Sunday 16 December 2018

Hank von Hell at The Garage, London 15 Dec 2018

What a blast it was! Here are my photos and video from the show:

The set list

For more photos and videos from the night, click here.

Cat Casino - Lead Guitar 
Major Sam - Rhythm Guitar 
Jean Genus - Bass 
Dead Said Fred – Drums

Hank von Hell Tour:

Hank Von Hell - Melkweg Amsterdam
Sun 6:30 PM UTC+01 · 356 guests
Melkweg Amsterdam
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Hank von Hell Official Aftershow Party at Schlemmereck
Mon 5 PM UTC+01 · 192 guests
Hamburg, Germany

Hank von Hell (Ex Turbonegro) - Hamburg, Markthalle
Mon 8 PM UTC+01 · 427 guests
Hamburg, Germany

Abgesagt Hank von Hell • Hannover • Faust
Tue 8 PM UTC+01 · 259 guests
Kulturzentrum Faust
Hanover, Niedersachsen, Germany

Hank von Hell | scheune Dresden
Wed 8 PM UTC+01 · 463 guests
Scheune Dresden
Dresden, Sachsen, Germany

Hank Von Hell
Thu 7 PM UTC+01 · 592 guests
turock - disco, live-club and lounge
Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

Hank Von Hell, The Carburetors + OrangeClub | Karlstad
Fri 9 PM UTC+01 · 1,951 guests
Karlstad, Värmland County, Sweden

Hank von Hell - Pretty decent tour 2018
Sat 8 PM UTC+01 · 1,465 guests
Club Deströyer
Sundsvall, Västernorrland County, Sweden

Hank Von Hell, Against the Grain, & the Vaginas at the EARL
Tue 8 PM EST · 348 guests
Atlanta, GA

Hank von Hell w/ Against The Grain at Richmond Music Hall - 1/16
Wed 7:30 PM EST · 173 guests
Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House
Richmond, VA

Hank Von Hell (Turbonegro), Against the Grain.
Thu 7 PM EST · 579 guests
Brooklyn Bazaar
New York, NY

Hank Von Hell (of Turbonegro) at Trocadero Theatre
Fri 7 PM EST · 439 guests
The Trocadero
Philadelphia, PA

Hank Von Hell (from Turbonegro) w/ Against The Grain
Sat 8 PM EST · 162 guests
Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub
Cambridge, MA

01.20 • Hank Von Hell • Against The Grain • Sick Things - MTL
Sun 8:30 PM EST · 976 guests
Bar Le Ritz PDB
Montreal, QC, Canada

Hank Von Hell at Lee's Palace
Mon 8 PM EST · 242 guests
Lee's Palace
Toronto, ON, Canada

Hank Von Hell at El Club 1/22
Tue 8:30 PM EST · 1,137 guests
El Club
Detroit, MI

Hank Von Hell & Special Guest at BHouse LIVE
Wed 8 PM CST · 178 guests
Brauer House Lombard
Lombard, IL

Hank Von Hell with Against The Grain in the 7th St Entry
Thu 8 PM CST · 124 guests
First Avenue & 7th St Entry
Minneapolis, MN

Hank Von Hell (Formerly of Turbonegro) at The Riot Room
Fri 8 PM CST · 292 guests
4048 Broadway Street
 Kansas City, MO 64111

Hank Von Hell W/ Against the Grain, MF Ruckus & Dirty Few
Sat 8 PM MST · 561 guests
The Oriental Theater 4335 W 44th Ave.

