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Alma Cogan

Alma Cogan was one of the most successful and tragic figures in English pop music of the '50s and early '60s. Her 18 chart hits were a record for a female singer at the end of the '50s in England, and despite being part of the pre-rock & roll era, Cogan seemed capable of working with the new music when her life was cut short.

The daughter of a haberdasher, Alma Cogan was born in St. John's Wood and educated at St. Joseph' Convent School. It was Cogan's mother who pushed her toward a career as a singer and onto the stage. In 1948, at age 16, she was spotted in the chorus of High Button Shoes by EMI staff producer Walter J. Ridley (also responsible, a decade later, for signing Johnny Kidd & the Pirates), who subsequently signed her to the HMV label. Around this same time, she began appearing with cabaret at the Cumberland Hotel. Cogan began her career doing ballads, but her first hit was a novelty tune called "Bell Bottom Blues" (not the Derek & the Dominoes song), which got to number five on the British charts in 1954. A year later, she topped the charts for the first and only time with "Dreamboat." She also covered several American hits, including "The Birds and the Bees" and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," which was a hint of the range she would show in her later career. By the turn of the '50s into the '60s, she was also the star of her own television program, and she reached the apex of her success when Lionel Bart (whom, at one point, she apparently intended to marry) cast her as Nancy in Oliver! Her name receded from the pop charts somewhat in the early '60s, as younger performers such as Helen Shapiro joined the EMI roster, but Cogan was a fixture as a concert attraction during the first half of the decade.

During the '50s, Cogan attracted press attention as a personality beyond her singing, for her sense of humor and for her collection of luxurious clothes -- it was said that she never wore the same dress twice -- and her home was filled with an extraordinary array of fashions. By the mid-'60s, she was much more celebrated in the gossip columns for the all-night parties she threw at her Kensington High Street home, where guests included such diverse figures as Stanley Baker, Paul McCartney, Roger Moore, Noël Coward, Ethel Merman, and Lionel Bart, among many others. If she was no longer a chart-topping star, Cogan was still a much-loved figure to her peers, and remained in touch with the cutting edge of the popular music business, recording the music of Burt Bacharach when he was still getting established, and befriending McCartney, who must've loved making the acquaintance of EMI's biggest female pop star from the period in which he was growing up. McCartney contributed percussion to the B-side of one of her mid-'60s singles, which resulted in her covering "Eight Days a Week," as well as "Yesterday," "I Feel Fine," and "Ticket to Ride." There's no telling where that friendship might've led -- Cogan could easily have been another, more mature Cilla Black, her voice serving as an outlet for McCartney songs that weren't suited to the Beatles. If her version of "Eight Days a Week" -- a most startling re-thinking of the song, transforming it into a gloriously lyrical torch number -- is any indication, she might've done wonderful, glorious things with "For No One," "Your Mother Should Know," and "When I'm Sixty-Four." Alas, it was not to be. Cogan had just proved capable of making the transition to a more rocking sound, or at least of embracing some components of the last few years of changes in music, when tragedy struck. In 1966, she was diagnosed with cancer. She received treatments and planned to continue her career, even writing several songs (under the name "Al Western") that were recorded by other singers. She kept working during the year, and an album was intended. Cogan continued concertizing, and while touring Sweden, she fainted. She was diagnosed as terminally ill, and died on October 26 of that year in a London hospital.

Her final album, Alma, was released early the following year, but Cogan was never entirely forgotten. Collections of her music have shown up throughout the CD era, including a complete triple-CD anthology (A-Z of Alma). In 1992, the BBC presented a television documentary about her life and career. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Celebration - The Ultimate Collection

