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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Carole Carr born 26 March 1928

Carole Carr (March 26, 1928 – January 8, 1977) was a popular British singer and actress.

She was born in London, England as Carole Anne Carless. Carole took music lessons from the age of 7, and when 14, went to the R.A. for music and dramatic art, but after three months joined Jack Payne’s band. She later sang with Geraldo & His Orchestra from 1945 to 1948.

In 1946 she had a radio programme in the General Overseas Service called “Carole Singing” and appeared in many radio shows.  She was the former 'Forces Sweetheart' of  'Calling All Forces' and then a singer with Jack Payne and mainly Geraldo’s orchestra from 1945 before going solo. Surprisingly she made few recordings as a solo artiste. She is remembered by so many for her lovely richness of tone, and subtle phrasing.

A familiar face on UK Fifties television, glamorous Carole Carr was the first singer to actually appear on-screen when TV transmissions resumed after the Second World War. She was later logically chosen for colour test broadcasts in 1957; with a few minor films also credited to her during the period. She followed in the footsteps of older sister Dorothy Carless who rose to fame as a proficiently popular comedienne, pianist and band singer in earlier times.

In 1959 Carole was asked to record an album for Warner Brothers in Hollywood, “Imported Carr, American Gas” with arrangements by Warren Barker & Pete King. This was her only album and those in the business were quick to recognise her huge talent. 

The legendary US songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen said of her "This is one of the best girl singers I've ever heard - ever".

She was also an actress, known for Down Among the Z Men (1952), Left Right and Centre (1959) and Tin Pan Alice (1963). She was married to Peter Arthur Leuw, an ex RAF Squadron leader from 1949 - 8 January 1997 (her death).

 She died on January 8, 1997 in Devon, England aged 68.. (Surprisingly not much information regarding Carole at all on the web so snippets of info gleaned from numerous sources)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Dorothy Squires born 25 March 1915

Dorothy Squires (March 25, 1915 - April 14, 1998) was a Welsh vocalist who earned a Fortune as one of Britain's highest selling recording stars, but ended up bankrupt and homeless. At the peak of her career in the 1940’s and 50’s she packed theatres all over Britain and America and her records sold in millions. She was a dynamic, dramatic highly emotional singer who retained an army of fans throughout a career spanning half a century.

She was born Edna May Squires in Pontyberem, (about 12 miles from Llanelli), Carmarthenshire, in South Wales. Her parents were Archibald James Squires, a steelworker, and his wife Emily. She began to perform professionally as a singer at the age of 16.

Her stunning career was launched in the 1930s after she moved to London and was to take her to the millionaire peaks of show business. She was discovered by American pianist Charlie Kunz and joined his band at the Casani Club, and then she did most of her work with the orchestra of Billy Reid who was her partner for many years. After she joined his orchestra, he began to write songs for her to perform. During the war they were one of the most successful double acts on the variety circuit, making frequent broadcasts which helped to sell her records in profuse numbers.

In the immediate post-war years she recorded the original version of Reid's composition, "A Tree in the Meadow," best known in the United States in its recording by Margaret Whiting, which reached No.1 on the US charts. Similarly, her version of Reid's composition, "I'm Walking Behind You" was covered by Eddie Fisher which became a No.1 hit in the US and her recording of "The Gypsy" became a No.1 hit there after being waxed by The Ink Spots - their biggest hit. (It was also a major hit for Dinah Shore.)

After her relationship with Reid ended she married British actor Roger Moore in 1953 in New Jersey. Moore was twelve years her junior. The marriage lasted until 1961, when Moore left her and moved in with Luisa Mattioli, whom he was unable to marry legally until Squires granted him a divorce in 1969.

