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Shirley Bassey

Known to Americans most for her belting rendition of the theme to Goldfinger, the 1964 edition in the James Bond series (as well as 1971's Diamonds Are Forever and 1979's Moonraker), Shirley Bassey was one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century. Known as Bassey the Belter and also the Tigress of Tiger Bay, her early career in touring shows and cabaret brought her a recording contract with Philips by the late '50s. After reaching the top of the British charts in 1959 with "As I Love You" and later "Reach for the Stars/Climb Every Mountain," Bassey was tapped to swing the theme song to the third James Bond vehicle. Her voice, brassy and sexy, conveyed the James Bond myth perfectly and became a big hit in America. Though later chart placings in the U.S. were few, she continued to do well in Great Britain, France and the Netherlands into the mid-'70s.

Born in January 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales, Shirley Bassey was the youngest of seven children. Her parents, a Nigerian sailor and an English woman, divorced before she was three years old, but they kept the family together for the most part, and Shirley was able to sing duets with her brother at family get-togethers. After finishing school, she found a job at a local factory, and earned extra money singing at men's clubs after-hours. Bassey traveled around the country in revues during the early '50s, and made her big breakout in 1955 at a London Christmas show given by comedian Al Read (though it was promoted by bandleader Jack Hylton, who had caught Bassey's act at the nearby Albany Club). Soon after, Shirley Bassey began appearing in Read's revue, Such Is Life. The show ran for over a year, and gained her a recording contract for Philips Records. "Banana Boat Song" hit the British Top Ten in early 1957, followed by her number one hits, 1959's "As I Love You" and 1961's "Reach for the Stars/Climb Every Mountain." A 1962 pairing with arranger Nelson Riddle increased her prestige in America, and a vaunted live show gained her headlining spots in both New York and Las Vegas during the early '60s. Popular recognition in the United States came in early 1965, when "Goldfinger" hit number eight in the American charts, instantly becoming her signature song across the Atlantic. (Strangely though, it missed even the Top 20 in Great Britain.)