Disc 1

1. Dreamboat

2. To Be Worthy Of You

3. If I Had A Golden Umbrella

4. Sittin' In The Sun

5. Bell Bottom Blues

6. Little Things Mean A Lot

7. I Can't Tell A Waltz From A Tango

8. Twenty Tiny Fingers

9. Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo

10. Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane

11. Sycamore Tree

12. Mama Teach Me To Dance

13. Lizzie Borden

14. Hernando's Hideaway

15. Mambo Italiano

16. Why Do Fools Fall In Love

17. In The Middle Of The House

18. Stairway Of Love

19. Willie Can

20. You Me And Us

21. Whatever Lola Wants

22. The Story Of My Life

23. Sugartime

24. Last Night On The Back Porch

25. Blue Skies

Disc 2

1. Ja-Da

2. The Train Of Love

3. Just Couldn't Resist Her With Her Pocket Transistor

4. All Alone

5. She's Got You

6. Tell Him

7. Fly Me To The Moon

8. Just Once More

10. It's You

11. I Knew Right Away

12. Snakes And Snails

13. Don't You Know Yockomo

14. The Birds And The Bees

15. Trains And Boats And Planes

16. Now That I've Found You

17. Love Is A Word

18. I Know

19. Quanda La Luna

20. This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'

21. Let Her Go

22. There's A Time And Place

25. Jolly Good Company

Disc 3

1. Help!

2. I Feel Fine

3. Eight Days A Week

4. Ticket To Ride

5. Love Is

6. Taking A Chance On Love

7. You Do Something To Me

8. If This Isn't Love

9. Comes Love

10. As Long As He Needs Me

11. I Dream Of You More Than You Dream I Do

12. Let's Fall In Love

13. My Heart Stood Still

14. Love Walked In

15. All I Do Is Dream Of You

16. Falling In Love With Love

17. I Love You Much Too Much

18. I Can't Give You Anything But Love

19. I've Never Been In Love Before

20. The Lady's In Love With You

22. Love Is Just Around The Corner

23. If Love Were All

24. More

25. I Get A Kick Out Of You

x

Track List: Best Of

1. Bell Bottom Blues

2. This Ole House

3. Little Things Mean A Lot

4. I Can't Tell A Waltz From A Tango

5. Dreamboat

6. Banjo's Back In Town

7. Go On By

8. Twenty Tiny Fingers

9. Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo

10. Willie Can

11. Birds & The Bees

12. Why Do Fools Fall In Love

13. In The Middle Of The House

14. You Me & Us

15. Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)

16. Just Couldn't Resist Her With Her Pocket Transistor

17. Story Of My Life

18. Sugartime

20. Last Night On The Back Porch

21. We Got Love

22. Dream Talk

23. Train Of Love

24. Cowboy Jimmy Joe

25. When I Fall In Love

x

Track List: The Ultimate Alma Cogan

1. Bell Bottom Blues

2. I Can't Tell A Waltz From A Tango

3. Dreamboat

4. You Me And Us

5. Little Things Mean A Lot

6. That's Happiness

7. I Love You Much Too Much

8. In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree

9. Twenty Tiny Fingers

10. Lizzie Borden

11. Love Is

12. Fly Me To The Moon

13. Ja-Da

14. Hold Your Hand Out Naughty Boy !

15. Banjo's Back In Town

16. Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo

17. Hernando's Hideaway

18. To Be Worthy Of You

19. Give A Fool A Chance

20. Last Night On The Back Porch

21. Gettin' Ready For Freddy

22. Sugartime

23. Why Do Fools Fall In Love

24. Help!

25. Eight Days A Week

Comments

Report as inappropriate
olivia.vasqu e z 2 0
I remember this song as a little girl when I saw damn yankees and never forgot that song. Thank you Alma Cogan for such a great song that will live long in my happiest memories!
Report as inappropriate
jmhubbard315
What a talent gone too soon. A beautiful voice
Report as inappropriate
Cancer is begining to be to most scariest thing in the world for me now... i keep hearing of all these great poeple getting and dying from Cancer and i wonder... is that how i will die? truly sad.
Report as inappropriate
Anyone know if she was the artist featured in the music video played in the film "Ghost Land"?
Report as inappropriate
chavela0303
this is the info I found in google
Report as inappropriate
chavela0303
Singer Anne Shelton attributed her friend Cogan's health decline to "highly experimental " injections she took to lose weight saying "after those injections, was never well again".<20>

In early 1966 Cogan embarked on a series of club dates in the north of England: she collapsed after two performances suffering stomach pains and returned to London where she was diagnosed with stomach cancer.<12> She received treatment and planned to continue her career, even co-writing several songs with
Report as inappropriate
Just heard her......... . . G o o d
Report as inappropriate
great
Report as inappropriate
A wonderful and vibrant singer who was taken away much, much too soon. However her superb singing lives on, thankfully, for all of us to enjoy.
Report as inappropriate
i heard she got shot for this cover
Report as inappropriate
She sang some great songs.

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