In 1961 Dorothy teamed up with pianist Russ Conway to record one of her own songs, Say It With Flowers, which she launched with a huge party at her Bexley mansion.  The single went into the Top 30 in August of that year and spent a total of ten weeks in the pop charts.  On the strength of this, Dorothy became the first British performer to play London’s Talk Of The Town nightclub – quite an accolade as, until then, it had been mainly a headlining venue for top American stars like Sammy Davis, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Tony Bennett and Sophie Tucker.

In 1974 her Bexley mansion burned down, from which she escaped with her dog and all her love letters from Roger Moore. She then moved into a house in Bray next to the River Thames, which flooded three weeks later.

Squires later became notorious for her involvement in court cases. She even took out a libel action against the actor Kenneth More for mistakenly referring to Luisa as Roger Moore's "wife" (Michael Havers acted for Kenneth More). By 1982 she had been banned from the High Court, and had spent much of her fortune on legal fees. Her litigiousness was so excessive that, on 5 March 1987, the High Court declared her to be a "vexatious litigant", preventing her from commencing any further legal actions without the permission of the Court. In 1988 she lost her home following bankruptcy proceedings.

Dorothy Squires retired to Wales and her obsession with Moore never waned. And as she lay dying, Moore telephoned the hospital. On the phone he told the legend's Emily-Jane Squires: "Take hold of her hand, give it a little squeeze, and tell her Rog is thinking of her.” When she was given Moore's message, Dorothy Squires smiled and spoke just one word. "Magic," she said.   Dorothy died of lung cancer, aged 83, in Llwynypia Hospital, Rhondda.  (info mainly edited from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Boogie Bill Webb born 24 March 1924

Boogie Bill Webb (March 24, 1924 – August 22, 1990) was an American Louisiana blues and R&B guitarist, singer and songwriter. Webb's own style of music combined Mississippi country blues with New Orleans R&B. His best known recordings were "Bad Dog" and "Drinkin' and Stinkin'". Despite a lengthy, albeit stuttering, career, Webb nevertheless only released one album.

Born 1924 in Jackson, MS, Webb received his first guitar -- a cigar box with strings made of screen wire -- at the age of eight; his style was most profoundly influenced by local bluesman Tommy Johnson, an entertainment fixture at the myriad fish-fry dinners organized by Webb's mother. He acquired a real guitar as a teenager, and in the years to follow split his time between Jackson and New Orleans, their respective musical cultures shaping the mutant blues of Webb's later work.

Circa 1947, he won a Jackson talent show and was awarded a role in the musical short film The Jackson Jive for his efforts; he nevertheless settled in New Orleans in 1952, and via longtime friend Fats Domino he was introduced to R&B great Dave Bartholomew, who helped Webb land a deal with Imperial Records.

The following year, he issued his recorded debut, "Bad Dog," an archetypal slab of country boogie that found few takers in the face of growing listener demand for more urbanized R&B. A frustrated Webb left New Orleans for Chicago, where he spent the next five years toiling in a series of factory jobs. 

He continued playing guitar at house parties and sat in with John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and Chuck Berry and thanks to the influence of Windy City bluesmen like Muddy Waters, he was an even more original musician by the time he returned to the Crescent City in 1959.

While working by day as a longshoreman, Webb gigged only infrequently, but in 1968 he recorded several songs for folklorist David Evans later issued on the Arhoolie LP Roosevelt Holts and His Friends. The album proved a major favorite among European blues enthusiasts, several of whom even travelled to New Orleans to meet Webb in person. The 1972 compilation album, The Legacy of Tommy Johnson contained five tracks performed by Webb.

After multiple invitations to tour Europe, he finally accepted an offer to play the 1982 Dutch Utreck Festival. In 1989, thanks to funding from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, he also issued his first full-length LP, the Flying Fish release Drinkin' and Stinkin', but he died on August 22, 1990, at the age of 66. (Info mainly from All Music)

Monday, 23 March 2015

Lale Andersen born 23 March 1905

Lale Andersen (23 March 1905 – 29 August 1972) was a German chanson  singer-songwriter born in Bremerhaven, Germany. She is best known for her interpretation of the song "Lili Marleen" in 1939, which became tremendously popular on both sides during the Second World War.

