Lovelace Watkins (March 6, 1938 – June 11, 1995) was a Las Vegas-based singer and performer who achieved prominence in America as well as in Europe and Australia.
Watkins was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1938. He was of African, Indian and Spanish heritage. When his mother gave birth to him, she was only fourteen years old, and he was raised by his grandmother. He studied microbiology at Rutgers University and also trained as a boxer.
He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1961 while promoting his album "The Big, Big Voice of Lovelace Watkins", music arranged and conducted by Ray Ellis. In addition to appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Lovelace also appeared on the Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas shows.
Dreams was recorded in New York April 1964, with Vickie Burgess, Lynn Daniels, Marlene Jenkins (background vocals)
Nicknamed "The Black Sinatra", his stage personality was earthy and electric. However this charisma and the power and quality of his voice never quite came over on his record releases. As a result of this Lovelace never reached his full potential in the United States.
Lovelace became popular in northern England, however, and the discerning Liverpool, Lancashire public helped make his debut at their Wookey Hollow's night club an overnight sensation, and he was recalled for a second show one week later. In March 1972, he married Anna Marie Fitzsimmons of Salford, Lancashire, and their baby son, named Alan, was born on the 4th April, 1972. Due to Lovelace's well-known philandering ways with women, the marriage was not destined to last.
Lovelace did a ten week long summer season at The ABC Theatre in Blackpool. The shows were sold out. His third Wookey Hollow cabaret appearance was recorded and televised on BBC1 at 11.35pm on 8 May 1974. Following this, Lovelace Watkins at one time held the attendance record at the "Talk Of The Town" in London, England at the height of its prominence, and attended by such stars as Roger Moore and Australia's Barry Crocker, who went on to become a great friend of Lovelace.
Watkins did a "Command Performance" for Queen Elizabeth II. The Times called him “the best entertainer on earth.” He appeared on the British religious variety series "Stars on Sunday", and after his last reappearance at the Wookey Hollow when he introduced his new blonde wife, Lovelace disappeared into obscurity as far as his UK fan base was concerned.
Watkins had a long association with Australia's Gold Coast. He helped raise money for the city following the floods in 1974 which had a devastating effect. He was named "Ambassador at large" by Gold Coast Mayor Keith Hunt. Watkins recorded two songs that beat more than 250 entries to be selected. They were "We Love the Gold Coast" by Clyde Collins and "On The Gold Coast" by Tom Louch from Victoria. The single was released on the Finooks Folly label.
In South Africa he received two gold albums and was so celebrated that a public parade was held in his honour – an unprecedented reception for a black entertainer at the height of apartheid.
Lovelace recorded 9 albums both in the United States and in Europe. Full of hubris, Lovelace believed thought he would sing forever, but back in the States, bad business decisions and a Hollywood screen test that never transpired led to his cleaning offices and singing at various functions in Las Vegas before dying of leukemia June 11, 1995 (age 57).