HANK VON HELL with Against The Grain, and Long Knife
Tue 8:30 PM PST · 176 guests
Portland, OR

Hank Von Hell ~ Against the Grain ~ Jonny Manak &The Depressives
Wed 8 PM PST · 558 guests
Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA

Hank Von Hell at Echoplex (LA)
Thu 8 PM PST · 444 guests
Los Angeles, CA

HANK VON HELL (formerly of TURBONEGRO) at The Rebel Lounge
Fri 8 PM MST · 178 guests
The Rebel Lounge
Phoenix, AZ

Hank Von Hell at Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill
Sun 7 PM CST · 665 guests
10261 Technology Blvd E, Dallas, TX 75220-4326, United States

Hank Von Hell (ex-Turbonegro) live in Austin!
Mon 7 PM CST · 354 guests
Come and Take It Live
Austin, TX

Hank Von Hell, Against The Grain, Night Cobra
Tue 8 PM CST · 249 guests
White Oak Music Hall
Houston, TX

Hank Von Hell (ex-Turbonegro) w/ Against The Grain
Wed 9 PM CST · 137 guests
Santos Bar
New Orleans, LA

Apr 25, 2019 - Apr 28, 2019 · 16,470 guests

Sunday 9 September 2018

The Unveiling of the Nicky Hopkins Memorial "Piano" Park Bench

The Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Tariq Mahmood, myself and Moira Hopkins officially unveiling the bench. 
(Photo by Becky Danese)
The unveiling ceremony kicked off some time after 12 noon on Saturday 8th September 2018 with an enhanced clip of Bob Harris's 2012 BBC Radio 6 documentary "Diamonds, Tiaras: The Nicky Hopkins Story" that comprised 17 excerpts of some of Nicky's best-known work such as Sympathy for the Devil, She's a Rainbow, Revolution and Jealous Guy.

The Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Tariq Mahmood and Moira Hopkins. 
(Photo by Becky Danese)
Then, acting as MC, I welcomed everybody to the official unveiling of the Nicky Hopkins Memorial Park Bench, celebrating his life.

The Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Tariq Mahmood, myself, Moira Hopkins and fans. 
(Photo by Becky Danese)
I thanked everybody for attending and for their support, especially Moira Hopkins, Nicky’s widow, who flew in all the way from Nashville to be there; The Worshipful the Mayor of the London Borough of Ealing, Cllr Tejinder Singh Dhami; Perivale councillor, Cllr Tariq Mahmood who stood in for Steve Pound, MP for Ealing North; Deborah Grabien who also flew in from the US to be there; Dee Hopkins, Nicky’s sister; Diane O'Malley who helped me so much by encouraging me to carry on when times got tough; rock legend, Graham Parker; my fiancée, Gemma Harris, for creating the introductory audio clip; and Julian Dawson, author of "And on Piano. Nicky Hopkins: The Extraordinary Life of Rock's Greatest Session Man" who not able to be there but I wanted to thank him for his help and guidance.

The Nicky Hopkins Memorial "Piano" Park Bench. 
(Photo by Becky Danese) 

The invitation to the unveiling ceremony
I then introduced myself to the gathered crowd of about 50 and proceeded to tell the story of how the bench came to be:

"I first heard about what an incredible musician Nicky Hopkins was, and what a thoroughly lovely person he was from my good friend and my best client, Gray Levett - Nicky’s former personal manager. (Gray helped me with this every step of this project, so thank you very much, Gray).

"One day, having now seen how Nicky had worked with so many artists and had appeared on some of the most well-known tracks of all time, such as Revolution, Beggars Banquet, Angie, Jealous Guy, Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful, Art Garfunkel’s I Only Have Eyes for You, Cat Stevens' Matthew & Son… and Bird on a Wire by David Soul, I felt he really deserved to be more well known. We all know his work so well, but I felt he deserved proper recognition for his enormous contribution to music. As crazy as it sounds, he never won any awards!

