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The Beverley Sisters

With a style similar to the Andrews Sisters, female vocal group the Beverley Sisters have been singing together for nearly 70 years as a trio with no change in personnel throughout all this time. They really are sisters: the oldest, Joy, was born on May 5, 1929, and the two younger twins, Babs (Babette) and Teddie, were both born exactly three years later on the May 5, 1932, all in Bethnal Green in East London. During World War II they were evacuated to the Midlands, where they answered an advertisement from the company behind "the Ovalteenies," a group of children who promoted the virtues of the malt drink Ovaltine, mainly through a catchy jingle on the radio. The agency was searching for "Bonnie Babies" to further the campaign, and when Jock Ware, the person conducting the auditions, asked the trio what they could do, they replied that they could sing a little.

Their potential was spotted immediately, as the girls sang one of the hymns they had learned at school back in Bethnal Green in perfect harmony, not unusual for such close siblings. They were offered a contract worth 15 Guineas (£15.75) ,which was more money than they had ever seen in their short lives. Ware was friendly with Cecil Madden, who was second in command at the BBC in Alexandra Palace, and they were invited to an audience at the BBC's wartime location of Bedford. It was during this first audition that the girls unexpectedly met Glenn Miller, who was recording at that time in Bedford. He was so enthralled with the young sisters that he offered them a choice of any of his musicians to make a recording with proper accompaniment. The BBC originally planned to feature the sisters on radio, and were amazed when the girls named several of Glenn Miller's bandmembers who had agreed to perform with them. In 1944, the bandmembers went to Paris to join their leader, but of course Miller never arrived, his plane crashing over the English Channel with all on board lost.

When the war was over, the BBC began broadcasting television from Alexandra Palace, and the Beverley Sisters were early hits of the new medium, always singing live -- although they retained their humble roots, with their mother making all their costumes due to the rationing of clothes that had continued long after the war. The Glenn Miller band had not forgotten them, either, and they were invited to appear live on NBC with the boys backing them. The whole family, including their parents, moved to New York, but returned to London so that the sisters could star at the Bagatelle, where they were noticed by Vic Parnell, who wanted to book them to appear at the London Palladium with Gracie Fields. However, with contracts having been signed, Fields demanded that the sisters should not appear with her, and no further explanation was ever given. The following year presented a different situation, with Danny Kaye starring at the Palladium, and he had no such qualms about appearing with a group of singing sisters. Following this success, the BBC gave the Beverley Sisters a TV show of their own, and so began the series Three Little Girls on View, featuring the girls singing top songs of the day. The show was so successful that the following year it was renamed Those Beverley Sisters, and ran for seven years.

Never really considering themselves a recording act and preferring to sing live in theaters, they nevertheless cut some records at Abbey Road Studios, their first hit being a harmony version of the Christmas song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which reached number six on the charts, barely losing out to Jimmy Boyd's cute American version. Most of their hits were released around Christmastime, with further successes including the singles "Little Drummer Boy" and "Little Donkey" and an EP that hit the separate EP charts in 1960, The Bevs for Christmas. They were in demand by advertisers and were featured singing the jingles of many a product during the 1950s. One fan of their music was English football captain Billy Wright -- Joy fell in love with Wright and they married not long after their initial meeting. Teddie also married a sportsman, Peter Felix, a British water skiing champion. While performing in Blackpool, the girls' talent was recognized by Irving Berlin, who wrote the song "Sisters" especially with them in mind. Although they liked the song, they were reluctant to record it at first, as they believed they would be thought arrogant singing a song about themselves. But they eventually relented and the song, although not a hit, became their signature tune.

During the 1960s and 1970s the sisters, who had five children in their families by now, only took local London bookings, preferring not to travel far from home. In the 1980s the children -- who had inherited their mothers' talent for harmony -- began singing under the stage name of the Foxes so as not to use the Beverley Sisters name. One night at the London Hippodrome nightclub where the Foxes were playing, Peter Stringfellow requested that the mums, although by then in semi-retirement, appear on stage themselves, and although this was not their sort of venue (with loud amplified music and laser light shows), they finally agreed. The reception they received was beyond their wildest imagination and led to two entirely new careers: performing for the troops overseas as a nostalgia act, and on the gay circuit as a camp act (even releasing a dance version of their song "Sisters"). They are still active in the 21st century, performing for the Queen as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002. They also signed up for a ten-date tour with Max Bygraves to re-create the 1952 Royal Variety Performance in which they appeared together for the first time. They took part in the D-Day 60th anniversary memorial in 2004, and in January 2006 all three sisters were awarded MBEs in the New Year's honors list. ~ Sharon Mawer
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 1953 British Hit Parade: Britain's Greatest Hits Volume 2