She was born in Lehe and baptized Liese-Lotte Helene Berta Bunnenberg.In 1922, at the age of 17, she married Paul Ernst Wilke (1894 – 1971), a local
painter. They had three children together: Björn, Carmen-Litta, and Michael. Shortly after the birth of the third child, the marriage broke up. Leaving the children in the care of her relatives (sister Thekla and brother Helmut), Lale went in October 1929 to Berlin, where she reportedly studied acting at the Schauspielschule at the Deutsches Theater.

 In 1931, her marriage was ended by divorce. About the same year, she began appearing on stage in various cabarets  in Berlin. From 1933 to 1937, she performed at the Schauspielhaus in Zürich, where she also met Rolf Liebermann, who would remain a close friend for the rest of her life. In 1938, Lale was in Munich  at the cabaret Simpl, and soon afterwards joined the prestigious Kabarett der Komiker in Berlin.

While at the Kabarett der Komiker, she met Norbert Schultze, who had just written the music for "Lili Marleen". Lale recorded the song in 1939, but it would only become a hit when the Soldatensender Belgrad (Belgrade Soldier's Radio), the radio station of the German armed forces in occupied Yugoslavia began broadcasting it in 1941. "Lili Marleen" quickly became immensely popular with German soldiers at the front. The transmitter of the radio station at Belgrade, was powerful enough to be received all over Europe and the Mediterranean, and the song soon became popular with the Allied troops as well.

Nevertheless, Nazi officials did not like the sad song about parted lovers, and Joseph Goebbels prohibited its being played on the radio. Andersen was not allowed to perform publicly for nine months, not just because of the song but also because of her friendship with Rolf Liebermann, who was Jewish, and other Jewish artists she had met in Zurich. Goebbels had ordered her back to base her career in Germany, putting her under Gestapo surveillance. However Lale planned a later escape back to Switzerland following a 1942 troop concert in Italy but her letters to her new husband were intercepted and she was seized on Milan railway station. Condemned to the concentration camps, she was allowed home to finalise her affairs but attempted suicide.

Fortunately the attempt failed, but Goebbels in setting her punishment had made a terrible blunder for Lale-aka-Lili Marleen had, by then, become an international and much-loved figure and, fearing a propaganda disaster, spared her life. Ordered instead to attend her local police station once a week.When she was allowed to perform again, it was only subject to several conditions, one of which was she would not sing "Lili Marleen". Goebbels did order her to make new "military" version of the song (with a significant drum) which was recorded in June 1942. In the remaining war years, Andersen had one minor appearance in a propaganda movie and was made to sing several propaganda songs in English.

By 1944 the authorities and become tired of her and Goebbels banished her to her grandparents home on the Friesian island of Langeoog,a small island off the North Sea coast of Germany.  from where she quietly saw out the remaing year or so of the war.

After the war, Lale Andersen all but disappeared as a singer. In 1949, she married Swiss composer Artur Beul. In 1952 she made a comeback with the song "Die blaue Nacht am Hafen", which she had written the lyrics for herself. In 1959 she had another hit "Ein Schiff wird kommen...", a cover version of "Never on Sunday", the title song from the movie of the same name, originally sung in English by Melina Mercouri.Both songs won her a gold album each in Germany.

In 1961, she participated as the representative of Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Einmal sehen wir uns wieder", which only reached 13th place with three points. Throughout the 1960s, she toured extensively through Europe and also performed in the United States and Canada ,until her farewell tour Goodbye memories in 1967. In 1972, shortly before her death, her autobiography Der Himmel hat viele Farben (The Sky has many Colours) appeared and topped the bestselling list of the German magazine Der Spiegel.

