The Names They Are A-Changin’


Last night I got home from work just in time to see a show called Queens of British Pop (BBC One 11.30pm). The show looked at the careers and music of six female singers who started out in the 60s and 70s. I was familiar with all the singers and some of their music, but a lot of it was new to me. The programme gave equal time to each singer and included footage of them performing as well as informative interviews with the five who are still alive. There’s going to be a second part and I presume it will be shown next week at the same time and place

Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (1939-1999) rather wisely chose the stage name of Dusty Springfield and became one of the most popular female singers of the sixties. She had a string of hits from 1963 on and was nominated for an Oscar (TM) for Bacharach & David’s The Look of Love from the original film version of Casino Royale (1967). In 1970, she received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Vocal Performance for Dusty in Memphis (1969). Its biggest hit was Son of a Preacher Man, later revived by Quentin Tarantino in his film Pulp Fiction (1994). The period in between had been a quiet one for the singer, but she made a comeback in 1987 when she collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys on the hit single, What Have I Done To Deserve This? She died as a result of cancer at the age of 60

Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield

Sandra Ann Goodrich was a contemporary of Springfield’s and was better known by her stage name of Sandie Shaw. In 1964, the 17-year-old quickly went from working at a Ford motor factory to Number One with (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me, also written by Bacharach & David. In 1967, she became the first UK artist to win The Eurovision Song Contest with Puppet On A String. In addition, she received some renown for performing in her bare feet. Like Springfield, Shaw had a quiet time before her career was also resurrected by an 80s act. This time it was The Smiths and her version of their Hand in Glove, backed by the band minus their lead singer. She also covered their song Jeanne as well as ones by Lloyd Cole and The Waterboys

Jeanne (The Smiths cover) – Sandie Shaw

Marianne Faithfull was fortunate enough to be born with a rock ‘n’ roll name and simply added a few letters to her parents’ original choice of Marian. This may be due to the fact that, unlike the others on the show, she had an officer father and a Baroness mother. She was discovered by The Rolling Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, and had a debut hit with the Jagger/Richards’ composition, As Tears Go By (1964). Soon after, she began a relationship with Jagger that would last until 1970. Like Springfield and Shaw, the 1970s proved less fertile musically than the previous decade. In 1979, however, she made a successful return with Broken English. Among its tracks was The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, later used in Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise (1991). She has continued to record and perform and recently released an album of covers, Easy Come, Easy Go

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan – Marianne Faithfull

Even though Suzi Quatro is an American singer it seems she was chosen because her initial success came in the UK. You may not be surprised to learn that she also uses a stage name and it is certainly less of a mouthful than Susan Kay Quatrocchio. She had her first hit in 1973 with Can the Can, written by Chinn and Chapman, who produced hit singles for loads of acts throughout the 70s. Quatro stood out at the time because she was one of the few women to front a rock band, and she played the bass guitar as well. If You Can’t Give Me Love was a 1978 hit in Britain and Australia

If You Can’t Give Me Love – Suzi Quatro

Knowing that Susan Ballion & the Banshees didn’t quite trip off the tongue, Siouxie Sioux also decided to change her name. She had been a regular member at Sex Pistols’ gigs from the start and managed to stand out even in this group with her ghost-like make-up and fetish for wearing bondage gear. She soon formed the Banshees and they had a UK top ten hit with their first single, Hong Kong Garden (1978). Their only other top ten hit was their 1983 cover of The Beatles’ Dear Prudence (1983). Siouxie’s energetic performing style and her highly individualised visual look would pave the way for such acts as PJ Harvey and Garbage

Dear Prudence (The Beatles cover) – Siouxie & The Banshees

The sixth and final singer stands out from the majority of this group. Firstly, she kept her last name and merely changed her first name from Catherine to the less formal, Kate. Secondly, anyone who has heard her music would agree that it’s like nothing else on this planet. Kate Bush played piano and wrote her own music from an early age and was signed to EMI at the age of 16. Three years later, her first single, Wuthering Heights, reached number one in the UK and remained there for a month. It was an amazing debut and is one of the few times where the song is better than the book. Both her music and lyrics stood out from the typical concerns of pop songs. Cloudbusting is based on Peter Reich’s A Book of Dreams (1973). His father, Wilhelm, invented a device called the cloudbuster that is, apparently, some sort of rain machine. The song’s music video, which stars Bush and Donald Sutherland, is a four-minute dramatisation of this story and is well worth checking out

Cloudbusting – Kate Bush


6 thoughts on “The Names They Are A-Changin’

  1. Pingback: More Jewels from Jools « Town Full of Losers

  2. Thanks for your comments, teacupstorm. The show is a two-parter with the first part covering the 60s and 70s. I presume the second part will cover the rest, so maybe some on your list will turn up. I’d love to see Betty Boo on it ;-)
    Regarding their choices, I think it would be down to personal choices of the programme-makers, the commercial and critical success of the singers, and even the artist’s availabilty to be interviewed.
    I’ve always been a big fan of Dusty, Kate and Marianne Faithfull. I liked the way Faithfull re-invented herself over the last few decades. And I liked Sandie Shaw’s work with The Smiths in the 80s. I agree that she wasn’t really ground breaking, though I think Faithfull was.
    I would say that the two Suzies were extremely influential in different ways. Neither of them would be my, ahem, cup of tea, but they were interesting to listen to and it was great to hear their stories.
    Here’s hoping that the second show will be as good

  3. I can understand Dusty and Kate being included but however good they are Marianne Faithfull and Sandie Shaw were not ground breaking, although the superb Suzi Q broke the mold for female artists she is (perhaps tellingly) not British, while ground breaking, Siouxie Sioux is influenced by Suzi and Kate Bush and had only limited success internationally.

  4. They could/should have included:
    Petula Clark
    Shirley Bassey
    Cilla Black
    Olivia Newton John
    Lynsey de Paul (UK’s first female singer/songwriter)
    Kiki Dee (she was interviewed about Dusty but is a songwriter)
    Bonnie Tyler
    Kim Wilde
    Lisa Stansfield
    Cathy Dennis
    Betty Boo

  5. That is quite interesting, John

    I didn’t know that. I didn’t realise that things were so bad in Kerry in the forties. It was very brave of her to emigrate on her own. I presume she was able to walk and talk, though.


    Keep the facts coming,

  6. Pat:
    Did you know Mary O’Brien was born in Tralee, Co:Kerry and emigrated as a young baby. Well All Babies are young I suppose ;-)

    Quite Interesting


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