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Monday, 4 November 2013

Dickie Valentine born 4 November 1925

Dickie Valentine (4 November 1929, — 6 May 1971) was a popular British singer in the 1950s. In addition to several other Top Ten hit singles, Valentine had two chart toppers on the UK Singles Chart with "Finger of Suspicion" (1954) and "Christmas Alphabet" (1955).

Valentine was born Richard Maxwell (his birth father was Dickie Maxwell) in Marylebone, London. He was known as Richard Bryce, as his mother later married Bryce, and gave her young son that surname. He first trained as a singer during his work as a child actor. Film debut at age three in farce Jack's The Boy '32 with Cecily Courtneidge. Was page boy at Manchester Palace, then London Palladium; encouraged by musical comedy star Bill O'Connor, who paid for singing lessons (against medical advice; Valentine had chronic asthma). Spotted at London's Blue Angel club by music publisher Sid Green, recommended to bandleader Ted Heath, joined Heath's Sunday night Swing Sessions at the Palladium '49. At first he sang only one song per evening early in the show, then sat on stage; a latecomer asked him if he was the band's mascot, but he became a teen idol.

 He was voted the Top UK Male Vocalist in 1952 while singing with the Ted Heath Orchestra, the most successful of all British big bands, and again after going solo in 1954 in which year he played his own first show in Blackpool to SRO business despite Nat Cole appearing 200 yards down the road. Developed fast, humorous act with lots of impressions: Mario Lanza, Billy Daniels, Johnny Ray; at a time when American stars dominated the Palladium (it was called the 49th state) Valentine was the first British singer to headline there in five years '55; in '57 he hired the Royal Albert Hall for his fan club's annual party. (picture on right of Alma Cogan and Dickie borrowed from Wekoolkats) 

He recorded two number one hits, "Christmas Alphabet" and "Finger of Suspicion". His first chart-topper came only two months after his marriage to Elizabeth Flynn at Caxton Hall, which caused scenes of hysteria and was reliably expected to sound the death knell to his career. In fact, 1955 was by far his best chart year, with two number ones and three other Top Ten hits. Whilst his second number one saw Valentine playing King Canute to Bill Haley's incoming tide of rock and roll. "Christmas Alphabet" marked the first time in the UK that a song created for the Christmas market had hit number one.

Apart from those Christmas songs, Dickie made the UK top ten with All the time and everywhere, In a golden coach, Mr Sandman (an American number one hit for the Chordettes, whose own version just missed the UK top ten), Finger of suspicion (a UK number one hit - with the Stargazers), A blossom fell and I wonder. Dickie also made the UK top twenty with Broken wings, Old pianna rag and Endless. In 1956 Valentine partnered Peter Sellers on the ATV sketch show The Dickie Valentine Show.

Dickie left Decca for Pye, where he had two UK top twenty hits (Venus, One more sunrise) but couldn't really compete against the rock 'n' roll music that came to dominate the charts. He became a popular TV host with two TV series “Calling Dickie  Valentine" (1961) with Jack Parnell Dance Band. Parnell also started in the Ted Health Band, and The Dickie Valentine Show" (1966-67) with Pans People (from Top of the Pops). He remained a popular live performer until his death.

Travelling to his next gig at the Double Diamond Club in Caerphilly, Wales, he was killed outright in a car crash on a single lane bridge at Glangrwyney, near Crickhowell, Wales on 6 May 1971, at the age of 41, together with pianist Sidney Boatman and drummer Dave Pearson, aged 42.

The coroner's inquest revealed the car in which the three were travelling to have been driven in excess of 90 mph at time of

impact, and that Valentine — who was driving his wife Wendy's Hillman Avenger, with which he was unfamiliar, (he was awaiting delivery of his new customised car) — had lost control of the vehicle while attempting to take a (clearly marked) dangerous bend. Valentine had travelled on that stretch of road many times and was familiar with the hazards. It was thought Valentine's attention might have been distracted by conversation with his friends, in addition to tiredness (the crash having happened at 4.20am). It was also noted that there was heavy fog at that time. The coroner returned a verdict of 'death by misadventure'.

Valentine is interred at Slough Crematorium.  (Info from various sources, mainly music web encyclopedia of popular music also wikepedia) 


boppinbob said...

Go here for 80 tracks of Dickie Valentine (Thanks to

Or for a modest 30 tracks go here:

Donald Sevier said...

Very accomplished singer was Dicky.I Remember listening a lot to his 'Finger of Suspicion' Track on my Grundig open reel four track stereo tape recorder This song along with a load of others was eventually transferred to a cassette, but now I have a few copies of it on Compilation CD'S