Bertie Higgins was born and raised in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and while still in his teens, Bertie met and became a protégé of the actor/directors, Richard Boone and his friend, Burt Reynolds who saw Bertie’s writing potential and tutored him in screen writing. His screen writing career would have to wait, however, as he diverted his creative abilities toward the music business. Bertie had been working on a song and that song became Key Largo. After being released on the CBS/SONY label, it blew a hole in the U.S. charts and when it reached number one in the nation, the world took notice and it became an international evergreen. Other hit singles followed like Just Another Day in Paradise and Casablanca.
Casablanca became song of the year in all of the Pacific Rim countries and when the CD reached multi platinum status, Bertie became an international recording star literally overnight. He has appeared on all the major network talk and variety shows, was featured as an actor in The Guiding Light as well as The ABC Mystery Movie of the Week and starred in the feature film, Out of Hand. He recently performed in 2012 with Michael Bolton during international and Chinese New Years on two television shows from Beijing. The performances were viewed by over a billion people worldwide.
Bertie opened an office in Burbank, California in 2004 to pursue his love of film making and to work with his son, Julian Higgins, who was a film student majoring in film direction. After writing several screenplays he decided to form a production company with Julian and they began producing their own projects. The first film was entitled Beast Beneath and was recently released by Entertainment one in early 2012. The next film was entitled, Poker Run. Bertie co-wrote the script, produced, took a role in and supervised the music in the film. It is being distributed domestically and internationally.
The next project is entitled, The Colombian Connection, starring Tom Sizemore and it also has domestic and international distribution. The year 2013-14 saw the fourth release entitled, Christmas in Hollywood. Bertie’s first family film which he co-produced, co-directed, co-wrote and starred in. He is working on a documentary about the creation of Rock and Roll which he is producing. These are the first of many projects forthcoming from Cayo Largo Productions and the company looks forward to a bright future. Bertie has just completed his thirteenth CD entitled, The Very Best of Trop Rock and was released in early 2014. He recently had a number one country single on the UK and European charts.
Elbert Joseph Higgins Biography and Profile
Elbert Joseph Higgins, born December 8, 1944, was an American singer-songwriter. In 1982, Higgins had a Top 40 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 #8 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. In 2009, the song “Key Largo” was #75 on VH1’s Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.
Bertie Higgins Early career
Bertie 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’ 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, Bertie 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.
Bertie Higgins Music career
In 1980, Bertie 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.
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.
Children: Dieselboy, Julian Higgins
Biography and Profile Elbert Joseph Higgins (Wikipedia)