Larry passed away on Saturday July 2nd 2011, aged 85.

"He was the greatest friend, teacher and stage partner that I could ever have wished for. As Pearly King of Thornton Heath he raised funds for many charities and represented the Pearlies with dignity, humour and a wealth of talent from magic to balloon modelling. As a magician, he was a member of the inner Magic Circle and had a wealth of knowledge about Houdini, doing his own escapes act which I was proud to be his assistant for and was the first time we worked together. As a professional actor, he was a founding member of Equity and proudly held Life Membership. He will be sorely missed by many, including myself and more importantly his family (his wife Irene and daughter Katie). He was a character, of which there are few these days. Generous to all he encountered, helping anyone he could with props, costumes and magic tricks. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge on all things and will be well remembered for being a gentleman, with his hat, walking stick and pipe. Our act was called Champagne and Smoke for obvious reasons. It is the final curtain for Larry but I am sure he will still watch over those he cared for and be there on the stage that he loved so much." LOLA.

His funeral was attended by a host of London's Pearlies, and was reported on ITV London News. http://youtu.be/tyOAqv2XyG4

Here's some video of Larry and Lola at the Hackney Empire http://youtu.be/XpjSt1kcKO8

CHAMPAGNE
AND SMOKE
A MUSIC HALL MADE FOR TWO
Lola McDowell

Larry Barnes
lola@champagneandsmoke.co.uk
07931 565689

NEW - Video clips
On Aussie TV April 2011
Live at the Grosvenor, June 2009
Balloons
Houses in between
Lambeth Walk

 
BARNES, LARRY: "The Viceroy of Versatility"
This subscript is the only one between these covers devised by the present chronicler, for Mr Barnes is a personal friend and colleague of many years' standing. The artiste, who, by the by, is Pearly King of Thornton Heath, lays good claim to being a guitarist, a magician, a paper tearer, a balloon modeller, a lightning sketch artist, an escapologist, and a Music Hall singer whose repertoire extends to nigh on a hundred titles! Mr Barnes is also no mean actor, having, during his lengthy and varied career, graced many a legitimate enterprise. We are proud to have supplied this remarkable performer with an appellation which is as just as it is appropriate.
The Magic Circular: 20th December 2004
A MUSIC HALL MADE FOR TWO
-LARRY BARNES
Reviewed by Alan Blythe
On this Monday evening the irrepressible Larry Barnes - Pearly King of Thornton Heath - and the lovely Lola McDowell - Pearly Princess of the same place - took on the roles of 'Champagne & Smoke' to take us back to the good old days of Olde Tyme Music Hall with a little bit of magic thrown in. It was really a music hall made for three because of the big role played by the musical accompaniment which was provided by the expert keyboard playing of Laurence Payne. Larry came on stage, to act as Master of Ceremonies, resplendent in full evening dress complete with top hat. He set the mood for the evening by getting the audience to join in with the chorus of 'Daisy Bell'. Then he introduced us to the splendiferous voice and charms of Lola.
Lola warned us, in song, of the seductive effects of a glass of champagne which she poured from the folds of a newspaper; after taking several sips from the glass she steadily succumbed to the effects of the amber liquid. Eventually the bouquet in her hand became a baby in her arms. She then came down into the audience to present the baby to a man who she claimed was the father of the child.
Larry sang his own version of 'A Little Bit of String' whilst cutting and restoring it and throwing the knots into the audience. He then led us into the gambling world with the ever popular 'Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo'. Blank pieces of paper became banknotes and a copious number of coins were plucked from the air and dropped into a champagne bucket.
He then became 'Smoke' singing 'If I Only Had a Match' suiting the actions to the lyrics - a cigar was produced from the air and lit from a flame produced from his fingertips.
Lola came back on stage, wearing long blonde hair, to lead the audience in the chorus of 'Her Gold Hair was Hanging down her Back' before Larry returned in his button covered Pearly King outfit and started a medley of popular Cockney songs. 'If it was not for the Houses in Between' was sung whilst he tore a newspaper to reveal a row of houses and rolled others to become a tree and a ladder which reached to the top of the proscenium arch.
Lola, now in her Pearly Princess clothes, sang a couple of songs, ending with 'I was only an Early Bird' whilst Larry modelled a bird on a perch out of a balloon.
Then a surprise guest artiste was introduced - who turned out to be none other than the 'one and only' Ali Bongo. Ali sang along with the tape of his own recording of 'Just a Little Touch of Magic', accompanying himself on the kazoo. The Pearly King and Princess finished the evening with Lola's rendition of 'My Old Man said Follow the Van'. That should've been the end but the audience would not let Larry and Lola go without an encore so they, along with Laurence at the keyboard, sang and danced 'The Lambeth Walk' with the audience joining in lustily.
We all then retired to the Club Room for a pre-Christmas drink of mulled wine and mince pies. Thank you Larry, Lola and Laurence for such an enjoyable evening of entertainment.

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