(info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Johnny Ferguson born 22 March 1937

Johnny “Ferg” Ferguson (b. 22 March 1937, Nashville, Tennesseee, USA) was a pop/country singer whose  sole hit in the U.S. charts is "Angela Jones".

Johnny graduated from Hillsboro High School and attended Peabody College for one year. While attending high school he worked part time as a disc jockey in the late 50’s for WNAH, WAGG and WSM-TV in Tennessee and WJAT in Georgia.

 As a writer, he managed to have a couple of his songs recorded by country acts Judy Lynn and Pat Kelly and it was a demo of one of his songs that persuaded Arnold Maxin, the managing director at MGM Records, to sign him.

His first single, the catchy John D. Loudermilk song ‘Angela Jones’ gave him a transatlantic Top 30 hit in 1960, although in the UK a Joe Meek -produced cover version by Michael Cox fared even better.

He also wrote and recorded two of his own songs for Decca Records in New York, “Sad Sad Day” and Candy Love.”. He also recorded under the name of Johnny Ferg. Later recordings, including a version of ‘I Understand’, failed to enhance his reputation on either side of the Atlantic and he joined the ranks of one-hit-wonders.

 Decca (1958)
 9-30572 What A Sad Sad Day That Will Be / Candy Love – 02-58 (rev. Feb. 17)
 9-30731  Last Date / 'Til School Starts Again – 08-58 (rev. Sept. 1)
 MGM (1959-1960)
 K 12789  Afterglow / Waitin' For The Sandman – 05-59
 K 12855  Angela Jones / Blue Serge And White Lace  - 12-59
 K 12905  Flutter, Flutter / I Understand Just How You Feel – 04-60
 K 12960  The Valley Of Love / No One Can Love You (Like I Do) - 10-60

After 1960 the internet trail goes cold. Any more info would be appreciated.

(Info edited mainly from All Music Guide & Billboard Magazine & Praguefrank)

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Kenny Lynch born 18 March 1938

Kenny Lynch, OBE (born 18 March 1938, Stepney, London, England) is an English singer, songwriter, entertainer and actor from London. Lynch appeared in many variety shows in the 1960s. He was one of the relatively few black singers on the British pop scene in the early 1960s.

Lynch grew up in Stepney, east London as one of 13 children and his sister, Gladys (stage name Maxine Daniels) was a jazz singer of some note. After leaving school at 15 and various jobs, he did National Service in the Royal Army Service Corps and was the regimental featherweight boxing champion. He was also a semi-professional singer.

He had several UK hit singles in the early 1960s, including the two Top Ten hits, "Up on the Roof" in December 1962, and "You Can Never Stop Me Loving You" in June 1963. Lynch is most famous for a flop single he issued the same year. 

That was "Misery", the first cover version of a Beatles song to be released. In early 1963, Lynch had been on the same bill as The Beatles on the group's first British tour; John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote "Misery" in January 1963, in the hopes that the artist on top of the bill, Helen Shapiro, would record it. Shapiro's record producer turned it down, but Lynch took the composition and gave it a much more pop oriented arrangement than The Beatles would use when they recorded "Misery" themselves on their debut album, Please Please Me.

Whilst on a coach with The Beatles (on tour with Helen Shapiro), Lynch reportedly offered to help them write a song, but quickly became frustrated and criticised their ability to compose music - at the time Lennon and McCartney were writing "From Me to You". Years later he appeared on the album cover of Wings' 1973 album, Band on the Run, along with other celebrities.

Lynch wrote a fairly high percentage of his own material, but also did some covers of songs originating from the Brill Building writers. In addition, he has written songs for others — notably the Small Faces' #3 UK hit, "Sha-La-La-La-Lee", with the American songwriter, Mort Shuman. Lynch also wrote a couple of other songs from the Small Faces' 1966 debut album, "You'd Better Believe It" (co-written with Jerry Ragavoy) and "Sorry She's Mine".

