Petula Clark, CBE (born Sally Olwen Clark, 15 November 1932) is a British singer, actress and composer whose career spans eight decades.
Clark's professional career began as an entertainer on the BBC during World War II: at the age of 11, she had her own radio show, Pet's Parlour. In the 1950s she started recording melodic ballads and novelty songs in both French (e,g. Prends Mon Cœur and Ya Ya Twist) and English (e.g. Romeo and Sailor). However, her strongest period both artistically and commercially came with a string of upbeat tracks such as Downtown(the first single by a British woman ever to reach number one on the American pop charts), I Couldn't Live Without Your Love and Don't Sleep In The Subway, all written by Tony Hatch and latterly Jackie Trent) and she was dubbed "the First Lady of the British Invasion". She has sold more than 68 million records worldwide: AllMusic claims she is "the most commercially successful female singer in British chart history."
Links to Peel
Only one play for Clark's work has so far surfaced in Peel playlists, yet it appears he collected her records at one time: Sheila states that he bought an unspecified 78 of hers from Cranes record shop in Liverpool but "never did anything like that again": he heard Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and two days later went back to the shop to buy it, thereby changing his collecting habits for ever.
The chart hits mentioned above earned her a high profile in the States and would undoubtedly have figured in the playlists of the US stations Peel worked for in the mid-1960s. "My Love" spent five weeks in Peel's British Pop Top Ten on KMEN in March and April 1966, while "Don't Sleep In The Subway" made the Radio London charts during his stint on the station. However, she was older than the other successful British female singers of the era (Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Cilla Black) and despite the fact that she was known in Europe as a performer of songs by the more adventurous French singer-songwriters (like Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel), she was usually regarded in the UK as an artist who appealed to an older generation of record-buyers.
This may have been because of her biggest hit, "This Is My Song"; it was written by film actor Charlie Chaplin as a "deliberately old-fashioned ballad", released as a single against her wishes, became a Radio London number one in February 1967, a UK chart-topper a week later, and a worldwide success.. It was also typical of the ballads which were a major feature of the British pop charts of that year - a trend which Peel was highly critical of. Not surrprisingly, no Petula Clark records were heard on the Perfumed Garden or Top Gear.
Festive Fifty Entries
Other Shows Played
- 03 June 1980: 'Put Your Shoes On Lucy (78)' (Columbia)
- ↑ A 1949 recording, Pet's first at the age of 16, 'Put Your Shoes On Lucy'. According to the show playlist, Peel played the track at the end of the programme, to follow the similarly titled Bo Diddley number 'Put The Shoes On Willie'.
- ↑ Given the time period, it could be Band Of Gold.
- ↑ Margrave Of The Marshes, p.308 (Bantam Press edition).