b. Edna May Squires, 25 March 1918, Llanelli, Dyfed, Wales, d. 14 April 1998, Llwynpia, Mid Glamorgan, Wales. A dynamic, dramatic and highly emotional singer, who retained an army of fans throughout a career spanning over 50 years. At her ‘live’ performances, especially during the 70s, the audience were there not just to be entertained, but also to pay homage. At the age of 18 she moved to London to become a singer, and worked at the Burlington Club, where she was discovered by American pianist and band leader Charlie Kunz. She sang with his band at the Casani Club, and made her first radio broadcast from there. In 1938 she joined songwriter Billy Reid And His Orchestra, beginning a professional and personal partnership that lasted until 1951, when she left to concentrate on a solo career. In between, she recorded many of Reid’s songs, such as ‘The Gypsy’, ‘It’s A Pity To Say Goodnight’, ‘A Tree In A Meadow’ and ‘When China Boy Meets China Girl’. During the 40s Reid and Squires teamed up to become one of the most successful double acts on the UK variety circuit, and she made frequent appearances on BBC Radio’s Melody Lane, Band Parade, Variety Fanfare and Henry Hall’s Guest Night.
In 1953 Squires had a UK chart hit with one of Reid’s biggest hit songs, ‘I’m Walking Behind You’ and, in the same year, married the young British actor Roger Moore. They settled in California for most of the 50s, sometimes playing cabaret engagements. After the couple’s acrimonious split in 1961, Squires made the UK Top 30 in collaboration with personality pianist Russ Conway, with her own composition ‘Say It With Flowers’. She also became the first British artist to play London’s Talk Of The Town. In 1968, after several unfruitful years, she financed her own album, Say It With Flowers, for President Records. This was followed by a version of the Stevie Wonder hit ‘For Once In My Life’, along with ‘Till’ and ‘My Way’ (an anthem which fitted her as perfectly as it did Frank Sinatra). During 1970, her version spent nearly six months in the UK chart, and inspired her to hire the London Palladium for a sell-out comeback concert, which she played to an ecstatic reception; a double album was released on Decca Records. In the 70s Squires was headlining again throughout the UK, in concerts and cabaret, and also returned to the USA to play New York’s Carnegie Hall. She hired the Palladium again in 1974 for a concert in memory of Billy Reid, and in 1979 released another double album, With All My Heart. During the 80s she became semi-retired, giving a few concerts, one of which became We Clowns - Live At The Dominion (1984), on her own Esban label; she also released Three Beautiful Words Of Love on Conifer.
Squires’ career was bathed in controversy and she became one of the most notoriously prolific libel litigants in showbusiness history, before eventually being instructed by a weary judge that she could no longer enter any further litigation without High Court consent. In 1989 she was evicted from her 17-bedroom Thames-side mansion that had once belonged to the celebrated actress Lily Langtry, and in 1995 her home was reportedly under threat once again. During the early 90s, Squires was still performing occasionally and in 1991 she released The Best Of The EMI Years, a 20-track compilation of her work with Billy Reid, some of her own compositions, and several of the other recordings she made for Columbia Records during the early 60s. After she was diagnosed with cancer, Squires auctioned the final items of her jewellery, and Roger Moore is said to have contributed to the cost of the treatment which failed to prevent her death in April 1998.