Lynch took part in the A Song For Europe contest in 1962 with the song "There's Never Been A Girl", but failed to win through to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. He returned to the contest in 1978, this time as a writer, penning "Don't Bother To Knock" for the group 'Midnight'. This song was placed second.

His numerous TV appearances include the 1970s programme Get This which he co-presented with Harry Fowler, as well as roles in Celebrity Squares, Mooncat & Co., Room at the Bottom and Curry & Chips, as well as minor parts in Z-Cars, The Sweeney, Til Death Us Do Part and Treasure Hunt.

Known for charity work, Lynch has often played in charity football matches and Michael Parkinson's 'Celebrity Cricket' fundraisers. He is a fan of the London football club West Ham United. Nowadays he owns a restaurant in North London and has appeared in the film The Riddle (2007).

In 2011 Kenny & Bobby Davro appeared in “Swinging” a Frank Sinatra Tribute show. This year he has been busy with guest appearances in The Frank Sinatra Centennial Concert and The Rat Pack (Info mainly edited from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Zola Taylor born 17 March 1938

Zola Mae Taylor (March 17, 1938 – April 30, 2007) was an American singer. She was the original female member of The Platters from 1954 to 1962, when the group produced most of their popular singles.

The lone female member of the immortal Platters, Zola Taylor contributed lead and backing vocals to some of the most influential and enduring recordings in R&B history, lending glamour and romance to her colleagues' rich harmonies. Born in Los Angeles on March 17, 1943, Taylor began her recording career as a solo act, cutting "Make Love to Me" for the RPM label in 1954. That same year, she joined the girl group Shirley Gunter & the Queens, recording with them a series of singles for the Flair label.

In the interim, producer Buck Ram assembled the first incarnation of the Platters, seeking to create a vocal group with more elegance and sophistication than the average R&B act. After tinkering with the line-up in search of the perfect harmonic combination, he eventually settled on lead Tony Williams, second tenor David Lynch, baritone Paul Robi, and bass Herb Reed, finally adding contralto Taylor in 1955 to complete their lush, ethereal sound. 

She also wrote and assumed lead vocal duties on the up-tempo "Bark, Battle and Ball," the B-side to the Platters' epochal Mercury Records debut "Only You," the first in a series of classics including "The Great Pretender," "My Prayer," "Twilight Time," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

While Williams' buttery leads were the Platters' marquee attraction, Taylor was an integral element of their success. Dubbed "the Dish," her physical allure was no doubt a major reason the group was a Hollywood fixture, appearing in a series of films including Rock Around the Clock and Frank Tashlin's classic The Girl Can't Help It.

She also was the featured lead on B-sides including "He's Mine," "Indiff'rent," and "My Old Flame," and sang a duet with Lynch on a 1957 cover of the doo wop perennial "Goodnight, Sweetheart." However, in 1959 the four male members of the Platters were arrested in a narcotics sting, and although the case was tossed out, many radio stations boycotted their records. Soon afterward Williams went solo, and with replacement Sonny Turner the group's commercial fortunes continued to dim.

Taylor left the Platters in 1964, later reuniting with Lynch and Robi as the Original Platters. According to Taylor, she married former teen heartthrob Frankie Lymon in 1965, three years prior to his fatal heroin overdose. Years later, she unsuccessfully battled two other women also purporting to be Lymon's widows for ownership of his song writing catalogue. (The case was later adapted into the 1998 feature film Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, with Halle Berry in the role of Taylor.)

For a number of years, she also toured under the banner of Zola Taylor's Platters, one of myriad unofficial Platters acts travelling the globe, until illness ultimately forced her into retirement in 1996. 

Taylor who had been bedridden following several strokes, died at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside County, Los Angeles, on April 30, 2007 at age 69, from complications of  pneumonia, following a series of strokes.

(Info edited mainly from All Music Guide)

February 1957 • The Platters - "He's Mine" (US Charts #16; US R&B Chart #5)