Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from A-E

Clark, Petula (originally, Owen, Sally)

top lyrics music ten

Clark, Petula (originally, Owen, Sally), English singer and actress; b. Epsom, Surrey, Nov. 15, 1932. Clark had a lengthy and varied career, beginning in radio and extending to TV, films, and recordings, all before she became an adult. A star in the U.K. in the 1940s and in Europe in the 1950s, she attained stardom in the U.S. in the 1960s with a series of pop-rock recordings, including “Downtown,” “I Know a Place,” “My Love,” “I Couldn’t Live without Your Love,” “This is My Song,” and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway.” In the 1980s and 1990s she starred in stage musicals.

Clark was encouraged by her parents to become a singer and was performing publicly by the age of seven. In 1941 she successfully auditioned at the BBC and became a radio performer, also frequently singing for the troops during World War II. Signed to a film contract, she appeared in at least 23 films between 1944 and 1957. From July to November 1946 she appeared on Cabaret, an early TV program. In 1949 EMI’s Columbia label released her first single, “Put Your Shoes on Lucy,” after which she signed to Polygon Records (later renamed Nixa, then Pye). From November 1950 to July 1953 she had her own TV series, Pet’s Parlour, on the BBC.

Clark scored her first U.K. hit with “The Little Shoemaker” (music by Rudi Revil, French lyrics by Avril Lamarque, English lyrics by Geoffrey Parsons and John Turner), which reached the charts in June 1954 and peaked in the Top Ten in July. In September she launched another TV series, Pet’s Parade, which ran until February 1957. Her recording of “Suddenly There’s a Valley” (music and lyrics by Chuck Meyer and Biff Jones) peaked in the Top Ten in January 1956.

In 1957, at age 24, Clark stopped using her father as her manager and moved away from home into her own apartment. “With All My Heart” (music by Pete De Angelis, lyrics by De Angelis and Bob Marcucci) peaked in the Top Ten in September, followed by “Alone” (music by Morton Craft, lyrics by Selma Craft) in December. In November 1958 she performed a concert in French in Paris at the behest of her French label, Vogue Records, and met Vogue promotion man Claude Wolff, who became her manager and whom she married on June 8, 1961.

Clark moved to France and began to focus more on the European market, although her recordings also continued to score in Great Britain. In February 1961 she topped the U.K. charts with “Sailor” (music by Werner Scharfenberger, German lyrics by Fini Busch, English lyrics by Alan Holt), an adaptation of a German song called “Seemann.” “Romeo” (music by Robert Stolz, English lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy) peaked in the British Top Ten in August, followed by “My Friend the Sea” in December. In 1962 her European hits included “Monsieur,” sung in German, and “Chariot” (music by J. W. Stole and Del Roma, lyrics by Jacques Plante), sung in French. (Given an English lyric by Norman Gimbel and Arthur Altman, “Chariot” became a U.S. hit for Little Peggy March in 1963 under the title “I Will Follow Him.”)

Clark gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Barbara Michele, in 1962. In 1963 her European hits included “Casanova,” sung in German, and “Ya Ya Twist” (an adaptation of “Ya Ya,” music and lyrics by Lee Dorsey, Clarence Lewis, and Morgan Robinson). That year she gave birth to her second daughter, Catherine Natalie.

Clark renewed her ties to her native country in 1964, making appearances there and working with songwriter/producer Tony Hatch. Their first collaboration was “Downtown,” which peaked in the U.K. Top Ten in December 1964. Warner Bros. Records picked up the record for American distribution and it topped the U.S. charts in January 1965, going gold and earning Clark Grammy nominations for Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Rock & Roll Recording; she won in the last category. Warner Bros, released a Downtown LP that spent more than eight months in the charts and earned the singer another Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Performance, Female. It was the first of 14 U.S. chart albums through 1971.

Clark and Hatch returned with “I Know a Place,” which peaked in the U.S. Top Ten in May and won her second Grammy for Best Contemporary (R&B) Vocal Performance, Female. She scored two more Top 40 hits before the end of the year, then returned to #1 with “My Love” (music and lyrics by Tony Hatch) in February 1966. Her U.K.-only single “You’re the One,” which she co-wrote with Hatch, was a Top 40 hit there; in the U.S. the Vogues took it into the Top Ten.

Clark toured the U.S. performing in such nightclubs as the Copacabana in N.Y. and at hotel/casinos in Las Vegas. In the U.K. in June and July 1966 she had another TV series, This Is Petula Clark . Her next major hit, “I Couldn’t Live without Your Love,” which Tony Hatch wrote with his wife, Jackie Trent, peaked in the British Top Ten in July and the American in August, also hitting #1 on the U.S. easy-listening charts. After a couple of Top 40 hits, Clark’s recording of ‘This is My Song,” Charles Chaplin’s theme from his 1967 film A Countess from Hong Kong, topped the U.K. charts in February 1967 and peaked in the U.S. Top Ten in April. In July her final major U.S. hit, “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” (music and lyrics by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent) peaked in the Top Ten and topped the easy-listening charts; it earned her Grammy nominations for Best Contemporary Single, Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Contemporary Solo Vocal Performance, Female.

Clark continued to reach the U.S. Top 40 with her singles through mid–1968, meanwhile expanding her concerns to other areas of entertainment. On April 8, 1968, she starred in her first U.S. television special, Petula, and in October she co-starred with Fred Astaire in the film version of the Burton Lane-E. Y. Harburg musical Finian’s Rainbow . Disappointed with her diminishing record sales, she split with Tony Hatch in January 1969, but her sales continued to decline. In April 1969 she starred in her second U.S. TV special, Portrait of Petula, and in August 1969 co-starred with Peter O’Toole in a musical remake of the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Clark left Pye and Warner Bros. Records in 1971 to record for MGM Records; she continued to place songs in the charts regularly through 1974. On Sept. 7, 1972, she gave birth to a son, Patrick Philippe, after which she was less active, although she continued to make occasional recordings and television appearances. In 1980 she made her West End debut starring in a revival of The Sound of Music that ran 14 months. With this she became more active, appearing in a non-singing role in George Bernard Shaw’s Candida; performing with the London Philharmonic Orch. at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1983 for a live album release; and returning to U.S. appearances in 1986. A dance remix of her recording of “Downtown” hit the U.K. Top Ten in the fall of 1988. In 1989 she was able to mount Someone Like You (Cambridge, England, Oct. 25, 1989), a musical about the American Civil War that she co-wrote, and it reached the West End briefly in March 1990.

Clark made her Broadway debut in Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers on Aug. 16, 1993. In January 1996 she took over the starring role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Sunset Boulevard in London, remaining with the show through 1997. In 1998 she began touring the U.S. in a road production of Sunset Boulevard scheduled to run through 2000, and she released a new album through Varèse Sarabande Records, Here for You.

Clark, Spencer W. [next] [back] Clark, Ossie

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or