Updated: Jan 11
“I remember when rock was young”
... the opening line of an iconic song and the moment that Riviera Organisation was conceived if not yet born.
It was January 1990 in a packed New Orleans karaoke bar in the French quarter. I was a young late-night radio presenter on holiday, and I was having a blast. The crowd went crazy (or so I thought) and, to quote another famous lyric by Elton John, “I’d finally found where my future lay”.
As I soaked up the mock applause at the end of my first ever karaoke experience, I challenged myself to create the same excitement, the same thrill, the same emotions in my adopted home of the French Riviera where karaoke was still a relatively new and unknown concept.
Of course, it was never going to be easy and we did our fair share of empty bars and late-night basement clubs. Our best clients were paying us with meal vouchers, which was great for making friends but not much help paying the bills.
Despite humble facilities, we went within a whisker of going bust, which at times seemed a slightly more attractive proposition than listening to another tuneless rendition of "Let It Be" with a heavy French accent.