"So I called Ealing Council and got put through to David Farrell, Business Support Officer, Parks & Leisure. Having just created a blue plaque for someone else (memorials are becoming a habit!) I initially suggested creating a blue plaque for Nicky. We quickly realized that there was nowhere really suitable for a Blue Plaque to be placed, since the house Nicky lived in as a child was demolished, so David suggested a park bench that looks like a piano instead. I thought that was a fantastic idea – spot on! He kindly said that if I sourced it, Ealing Council would maintain it. So I set about trying to create a “bench that looks like a piano”. Luckily, I found David Gowing of Furnitubes who was so helpful. Thank you for all your help, David! And then I had to get it designed – the reason the bench looks so cool because it was designed by the incredibly gifted Jesse Wilson. Then, I had to work out how to pay for it. The obvious way forward was crowdfunding, and the obvious choice was PledgeMusic. It worked! Thank you for all your help PledgeMusic!"

Julian Wall of PledgeMusic then said a few words.

I continued, "The most exciting part was promoting it and getting some media coverage for it. Some of the highlights were seeing tweets promoting the bench from Alice Cooper, Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s official account, and only yesterday Keith Richards and Edgar Wright!

"The other exciting moment was when I was talking with Moira on the phone and she told me Nicky was a massive Monty Python fan. So am I to say the least! I had no idea before I started this project, so I was very happy about that. I, unfortunately, never met Nicky but I’m now even more certain that we would have got on just fine.

"In terms of fundraising, we received a total of around £6,500 from 67 pledges, the proceeds of which come to £2,000 which will be donated to the Royal Academy of Music where Nicky himself won a scholarship. Another £8,000 is needed to create The Nicky Hopkins Scholarship which would allow one student to study at the Royal Academy for one year. If there’s anyone here who feels they’d like to contribute to that, let me know!

"At this point, I’d like to give a massive thank you to everyone who pledged. I know several of you are here today. I thought you’d like to know that these names are among the list of contributors on the back of the bench:
  • Roger Daltrey
  • Mick Jagger
  • Kenney Jones
  • Yoko Ono
  • Jimmy Page
  • Graham Parker
  • Hossam Ramzy 
  • Keith Richards
  • Benmont Tench III
  • Johnnie Walker
  • Charlie Watts
  • Ronnie Wood
  • Woody Woodmansey
  • Bill Wyman"
Gray Levett, Nicky's former personal manager then said a few words, as did Moira, Perivale councillor, Cllr Tariq Mahmood, and finally, The Worshipful the Mayor of the London Borough of Ealing, Cllr Tejinder Singh Dhami.

During Gray's speech, a gust of wind blew the sheet off the bench prematurely, eliciting a huge intake of breath from the crowd!

The Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Tariq Mahmood, myself and Moira Hopkins then officially unveiled the bench, and after many photo sessions, we all adjourned to The Bridge Hotel for refreshments.

After the unveiling, I realised I had forgotten to read out the wonderful quotes that had been specially written about Nicky for this occasion! So I read them out at the hotel during the afterparty instead. And here they are:

David Pomeranz - Multi-Platinum Award-Winning Recording Artist and Songwriter
"Nicky Hopkins was a Virtuoso, a Superstar, a Rock and Roll Legend - but what dwarfs all that is that he was one of the sweetest, kindest, most generous souls I've ever known. He fought for Human Rights and intensely cared about the wellbeing of others. I truly loved him as did anyone who had the privilege to know him."

Graham Parker
"Nicky played on a couple of my albums and we became friends and often hung out with each other in both Los Angeles and London for some years. As well as his beautiful piano work, he was a lovely guy who could do a pitch-perfect Monty Python sketch like nobody's business. Oh, how we laughed!  I miss him so much."

Keith Richards
"To my very best friend, Nicky!"

Rick Wakeman
"Nicky certainly deserves serious recognition for his immense contribution to the music of so many artists and it's tremendous that his corner is being fought for him in order to achieve this, and it will serve as a wonderful memory in his name."

Kenney Jones
"Nicky was one of the most talented keyboard players I have ever had the privilege to work with. I shall never forget his generosity in giving up his time in 1983 to help raise much-needed funds for Ronnie Lane's Multiple Sclerosis Charity."

