From the Talking Bull archives…Lobo’s wistful exploration of unfulfilled dreams and the joy of the Great Outdoors is a fundamental part of visiting Edgar Street.
We may not hear those words every game but the tune remains instantly recognisable to every generation of supporters and let’s face it, we know much about unfulfilled dreams and the Great Outdoors in this county.
Lobo’s work is part of Edgar Street’s unique ambience. Together with our steady-state stadium, the swarms of mewling gulls and the same stewards in the same places. That’s not forgetting our other musical classics “American Pie” and “Hereford United, we all love you”. You won’t hear these tunes anywhere else. Be assured, you cynics, that is A Good Thing.
Decades before DC Comics went global with Lobo, their interstellar alien mercenary character, Florida-born Kent LaVoie sought a stage name and settled on the Spanish word for Wolf. By then, Kent was almost 30 years old. He was born in Florida in 1943, one of seven children brought up single-handedly by their mother.
Kent never knew his father though he did discover much later that he’d acquired his musical genes from his Dad who played in a band. He joined a group in 1961 and released his first record three years later. Naturally, there were years of grind ahead to establish his name as a solo singer/ songwriter and secure a recording contract. In 1971, sporting his new Lobo moniker, success with his debut single ‘Me and You and a Dog named Boo’ took everybody by surprise.
For United, the record release coincided with their status as the most famous /best club outside the Football League. We were the Manchester United of the Southern League, a major scalp for any opponent and, in a similar manner to the Old Trafford outfit, weakened ourselves by competing in too many minor tournaments.
Edgar Street was a sexy place to be, pulling in supporters and the curious from all over the county. ‘Me and You’ had its first airing in early 1971 which makes the tune older than the Len Weston stand. At that time, it was just another popular record. The song sold one million copies worldwide though British sales were more modest, only sufficient to reach no 4 in the UK charts. Even so, for a completely unknown East Coast Yank, boasting the fourth best-selling single was seriously impressive.
The sudden elevation to fame startled his recording company. They rushed out Lobo’s album as a cash- in measure without any pictures of the artist on the sleeve. Money shouts in America.
Why the song continued to be played well after its sell-by date is almost certainly down to PA announcer Don Cooke, Hereford’s answer to John Peel, admiring the record. Or all three as he was already slavishly spinning Don Mclean’s 1971 enigmatic ‘American Pie’. Danny Lee’s ‘Hereford United’ went on sale in August 1972 so it was added to the playlist. Danny performed live at Edgar Street but wasn’t well received. His ditty was a very, very slow burner, only eventually achieving a positive nostalgic status because of Don’s determination over many years.
As Stadium announcer Matt Healey explains when Don passed away in October 2011, his family wanted the song played at his funeral. Matt burned a copy on CD for Leon, Don’s son, only to learn to his horror the day before the funeral that the cd was corrupt and wouldn’t play. In a mad panic, Matt just found enough time to re-burn the CD and personally deliver it just hours before the ceremony. United marked his death with a minute’s silence before the Crawley match in November 2011 with Matt playing “Me and You” prior to the kick-off, at half-time and after the game. The song remains so closely associated with our former PA guru that, in his day job with Sunshine Radio, Matt remembers a text request for the Don Cooke song “Me & you & a dog named Boo”. And yes of course he played it.
Lobo’s career and United’s progress matches well. As the Whites rose through the Divisions, he continued to write and perform hit tunes. His best-known song ‘I’d love you to Want Me’ earned Lobo a gold disc and a highly respectable peak of fifth in the UK Charts and topping the US Charts. When Hereford started their rapid return to the Football League’s basement Division, Lobo’s earning potential was also in decline, though he continued to release albums. His final album – his 13th – was released in 2008.
Since then, Kent LaVoie left his stage name and live performances behind. At the age of 72, he lives in retirement in Florida. Naturally, he was astonished that an obscure British soccer club rubbing against the Welsh borders continues to introduce “Me and You” to new generations. Said he “It’s cool, really cool that after all these years, you’re still playing my music.”
Much of the enduring appeal of “Me and You” is the association with happier times and for the older generation especially, the song acts as a reminder of absent friends or family. For me, it invokes memories of my father – tall, fair-headed, inevitably garbed in a dark raincoat – as we shared the spectacle from the Meadow End. He passed away in 1976.
We’re assured that Hereford FC is a continuation of Hereford United FC and therefore the same music must continue. It is part of what we are and who we will be. Last word to Lobo “I hope the new club is a great success.”
With thanks to Sam Vetovich for his generous assistance with compiling this article and Lobo himself. For more information, visit www.fansoflobo.com