Adrienne Poster – or Adrienne Posta, as she later became known – is remembered for her roles in iconic British films of the 1960s, including To sir with love and Up the junction. However, with producer Andrew Loog Oldham’s support (and on one occasion, the songwriting talents of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), she also recorded some high-quality material in the mid-1960s.
She was born on 1 March 1948. She showed a great love of performing from an early age and attended the highly respected theatre training school the Italia Conti Academy.
It was there that she met and began dating Steve Marriott, who later became lead singer with the Small Faces. In 1963, while he was playing in a band called the Moments, Adrienne would sometimes join him on stage and the pair would perform a duet of Twist and shout.
She had already enjoyed public exposure by this point, having played the part of Cathy in the 1957 TV hospital drama No time for tears and appeared in episodes of TV’s Harper’s West One and Top secret in the early 1960s.
She was taken under the wing of wunderkind producer Andrew Loog Oldham, the man behind the Rolling Stones and a host of Brit girl singers, including Marianne Faithfull, Barry St John and Vashti (Bunyan), and landed a recording contract with the Oriole label before switching quickly to Decca.
Her debut single, Only fifteen, issued in 1963, played up her youthful appeal. (There’s nothing you can do about that was the B-side.)
Oldham persuaded Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to give Adrienne a track they had penned, Shang a doo lang, as her follow up single, released in March 1964. Brit girl supremo Charles Blackwell was roped in to give musical direction to the track. The result sounded like an homage to legendary US producer Phil Spector, who was recording in London at that time.
It was at this point that things really got interesting for Adrienne. The association with The Rolling Stones was expected to give her a bunk up into the higher reaches of the charts.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be, though she was promoted into the ranks of London’s premier party crowd (in fact, it was at a party for Adrienne that Marianne Faithfull first met Mick Jagger).
Her raised profile helped land Adrienne back on British TV screens that autumn in an episode of The human jungle.
It also meant she was offered quality material to record, and in 1965 she issued the girl group-esque He doesn’t love me, which is generally considered her finest recording. A version of Motown group the Temptations’ The way you do the things you do was included as the B-side (see our Motown males tribute special). The disc was picked up by the pirate station Radio London and made the Big L Fab Forty in March 1965.
For the follow up, The wind that blows, issued later that year, she turned to the emerging folk sound for inspiration. However the flip – arguably, the better side – found her back in US girl group-styled territory: Backstreet girl was a superior version of a little-known track by Diana Dawn, from the pens of American singer-songwriters Jackie De Shannon and Sharon Sheeley.
In a bid to launch her internationally, she took part in the 1965 Knokke Cup, a song festival held in Belgium, where she appeared alongside Italy’s Iva Zanicchi, Belgium’s Liliane and the Netherlands’ Suzie, amongst others.
For her last single of the year, Margaret Mandolph’s Something beautiful was given the Poster treatment. Adrienne’s stompy, speeded up version has since gone on to find favour on the northern soul dance scene. (So glad you’re mine was the flip.)
By 1966, many of the other Brit girl singers, including Cilla Black and Sandie Shaw, had scored hits with covers of songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Spotting an opportunity, Decca raided the duo’s back catalogue for Adrienne. Her take on their They long to be close to you became the A-side of her final 45 for the label, and featured How can I hurt you on the reverse. Musical direction was provided by Ivor Raymonde, who is perhaps best known for his work with Dusty Springfield.
Interestingly, it was for this release that the spelling of Adrienne’s surname was changed to Posta, the name by which she remains known.
When the release failed, Adrienne decided to concentrate her efforts on her acting career. She’d appeared in the TV drama The master, which had aired in January 1966, but she now set her sights on the big screen.
First up came a part in the 1967 film Here we go round the mulberry bush, in which she played bleached-blonde Linda, one of a number of girls sent to tempt a teenage boy. The film also starred Judy Geeson.
She followed it swiftly with a role in To sir with love, playing Moira Joseph, classmate of Pamela Dare (Judy Geeson again) and Barbara Pegg (played by Lulu). Following its success, she took the part of Rube in the film version of Up the junction – in a part that had been offered first to Lulu. (The Scottish songstress had turned it down, as the character – who undergoes a backstreet abortion – was felt to be at odds with her image.)
In the 1970s, Adrienne also appeared in a number of lightweight British film classics, including Up Pompeii and Carry on behind.
She continued to release the occasional single, including Dog song in 1973 (written by her husband, Graham Bonnet, later of Rainbow fame) and Cruisin’ Casanova in 1976 (from the film Adventures of a taxi driver, in which she had appeared).
TV appearances included parts in Dixon of Dock Green, Till death do us part, Minder, The gentle touch and Boon in the 1970s and 80s.
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