Disc 1

1. Faith Can Move Mountains

2. Make It Soon

4. The Glow-Worm

5. Faith Can Move Mountains

6. Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes

7. Vanessa

8. Now

10. She Wears Red Feathers

11. Broken Wings

12. Wonderful Copenhagen

13. Why Don't You Believe Me

15. All The Time And Everywhere

16. Girl In The Wood

17. Night Train

19. How Much Is That Doggie In The Window

20. Oh Happy Day

21. Little Red Monkey

22. I Believe

24. Somebody Stole My Gal

Disc 2

1. Pretty Little Black Eyed Susie

2. Side By Side

3. Broken Wings

4. Pretend

7. Tell Me A Story

8. Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me

9. Coronation Rag

10. Terry's Theme From Limelight

11. I'm Walking Behind You

12. Terry's Theme From Limelight

14. In A Golden Coach (There's A Heart Of Gold)

15. Windsor Waltz

16. I'm Walking Behind You

17. Hot Toddy

18. Rachel

19. Bushel And A Peck

20. Seven Lonely Days

21. Let's Walk That A Way

23. Can't I

24. Eternally

25. Look At That Girl

Disc 3

1. Where The Wind Blows

3. Kiss

4. Flirtation Waltz

5. Bridge Of Sighs

6. Hey Joe

7. Answer Me

8. Swedish Rhapsody

10. Dragnet

11. Answer Me

12. Chicka Boom

14. Vaya Con Dios

17. Dragnet

18. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

19. Let's Have A Party

20. Swedish Rhapsody

21. Ricochet

22. Rags To Riches

23. Oh Mein Papa

24. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

25. Cloud Lucky Seven

x

Track List: 50's Radio Hits & Jukebox Oldies

Disc 1

1. Click Clack

2. Rockabilly Party

3. Them There Eyes

4. Oh Lonesome Me

5. I'm Stickin' With You

6. The Joker (That's What They Call Me)

7. Round And Round

8. Thunderbird

9. Secretly

10. First Date, First Kiss, First Love

11. I'm Wanderin'

12. I'm Walkin'

13. A Lover's Question

14. Fabulous

15. Dynamite

16. Jim Dandy

17. Skinny Minnie

18. Shame, Shame, Shame

20. Woo-Hoo

21. Turn Me Loose

22. Hula Love

23. Okefenokee

24. Skiffle Party

25. Shenandoah Waltz

26. A Lover's Prayer

27. Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

28. Dig

29. Hey Mae

30. White Lightning

31. Lucky Lips

32. Never Like This

33. Guitar Boogie Shuffle

34. Dance Me Daddy

35. Sittin' In The Balcony

36. This Should Go On Forever

37. Get A Job

39. One Summer Night

40. New Fangled Tango

41. Bim Bam

42. C.C. Rider

44. Pretty Blue Eyes

45. The Stroll

46. I'm Coming Over To Love You Tonight

47. Mr. Lee

48. Kansas City

50. I Am With You

Disc 2

51. I Never Had A Sweetheart

52. Catch A Falling Star

53. Mr. Wonderful

54. Mourning In The Morning

55. 6-5 Jive

56. The Big Beat

57. Why, Why, Why

58. Just Because

59. Wait For Me (Ti Diro)

60. I Love You

62. Hula Hoop Song

63. Crazy Little Daisy

64. Just A Dream

65. Fraulein

66. I Apologise

67. Deep Purple

68. Smokie, Pt. 1

69. C'mon Let's Go

70. The Hawaiian Wedding Song

71. By The Riverside

72. Don't You Just Know It

73. Be My Love

74. Black Slacks

75. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz

76. Little Bitty Pretty One

77. Whatever Lola Wants

78. Say When

80. When

81. The Breeze And I

83. Pretend

84. Heart And Soul

85. Wine, Women, And Gold

86. Blueberry Hill

87. Too Much Boogie

88. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

89. California Zephyr

90. Blue Monday Blues

91. Rock-A My Soul

92. I'll Do Anything You Say

93. Harlem Blues

94. Let's Dance

98. Someone On My Mind

99. Bat Masterson

100. Baby, What's Wrong With You

x

Track List: Helen, Dusty, Susan, Carol & More

Disc 1

1. The Loco-Motion

2. Kiss 'n' Run

3. Who Does He Think He Is

4. The Boy I Used To Know

5. All Alone

6. Sour Grapes

7. Tell Him

8. Since You've Been Gone

9. So Many Ways

11. Kissin'

12. I Dreamed

13. Oh Oh I'm Falling In Love Again

15. Plenty Good Lovin'

16. Juvenile Delinquent

17. Point Of No Return

19. Rhumba Cardi

20. Prepare To Meet Your Fate Mate

21. Somebody's Smiling (While I'm Crying)

22. In A Matter Of Moments

23. Some Of These Days

24. Head Over Heels In Love

25. Mr. Dee-Jay

26. Wait For It

27. This Ole House

28. Keep Away From Other Girls

29. Message In A Bottle

30. My Baby's Gone

31. Will You Love Me Tomorrow

32. Too Late

33. Danny

34. Climb Every Mountain

Disc 2

1. Little Miss Lonely

3. Never In A Million Years

4. When You Ask About Love

5. I'm Thankful

6. Don't You Ever Change Your Mind

7. Not Never Not Now

8. You Can't Catch Me

9. When's He Gonna Kiss Me

10. All The Other Girls

11. On The Outside Looking In

12. Don't Wanna Go

13. Far Away Places

14. Born To Be With You

15. Two Hearts Two Kisses

16. This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'

17. Stairway Of Love

18. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat

19. Little Cutie

20. Just For Fun

21. Look What You've Done To Me

22. Love And Kisses

23. May Your Heart Stay Young Forever

24. So What

25. Johnny Jingo

26. There Goes The Lucky One

27. Soda Pop Hop

28. I Didn't Mean What I Said

29. Crazy Guy

31. Let There Be Love

32. Amor

33. Moanin'

34. As Long As He Needs Me

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