The truth behind the smash hit “Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins. That blockbuster song has a back story and so does the music video and this is the truth about how that all happened. There is a truth or a behind the scenes or back story to every single song written and music video created. Let’s go inside the song together and discover the where, what, when and how’s of this song and music video.
EXAMINER recently sat down with Bertie Higgins to talk to him about his 1980’s hit, “KEY LARGO, ” about where the song came from and how the music video was created for that song. We also wanted to know more about his female co-star in that music video.
EXAMINER (EX): You got your first record deal in Atlanta right?
BERTIE HIGGINS (BH): Right.
EX: They released your first album and was your first single “Key Largo?”
EX: What was it like basically going from obscurity to instant fame in what seems like overnight?
BH: It scared the hell out of me.
EX: (Laughter) What was that like?
BH: That is just it, I had always played at little Cafes with my acoustic guitar on the stage doing a few of my original songs at the time, I also covered Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Simon and Garfunkel and I had a pretty strong following and I was making a decent living. Before that we had a rock band called the Roeman’s and we toured with Tommy Roe in England. I was a drummer at that time. I was 17 or 18 years old and I realized that I was becoming too relaxed about my situation in Florida. Oddly enough, I went to a concert which I rarely went to concerts. I don’t even listen to much music, I just create it. I don’t like to get influenced to what I am doing. I went to a concert at Tampa Stadium alone. I was standing in the middle of the field, it was the Eagles with Jimmy Buffet opening for them. About half way through it I thought to myself, you can do this. This is what you want but you are not going to do it out of Tampa Bay. You are going to have to leave your area to make it so I walked away. I moved to Atlanta. I literally starved for 18 months and then all of a sudden I had this huge hit record. That move to Atlanta was really good for me.
EX: Now when you say you moved to Atlanta, you were living there for 18 months when the song hit, then did you go back to Florida?
BH: I did. I went back and bought a home on the river.
EX: At that time were you married?
BH: No but I got married. I wrote “Key Largo,” for my girlfriend at the time. We had split up and she heard it on the radio and she came back to me.
EX: So the song got you the lady back?
EX: Is she the mother of your children?
BH: Two of them.
EX: Key Largo went to #1 on the adult contemporary charts. The video got a lot of plays on video channels on TV?
BH: Yes, before it was released , other record companies and producers offered to buy the song from me but I said no.
EX: What was the record label you were signed to in Atlanta?
BH: A little label called Kat Family.
EX: It sounds like you kind of made this happen for yourself.
BH: Kat Family was distributed by CBS Sony so small fish big pond.
EX: Right, you really need the distribution.
BH: I played in Saudi Arabia one year and I went into record stores and my albums were on the shelf, then I walked into a record store the next month in Singapore and see my albums are on the shelf there as well. CBS/Sony has the greatest distribution in the world.
EX: What was it like hearing yourself for the first time on the radio?
BH: It was pretty intense. I will be honest with you.
EX: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing?
BH: I was in Atlanta and I called my mother crying. She said who died? I said Nana banana, they are playing my song on the radio in Atlanta and they are also playing it all over the United States. I said I think I am finally onto something. I was so pleased with it.
EX: Were you on American Bandstand?
BH: Yes I was. It is on YouTube.
EX: Who produced the music video for Key Largo?
BH: That’s another story, my God. Basically, it was Andy Warhol’s director. He came down from New York to direct the video. It is a cute video. We shot it off the coast of my home town of Tarpon Springs; in fact the boat that I am in is my brother in laws boat. The director went to Tarpon Springs High School and pulled that girl out of the senior class.
EX: No way.
BH: Yeah. He said, “Who wants to be in the Bertie Higgins Key Largo Video?” A bunch of hands went up but she didn’t put her hand up. He went up to her and said, I think you are perfect. She said, “No, I don’t want to do this.” He said what? She said, “I don’t want to do.” So we went to her mother and father and they talked her into it.
EX: She was a high school senior?
BH: Yeah. Patty Wolfe is her name. She looks unhappy through the majority of the video because we were supposed to be split up in the song. She was supposed to brighten up at the end of it because we were supposed to be falling back in love but we didn’t have enough time left on the shoot to get to that point. She did a wonderful job. I was appearing on a local TV show in Tampa Bay about 6 months ago promoting a benefit for the family of a Tarpon Springs police officer that had been shot and killed on duty. So I am sitting there being interviewed and all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I see someone walking onto the set. I am wondering what this is. Up walks Patty thirty years later and I recognized her instantly. It blew me away.
EX: You had not seen her since the Key Largo video shoot?
BH: I have had a lot of emails over the years asking me about that girl and who she was but no, I hadn’t seen her since the video shoot.
The interview continued on as Bertie Higgins spoke about the wonderful reunion he had with Patty, the mystery girl from the Key Largo video. He shared with us a photo of him and Patty during this reunion. Bertie Higgins is out and about performing all over the world and is currently being taken good care of by Sissy Treat of 615 Entertainment. Make sure to visit his website and like him on Facebook to get updates and current news about him. You can find and download a country version of ‘Key Largo” off of Higgins CD called Cowboys of the Caribbean at iTunes or Amazon.
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