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Shirley Bassey: The Early Years of a Welsh Musical Legend

This illustrated talk, from Newport writer William Cross ( who first took a close interest in Shirley when he was researching Cliff Gordon ( the man who first discovered Bassey and gave her a break) considers the singer’s early years and her rise to fame, he appraises her early musical hits including her famous songs from the James Bond series of films and looks a little deeper beneath the surface into Shirley's private life, her controversial men friends, lovers and fiends and some of the tragedies that remain a grim shadow upon the life and times of a great Welsh performer who is now a Dame and a great survivor in a tough and merciful industry called show business.


The daughter of a Northern girl named Eliza Metcalfe and a West African sailor, Henry Bassey, the legendry Welsh singing star Shirley Bassey was born in Cardiff in 1937.

Despite an initial set back, and real life of working in a dreary 9 till 5 job in a packing factory, Shirley was spotted performing in a working men’s club by Welsh showman and actor Cliff Gordon. He gave the 16-year-old singer from Tiger Bay, a role in two mid 1950s touring shows “ Memories of Jolson” and “ Hot from Harlem”. These shows went round the UK.

London producers soon noticed Shirley’s talent. She appeared in the West End of the capital in “ Such Is Life” at the Adelephi Theatre in the Strand and in several Night Club Cabaret spots, including the famous Albany Club in Soho. The press also took a shine to the new singer and Shirley was identified as a potential star by the powerful London agents, Jack Hylton and Joe Collins .

In the space of the next few years Shirley Bassey became a household name with top 20 hits and literally stopped the show with guest appearances in the UK and in several places overseas, including Sydney, Australia and on the Ed Sullivan Show in USA.

Recording contracts gave her further success. She toured widely and made many TV shows, summer shows, and guest appearances including seasons at the London Palladium, Las Vegas New York and Hollywood.

Shirley Bassey has now spent more than 60 years in show business and lives in Monte Carlo. Twice married with many admirers and famous lovers Shirley Bassey’s life has been fast and furious, with a following of millions of fans.

This illustrated talk, from Newport writer William Cross ( who first took a close interest in Shirley when he was researching Cliff Gordon ( the man who first discovered Bassey and gave her a break) considers the singer’s early years and her rise to fame, he appraises her early musical hits including her famous songs from the James Bond series of films and looks a little beneath the surface into Shirley private life, her controversial men friends, lovers and fiends and some of the tragedies that remain a grim shadow in the life and times of a great Welsh performer, who is now a Dame and a survivor.


Speaker(s):

Mr William Cross | talks | www

 

Date and Time:

16 January 2019 at 2:00 pm

Duration:

1 hour 30 minutes

 

Venue:

Newport Hard of Hearing Club
c/o Riverfront Theatre
Kingsway
Newport
NP20 1HG


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Organised by:

William Cross, FSA Scot
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Tickets:

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Membership Information:

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Additional Information:

William Cross, FSA Scot is a writer and lecturer based in Newport, South Wales. He gives talks on the Morgans of Tredegar House, scandals in High Society and is interested in the life and times Clifford Gordon ( 1920-1964), the man who discovered Welsh singing star, Shirley Bassey.

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