Bertie Higgins

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Bertie Higgins
Birth name Elbert Joseph Higgins
Born (1944-12-08) December 8, 1944 (age 69)
Origin Tarpon Springs, Florida
Genres Country, pop, soft rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Years active 1982–present
Labels Kat Family, Epic
Website Official website

Elbert Joseph "Bertie" Higgins (born December 8, 1944,[1] Tarpon Springs, Florida) is an American singer-songwriter.[2] In 1982, he had his only Top 40 album with Just Another Day in Paradise. It spawned the Top 10 romantic ballad "Key Largo", which referenced the Humphrey Bogart movie of the same name and reached #8 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 record chart, number one in the adult contemporary charts, and a country hit as well. In 2009, his song was #75 on VH1's Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80's. He also became a multi-platinum recording artist in the Pacific Rim countries including Japan and China due to the mega-hit, "Casablanca". He also charted with other singles, but had no other Top 40 songs after "Key Largo."

Career[edit]

Higgins is of Irish, German, and Portuguese descent; he is a direct descendant of the German author Johann Wolfgang Goethe.[3][4][5][6][7][8] Like his great, great grandfather, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet who penned "Faust", Bertie Higgins is a storyteller. He was born Elbert Joseph Higgins of Portuguese, Irish and German descent and raised in the picturesque Greek community of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Bertie is an intellectual romantic who loves to paint story songs about living and loving in a tropical paradise.

His love songs explore the efforts of man trying to fathom the mystery and allure of woman. His fantasy songs deal with the beauty and sensuality of the tropics and his story songs combine past experiences and future hopes. The resounding theme throughout Bertie's work: "Make the best of today lest tomorrow never comes".

Bertie, who once supported himself as a sponge diver, began his career in show business at the age of twelve as a ventriloquist. He won top prizes in local talent contests and became a favorite at school assemblies around Tampa Bay. Two years later, a battered set of drums forced a career change and Bertie set off to follow the back beat heard around the world -- Rock and Roll.

His first band played proms, homecoming dances and sock hops. After graduating Tarpon Springs High School, Bertie enrolled in St. Petersburg Junior College to study journalism and fine art, but the music continued to sing in his heart. He eventually left college and became drummer for the Tommy Roe band (Sheila, Dizzy), The Roemans, During this period, the band toured the world, starring alongside the Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, Manfred Mann, Peter and Gordon, The Dave Clark Five and many more. At the height of Beatlemania, Bertie was playing with and learning from the best.

Tiring of the rigors of the road and yearning to make his own musical statement, Bertie left The Roemans and returned home to Florida. He put down his drumsticks, picked up a guitar and began crafting music and lyrics. It was a time of great satisfaction and personal release. Producers such as Bob Crewe (The Four Seasons), Phil Gernhard (Lobo), and Felton Jarvis (Elvis) took an interest and contributed to the growth of the young songwriter. Bertie's talent flourished and he was in demand to play venues throughout the state.

Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens and Jimmy Buffet were Bertie's primary sources of inspiration and he remains friends with them today. During this period, he also met and became a protégé of the actor/director, Burt Reynolds, who saw Bertie's writing potential and tutored him in screen writing.

In 1980, Bertie moved to Atlanta and met record producer, Sonny Limbo. Sonny had played a role in developing the group Alabama and had been instrumental in the careers of several others. He arranged that fateful meeting between Bertie and music publisher, Bill Lowery, whom Bertie had known through Tommy Roe. The meeting of these three was destiny waiting to happen.

Bertie had been working on a song about a personal failed romance. He presented the rough cut to Bill and Sonny. They helped him perfect the lyrics of the song that became Key Largo. Bertie recorded the master and presented it to Kat Family records, a newly formed CBS/Sony distributing company. At first they rejected it. After persistent badgering by Bertie, Bill and Sonny, Kat Family finally agreed to release the single in 1981 and pop music history was made.

Key Largo blew a hole in the U.S. charts. When it reached number one in the nation, the world took notice and it went on to become an international hit. Other hit singles followed like Just Another Day in Paradise, Casablanca and Pirates and Poets. Casablanca became Song of the Year in all of the Pacific Rim and the album hit multiple platinum. Bertie Higgins became an international recording star literally overnight. Bertie has just completed his seventeenth CD entitled, “THE VERY BEST OF TROP ROCK” and was released in early 2014 and recently had a number one and number two single on the UK and European charts.

For the past several years, Bertie and his excellent band have toured extensively around the globe. He has received rave reviews and accolades from the music industry and his fans alike. He is named in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and displayed in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon. Besides being the consummate stage performer, songwriter and vocalist, he is an accomplished screenwriter/novelist and actor. Bertie has owned a successful restaurant in the Florida Keys, written music for David Letterman, Burt Reynolds, Nancy Wilson and many others. He has made numerous TV talk show and music variety show appearances around the world and continues to be invited back again and again. After a successful tour of Mainland China, he performed in 2012 with Michael Bolton during international and Chinese New Year’s on two television shows from Beijing including the New Year’s gala. The performances were viewed by and audience of two billion people worldwide. Bertie continues to tour on a regular basis in the Pacific Rim including mainland China.