Bassey's hits in the U.K. continued into the mid-'70s, led by Top Ten entries such as "Something," "For All We Know" and "Never Never Never." After the crowning achievement of her career, a 1977 Britannia Award for Best Female Solo Singer in the Last 50 Years, Shirley Bassey gained her own highly rated BBC-TV show in the late '70s, but gradually slowed down her busy schedule during the next decade. Semi-retired to Switzerland by 1981, she nevertheless emerged quite frequently, spurred by the recording of several television specials and LPs, including a 1987 date with the synth-pop group Yello. Bassey became much more visible during the '90s, opening a nightclub in Cardiff, and touring the world several times. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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I love Shirley,
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Please play the song All That Love Went To Waste
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GOLDFINGAAAA A A A A A
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Diamonds are Forever!!!! love her!!
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clintwaves
I grew up listening to her albums during Summers by the pool in South Africa. My Mother being English grew up with her. Her voice is spectacular, and still listen to her frequently, bringing back all those memories. She is the Nat King Cole of woman singers.
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Listening to her sing on record can inspire you to sing along, seeing her perform on stage can inspire you not only to sing but dance as well! What a performer!
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shawnkearns1
I love Shirley!!!!
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The bio misses her work with Propellerhea d s on their album decksanddrum s a n d r o c k a n d r o l l . The song History Repeating was awesome and showed that she could still belt it out.
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I was trying to sing along to her in my car and i think i must of traumatized the cars next to me in traffic. :D
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What a voice ! What a way to sing !! One of the best !!
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She should do a duet with Tom Jones
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One last thing.
She did an album covering almost all the Bond themes in her own style.
great disk.
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The best she is at what she does.
Hopefully she will do at least one more Bond theme.
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it was just her bday! Happy bday shirley!
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egs-sms1
Without a doubt one of the truly best live concert performers I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Such a powerful and dynamic voice. A genuine Diva. No other like her!
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I've been a fan since Goldfinger, love, love, love her voice. Can't get enough of Ms.Bassey. Hope to see her perform again, soon!
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Never heard of her till I heard Candice Glover sing her "I who have nothing" on American Idol. Thanks to YouTube, now I am a fan of hers. What a voice, what emotion, what delivery, fantastic!!
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I've been a fan for years and have a lot of her records. I live in Atlanta and don't think she has ever performed here. I would LOVE to see her live. She was so great on the Oscar telecast. I think that revived her career. I hope I get to see her before she gets too old and has to retire!
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basseyfan
Love this woman!
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I have had the pleasure of seeing her in person many times. Besides having an amazing voice, she is an awesome performer. Very HYPNOTIC.
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ebonycarter2 1
STILL HAS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VOICES EVER..
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THE BEST
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SAW YOU ON TV A FEW WEEKS AGO..SINGING A JAMES BOND SONG..YOU WERE WONDERFUL..Y O U STILL GOT IT SHIRLEY..LOV E YA
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Ihave listened to Shirley more than any other other artist.
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What a voiceeeeeeee e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e ! ! !
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lover her voice!
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been listening to her songs since the 70's....trul y love her voice!!!!! its a gift!!!! its extra ordinary!!!! !
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A bit of trivia for you, Shirley Bassey is the only artist to do more than one James Bond movie theme song. She did three of them. Says something about her ability as an artist.
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Love her voice. Could listen to it forever.
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kellycarthen s 2 4
This song just rings with SEX and SASS! YOU GO GIRL!
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She's all that there is when it comes to music. Just love that wonderful voice. Never, Never, Never, another Shirley.
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Wow. Talk about an incredible voice...I felt such a "relief" to learn that she's the voice to Goldfinger and other songs from the past. Powerful!
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Her voice melts my soul...
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AtomicHLM
A rare talent and a gift to the world.
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The best
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ajohnson1079
He voice complements her physical beauty. She is truely a unique voice. Shirley is timeless!
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jamesnydr
my god, she is amazing - to be Shirley Bassey and just sing these songs into a mike!
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Her voice takes my breath away.
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lhd1743
Absolutely among the very best to my ears! I just simply have always loved her.
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lilstime71
Very enjoyable to listen to. To sing so confortably & effortless is my challange. My bucket list.
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maria_hidrob o
Going to see Shirley Bassey tonight at Carnegie Hall.
Also Lady Gaga and Elton John.
A very fine blend of performers.
ME
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SHIRLEY IS THE GREATEST! HER PERFORMANCES ARE KNOCK-OUTS AND SHE IS CERTAINLY "BASSEY THE BELTER". MET HER IN PUERTO RICO AND SHE WAS VERY GRACIOUS. ASKED WHEN SHE WOULD BE IN NYC AND SHE STATED THAT SHE WOULD BE AT CARNEGIE HALL THAT FALL. MY WIFE AND I WENT TO HER PERFORMANCE THERE AND SAT IN THE ORCHESTRA. THE SEATS WERE VIBRATING WITH THE MUSIC FROM THE ORCHESTRA. HER WARDROBE CHANGES WERE MAGNIFICENT. GLAD THAT WE WERE ABLE TO ATTEND SEVERAL MORE OF HER CONCERTS IN LATER YEARS. SHE IS
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I really like Moonraker, There are two versions on the movie. One during the opening credits is slower than the one at the ending credits. But they are both powerful and beautiful.
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female scott walker, sort of...
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...FANTASTIC ! ! ! ! lol sorry for the typo
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I used to listen to her music in the late 60's in Italy. She is fanastic!!!
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The best of the best.
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she is a great soloist i love so much after billy holiday.inci d e n t a l l y the father is from my country nigeria.bles s you
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This was one of the greatest singers of all time! The great Welsh beauty and vocalist thrilled many with that powerful voice that most recognize from her American hit...GOLDFI N G E R . From the movie of the same name aka James Bond. This generation has never heard of her but thanks to great stations like Pandora hopefully they will hear what a REAL singer can do without studio tricks. Not only could she sing but she had enormous stage presence and class to match.The term DIVA was invented by BASSEY.

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