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Friday, 14 March 2014

Lita Roza born 14 March 1926

Lita Roza (14 March 1926 – 14 August 2008) was a British singer. Her 1953 number one hit record "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" afforded Roza the privilege of being the first British female singer to top the UK Singles Chart, and the first Liverpudlian to do so.

Born Lilian Patricia Lita Roza in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK, she was the eldest of seven children and began work at an early age to support the family. She owed her sultry looks and Latin passion, to her Spanish father, an amateur accordionist who also played piano in several Liverpool nightclubs. At the age of 12 she saw an advertisement in the local newspapers for juvenile dancers and passed the audition. She took to the stage at that age in a pantomime and by the time she was 15 was working with fellow Merseysider comedian, Ted Ray.

By 16 (at the height of the Nazi Blitz-bombing raids on Liverpool) she answered another advert, when she managed to secure a job as a singer in the "New Yorker" - a Southport, Lancashire club. She got that job at £5 a week, then shortly afterwards signed up with the Harry Roy Orchestra in London. She moved on from this to work with other bands of the era including that of Edmundo Ros. By the time she was 18 war-ravaged London was still a dangerous place to work and she had decided to retire from show business - choosing marriage to an American and a life in Miami, Florida.

However, the marriage did not last and shortly after World War II Roza returned to the UK. In 1950 she became the lead female singer with the Ted Heath Band, and by 1954 had achieved enough public acclaim to leave the band and pursue a solo recording career on her own. For Roza, whose "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" was a cover version of Patti Page's original, this was the peak of her career. The track was produced by Dick Rowe. Further covers of "Hey There" and "Jimmy Unknown" gave her small hits in the mid-1950s, but her career as Ted Heath's vocalist was knocked hard by the onslaught of rock and roll a year or two later. Her chart-topping single was produced by Dick Rowe. Roza disliked the song so much she never performed it live on stage.
In 1956 she married the trumpet player, Ronnie Harris. She remained a top UK recording artist during the remainder of the 1950s, but her subsequent recordings never recaptured the magic she had shown while with Ted Heath. She was consecutively voted the 'Top British Female Singer' in the New Musical Express poll winners' charts from 1951 to 1955. Melody Maker readers also voted her their 'Top Girl Singer' in the dance band section of their polls in 1951 and 1952. Roza made three appearances in the UK heats for selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1957, 1959 and 1960.

During the 1960s, guitar groups and that wave of female vocalists - Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithfull, Sandy Shaw et al - washed away torch-singers such as Roza, yet she found appreciative audiences abroad, travelling to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Las Vegas. She also toured for Combined Services Entertainment to Singapore, Cyprus and the Middle East. Then, in 1982, she became a linchpin of the annual Ted Heath orchestra reunions, masterminded by trombonist and arranger Don Lusher - Heath had died in 1969. For almost two decades Roza and fellow vocalist Denis Lotis helped to recreate the sound of the Heath band in its 1950s heyday.

Lita appeared in a royal gala performance in 1985. On 14 March 2001, the Liverpool Wall of Fame was inaugurated opposite the famous Cavern Club on Mathew Street, in Liverpool, with Roza presiding at the ceremony. On 28 November 2002 in Liverpool, she gave her last public performance on Radio Merseyside. A 22 track The Best Of Lita Roza was released in 2007.

For BBC Radio 4 PM, Stephanie Power tracked Lita Roza down to her home in London to talk about Liverpool's musical heritage and 'that song.'

Lita Roza died peacefully at home on 14 August 2008, aged 82.      The British singer who became famous for her hit How Much Is      That Doggie In The Window?, left £190,000 in her will to an           animal charity. (info mainly from Wikipedia.)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For 6 Lita Roza LP's go here:

(fillin captcha & click download tab. Click same download tab on new page and voila!)

1955 - Listening In the After Hours
1956 - Love Is the Answer
1957 - Between the Devil And the Deep Blue Sea
1958 - Me On A Carousel
1960 - Drink Lita Roza A Day
1963 - Love Songs For Night people