Marty Wilde

With his tall, dashing looks and smooth delivery, Marty Wilde became one of the early British pop idols with a string of hits in the 1950s and '60s, before helping his daughter Kim to fame in the '80s. Born Reginald Smith in South London, he grew up in a musical family and when his bus driver father took him to a forces concert, the three-year-old jumped up on stage and sang his dad's favourite song 'It's a Grand Old Song They Sing'. As the skiffle craze was bringing Britain's post-war youth to life, he left school at the age of 15 to work as a messenger, but was soon out playing with his band The Hound Dogs and later started performing under the name Reg Patterson. As skiffle morphed into rock & roll, he was spotted by talent agent Larry Parnes who re-named him Marty Wilde and sought to transform him into a suave, crooning version of Elvis Presley. With his backing band The Wild Cats, his first single 'Honeycomb' flopped, but when the strutting, brooding, rock & roll rumble of follow-up 'Endless Sleep' reached number four in the UK charts in 1957, Wilde was on his way. His regular appearance on the TV pop show 'Oh Boy!' made Wilde a national heartthrob and turned singles 'Donna', 'Teenager in Love' and 'Sea of Love' into classics in the making. Though his status as a teenage rock & roll stud was soon overtaken by the likes of Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele and Billy Fury, 'Bad Boy' became a hit in America and Wilde continued touring and starred in movies such as 'Jet Storm', 'The Hellions' and 'What a Crazy World'. He went on to form harmony group The Wilde Three in 1965 with his wife Joyce Baker of The Vernon Girls and Justin Hayward, later of The Moody Blues, and his songwriting career began taking off when he penned top ten singles for Lulu and Status Quo and the big number two hit 'Jesamine' for The Casuals. When daughter Kim Wilde followed in his footsteps in 1981, Marty and son Ricky wrote most of her early tracks together including the massive smash hit 'Kids in America' and follow-up 'Chequered Love' and the pair even performed a duet of Elton John's 'Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word' at the Stand By Me AIDS Day Benefit Concert in 1987. Still touring after over 60 years in the business, Wilde was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2017 and in later years performed with his youngest daughter Roxanne.

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