
I was playing, he immediately said the guitar Id purchased
wasnt really suitable for playing professionally and suggested
swapping it for another model. He selected a second hand instrument,
which he modified before giving it to me, and it was a tremendous
The Black Diamonds got a lot of work and great exposure,
he recalls. We played in a regular BBC radio series Break
for Music which was transmitted each weekday evening. That was followed
by the winter show at Glasgows Princess Theatre and during
that season, we managed to fit in a recording for the television
show Six Five Special
also on the show was a young Shirley
Bassey. A tour of Scotland with Chris Barber introduced them
to venues from Inverness to Glasgow and in 1957, they were invited
by Larry Marshall to appear in his summer show at Girvan. It
ran for three months with performances each evening plus a Saturday
matinee Joe remembers. At that time, we all still had
our day jobs and with travelling between Glasgow and Girvan every
day by public transport, the strain began to tell and we decided
to disband when Larrys show ended.
promoter Andy Daisley learned of the break-up and booked Joe to
play solo at interval spots, singing American ballads and jazz.
The first was at Kilbirnie Cinema says Joe. Then,
at a jazz concert in St Andrews Hall, BBC producer Iain MacFadyen
came backstage and said he thought Id be good for a television
show that was being planned and asked if I knew any Scottish numbers.
I sang Johhny Lad and from that, was offered a three year contract.
He was to be the front man of a four piece group to be known as
the Joe Gordon Folk Four. The show was The White Heather Club.
I then had to find three other members and they had to be
good musicians; able to learn fast and be capable of incorporating
last minute changes that the weekly show would demand. Iain MacFadyen
suggested guitarist/singer George Hill who played with the Radio
Orchestra. And for bass player, my immediate choice was Dick Campbell
of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra - also a former member of the
Black Diamonds. I still needed someone with whom I could harmonise,
so I contacted jazz band leader Jim McHarg and he recommended deep-voiced
folk singer Callum Sinclair
and that was us. The Joe Gordon
Folk Four was born.
It was also necessary to have a constant supply of new material,
so Joe called on Norman Buchan, who was well-known on the folky
scene (and later went on to become a full-time politician) to seek
his advice. Norman suggested the Music Room at Glasgows
Mitchell Library recalls Joe. So I became a regular
visitor to the library, sifting through manuscripts of Scottish
folk songs and selecting suitable tunes. This was before photocopiers
says Joe, idly musing. So all the lyrics and snatches of melodies
were copied by hand. Id often change some of the arrangements
before handing my scribbles to George Hill who had the ability to
transform them into a form the group could play. The show became
a huge success and exceeded all my expectations. I was still working
as a graphic artist when the show started and had taken six month
leave of absence, little realising how popular the show would become,
but when it took off, I resigned from the art studio.
The Folk Four went on to great success and were offered an extension
to the TV contract, but Joe and the boys had already agreed to do
the summer season in Aberdeen, followed by a tour of New Zealand
with Robert Wilsons White Heather Group. Once back in Scotland,
they performed at weekend marquee dances, one night stands, tours
to the Inner Hebrides and the Orkney Isles, and in 1966, the Folk
Four went to Perth to appear on Alec Finlays summer show.
Sally was on the bill, and she and I got on well. The idea
of forming a double act began to take root and we started learning
some songs together and from that, emerged the duo
and Sally Logan. In the next edition of Stagedoor, Sally and
Joe talk about developing a double act and speak of their 48 years
JOE GORDON AND SALLY LOGAN STORY. IN THIS, THE SECOND OF TWO ARTICLES,
Norman Christie LEARNS ABOUT THEIR LIFE TOGETHER AS A DOUBLE ACT
In the last edition of Stagedoor, Joe and Sally spoke of their
early years in show business - of how Sally began in a song and
dance act with her dad, and how Joe, a commercial artist, became
influenced by skiffle and jazz - and by the mid 1960s both were
known internationally and were at the height of their respective
In 1965, they were booked to appear as individual acts on the same
bill of Alec Finlays summer show at Perth Theatre. Like all
theatres, Perths stage microphone was linked by public address
system to the backstage rooms. Sitting in his dressing room, waiting
to go on, Joe found himself improvising and harmonising along with
Sallys voice, which was conveyed to his room, as she sang
on stage. Slowly the idea of a double act took root and he put the
idea to Sally.
