The Olympics was held in Munich in 1972 while I was stationed in Paderborn. It was one of the highlights of my career to be playing at the “Schlussball” or closing ceremony ball at the end of those Olympics. At that time I was still a sergeant and percussionist and had not yet been promoted to be Trumpet Major. Our Band Master PB Smith had accepted the booking for our 7-piece dance band to be one of the many bands providing entertainment in parks and other venues in and around Munich during the Games but the Olympic “Schlussball” was by far the grandest occasion I had thus far participated in as a musician. The venue was a massive hall with an enormous stage. It was an entertainment extravaganza with a cast of international stars and German celebrities such as the renowned Cuban-German singer Roberto Blanco, Udo Jurgens, Roy Black and many others who were very popular in Europe in those days. There was an amazing carnival atmosphere with bands of different nationalities from around the world, such as Chilean pipers dressed in their colourful costumes, Austrian Drummers, Italians with impressive plume headdresses, Bavarians in lederhosen, Dutch girls dancing in dirndl skirts and clogs, and a varied programme including comedians and an excellent ventriloquist act. All the athletes who had competed in the games were there and although we worked hard it was a great privilege to play our small part in the overall entertainment. We had our own programme of numbers which we played but in addition to this, some of the solo artistes asked us to act as their backing band.Seeing the professionalism of these international stars and bands, in their performance, appearance and presentation, made a big impact on me. I wanted to take example from them. I loved all the showmanship and the costumes.
As a sportsman, I naturally was excited about being on the scene during the Olympic Games, but we didn’t see much of the sporting events while we were there because we were rehearsing along with the other bands in a great big hall where all the bands were set up on the stage and we were each given our allotted practice times. Nevertheless, I managed to watch as much as I could and the ones that stand out in my mind were the East German female sprinter Renata Stecher, who won golds in both the 100m and 200m, the sixteen year old West German schoolgirl Ulrike Meyfarth who was shock gold medallist in the high jump and the great Russian athlete, Valeri Borsov. I’ve never seen a sprinter so smooth and so relaxed as he was. I witnessed the great Kip Keino being beaten in the 1500m by Pekka Vasala of Finland and Finland’s Lasse Viren winning the 10,000m, Akii Bua of Uganda in his record-breaking 400m hurdles race and Avilov of Russia breaking the world record for the decathlon.
The entertainers’ role is to make people happy and make them forget any worries or bad feelings they may have. The Olympics is a bringing together of people from all over the world in harmony and happiness watching excellent athletic achievements. It is the spirit of the Olympic Games and so at these Olympics, our role as entertainers was particularly poignant because of the terrible events that had taken place in the Olympic Village earlier in these Games. Nine Israeli athletes were taken hostage at gunpoint by arab terrorists of the Black September movement and two athletes were killed while trying to resist. Seven more athlete-hostages and a policeman died later in the shootout that followed. Three surviving terrorists of the original eight were captured. This brutal act of terror shocked the world and clouded everyone’s enjoyment of the Games that they had come to watch. It made me change my attitude about the need for armed security protection at international sporting events with the attention of the world’s media on them. Innocent competitors and spectators need to have a massive security operation behind the scenes to prevent political activists from being able to highjack such an event for their own political purposes. I also felt disgusted that two American athletes (Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett) had also used the high profile of the event to further their political cause by turning their backs on the American flag while on the podium to receive their respective gold and silver medals for the men’s 400 metres race. Politics should never play a part in sport and I have always strongly believed this. Sadly it continues to do so, however.
If you want to know how I went on to achieve my ambitions in international sport and music around the globe, then click on the “follow” pop-up button at the bottom right hand corner of this page, and sign up, or follow me on my “Jane Joseph author” page on Facebook. Earlier parts of the story are also found on this website. If you want to find out what happened in my later life when I returned to help develop my birth country Guyana in South America, then order “The ElDorado Affair” by Jane Joseph ISBN 978-0-9932409-0-4 published by Sapodilla Press available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.co.uk, order it through Waterstones or your local book store via Nielsens teledata or read it in Kindle format ISBN 978-0-9932409-1-1 available worldwide on Amazon.com