Who is the real Leslie? A question asked by many, an answer known by few. Countless individuals have suspected it to be the stage name of someone belonging to one of the greatest rock groups with the name Leslie in the title. However, the original Leslie is someone else entirely. We must cast our minds back.
The year is 1965; across the pond American President Lyndon B. Johnson has passed the Voting Rights Act in America in an attempt to prevent discrimination in voting practises. Back in Blighty, Goldie the golden eagle escapes from London Zoo’s clutches for a whole twelve days, and someone says ‘fuck’ on British television for the first time. Additionally, The Rolling Stones can’t get no satisfaction, The Lovin’ Spoonful ask everyone if they believe in magic and The Animals are desperate to get out of a place unknown to everyone not belonging to the band.
It is indeed a tumultuous period driven by the geopolitical tensions between the Soviet Union and the USA, as well as The Vietnam War and peaceful movements contesting both.
What better way to relieve this mounting tension than with a bit of light comedy? Throw in a few international stars such as Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon, Natalie Wood and the chap who played Columbo all having a pie fight? Sure thing…that will do the trick! What could possibly be the name of this cinematic extravaganza I hear you ask? The answer, of course, is ‘The Great Race’. A film created by the marvellous Blake Edwards, who achieved success with other motion pictures such as Breakfast At Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther series, The Great Race was initially a flop.
Fast-forward forty odd years or so and The Great Race was in fact a hit, in my house, with my family. It is hard for me to know when I first experienced this masterpiece of movie making, as I think I may have watched it somewhere in the region of three million times, but it is fair to say that regardless of when it was, it has become one of mine and my brother’s favourite films of all time.
The film itself was headed up by the brilliantly talented Jack Lemon who played Professor Fate, a fantastically funny antagonist, determined to thwart the protagonist, played by Tony Curtis, a smart, debonair, handsome, daredevil, who went by the name of…wait for it…The Great Leslie. What an absolute bombshell. The real and original Leslie was Tony Curtis!
Having said this, I like to think that the title should be passed on, a bit like royalty, or James Bond. Tony Curtis was indeed the original Leslie, but The Great Leslie never dies. To paraphrase the 1960 film Spartacus (also starring Tony Curtis) “I am Leslie!”. And so is each one of my band mates. We are all The Great Leslie provided we are one, as “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” (Aristotle).
To conclude, The Great Leslie is a metaphysical, royal, Bond-like, Spartacus-esque being, originally in the guise of a man called Tony Curtis and now personified by an upcoming alternative rock band from London. I hope this simple explanation finally clears up the many questions we have been receiving.
Peace and love be upon you all, now and always.
I am most honourably, Oliver Trevers, aka. The Great Leslie