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Craig Douglas

England during the late '50s had its equivalents to Frankie Avalon and Fabian, teenage boy singers whose sounds were specifically tailored to appeal to the most romantic sides of the young female psyche and not offend their parents. Craig Douglas was one of the better of these and has proved one of the most enduring, still performing more than 40 years after cutting his first record.

Born Terry Perkins on the Isle of Wight, he was one of a pair of twins (and those twins were one of three sets among nine children). His mother sang well, one of Douglas' sisters performed on the Isle of Wight, and he'd reportedly begun trying to sing while still in the crib. An indifferent student, he preferred athletics and being outdoors, which led to his volunteering during a school holiday to help the milkman make his deliveries.

It was the latter brief diversion that got the boy labeled the Singing Milkman at the outset of his career. At 16, his mother entered him in a local talent contest and he won by singing "Love Letters in the Sand." He got to a final round, where he specifically avoided doing the standard Elvis Presley imitations that his competitors presented. This led to an appearance at a variety show on the island, where he was seen by London agent Bunny Lewis, whose wife was performing on the same bill. She, in turn, was impressed with the boy's poise and professionalism. Lewis arranged for singing lessons for the 16-year-old and began grooming him for a career on the stage in London. He also acquired the name Craig Douglas.

His breakthrough came on The Six-Five Special, then the only real showcase for rock & roll on British television. Douglas was booked on the show the same week that Cliff Richard and Joe Brown appeared, but he made an impression even in their company: A few days later, he was presented with two huge sacks of fan mail from the performance. The Six-Five Special led Douglas to a recording contract and a string of successes. Much of Douglas' career was spent at EMI, for which he had a number one hit with his version of "Only Sixteen," but also charted very high with "A Teenager in Love," "The Heart of a Teenage Girl," "Pretty Blue Eyes," and "When My Little Girl Is Smiling."

Douglas wasn't really a rock & roll singer, his diction being too good and his delivery too straight-ahead for that designation. His early records call up images of Ricky Nelson but, like a lot of young British singers of his era, he quickly aimed for a more mature audience. His singing was very emotive but also very clean. He was obviously more comfortable with dignified pop music, such as "Time," than with the more rocking numbers like "Ring-A-Ding" that he was occasionally called upon to record, with its slurred lyrics, honking saxes, and loud electric guitars (although Douglas acquitted himself well in that setting).

He made the usual moves, appearing on film soundtracks (Two and Two Make Six) and in movies (It's Trad, Dad; A Painted Smile), as well as numerous television shows. Douglas' appearance alongside his EMI stablemate Helen Shapiro in It's Trad, Dad (which was Richard Lester's first feature and a dry run for A Hard Day's Night) showed off his strengths and weaknesses. He was charismatic simply based on his good looks, but was rather a stiff on camera as an actor, especially next to the vivacious Shapiro (who was also about five years younger than the then 21-year-old Douglas). Rock & roll was just another musical genre to Douglas, which is not to say he was wrong, it's just that antique numbers like "It All Depends on You" or "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" done straight will never resonate the same way "Dream Lover" or "Rainbows" will to listeners born after 1945.

Douglas' time on the English charts ended in 1962 and his major recording career came to a halt a year later with the advent of the Liverpool sound, but he continues to perform regularly in clubs, on cruises, and in cabarets, as well as international tours. Indeed, well into the 1990s, he had an annual month-long booking in Hong Kong. He's a fondly remembered and talented exponent of England's early flirtation with rock & roll. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Capital Gold Fifties Legends

Disc 1

1. Jailhouse Rock

2. Rave On

3. Wake Up Little Susie

4. Lost John

5. Singing The Blues

6. Living Doll

7. The Story Of My Life

8. It's Late

9. Oh Carol

10. What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For

11. Stupid Cupid

12. Yakety Yak

13. Witch Doctor

14. Hoots Mon

15. See You Later Alligator

16. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

17. Ooby Dooby

18. Good Golly Miss Molly

19. C'mon Everybody

20. At The Hop

21. Move It

22. Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O

23. Please Don't Touch

24. All Shook Up

25. Be Bop A Lula

26. Willie And The Hand Jive

27. Why Do Fools Fall In Love

28. Sweet Little Sixteen

29. Endless Sleep

30. I Walk The Line

31. Blueberry Hill

32. What I'd Say

Disc 2

1. Dream Lover

2. Magic Moments

3. Whatever Will Be, Will Be

4. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

5. Just Walkin' In The Rain

6. Kiss Me Honey Honey

7. Green Door

9. Rawhide

10. This Ole House

11. When

12. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat

13. Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po Po)

15. That's Amore

16. Three Coins In The Fountain

17. Rock And Roll Waltz

18. Sixteen Tons

19. Day-O (Banana Boat Song)

20. Mr. Sandman

21. Dreamboat

22. Rockin' Robin

23. A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)

24. What Do You Want

25. Only Sixteen

26. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

27. Butterfly

28. Big Man

29. All I Have To Do Is Dream

30. Travellin' Light

31. Smile

32. It's Only Make Believe

x

Track List: Complete Sixties

Disc 1

1. You Got What It Takes

2. Little Boy Lost

3. Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport

5. Let's Have A Party

6. Brontosaurus Stomp

7. You're Sixteen

8. You Talk Too Much

9. Perfidia

10. Goodness Gracious Me

12. Rubber Ball

13. Wings Of A Dove

15. Exodus

16. Blue Moon

17. A Scottish Soldier

18. A Hundred Pounds Of Clay

19. Mother-In-Law

20. Dream Girl

Disc 2

1. Time

2. Goodbye Cruel World

3. My Boomerang Won't Come Back

4. Let There Be Drums

5. Peppermint Twist

6. Wanderer

7. Old Rivers

8. I Remember You

9. Locomotion

10. From A Jack To A King

11. Boys

12. Surfside

13. Tell Him

14. Proud Of You

15. Sukiyaki

16. Surf City

17. Danke Schoen

18. Painted, Tainted Rose

19. Not Responsible

20. You'll Never Walk Alone

Disc 3

1. He's My Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy

2. He Walks Like A Man

3. Hippy Hippy Shake

4. Little Children

6. The House Of The Rising Sun

7. Do Wah Diddy Diddy

8. Tobacco Road

10. Come A Little Bit Closer

11. I'll Never Find Another You

12. This Diamond Ring

13. It's Alright

16. Mission Bell

17. The Hucklebuck

18. I Live For The Sun

19. A Lover's Concerto

20. Tears

Disc 4

1. Girls, Girls, Girls

2. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

4. Tar And Cement

5. Born Free

6. Bus Stop

10. Good Vibrations

11. What Am I Doing Here With You

12. I've Been A Bad, Bad Boy

14. You Made Me What I Am

15. Hi Ho Silver Lining

17. Ode To Billie Joe

18. To Sir With Love

20. Different Drum

Disc 5

2. She Wears My Ring

3. Honey

4. On The Road Again

5. The Weight

6. Kentucky Woman

7. Try To Remember

8. Lily The Pink

9. I'm The Urban Spaceman

10. Crimson And Clover

11. Games People Play

12. Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)

14. Galveston

16. Good Morning Starshine

17. Put A Little Love In Your Heart

19. Arkansas Grass

20. Think About Tomorrow Today

Comments

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How wonderful to hear the songs I grew up with, These songs Grip you in a Way that the Kids today don't seem to understand. LOL, Their Loss.

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