P.J. Proby

One of the most colourful - and controversial - pop idols of the 1960s, P.J. Proby caused a sensation when, sounding more like Elvis Presley than Elvis Presley, he transformed the songs Somewhere and Maria from the stage musical West Side Story into histrionic rockers. He caused outrage, too, when his tight trousers split on stage at a concert in Luton, leading to him being banned by the BBC and the ABC theatre chain. Originally a Texan, he moved to California to be a film star, using the name Jett Powers. After a few minor movie roles, he began releasing unsuccessful records on the Liberty label, while attempting to write songs for rock stars like Elvis Presley and Bobby Vee. He then decided to try his luck in England and, after meeting with influential impresario and producer Jack Good, got his big break appearing on a 1964 TV show with The Beatles. A run of hits followed with dramatic covers of Hold Me, Together, Somewhere, Maria. However, Proby's career faded after the Luton trouser splitting incident but he reappeared as a stage performer in 1971, playing Cassio in a rock musical version of Shakespeare's Othello. Continuing to perform in cabaret, he went on to play his hero Elvis Presley in Elvis - The Musical, appeared in a Roy Orbison tribute show and recorded with Dutch rock band Focus. He revived his career again in the 1980s with covers of modern classics like Tainted Love, Love Will Tear Us Apart and Anarchy In The UK; and again in the 1990s when he toured with The Who, appearing as The Godfather in live performances of Quadrophenia. In 2002 Van Morrison recorded a song called Whatever Happened To P.J. Proby and he resumed touring to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2008.

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