David Hughes (born Geoffrey Paddison; 11 October 1925 – 19 October 1972) was a ballad singer with a fine tenor voice, who had success in the popular field in the UK during the 50s and early 60s, before he went on to become a star in opera.
Paddison was born in Bournbrook, Birmingham, England of Welsh parents. As a child he listened to records by Caruso. He found work as a clerk, and was invited to sing "On the Road to Mandalay" at an office concert. This was so well received that he started taking professional singing lessons. In 1945 he joined the RAF and sang on ZBW in Kowloon, the armed forces' radio station. At this time he was singing Bing Crosby songs. In 1947 he received a grant to study singing at Wigmore Hall.
After that he studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He had an early break in 1948 appearing with Ginger Rogers and Lizabeth Webb in a television version of Carissima, a West End musical. But it was a year later in 1949 that he made his West End debut in the romantic musical Belinda Fair (1949).In 1951 he appeared on Henry Hall's "Guest Night". He was introduced by Hall as "the young Welsh tenor". This prompted him to take his stage name "David Hughes", an archetypical Welsh name.
During the 50s, he was a regular on radio and television in programmes such as The Passing Show, Come To Charlie, Presenting David Hughes, TV Starlight, Sunday Night At The London Palladium, Spring Song, Boy Meets Girls (from Paris), and his own series, Make Mine Music in 1959. Around this time, with his good looks and romantic delivery, he was dubbed ‘Mr. Hearthrob’.
In 1954, while touring Australia, he met and married Ann Sullivan. He appeared in the stage show Summer Song in 1956, a biographical musical about Antonín Dvořák's visit to the United States. Sally Ann Howes was the female lead.
In 1956 he had his only hit in the UK Singles Chart, "By The Fountains of Rome". The composer was Mátyás Seiber and the lyrics by Norman Newell, who also wrote hits for Ken Dodd ("Promises", 1966), Shirley Bassey ("Never Never Never", 1973) and Matt Monro ("Portrait of My Love", 1960). Hughes participated in the UK heat of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960, A Song For Europe, finishing in second place with the song "Mi Amor".
In 1962, he appeared in Scapa, a musical version of the 1950 hit comedy Seagulls Over Sorrento, and shortly afterwards decided to forsake the world of pop, for light music and opera. In 1964, he made an album of sixteenth-century songs, which led to appearances at Glyndebourne the following year, and eventually with the Sadler’s Wells Company. Sir John Barbirolli conducted Verdi's "Requiem" several times, with Hughes singing. He earned a reputation as a thorough professional, popular with colleagues. His most famous role was as Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly.On 8 October 1972, he fell ill while singing the part of Pinkerton at the London Coliseum. He collapsed in the wings near the end but managed to complete the final scene. He died the following day, from heart failure. Just before the ambulance men took him out of the theatre he said "I didn't let them down, did I?"
(Info edited from Wikipedia & AMG)