I knew Joe from 1960 when we both appeared on BBC TVs
The White Heather Club says Sally. He was always a suggestions
man and when we tried the harmonies we liked the sound. At that
time Joe was doing the likes of Leapy Lees Little Arrows and
some of The Seekers numbers and I would be singing numbers
from musicals, but the idea of doing a double had an appeal. It
meant we could still feature individually yet come together for
duets and harmonies. This was at the time when the formula of variety
shows was changing. There were less acts on the bill and the management
wanted acts who could do more time. Being a duo meant we could give
more variety and do a longer spot.
During the run of the Perth show, Andy Stewart phoned to invite
them, as individuals, to join his forthcoming 1966 spring tour of
Australia and New Zealand. Both of us accepted says
Joe, then I surprised Andy by telling him that for the same
money, he could have three acts - Sallys, mine and the double
act of Joe Gordon and Sally Logan. He liked the idea and when I
asked if hed like to hear something from our repertoire, his
response was If its good enough for you son, its
So the following year saw them performing together in the southern
hemisphere. We did only a week in Australia says Sally,
but it was a hectic week, covering Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide,
Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane, flying between the cities during
the day. Then in New Zealand we did four to five weeks, because
we were travelling by car a lot, taking in the cities and the smaller
remote towns. It was during that initial tour together, they
made their first recording as Joe and Sally.
It came about when an EMI agent, who was in the audience at one
the New Zealand shows, liked their sound and invited them to the
record companys studio. They showed up together with Ian Powries
Band - they were also part of Andys touring show - and recorded
a number of songs. The result was a 45 rpm EP. It had five numbers,
each selected to appeal to the New Zealand and Australian market;
the title track, Up Among the Heather, was written by Andy. The
record did so well in the New Zealand charts that, on returning
to Scotland, they re-recorded all the tracks in Thistle Records
studio for sale in the United Kingdom. From that initial seven inch
extended play disc, they went on to record seven vinyl albums as
a double act, plus CDs featuring songs from Sallys early career,
the Joe Gordon Folk Four and three dedicated to Joes ragtime
When they returned from New Zealand, they couldnt continue
immediately with the double act because they had to honour individual
bookings made prior to going on tour. Sally had arranged to do cabaret
in and around Aberdeen, and Joe was booked for Andy Stewarts
early summer show at His Majestys in Aberdeen, playing a duo
with George Hill - a former Folk Four member. During the run at
His Majestys, singer Sheila Paton left to do a tour abroad
and Sally was brought in to do her single act for the rest of the
show. When it finished in Aberdeen says Sally, I
moved with Andys show to Dundee, then on to the new Metropole
in Glasgow. Joe stayed in Aberdeen to do more of the series of Ski
Night for Grampian Television. When Joe and George finished the
Ski Night shows they joined the same Metropole show I was in.
And when that show finished, Joe and Sally played a number of clubs
as a duo before making their first appearance on the stage of a
Scottish theatre as a double act. It was in the 1966/67 Gaiety pantomime
Babes in the Woods.
But they were still unable to commit themselves fully to being
a twosome as each still had previous bookings as individuals. In
the spring of 1967, Sally performed in Stephen Sondheims musical
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Lyceum in
Edinburgh and Joe flew out with Andy Stewart for a Canadian tour.
He returned in early spring when Sallys show had ended and
they were now able to commit themselves fully to being a double
act. They did a short run in Edinburgh before setting out on their
first summer season as Joe Gordon and Sally Logan.
We finished in Edinburgh on a Saturday night and put the
car on the Motorail overnight train to London recalls Sally.
From there we drove to Southampton and this time put the car
on the transporter plane and flew to Jersey where we were to appear
for a six months season as top of the bill in the Plaza in St Helier.
