Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


Stories Behind the Music -- British Invasion By Woman

When you think back to the British Invasion of the early to mid-1960's, you have to think of the boy bands -- Beatles, Stones, Searchers, Dave Clark 5, Animals, Yardbirds, Kinks, Hollies. There were not that many solo artists who landed on our shores, male or female, but there were a few. One of those hit-makers, early on in the invasion, was a petite female from over the sea. She participated heavily in that lucrative British landing on North American soil.

Petula Clark had to be, as I remember it, the most successful of the female solo artists. Dusty Springfield did well, but Pet Clark took the prize. She had a head start and was well-known in Europe long before the Beatles ever hit. In fact, back in 1943, she had a radio show and, as a result of her efforts, she had appeared in over 20 movies by the end of the 1950's. Her recording career officially began in 1949.

Come the 1960's, a young producer and songwriter named Tony Hatch was added to her team. He had, previously, had success with Tennessee Ernie Ford, over here, and he had discovered the Searchers over there. They had some success during the first wave of the British Invasion.

Hatch went on a trip to New York City. He walked down the street and got a feel for Broadway. The producer and writer then wrote some music about his experience. Catch was, he wrote only the music -- there were no words. Hatch thought he might persuade the Drifters to give it a listen. But, when he played the tune for Petula Clark, she liked the melody and suggested that he take this song about Broadway and write some words that were as good as the melody. The song, words and all, was released in October 1964 and it became a true classic of pop music. See if you remember this one. 

According to Billboard magazine, up until 1988, that was considered to be the #318th most popular song in the history of rock n' roll music. The funny thing about this classic recording is that Hatch said he was still working on lyrics only 30 minutes before the session began. In 2003, the song was revisted when it won another award, a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

Clark had a number of hits, clear up until 1972. Downtown was, for sure, her monster. But, next in line behind that, was my favorite Petula Clark song. She released this one in 1966.

Petula Clark is still on the road, doing what she has been doing since 1943 -- entertaining! Boy, that is some longevity. Last year she performed near Bellingham at a Native American gambling casino.

For more "Stories Behind the Music" click on the guitar  

  Steven L. Smith

 Bellingham WA Home Inspections


Steven L. Smith

If you enjoy nostalgia and music of yesteryear, click on Elvis' gold record to visit This Day In History. To explore The Stories Behind The Music blog posts click on the electric guitar. 







Comment balloon 3 commentsSteven L. Smith • October 24 2008 10:05AM


HEy Steve,

I had never heard of her name before but the songs I know. She sure has had a long singing career.

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) over 10 years ago


She is resiliant, that is for sure. She had many others you would remember too.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Tiny little thing, isn't she.  I can't say that I've ever loved a female singer like I love those guys....Elvis and my other favorites.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 10 years ago