Bertie Higgins

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Bertie Higgins
Birth name Elbert Joseph Higgins
Born (1944-12-08) December 8, 1944 (age 71)
Origin Tarpon Springs, Florida
Genres Country, pop, soft rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter-Movie Actor-Producer-Director
Years active 1981–present
Labels Kat Family Records, Epic, Toucan Cove Universal Music
Website Official website

Elbert Joseph "Bertie" Higgins (born December 8, 1944,[1] Tarpon Springs, Florida) is an American singer-songwriter.[2] In 1982, Higgins had a Top 20 album with Just Another Day in Paradise. It spawned the #1 Billboard romantic classic ballad "Key Largo", which referenced the Humphrey Bogart movie of the same name and reached #5 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 record chart and #1 in the Billboard adult contemporary charts and #50 in the Billboard Country Music charts. Although Higgins has become an international multi-platinum recording artist, in 2009, the song "Key Largo" was #75 on VH1's Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.

Early career[edit]

Higgins, who is of Portuguese, Irish and German descent and once supported himself as a sponge diver, began his career in show business at the age of twelve as a ventriloquist. He won prizes in local talent contests and became a favorite at school assemblies around Tampa Bay, Florida.

Higgins' first band played proms, homecoming dances, and sock hops. After graduating Tarpon Springs High School, Higgins enrolled in St. Petersburg College to study journalism and fine art. He eventually left college and became a drummer for the Tommy Roe band and The Roemans, and played alongside such groups as The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys.

Tiring of the rigors of the road and yearning to make his own musical statement, Higgins left The Roemans and returned home to Florida. He put down his drumsticks, picked up a guitar and began crafting music and lyrics. Music producers such as Bob Crewe, Phil Gernhard, and Felton Jarvis took an interest in him and contributed to the growth of the young songwriter. Higgins' talent flourished and he was in demand to play venues throughout the state. During this period, he also met and became a protégé of actor/director Burt Reynolds, who saw Higgins' writing potential and tutored him in screenwriting.

Music career[edit]

In 1980, Higgins moved to Atlanta and met record producer Sonny Limbo. He arranged a meeting between Higgins and music publisher Bill Lowery, whom Higgins had known through Tommy Roe. Higgins had been working on a song about a failed romance and presented the rough cut to Lowery and Limbo. They helped him perfect the lyrics of the song that became "Key Largo". Higgins recorded the master and presented it to Kat Family Records, a newly formed CBS/Sony distributing company. After an initial rejection, Kat Family agreed to release the single. The song eventually landed in the Billboard pop charts at number eight and in the Billboard adult contemporary charts it reached number one. It also charted in the Billboard country charts. On the strength of the song's success, an album was released titled Just Another Day in Paradise. Other singles followed, such as "Just Another Day in Paradise", "Casablanca", and "Pirates and Poets", but none matched the success domestically of his breakout hit. (The song "Casablanca" went on to become a major hit in the Pacific Rim countries, and "Key Largo" reached number one status in Canada, Australia and other countries internationally.)

For the past several years, Higgins and his band have toured extensively around the globe. He was displayed in the now defunct Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon. Besides being a performer, songwriter and vocalist, he is an accomplished screenwriter/novelist and actor. Higgins has owned a successful restaurant in the Florida Keys and has 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. In 2012, following a successful tour of Mainland China, he performed alongside Michael Bolton on two television shows from Beijing including the New Year's gala. The performances were viewed by an audience of over a billion people worldwide. His numerous appearances on Chinese television and personal appearances have made him a major star in that country. In April 2015 he appeared with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the opening ceremonies of the Beijing International Film Festival performing his multi-platinum original song, "Casablanca". Higgins continues to tour on a regular basis in the Pacific Rim and domestically.

Higgins has served on the Board of Governors of the Atlanta Chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for several years. Besides maintaining a rigorous schedule of one-nighters, he also makes regular appearances on the Las Vegas strip.

In recent years, Higgins has moved into film production with his sons Julian and Aaron, producing Beast Beneath (distributed by Entertainment One), 2009's Poker Run (also distributed by Entertainment One), 2012's The Colombian Connection, starring Tom Sizemore and "Christmas in Hollywood". He is currently working on a documentary about the creation of Rock and Roll partially from the original bass player of Bill Haley and the Comets, Marshall Lytle's, book.

Higgins supports several national charitable organizations such as Hospice, The American Cancer Society, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He regularly participates in national golf tournaments for charity and supports The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary based in Florida whose primary mission is saving wounded seabirds.

In 2014, Higgins completed his twentieth CD entitled, "Cowboys of the Caribbean" distributed by Toucan Cove/Universal Music which spawned two number one country hits in the UK, Australia and Europe. He is being inducted into the Florida Music Hall of Fame with a lifetime achievement award in January, 2016 along with Jimmy Buffett, Julio Iglesias and Tom Petty. He was inducted into the Las Vegas Entertainer's Hall of Fame in 2013.

The song, "Key Largo" was featured several times on Late Night with David Letterman, Jeopardy, The Guiding Light and the feature film, "The Greatest" starring Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon. Jazz vocalist, Nancy Wilson recorded a version of the Bertie Higgins original song, "Casablanca" for Columbia records and Tina Turner added "Key Largo" to her concert repertoire. Pianist, Richard Clayderman also recorded an award winning version of "Casablanca". Many artists have recorded versions of Higgins' original songs.



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
2014 Bertie Higgins, Live  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2014 The Very Best of Trop Rock  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2014 Cowboys of the Caribbean  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2015 The World's Greatest Lover  — Huayi Brothers Media (the Pacific Rim including China)
2015 Dancing in the Tradewinds  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2016 Gold From My Treasure Chest  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2016 "Scrap Book  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2016 Forever Casablanca  — Huayi Brothers Media (the Pacific Rim including China)


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 Platinum Just Another Day in Paradise
1982 "Just Another Day in Paradise" 10 46 90 12  —  —  —
1982 "Casablanca"  —  —  —  —  — Multi-Platinum
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  —  —  —  —
2014 "Cowboys of the Caribbean"  —  —  —  —  —  —
2014 "Just Another Day in Paradise" (country version")  —  —  —  —  —  —
2014 "Key Largo" (country version)  —  —  —  —  —  —
2015 "The Flag's on Fire"  —  —  —  —  —  —
2015 "The World's Greatest Lover"  —  —  —  —  —  —


  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. 

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