Like his great, great grandfather, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet who penned "Faust", Bertie Higgins is a storyteller. He was born Elbert Joseph Higgins of Portuguese, Irish and German descent and raised in the picturesque Greek community of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Bertie is an intellectual romantic who loves to paint story songs about living and loving in a tropical paradise.
His love songs explore the efforts of man trying to fathom the mystery and allure of women. His fantasy songs deal with the beauty and sensuality of the tropics and his story songs combine past experiences and future hopes. The resounding theme throughout Bertie's work: "Make the best of today lest tomorrow never comes".
Bertie, who once supported himself as a sponge diver, began his career in show business at the age of twelve as a ventriloquist. He won top prizes in local talent contests and became a favorite at school assemblies around Tampa Bay. Two years later, a battered set of drums forced a career change and Bertie set off to follow the backbeat heard around the world -- Rock and Roll.
His first band played proms, homecoming dances, and sock hops. After graduating from Tarpon Springs High School, Bertie enrolled in St. Petersburg College to study journalism and fine art, but the music continued to sing in his heart. He eventually left college and became drummer for the Tommy Roe band (Sheila, Dizzy), The Roemans, During this period, the band toured the world, starring alongside the Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, Manfred Mann, Peter and Gordon, The Dave Clark Five and many more. At the height of Beatlemania, Bertie was playing with and learning from the best.
Tiring of the rigors of the road and yearning to make his own musical statement, Bertie left The Roemans and returned home to Florida. During his six-year service in The Army Reserve, he put down his drumsticks, picked up a guitar and began crafting music and lyrics. It was a time of great satisfaction and personal release. Producers such as Bob Crewe (The Four Seasons), Phil Gernhard (Lobo), and Felton Jarvis (Elvis) took an interest and contributed to the growth of the young songwriter. Bertie's talent flourished and he was in demand to play venues throughout the state.
Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens, John Prine, and Jimmy Buffet were a few of Bertie's sources of inspiration and he remains friends with them today. During this period, he also met and became a protégé of the actor/director, Burt Reynolds, who saw Bertie's writing potential and tutored him in screenwriting.
In 1980, Bertie moved to Atlanta and met record producer, Sonny Limbo. Limbo had played a role in developing the group Alabama and had been instrumental in the careers of several others. He arranged that fateful meeting between Bertie and music publisher, Bill Lowery, whom Bertie had known through Tommy Roe. The meeting of these three was destiny waiting to happen.
Bertie had been working on a song about a personal romance and that song was “Key Largo.” Bertie recorded the master and presented it to Kat Family records, a newly formed record label distributed by CBS/Sony. At first, they rejected it. But after persistent requests from Bertie, Kat Family finally agreed to release the single in 1981 and pop music history was made. Bertie's wife of thirty-three years, Beverly, who inspired the song, was separated from Bertie at that time, but they soon reunited and got married in Tarpon Springs, FL.
Key Largo blew a hole in the U.S. charts. When it reached number one in the nation, the world took notice and it went on to become an international hit. Other hit singles followed like Just Another Day in Paradise, Casablanca, Pirates and Poets, Jamaica Me Crazy and Son of a Beach. Casablanca became Song of the Year in all of the Pacific Rim and the album was awarded multiple platinum status. Bertie Higgins became an international recording star literally overnight especially in Mainland China and Japan. Bertie was originally a CBS/Sony recording artist but in recent years has moved to Toucan Cove, a boutique record label distributed by the Universal Music group, and has produced several albums for that company.
For the past several years, Bertie has toured extensively around the globe. He has received rave reviews and accolades from the music industry and his fans alike. Besides being the consummate stage performer, songwriter, and vocalist, he is an accomplished screenwriter/novelist and actor. Bertie has owned a successful restaurant in the Florida Keys, 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 and continues to be invited back again and again. Bertie served on the board of governors of the Atlanta Chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammy Awards) for several years. Besides maintaining a rigorous worldwide schedule of one-nighters, he also makes regular appearances on the fabulous Las Vegas strip and in Branson, MO.
Bertie seriously supports several national charity organizations. Hospice, The American Cancer Society, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America are just a few. He regularly makes appearances and participates in several charitable national golf tournaments and donates his time and talent. He lives by the credo "you must give some back", and takes the commitment very seriously. He recently organized a charity concert in Tarpon Springs to assist the family of fallen Tarpon police officer, Charlie Kondek, and it was a great success. Then shortly thereafter he helped to raise over $700,000 in a “Dreams Can Come True” charity concert in Hong Kong for handicapped Chinese children.
An ongoing project in his home state of Florida is the preservation of fragile endangered wildlife, particularly the brown pelican and other sea birds. He has organized and performed several fundraisers to benefit that great cause. He has also been actively involved in preserving Florida's rapidly deteriorating lighthouses and was instrumental in helping restore the one on Anclote Key near his hometown of Tarpon Springs by performing several concerts and raised many thousands of dollars to get the restoration started. The state of Florida, after seeing this initiative, stepped in and supplied finishing funds. Anclote Key and its lighthouse is now a state park.
Recently, Bertie was honored with the title of Knight Commander and now is Sir Bertie Higgins. This honor was bestowed on him for the worldwide charitable events that he so graciously becomes involved in and the fact that his music has achieved international status. He also received both the Mozart music and Beethoven music awards from Germany, was inducted into the Florida Music Hall of Fame, he has received an honorary Ph.D. in music from Hannover University and won first place in the International Acoustic Awards in a duet with the Bellamy Brothers. Along with Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Burt Reynolds, Jimmy Buffett and several others he was recently inducted by the state of Florida into the artist Hall of Fame by the legislature and governor of Florida. This is the most prestigious award that can be given by the state of Florida.
Bertie is the father of three boys and one girl. His eldest son, Damian, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, is a world-renowned recording artist in his own right. He has attained a great deal of success under the pseudonym, "DJ Diesel Boy" and is currently working on his thirteenth CD release. One of the top junglist D.J.'s on the globe, he performs regularly from London, Cape Town, Moscow, Budapest, Hong Kong, New York, and all points in between. He has graced the cover of several national magazine publications and Bertie couldn't be a prouder Dad. Julian is a film director who has directed five feature films that they have produced under their company name, Cayo Largo Productions, LLC. All five films are now distributed domestically and internationally and they are in the process of developing several more. Aaron has formed his own company, “Boomtown Props”. He designs props and sets for feature film and television productions. He also is an accomplished drummer and has toured Europe and the United States. Kimberly holds a prominent position with Southwest Air, the greatest airline in the world. Bertie is also the proud grandfather of Eli William Dauser, Kimberly's son and Hunter Higgins, Damian's son.
To be certain, it will always be just another day in paradise for Bertie Higgins and he'll be waiting for you under the next palm tree for years to come. He continues to write and sing about turquoise lagoons, golden sands and his beloved home state of Florida in a style he affectionately refers to as “Trop Rock” (A phrase that he originally coined several years ago.) From his huge worldwide hits “Key Largo”, “Casablanca”, “Just Another Day in Paradise” “Son of a Beach”, Jamaica me Crazy” and now twenty-five albums later, he is unstoppable.
Learn more about Bertie Higgins at www.bertiehiggins.com.