Rosemary Squires was born Joan Rosemary Yarrow 7 December 1928, Avon, England. Born in Bristol, Rosemary's mother's side of the family were all musical. “They were either clergy or musicians,” Rosemary explains. “Mum's elder sister was in silent films. Mum taught me to sing, I think she always had visions of me being on the stage.”
This civil servant’s daughter took vocal, piano and guitar lessons before and during study at Salisbury’s St. Edmund’s Girls School. In 1940, a broadcast on the BBC Home Service’s Children’s Hour created demand for her in local venues that embraced US army bases. "I love dancing," said the singer, "I've been thrown over many American soldiers' shoulders in a jitterbug.
"In ballrooms they used to say no jitterbug or jiving allowed, but once you got in the corner and got carried away, it's a wonder we weren't all flung through the windows."
With an endearing west country burr, she sang in various combos formed within these camps, as well as in the Polish Military Band while employed in an antique bookshop and then an office. After becoming a professional performer, she was employed by Ted Heath, Geraldo, Cyril Stapleton and other big band conductors as well as smaller jazz bands led by Max Harris, Kenny Baker and Alan Clare - with whose trio she appeared at a BBC Festival of Jazz at the Royal Albert Hall.
She made her TV debut in ITV's 'Chance Of A Lifetime' and appeared in television's 'Let's Stay Home' with comedian Reg Dixon.
She has long been known to Britain at large, having been omnipresent since the late 40s on BBC Radio light entertainment programmes - including Melody Time, Workers’ Playtime and many of her own series. In 1962, she hovered just outside the UK chart with a version of ‘The Gypsy Rover’.
She recorded one of her most successful titles, ‘Frankfurter Sandwiches’, under the nom de plume of Joanne And The Streamliners. In the 90s she continued with her ‘second career’ - singing for television jingles and, as a disc jockey, had her own Sunday afternoon programme on Radio Wiltshire. Appearances in variety and concerts complete this popular artist's career. There is a timelessness about Rosemary Squires, which is one of the qualities that makes her so special. She was never a megastar but she has seen megastars come and go while she remains in demand. In 2004 she recieved an MBE for services to music and charity.
Fan clubs were never her style but the epithets abound: 'Radio 2's First Lady of Song'; 'Britain's best-known big band singer'; 'Queen of the Jingles'. Yet perhaps her proudest is to be known as a 'musicians' singer' who can call upon the support of the finest talent in the land. Equally at home in the Albert Hall, the London Palladium, Salisbury Cathedral or Ronnie Scott's Club, Rosemary's versatility is legendary.
Rosemary Squires is unique among the stars of our time, havinf shared top billing at all the major venues with just about every big name on both sides of the Atlantic - from Danny Kaye to Sammy Davis Jnr, from Cliff Richard to Ken Dodd. Says Rosemary: “Danny Kaye was a one-off. Did you know his wife wrote all his material? And Sammy Davis Junior, he was a tiny, little man but that voice!”
Her virtuosity is unequalled across the whole spectrum of show business - broadcasting, cabaret, theatre, concert hall, films, recording - and even jingles. The "Hands That Do Dishes" catchphrase she sang for Fairy Liquid in the 1960s was used to advertise it for 40 years. She said the one line ditty became her "regular income" - but her very first jingle was for a brand of grapefruit.
Currently reported to be living again in Salisbury, she remains an active musician, with Tibetan culture among her extra-mural interests. She was secretary of Britain’s Tibet Society from 1972-75. In 1991, she surprised her friends (and herself) by marrying for the first time, although it was far from being the first occasion on which she has changed her name. Ms Squires' husband Frank Lockyer was born on a farm in Cranborne near Wimborne, which is still run by his brother. Most recently she performed during the Happy and Glorious Tour and contributed to a jazz album for the EMI label in Brussels.
(Info edited mainly from All Music and many others too numerous to mention)