Bertie Higgins

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Bertie Higgins
Birth nameElbert Joseph Higgins
Born (1944-12-08) December 8, 1944 (age 76)
OriginTarpon Springs, Florida, United States
GenresCountry, pop, soft rock
  • Singer-songwriter
  • actor
  • producer
  • director
Years active1981–present

Elbert Joseph "Bertie" Higgins (born December 8, 1944)[1] is an American singer-songwriter.[2] In 1982, Higgins had a top 40 album with Just Another Day in Paradise. It spawned the hit song "Key Largo", which referenced the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall film of the same name and reached No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and No. 50 on the Billboard Country chart. In 2009, it was ranked No. 75 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.

Early career[edit]

Higgins was raised in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and is of Portuguese, Irish and German descent. He once supported himself as a sponge diver, and 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 has stated that he is related to German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.[3]

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, and he 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) and 2012's The Colombian Connection, starring Tom Sizemore and "Christmas in Hollywood". He was 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 Entertainers' Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2017 Higgins was knighted in a ceremony in Los Angeles, received an honorary PhD (doctorate) from Hannover University, and was inducted into both the Mozart and Beethoven societies. In 2019 he was also inducted in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame along with such notables as Ernest Hemingway. This is a legislative decision and will be displayed on the wall of the state capitol in Tallahassee, FL.[citation needed]

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. In 2020, the country of China and the general population voted on the ten most important songs ever in the world. Higgins' "Casablanca" was included in this top ten list along with other standards of the 18th 19th, and 20th centuries as one of the most important songs in the history of music.



Year Album US AUS[4] Label
1982 Just Another Day in Paradise 38 32 Epic
1983 Pirates and Poets  —  — Kat Family/CBS
1985 Gone With the Wind  —  — CBS (Japan) (available on vinyl only)
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
2003 Island Bound  —  — Sony
2007 The Ultimate Collection (compilation)  —  — Madacy
2008 A Buccaneer's Diary  —  — Key Largo
2008 The Essential Playlist (compilation)  —  — 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 (compilation with 1 new song)  —  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2014 Cowboys of the Caribbean (compilation with 4 new songs)  —  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2015 The World's Greatest Lover (compilation with 3 new songs)  —  — Huayi Brothers Media (the Pacific Rim including China)
2015 Dancing in the Tradewinds (compilation with 1 new song)  —  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2016 Gold From My Treasure Chest (compilation)  —  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2016 Scrap Book (early recordings)  —  — Toucan Cove/Universal
2016 Forever Casablanca  —  — Huayi Brothers Media (the Pacific Rim including China)
2019 Wanted  —  — Toucan Cove/Universal (digital only)


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US AC US US Country CAN AC CAN CAN Country AUS[4]
1981 "Key Largo" 1 8 50 1 3 34 2 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  —  —  —  —
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"  —  —  —  —  —  —
2017 "Son of a Beach"  —  —  —  —  —  —

Music videos[edit]

Year Video
1982 "Key Largo"
1983 "When You Fall In Love"
"Pirates And Poets"
2008 "The Flag's on Fire"
2011 "Casablanca"
2018-19 "Several videos of tours of China and other Pacific Rim performances"


  1. ^ "BBC — Music — Bertie Higgins". BBC Online. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  2. ^ "Singer Songwriter Bertie Higgins Appears Monday At Pazzazz Lounge". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Sarasota, Florida, USA: Diane McFarlin. December 16, 1983. p. 90. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  3. ^ "Bertie Higgins", Orlando Sentinel. November 9, 1986. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 138. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]