Joe points out that it was only when they saw the showbills outside
the venue that they knew they were top of the bill. The agent
who booked us didnt mention that when we signed up he
says with an amused smile. Nor did he pay us top of the bill
money. Sally is in harmony with Joes comments. Thats
true she adds, but it was a great season.
next couple of summer seasons were in Aberdeen and Blackpool and
during that time theyd established themselves on stage, television
and on record and had become a sought-after act in clubs and theatres.
Andy Stewart continued booking them for his overseas tours, and
in 1968, with their popularity spreading, they toured Europe; playing
in Germany, Italy, Turkey and Greece. Until now, their repertoire
comprised mostly popular international numbers but now the occasional
Scottish song was being introduced to test audience reaction. Joe
also began introducing some humour.
When I started with the Folk Four, we were doing TV work
and were given very tight time-slots, which meant that we simply
sang the songs. But when we moved to live venues, I was able to
introduce stories and anecdotes between numbers and discovered that
the audience liked them. During a charity show, Jack Radcliffe who
was on the bill, said he thought some of my stories were very funny
and suggested adding more similar material
which I did. So
when Sally and I formed our double act, it made sense to adopt the
In 1970, they were among the cast who entertained Princess Margaret
at a Royal Performance on 29 Sept 1970 at Tiffanys in Glasgow.
It was a sophisticated show says Sally. We were
in evening dress and sang a medley of songs - not Scottish - and
afterwards were introduced to her Royal Highness. It wasnt
the first time Sally had met royalty. In 1958, as a teenager, she
was introduced to the Queen and Prince Phillip, following her performance
in front of them at the Royal Scottish Variety Performance in Glasgows
In the early 70s, STV introduced Thingummyjg; a weekly production
hosted by Jack McLaughlin, the Laird o Coocaddens, featuring
Scottish acts. The series ran for a decade and Joe and Sally were
regulars, singing traditional Scottish ballads. It was superseded
by Shindig, a similar type of show, and once again, Joe and Sally
featured on a regular basis.
Around 1974, a ventriloquist slot was added to their act. They
were doing lots of clubs in England and, always on the lookout for
something new, Joe had bought a vent doll from Tony Verrichio.
I named him Grandad. Dressed in a cardigan and slippers, Grandad
gave an old mans observations on life explains Joe.
And the audiences liked him. But Sally wasnt so
keen. From the time I worked with my dad, I had a fear of
vent dummies she says. If a ventriloquist was on my
dads show, I had to ask that the dummy was kept in his case
and not left sitting in the dressing room.
They were probably at the height of their popularity, when their
son Scott was born. They made the decision not to do any overseas
tours while he was a small child. Nor did they take on summer seasons,
apart from two weeks at HM Theatre in Aberdeen with Sydney Devine
and a three week season at the Kings in Edinburgh. Instead,
they worked six nights a week performing at dinner/dances and clubs
while a babysitter looked after young Scott. And in 1981, the family
moved from their home in Ayrshire and bought The White Heather Hotel
in the village of Auchenblae where they ran the hotel, raised young
Scot and somehow managed to continue singing together.
As two Glasgow-born stars, they enjoyed working in the Pavilion,
but never played a summer season with Lex. We just missed
out says Joe. Lex McLean came to see us during our summer
season in Blackpool in 1969 and said hed like to have us in
his Glasgow show. Not long after that, he suffered a stroke and
it was a while before he was fit enough to return to the stage.
He had another stroke and never recovered from it. As Joe
relates details of the meeting with Lex, he imitates the voice of
the comedian. His depiction was so good, I reckon he could have
added impersonations to his act. After all, he is a man of many
talents; he sings, plays guitar, banjoand mouth-organ, yodels, is
a ventriloquist, produces art work, draws cartoons and is a practicing
That came about through having had a heart attack in 1981.
