Gary Horrocks came to talk on Judy Garland at Warwick University and I grabbed him briefly to discuss fandom and Judy Garland; how he became a Judy Garland fan; and how he eventually went on to run The International Judy Garland Fan Club and become editor of, first, The Rainbow Review, which originated in 1963, and, more recently, Judy Garland: A Celebration.
Judy Garland is famous for starring in some of the most renown and celebrated films of all time: The Wizard of Oz (1939), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), A Star is Born (1954); films which are seen and re-seen, from generation to generation; films which for some become totems through which to make sense of their lives and the world they live in: ‘what is it to have a heart?,’ I’ve heard children ask their mothers after watching The Wizard of Oz, and children ask a deeper, more complex and philosophical question than most adults do when using the same words.
Aside from her film work, Garland also appeared regularly on radio when that was at its peak in the ‘40s, she made dozens and dozens of albums, had her own television variety show and gave thousands of live performances in concert, some, such as the Carnegie Hall concert from ’61, so legendary that Rufus Wainwright re-interpreted it in 2006 and toured with for several years after. Since her 1951 performances at The Palladium to her last ones at The Talk of The Town in ’69, The UK was fundamental to her success.
In the podcast below, Gary talks of how The Judy Garland Club’s journal has been used as a primary source of research in biographies. The Rainbow Review, which was started in 1963 by Lorna Smith, and ran for over 100 issues is a mine of information and the club has kept every letter from every fan, many now sadly deceased. Fans also meticulously kept every newspaper article, review, etc., all of which the club has kept, filed and curated. The club also filmed interviews with people who’d met her, and this now amounts to over 400 hours of footage.
In 1998 Gary Horrocks was invited to take over the editorship of the The Rainbow Review, which eventually evolved into Judy Garland: A Celebration. There are now members from all over the world. They’ve recently produced a documentary on the 1957 Dominion show based on the archives, written by Gary Horrocks and created by Andy Warrington. The actor/comedian/author Tony Hawks is narrator.
The documentary can be accessed here:
In 2019 the Club is publishing its next journal with an extensive contribution from its founder Lorna Smith, alongside iJUDY – its online newsletter. More information on the club can be found at: www.Judygarlandclub.org.
The conversation, which can be listened to above, touches on I Could Go on Singing, Judy’s first UK tour, the appearances at the Dominion, the cult of Dorothy, her recordings at Abbey Road, the importance attached to her sincerity, and the various types of Judy fandom: ‘Some fans say I don’t like that version of Judy or I prefer the 60’s version. Or they say, ‘I don’t do Dorothy’. People approach her in different ways. There’s lots of friction amongst the fan community due to a sense of ownership around her. She gave the impression that she was singing just for you. Again I come back to ‘sincerity’. Her flame seems to get brighter every year.
4 thoughts on “José Arroyo in Conversation with Gary Horrocks”
What an interesting interview with Gary Horrocks. I like Judy increased by my added interest because of her film I COULD GO ON SINGING with Dirk Bogarde. I had no idea of the wealth of information the fan club has archived and about the film. Thanks for this.
Lovely to hear!
Nice interview. I really like what he said about the lasting appeal of Garland’s talent.
However, Horrocks is dead wrong when he says they haven’t published a journal “for about a year or so.” When the next issue comes out (allegedly in 2019) it will have been SIX years since the last issue (the Australia issue he mentions) – yet the club still takes the annual membership renewals with the promise of providing one journal per year plus some email newsletters. The club used to promise two issues per year but couldn’t keep up and when called on it they didn’t refund any monies but changed what people received, then changed it again. There is still no clear guidance about that – yet they’re quick to remind people to renew!
In that time between issues, they’ve had a “Judy in Beverly” (England) “even” and Horrocks has spoken at a few events. But that’s about it. So the club is, right now, not really a club at all and aside from their publication, not really needed. Social media has taken over and unless they update their website to make it interactive, they’re going to fold. He mentioned 400 odd hours of interviews with people, just like the “ownership” issues some fans have that he mentions, the club has released maybe 1 or 2 percent of that. For an extra fee, of course.
I doubt very much that in its present state, Judy Garland would give her blessing on the club as she did in 1963.