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Marty Wilde

England in the late 1950s had its share of rock & roll stars -- Cliff Richard was the most successful and was still at it in 2004, some 46 years later, with a knighthood to show for it on top of everything else; and the late Billy Fury is still revered by those aware of the music. In between them, chronologically, stands Marty Wilde. Born Reginald Leonard Smith in Blackheath on April 15, 1939, he grew up in Greenwich, in southeast London. The son of a professional soldier, he lived in various parts of England throughout his childhood. He reached the middle of his teen years living in London, just at the point that Lonnie Donegan, playing in a jazz band run by Chris Barber, had jump-started the entire skiffle boom with "Rock Island Line" which, in turn, fostered the beginnings of a rock & roll boom in England -- an aspiring singer, Smith was a natural prospect as he was already proficient on the ukulele and simply switched to guitar. By 1957, in the wake of Tommy Steele's sudden rise to stardom, London was filling up with would-be rock & rollers, including the 17-year-old Smith, who was performing at the Condor Club in Soho one night -- for a pound a night plus a meal -- where he was spotted by Larry Parnes. Parnes was the most successful manager on London's newly spawned rock & roll scene, and, among other attributes, was known for choosing highly expressive stage names for his artists, intended to insinuate themselves on the audience's memory -- he had already scored with Tommy Steele (aka Tommy Hicks), Vince Eager, and Duffy Power, among others. Reg Smith was signed up, renamed Marty Wilde, and proved so popular on the subsequent package tour where he was booked, that it was no problem getting him on to television, and then signed to Philips Records. His first single, "Honeycomb," failed to chart, and it wasn't until "Endless Sleep" in the summer of 1958 that he saw any success. That record reached the U.K. Top Five in 1958, around the time that Cliff Richard was cutting his first single. Wilde became a fixture on England's early rock & roll television showcases, most notably Oh Boy! and Boy Meets Girl, and he later did a Royal Variety Performance. He was a major rival to Cliff Richard for more than a year, from mid-1958 until the opening months of 1960. Both were powerful singers, but Wilde had a different kind of voice and presence, with a dark, brooding quality that came out in his rock & roll ballads -- one couldn't imagine Marty Wilde doing Cliff Richard's light pop ballad "Living Doll," but it was easy to visualize him doing Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" or, even more so, "Woman Love." He went hitless for the rest of 1958, but the following year, he charted four consecutive hit singles: A cover of Ritchie Valens' "Donna"; a rendition of "A Teenager in Love" that eclipsed Dion's original; and "Sea of Love," each of which made it to Number Three on the charts. He closed the year with what proved to be his defining hit, "Bad Boy," which he also wrote -- a dark, threatening ballad, it oozed menace and mystery by the standards of its day, and it became Wilde's biggest single, even reaching the lower level of the charts in America, where it was released by Epic Records (which had a licensing deal with Philips) as a single and on an LP. Musically, he had enough credibility so that his band, the Wild Cats, was called on to back Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent when they toured England, and he ended up appearing jointly with the two American rock & roll legends. The Wild Cats were a story unto themselves -- recruited in 1958, their original lineup consisted of Big Jim Sullivan on lead guitar, Tex Makins on bass, Tony Belcher playing rhythm guitar, Alan LeClair at the piano, and Bobby Woodman on drums; they were noted for their wild, over-the-top stage act, and this worked for a few months before the lineup shifted. Finally, with Sullivan and Belcher remaining, Brian "Licorice" Locking was brought in on bass, and Brian Bennett on the drums, and that quartet became the most famous version of the Wild Cats, and the lineup that backed Vincent and Cochran. Wilde was still at the top of his game when, while appearing at Birkenhead in 1959, he was approached by a Liverpool singer-guitarist-songwriter named Ronald Wycherley, who was trying to get some original songs to Wilde and Parnes for their consideration. Parnes was impressed with the songs and the playing, but also the good looks of the young man and his honest, easy charm; soon after Wycherley turned into Billy Fury, who would ride the British charts for four years. And late that year, Wilde married Joyce Barker, a member of the singing group the Vernons Girls -- they had their first child, Kim, a year later. He released two LPs, Wilde About Marty and Showcase, in 1959 and 1960, respectively. By the end of 1960, however, the moment had passed to Fury, even as Wilde continued to command the public's attention. He was never able to replicate the success of "Bad Boy," though he did reach the Top Ten once more, in 1961, with the highly animated pop/rock novelty tune "Rubber Ball," and had a Number 20 hit in 1962 with the pop standard "Jezebel." He also maintained a top-flight band, whose members included a young guitarist named Justin Hayward, later of the Moody Blues, who credited Wilde with teaching him a great deal about music that served him well in decades to come. Wilde was enough of a star to perform in the London production of Bye Bye Birdie, but by 1963, when the Liverpool sound came along, he was effectively regarded as part of music's past. His subsequent recordings were all-but-invisible, although he enjoyed continued success in an offshoot field, as a composer: "Ice in the Sun" by Status Quo, "Jesamine" by the Casuals, and Lulu's recording of "I'm a Tiger" were three of his more notable hits as a songwriter. Curiously, Wilde did chart once more in America, with the single "Abergavenny," which he recorded under the pseudonym Shannon, which was released stateside by the Heritage label. And long after his own era on the charts had passed, "Bad Boy" was covered by such diverse contemporary talents as Robert Gordon and Nirvana. In the early 1980s, Wilde's daughter Kim Wilde emerged as a star vocalist in the burgeoning new wave field, and has enjoyed two decades of success. Meanwhile, Wilde himself never entirely gave up performing, and in the 1990s enjoyed a fresh wave of interest in his music in England, as audiences began to take stock of their surviving music heroes. In 2003 and 2004, in his mid-60s and backed by the current lineup of the Wild Cats, he was maintaining a full performing schedule for half the year, more than 40 years after his last charting single. ~ 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: Joe Meek: Portrait Of A Genius - The RGM Legacy

