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Monday, 14 February 2022

Sisters

This started out as one of those Google-powered rabbit burrows, beginning with Norma Waterson, the folk singer, who died at the end of January. She was born in ‘ull (American and non-Yorkshire: Hull). Mr YP mentioned her recently, and also, not so long ago, David Bowie’s collaborator Mick Ronson, who was also born in ‘ull. What other singers were born there, we wondered.

It sent me back to my mother’s Light Programme on the wireless in the nineteen-fifties. You would hear Ronnie Hilton singing about a mouse in a windmill with triplets and twins in, going clip-clippety-clop on the stair. He was born in ‘ull. David Whitfield too, the first British singer to have a number one in both Britain and the U.S. with the magnificently emotional Cara Mia.

Dickie Valentine was another of that era. What about him? Well, no, he was from London. What did he sing, then? Finger of Suspicion and Christmas Alphabet. But I thought Christmas Alphabet was by a female American group.

Yes: The McGuire Sisters. I remember them more for Sugartime. It’s on YouTube. Listen to those counter-melodies. Weren’t they good!


What about the Beverley Sisters: that’s near ‘ull. But they weren’t from Beverley; they were from London. Joy, Babs and Teddie. They were good too, and pretty, with distinctive harmonies. Here they are aged 20 and 23 (with 1947 cultural sensibilities): 

The matching qualities, the timbre, of family group voices can make pleasant listening, especially sisters. Take the Dale Sisters: Betty, Hazel and Julie Dunderdale, one of many sister acts that almost made it but not quite. They weren’t quite from ‘ull, but near enough to count. Their dad was a local butcher and Julie married our Geography teacher. They got off the ground in 1959 by winning a talent contest at Butlins holiday camp in Filey. They were also known as the England sisters:


The YouTube links, if you can’t see them are:
McGuire Sisters: https://youtu.be/bRvEHn6fKWE 

29 comments:

  1. Oh thanks for sharing Tasker. I loved the "Heartbeat" video with The Dale Sisters. How cool to come from Goole where they went to school. I wonder if they are all still alive. Wikipedia doesn't say.
    P.S. I met Mick Ronson when he was in The Rats - before joining Bowie. They played at our village youth club when I was fifteen.

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    1. They were good, weren't they. Unfortunately, I don't know of any film or video of them. Unlike the Beverley sisters, though, they weren't London based. It's hard to say how well they might have done if they had been.

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  2. And what about the Andrews Sisters? They were big in WW2.

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    1. The Andrews Sisters were for forerunners of them all. Wikipedia explains how they were the first to move around while singing rather than just standing in front of a microphone. I didn't mention them, though, because they were before my time whereas I remember the others on the radio and television.

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  3. The above mentioned Andrew sisters are the only ones I know. (I only know some songs of the Everly Brothers :-) The songs you showed are lovely!

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    1. All of them make a very joyful sound. The McGuire Sisters were very well known in the States, but possibly less so in Britain. I think the Beverley Sisters and most of the others mentioned were only well known in Britain, with the exception of the Dale Sisters who weren't very well known at all. They had only minor hits and are remembered mainly the the area they came from. They must all have had great fun as children learning their singing. Imagine what a musical set of triplets might do!

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    2. I just thought about that, Tasker! I have a very sweet video where the three are dancing to pop-music, and I am vexed (though I do understand of course) that I am not allowed to post any photos etc of the three.

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  4. I remember the McGuire Sisters, boy that takes me back. I love that 40's sound of the Beverley Sisters although I don't remember them. I used to watch quite a few of the old 40's movies.

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    1. The Beverley Sisters were very successful in Britain from around 1950 until 1960s pop became dominant. As replied above, I doubt they were known in the States.

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  5. Sugartime was one of my Dad's favourite songs. It was nice t hear it again and find I remembered all the words. I remember The Andrews sisters too, but can't recall now what they sang. I'll have to visit you tube. i like the song Heartbeat, but prefer the Buddy Holly version.

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    1. My dad used to like it too. It's a joyful song.

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  6. They were all great, and I love that kind of music from a bygone era, although admittedly I am more Sister Sledge than any other sisters act.
    Like River, I prefer the Buddy Holly version of Heartbeat.
    Anyway, this made for an interesting read and good musical company with my muesli just now.

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    1. Sister Sledge were great. There were lots of later female family singing groups: the Nolan Sisters were quite popular here - there were 5 of them! All joyful and uplifting.

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  7. Times were different. It is funny how music has developed from these early times. I remember the Beverley Sisters but not the others. I bet they did not bring in the money later singers and musicians did. Trying to remember the first rock and roll movie now ;)

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    1. The Beverley Sisters' song would have been considered quite risque in its time - swam in the sea but didn't get her bathing suit wet! Would the first rock and roll film have been Elvis?

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  8. I haven't thought of Dickie Valentine for a while. Wasn't he about 4'11"? I used to fancy the youngest of the Beverly Sisters when I was about 12.

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    1. Don't know about DV's height.
      The younger two were twins. Could you tell them apart? They were just 20 in the video.

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    2. He was short for a man in his photos, about the same height as girls around him. Very popular in his day. Mona Lisa is the song I most remember. When the Beverley Sisters came on we all used to groan, including my mother. I remember one of them marrying Billy Wright. Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock was a very early rock and roll film, probably before Elvis. Even Tommy Steele was in some early rock and roll at around the same time although better known films came later. As for wealth, it was all relative.

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    3. That's it Rachel, Rock Around the Clock. 13 years old I think when I saw it. We also used to go to Saturday morning cinema as well.

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    4. It could be said that the Beverley Sisters passed their sell by date, but I think they're delightful in the early video. It was Joy, the eldest, who married Billy W. Massive traffic jam caused by people hoping to spot them at the wedding. The Beckhams of their day.

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  9. The Beverly Sisters live a couple of doors down from my Sister in law, I know one of them died but not sure of the other.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Hi Briony, I believe that only one of the twins is now still with us. The others died within the past five or six years.

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  10. I remember the Beverly Sisters, but I think I preferred the Andrews Sisters. When music was music, eh?

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    1. I don't remember the Andrews Sisters as I think they were best known before the 1950s, but my dad used to talk about them. Yes, music was music, I really like these clips, which is why I posted them.

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    2. Oops, I meant 'Beverley', not 'Beverly'.

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  11. Her Bathing Suit Never Got Wet made me laugh. I don't think that I've heard it before. I had to head off to google The Windmill in Old Amsterdam, and to read about Ronnie Hilton. Just happy little songs weren't they?

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  12. The swimming suit was a novelty song in my childhood. Sweet!

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