Welcome to part two of the Dame Shirley Bassey story and today William Price King takes us into the 1960s which would prove to be a rollercoaster decade from both a career and personal perspective. Our aim with the music series is to focus on the career rather than the personal lives of those we feature. But sometimes those worlds collide and there is no doubt that Dame Shirley Bassey has faced both controversy and tragedy in her lifetime.
However, we hope that you will enjoy the performances that are featured today and the background to some of the songs that dominated the 1960s both in the charts and also on film. Time to turn it over to William to pick up the story.
The early 1960s started well for Shirley Bassey with four of her albums in the top 15 of the UK charts. The Fabulous Shirley Bassey #12, Shirley #9, Shirley Bassey #14 and Let’s Face the Music which was re-released as Hit Songs from ‘Oliver‘ at #9. 1960 also saw Shirley debut on American Television on 13th November ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’.
The albums were not the only records that were doing well in the charts with singles ‘What Now My Love’ getting to #5 in 1962. In total Shirley Bassey had ten top ten hits in the first half of the decade. With her star rising on the other side of Atlantic, she was invited to sing at a Washington gala celebrating President Kennedy’s second year in office. She also sang in cabaret in New York which led to concerts in Las Vegas.
‘Reach for the Stars‘ was written by Austrian pop singer/songwriter Udo Jürgens with English lyrics by Norman Newell. It is a beautiful nostalgic piece. Shirley Bassey’s vocals are outstanding. This song was recorded as a double A-side single along side “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and went straight to #1 in the UK in 1961.
Shirley Bassey certainly took the lyrics of ‘Climb Every Mountain‘ to heart and she became a star of the worldwide stage when she sang ‘Goldfinger‘ for the 1964 James Bond movie.
‘Goldfinger’ is probably Bassey’s best known song, and it’s never been sung better. As for the climatic last note of the song she said: “I was holding it and holding it – I was looking at John Barry and I was going blue in the face and he’s going – hold it just one more second. When it finished, I nearly passed out.” What a performance! This song gave Dame Bassey her first and only Billboard 100 top forty hit, peaking in the Top 10 at #8 and #2 for four weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. In the United Kingdom the single reached #21.
Unfortunately, after the success of this track on both sides of the Atlantic, in 1965 Shirley Bassey’s sales began to falter and only two of her singles entered the Top 40 between 1966 to 1970. This was mirrored in her album sales including her first release with United Artists ‘I’ve Got A Song For You‘ only spent one week in the chart. However, another of her iconic singles ‘Big Spender‘ did peak at just below the UK Top 20.
In 1968 Shirely Bassey began to live as a tax exile which precluded her from working in the UK for two years. During this time she performed in Italy including at the Sanremo Festival.
Shirley Bassey’s version of ‘This Is My Life’ (La Vita) is over the top, and has provided an emotional climax to many of her most memorable shows. This song was originally written by Bruno Canfora, with Italian lyrics by Antonio Amurri. However, Norman Newell wrote the definitive English version of this piece and it became one of Bassey’s signature songs and, certainly, a show stopper.
Unfortunately Shirley Bassey’s UK sales continued to flounder. This was partly the result of her absence for tax purposes and also by the scandals that the press featured about her two daughter and, her failed marriage to her first husband, which was tragically highlighted by his suicide. This had been followed by her second marriage to Italian producer Sergio Novak which also ended in divorce.
But as Shirley herself has said, “You can’t have success without pain and sacrifice”.
It is also important to remember that the mid-60s onwards, were also a time of massive change in the music industry, with rock and pop beginning to dominate the charts. The radio scene and output was also changing, and it was to be a difficult challenge for Shirley Bassey to remain in the limelight, and retain her established fan base.
Buy Dame Shirley Bassey’s music: https://www.amazon.com/Shirley-Bassey/e/B000AQ2D9K
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.
William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
Connect to William
Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
Previous Legends can be found here:
You will find the previous artists.. Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.
And for the Jazz in this directory.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the show.. Please feel free to share.