Disc 1

2. Yellow Rose Of Texas

3. The Next Train Out Of Town

4. It Feels So Good

5. Robin Hood

6. No Other Love

7. Bad Penny Blues

8. Lullabye

9. Lay Down Your Arms

10. Jailhouse Blues

11. Green Door

12. Petite Fleur

13. Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O

14. Garden Of Eden

15. Rock And Roll King Cole

16. Putting On The Style

17. Last Train To San Fernando

18. Sizzling Hot

21. A House A Car And A Wedding Ring

23. Rock Around The Mailbag

24. Blackout

25. Sea Of Love

26. Mr. Blue

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

Disc 2

4. Just Too Late

6. Heart Of A Teenage Girl

7. Angela Jones

8. North Wind

9. My Baby Doll

10. Once Upon A Time

11. My Baby's Gone Away

14. Johnny Remember Me

15. Sweet Little Sixteen

18. The Outlaws

19. Orbit Around The Moon

20. Husky Team

21. Entry Of The Globbots

22. Tune For Short Cowboys

24. Crazy Man Crazy

26. Dance Legless Russian

Disc 3

2. Telstar

4. Telstar

11. Globetrotter

12. There's Lots More Where This Came From

16. A Fool In Love

20. Just Like Eddie

23. Big Breaker

24. Sky Men

27. Please Let It Happen To Me

Disc 4

8. Have I The Right

12. I'm In Love With You

15. Little Baby

17. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

23. Movin' In

x

Track List: Twangy Guitars, Reverb And Heavenly Choirs: The RGM Sound

Disc 1

1. Burn My Candle

2. Lost John

3. Moby Dick

5. Lay Down Your Arms

6. Green Door

7. Garden Of Eden

8. Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O

9. Petite Fleur

10. Puttin On The Style

11. Last Train To San Fernando

12. Wild Eyes And Tender Lips

13. Footprints In The Snow

14. The Story Of My Life

15. A House, A Car, And A Wedding Ring

16. Venus

17. Where Do I Go From Here?

18. Hold Back Tomorrow

19. Golden Cage

20. One More Sunrise (Morgen)

21. Sea Of Love

22. Mr Blue

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

24. Summer Set

25. Bad Boy

26. Be Mine

27. The Point Of No Return

28. Green Jeans

30. Heart Of A Teenage Girl

Disc 2

1. Angela Jones

2. Tell Laura I Love Her

3. Sunday Date

5. Along Came Caroline

6. Can't You Hear My Heart

7. Time Will Tell

8. I'm Waiting For Tomorrow

9. No More Tomorrows

10. My Baby Doll

11. Teenage Love

12. Swingin Low

13. My Baby's Gone Away

14. Ambush

15. You Got What I Like

16. Lone Rider

17. Johnny Remember Me

18. Sweet Little Sixteen

19. Tribute To Buddy Holly

20. Night Of The Vampire

21. Wild Wind

22. Valley Of The Sioux

23. Girl Bride

24. Seventeen Come Sunday

25. When I Get Paid

26. Oh Lover

28. Husky Team

29. Til The Following Night

30. Son This Is She

Comments

Report as inappropriate
gertard951
I'd certainly didn't know that Marty Wilde had a daughter.
Report as inappropriate
No he didn't. It's a fine rendition.
Report as inappropriate
Marty Wilde ruined Jody Reynolds Endless Sleep!!!!!!! ! ! ! !

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