Bill Wyman
"Nicky Hopkins was probably the greatest piano player I ever performed with, both for his many years working with the Rolling Stones, and recording with him later for the Rhythm Kings and at charity concerts. He was a genius. I visited his home in San Francisco, and during ‘Exile On Main Street’ sessions in the South of France, he would stay at my house. Once in Olympic Studios, Ian Stewart played Nicky & I the first track of the new Delaney & Bonnie album, and Nicky went into the studio and played the entire thing perfectly after just one hearing. Ian Stewart turned to me and said, ”That's what I don’t like about Nicky Hopkins.""

Bob Harris
"When Nicky sat at the piano, each take would be breathtaking and each one different from the last. He was a truly creative and dedicated musician, modest, quiet, wonderful to work with and never given to overstatement... all his work had an indefinable magic that shines out of the grooves."

Benmont Tench III
"I’m seldom at a loss for words, but today I’ve realized how deep Nicky goes in my musical heart — I really wouldn’t be, at all, the same pianist had I never listened to him. And I just can’t really do him justice with any kind of bons mots, so I think my tribute to him will continue to be in my playing."

Yoko Ono
"I can not believe he’s not here anymore. When he played Jealous Guy, we all cried. He was a genius. With love, Yoko Ono Lennon."

Just for the record, I was also interviewed about the bench on BBC Radio 4's "Saturday Live" show just after 10am. It was heartening to learn that several Rolling Stones and Nicky Hopkins fans and some locals showed up for the unveiling because they heard about it from the interview! (1h3m28s)

Here is Nicky's official Facebook Page: 

And this is his official Twitter account:

Media coverage:
Some notable tweets:
  • Keith Richards:
    "Nicky Hopkins Memorial “Piano” Park Bench unveiling is Sat, Sept 8 at noon in Perivale Park, Ealing. Donations for the Nicky Hopkins Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music (where Nicky studied) can be made here:
    "To my very best friend, Nicky" - Keith"

Thursday 14 June 2018

The Day I Finally Met Belsen Survivor, Tomi Reichental

Talking about Belsen with Tomi Reichental in Cambridge
Ever since publishing Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp - A Personal Account by my late father, Leonard Berney in 2015, I've been very aware of everything Belsen-related happening online and especially on Twitter. So I had seen many articles, videos and TV appearances about Dublin-based Belsen Survivor, Tomi Reichental who was a child at Belsen. But we just had never bumped into each other at any of the many Holocaust-related events I've attended over the past three years.

So I decided to get in touch with him and found out he happened to be delivering a talk about his Belsen experience at the Cambridge Union, the world's oldest continuously running debating society on Thursday 14th June 2018. At last, this was a chance for me to hear him talk and to meet him!

When we met just before his talk, he seemed very pleased to meet me and I was certainly very pleased to meet him! His talk really made you understand what it was like being Jewish and a child during the Holocaust, and what it was like being at Belsen at such a young age. It was very moving.

After the talk, I was so honoured that he wanted to sit and talk with me; we chatted for over an hour! We agreed to keep in touch and I very much look forward to seeing him again soon.

Tomi Reichental delivering his Belsen talk

Tomi wearing his Star of David as he was forced to do by the Nazis

I was so honoured to meet Tomi!

At the main entrance of the Cambridge Union with Tomi
Read about my meeting with another Belsen survivor, Gena Turgel, in 2015:
Daily Mail Online: British soldier fell in love with Jewish inmate at Belsen concentration camp

Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp (eBook Kindle edition)
by (former) Lt-Colonel Leonard Berney R.A. T.D., edited by John Wood, Forewords by Major-General Nicholas Eeles CBE, Nanette Blitz Konig, Introduction by Joshua Oppenheimer

Tuesday 22 May 2018

I got recognised as the "Monty Python guy" by the lead singer of CODA!

Peter Byrne as Robert Plant
I was walking back home from East Grinstead a few weeks ago when this chap in the street said, "Hi, I recognise you - aren't you the Monty Python guy?"