He suffered another in 1983. My recovery was slow and I wasnt
responding as Id hoped he says. I was convinced
that hypnotherapy could help me, which it did, and I became interested
in the subject and attended a teaching course in London. After I
graduated, Lou Grant invited me onto his radio show, where, as his
resident hypnotherapist, Id give advice to listeners.
Then musing, he adds An agent once phoned to book me for a
club, thinking I was a stage hypnotist who could put members of
the audience under a spell. I had to explain the difference.
Towards the end of the 1990s, Joe began to drift back to his jazz
roots, and appearing as a solo act, would play banjo at jazz concerts
during Edinburghs and Glasgows Jazz Festivals. For eight
years, he took his show Joe Gordons Banjos to the Royal Overseas
Club in Edinburgh and when he played the venue in 2013, among the
band members on-stage was son Scott on drums.
These appearances were in addition to the double act, and in January
2001, Joe and Sally flew to Russia to perform in a number of events
commemorating Robert Burns. They did a weeks cabaret in St
Petersburg and another week in Moscow. Its the coldest
weather Ive ever experienced says Sally, as Joe idly
adds But we were given a warm welcome everywhere we went.
As the era of long-running summer shows was coming to an end, more
time was spent in Scotland and England in cabaret and in clubs.
They also toured the highlands and islands with their own show An
Evening with Joe Gordon and Sally Logan which theyd adapted
to suit local village halls and churches, enabling smaller communities
to enjoy theatre-based entertainment.
Having worked onstage for a combined total of 120 years, I was keen
to learn what their outstanding memories were. Joe says the one
that comes immediately to mind, took place before he was full time
in the business. Hed been flown to HMVs studios in Abbey
Road in London to record the song Dreamlover and the producer Wally
Ridley was keen to have it rush released. He returned to Scotland
with high hopes of a pop career, but the record wasnt put
on sale until four weeks later, by which time Bobby Darins
version had topped the UK charts. My cover version made it
into the Scottish Top Ten Joe recalls. I was told later
that a legal agreement had probably been put in place to withhold
my record until the original had charted, which was fair enough
after all, Bobby Darin wrote the song. I was disappointed,
but I can look back now and remember that incident as as an exciting
Another highlight took place in Carnegie Hall during Andy Stewarts
1967 tour of USA and Canada. All the acts had to perform to a very
strict time schedule - it cost money if anyone exceeded their time
slot. I was given nine minutes exactly - which was good for a solo
act in those days - and went off to great applause. But I was met
on the wings by an excited Max Kay, Andys manager. Get
back on he shouted and take your full applause.
Apparently if the audience at Carnegie Hall like you, theyd
feel affronted if they couldnt get a chance to show their
appreciation. So, I went back on and was overwhelmed by the sight
and sound of the audience, on their feet and cheering and whistling.
Among Sallys favourite memories are the two occasions she
performed in front of royalty. They were exciting occasions
she assures me. But nothing could match the time I performed
at the 1964 World Fair at Queens in New York, because Id never
had such an experience before - and never had it again. Youre
in a summer season in Scotland and suddenly you finish on a Saturday
night and fly to New York and return after the show to pick up the
Monday evening performance.
I wondered who influenced them in their early years. In Sallys
case, it was initially her dad who she looked to for guidance and
as she progressed, the director Freddie Carpenter impressed her
with his attention to detail. He knew how to dress a stage
she says. It was the jazz artistes he listened to on Voice of America
radio who first influenced Joe. Later, Jack Radcliffe unknowingly
taught me a lot he says.He was adaptable and a very
Their greatest achievement? Sally answers without hesitation. Our
son Scott and Joe agrees, adding And that couldnt
have happened if I hadnt met Sally and shared the musical
successes we enjoyed.
Their last singing engagement was in the winter of 2012 when they
featured in Mike Clarks Hail Caledonia at the Citadel in Ayr.
After the show, I said to Joe that I was considering stopping.
I had been singing for the best part of 60 years and felt Id
like to stop while still enjoying it says Sally. We
were lucky to have had such a varied working life adds Joe
And to have met so many wonderful people in the course of
our long career.."
successful double act still in harmony!"