Shirley Bassey

937: Shirley Veronica Bassey was born on January 8th, 1937 in the dock area called Tiger Bay in Cardiff, Wales.

She was the youngest of seven children. Her mother was English, her father was a West Indian sailor.

1951: As a child Shirley would often sing at family parties joining her brother in duets of Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine's hit songs. Her earliest employment was working in the packing department of a local factory, but Shirley supplemented her meager weekly wage by accepting singing engagement in some of the local working men's clubs.

1953: Shirley made her first shreds into show business. She turned professional and made her debut as a professional performer at the Grand Theatre in Luton, Bedfordshire. It meant her first Contract. Later she joined a show called Memories of Jolson and toured all over the provinces with it. After this she agreed taking place in a show called Hot From Harlem.

1954: During Hot From Harlem Shirley got terrible homesick and after she finished it, she went straight back home to quit showbizz. She took a job as a waitress.

1955 Shirley was heard by Jack Hylton in the Astor Club and this led to her first success in the West End revue Such Is Life, built round comedian Al Read.

1956: The real turning point in Shirley's career came while she was singing at the Albany Club in London's West End. The Greek singer Maria Pavlov was appearing in a Jack Hylton revue and fell ill - fate took hand and Shirley was asked to deputize. Later this year Shirley was offered to record her first single, Burn My Candle.

1957: February 15th, 1957 is a date Shirley will never forget. That was when her name first appeared on the list of British Best Sellers with Banana Boat Song taking it to no. 8. With this record Basseydom was born. 1959: The single As I Love You meant Shirley's first no. 1 hit and established her as Britain's no. 1 girl singer. Shirley signed with EMI Record's Columbia.

1960: Another smash hit single: As Long As He Needs Me.

1961: Shirley established herself as a cabaret act in New York. She also became a success in Las Vegas. Not among the sideshows, but always in the big league. She had her first hit for EMI when the recording of With These Hands charted on no less than 3 separate occasions.

1962: Release of What Now My Love. The double A-sided Reach For The Stars / Climb Every Mountain reached no. 1 again. 1963: Shirley was invited by the White House to do a show for President Kennedy. Again she had a hit with I Who Have Nothing, perhaps the only song where one doesn't believe she means what she's singing.

1964: Shirley's recording of the James Bond theme song Goldfinger became a worldwide hit, selling more than a million copies in the US alone. It meant her big breakthrough oversea.

1965: Shirley left Columbia after more than a dozen hits to sign with UA Records, which would give her the freedom to record more in the US where she was by now a major concert and cabaret artist.

1966: The first single for UA, Don't Take The Lovers From The World, failed to make any impression in the pop charts, but did indicate that Shirley was moving into rather more adventurous musical areas than previously.

1967: Big Spender gave Shirley a big hit and it has since become an essential inclusion in her live-act.

1968: The year of This Is My Life. It would virtually become her personal anthem and it's normally the closing number of her live-performances.

1969: Shirley moved into a house in the Swiss Alps. The title of this year's album was very suitable: Does Anybody Miss Me.

1970: The former EMI albums sold to the Bassey faithful rather than winning new fans, but that situation changed dramatically when Shirley released her highly acclaimed album Something.

1971: Something's poppy follow-up Something Else also became legendary.

1972: A smash hit with For All We Now which reached no. 6 in the charts, beating off stiff competition from The Carpenters. The TV Times named Bassey Best Female Singer.

1973: Never Never Never gave her a top 30 hit both sides of the Atlantic. Again the TV Times named her Best Female Singer.

1974: Music Week named Shirley Best Female Singer.

1976 Shirley made her famous 22 day British tour to mark her 20 years as a recording artist. The American Guild of Variety Artists voted her Best Female Entertainer.

1977: Shirley received a Britannia Award for the Best Female Solo Singer in the last 50 years of recorded sound. 1978: Shirley returned to the old fashioned way of recording - singing live in the studio with full-orchestra in attendance.

1979: Shirley had her own BBC TV series which attracted huge ratings. The Magic Is You was her last album for UA. 1981: Shirley withdrew to her Swiss home and announced her semi-retirement, but continued to emerge occasionally on TV, concert tours.

1982: The album All By Myself again showed a different side of our Bassey.

1983: Shirley recorded a famous duet with Alain Delon called Thought I'd Ring You 1984: Accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra she records an album containing her major successes called I am what I am.

1985: A tragic period began for Shirley because of the terrible loss of her daughter Samantha.

1987: Shirley came out of semi-retirement to collaborate with shrewd Swiss Electro-pop band Yello.

1989: Shirley surprised and thrilled her fans by releasing an album with songs all sang in Spanish.

1991: Again a suitable title for an album: Keep The Music Playing.

1993: Finally 2 brilliant musical stars joined their talents on the album Shirley Bassey Sings The Songs Of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

1994: A five CD set was released, with a lot of previously unreleased material.

1995: Shirley earned the Variety Club of Great Britain's accolade of Show Business Personality of the Year. She completed her tour in the course of her 40th year in show business. Shirley fulfilled her long cherished wish and recorded an album with songs from movies only.

1996: After quite some years Shirley had a smash hit again! It was Disco' La Passione with Chris Rea.

1997: Shirley celebrates her 60th birthday!

www.dameshirleybassey.com/

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