Bertie served on the board of governors of the Atlanta Chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammy Awards) for several years. Besides maintaining a rigorous schedule of one-nighters, he also makes regular appearances on the fabulous Las Vegas strip.

Bertie seriously supports several national charity organizations. Hospice, The American Cancer Society, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America are just a few. He regularly makes appearances and participates in several charitable national golf tournaments and donates his time and talent. He lives by the credo "you must give some back", and takes the commitment very seriously.

An ongoing project in his home state of Florida is the preservation of fragile endangered wildlife, particularly the brown pelican and other sea birds. He works closely with zoologist, Ralph Heath of the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Redington Shores, FL, and has organized and performed at several fund raisers to benefit that great organization. He has also been actively involved in preserving Florida's rapidly deteriorating lighthouses and was instrumental in helping restore the one on Anclote Key near his hometown of Tarpon Springs.


Higgins' musical career began with a teenage band, "The Romans" (later changed to "The Roemans"), which signed to ABC-Paramount Records in the early 1960s, and was temporarily backing singer Tommy Roe, hence the change of spelling from Romans. The band released five singles between 1964 and 1966. These achieved some radio airplay but did not reach any national charts.[8]

His eldest son, Damian Higgins, who goes by the moniker Dieselboy, is a drum and bass DJ, producer and label head (Human Imprint).

In recent years, Higgins has moved into film production with his two other sons, Julian Higgins and Aaron Higgins, producing Beast Beneath (distributed by Entertainment One), a biker film, Poker Run,(also distributed by Entertainment One) which was released in 2009 and The Colombian Connection starring Tom Sizemore in 2012. "Chistmas in Hollywood" has just been completed and he is in the middle of filming, a docudrama on the creation of Rock and Roll, the sound that changed the world featuring Bill Haley and the Comets. Higgins also co-wrote the screenplays, supervised the music and acted in major roles in all four films.[7][9] He has become a major star in the Pacific Rim countries, including a great deal of success in Mainland China. He recently also had a number one and number two hit on the UK and European charts.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

2014 2014

Year Album US Label
1982 Just Another Day in Paradise 38 Epic
1983 Pirates & Poets  — Kat Family/CBS
1985 Gone With the Wind  — CBS (Japan)
1991 Back to the Island  — Polydor (Japan)
1994 Back to the Island  — Southern Tracks (different track listing than above album)
1999 Trop Rock  — Key Largo
2002 Island Bound  — Sony
2007 The Ultimate Collection  — Madacy
2008 A Buccaneer's Diary  — Key Largo
2008 The Essential Playlist"  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2009 Captiva  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2012 Year of the Dragon  — Toucan Cove/Universal
Bertie Higgins, Live  — Toucan Cove/Universal
The Very Best of Trop Rock  — Toucan Cove/Universal

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions RIAA Album
US AC US US Country CAN AC CAN CAN Country
1981 "Key Largo" 1 8 50 1 3 34 Gold Just Another Day in Paradise
1982 "Just Another Day in Paradise" 10 46 90 12  —  —  —
1982 "Casablanca"  —  —  —  —  —  —  —
1982 "Port O Call"  —  —  —  —  —  —  —
1983 "When You Fall in Love" 34  —  —  —  —  —  — Pirates and Poets
1983 "Pirates and Poets"  —  —  —  —  —  —  —
1983 "Tokyo Joe"  —  —  —  —  —  —  —
1988 "You Blossom Me"  —  — 72  —  —  —  — singles only
1989 "Homeless People"  —  — 75  —  —  —  —

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC — Music — Bertie Higgins". BBC Online. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Singer Songwriter Bertie Higgins Appears Monday At Pazzazz Lounge". Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Florida, USA: Diane McFarlin). 16 December 1983. p. 90. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Singer Bertie Higgins to perform". The Cedartown Standard (Cedartown, Georgia, USA). 12 July 1990. p. 3A. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  4. ^ Atkins, Tony (16 October 1982). "Bertie Higgins Finds Success". Daytona Beach Morning Journal (Daytona Beach, Florida, USA). p. 34. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Bertie's Biography". Official Website of Bertie Higgins. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "'Trop Rocker ' performs at annual music event". Gadsden Times (Gadsden, Alabama, USA). 12 May 1999. p. 23. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Reeves, Terri Bryce (16 July 2009). "Tarpon Springs' Bertie Higgins of 'Key Largo' fame joins son to make a horror flick". St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida, USA: Times Publishing Company). Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Miller, Zell (1996). They heard Georgia singing. Mercer University Press. p. 138. ISBN 0-86554-504-9. 
  9. ^ "Poker Run on IMDB"

External links[edit]