He later identified himself as Peter Byrne, that is to say, Robert Plant in the Led Zeppelin tribute band "CODA". Well, I was chuffed to be recognised!

So I listened to some CODA. They are great! Sound just like the real thing!

Great to meet you Peter - you made my day. Glad you're a Python fan too!

You can find CODA online here:

Monday 12 February 2018

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 in Geneva with Holocaust Survivor Eva Schloss

My late father, Belsen liberator Leonard Berney, found talking about Belsen very painful immediately after the war. My mother tells me it was a totally taboo subject at home.

Luckily for him, and us, about 40 years after the war ended, he started to talk about it. I assume he found the experience cathartic because he talked about it increasingly as the years went by. I remember him first telling me about it, and my realisation that he had played a pivotal role in a very important moment in history, albeit a highly unpleasant and traumatic one for all concerned.

He eventually wrote a book about his experience at Belsen; his account of the camp's liberation, called Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp - A Personal Account. He also started to deliver lectures about his experience and even appeared in two very important Holocaust documentaries in which he was interviewed about liberating the camp: Night Will Fall and No Asylum.

I noticed that, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, a screening of No Asylum (which is about Anne Frank's father's struggle and ultimate failure to get his family out of Holland as the war was approaching) was taking place in Geneva. So I contacted the producer of the documentary, Paula Fouce to ask if I could attend, as Geneva is only a one-hour flight away for me. She told me that the screening would be attended by Eva Schloss, Anne Frank's step sister, who herself was an Auschwitz survivor. Paula also told me that the day after the screening, there would be a special Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in the United Nations General Assembly Hall during which Eva would give an account of her experience before, during and after her time in Auschwitz.

It was such an honour for me to be part of the screening and ceremony and to meet Eva, Paula and all concerned.

Here are a few photos of my time in Geneva for Holocaust Memorial Day.

With Paula Fouce, producer of No Asylum
With Her Excellency Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Representative of Israel
to the United Nations Office at Geneva
With Eva Schloss and her grandson Eric Schloss
Showing Eva and Eric Schloss dad's book
Liberating Belsen Concentration Camp - A Personal Account
Couldn't help noticing that the carper of the cinema was the same as appears in
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining!

A video message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres
Eva Schloss giving her keynote address
Former laureates of the Menuhin Competition, violinists Dmitry Smirnov and Anne Luisa Kramb
with pianist Gordon Black, Artistic Director of the Menuhin Competition performing
J.S. Bach, Bloch and Bartók
Everybody wanted a piece of Eva!

Joe Stevens, Eva Schloss and Paula Fouce under the
magnificent United Nations emblem
In front of the iconic Allée des Nations, United Nations Office at Geneva

Sunday 11 February 2018

Our Visit to Charlie Chaplin's World, Geneva

Gemma on our way into Chaplin's World, Geneva
While in Geneva for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, Gemma and I had the chance to visit Charlie Chaplin's family home which was recently turned into a museum called Charlie Chaplin World. We loved it and felt we had really been invited into his personal life. I found the experience very moving. What a lovely man he was. Here is a selection of photos of our day in Charlie Chaplin's World.

Chaplin's World has its very own bus stop 
Manoir de Ban, Charlie Chaplin's family home

Gemma with Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush
Gemma getting a trim from Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator
Gemma with the blind girl in City Lights
The recreation of this scene from The Great Dictator was directly relevant to the
reason we were in Geneva - Holocaust Memorial Day 2018
Charlie Chaplin's tramp costume
With Edna Purviance in The Immigrant
Gemma with Charlie Chaplin in the police station in Modern Times
Gemma breaking out of her prison cell in Modern Times
Gemma on the phone in Modern Times
Gemma in Chalie Chaplin's tramp costume
Gemma in Adenoid Hynkel's costume in The Great Dictator
Gemma as the policeman in Easy Street
Charlie Chaplin's two Oscars
Charlie Chaplin's original hat, cane and boots