Britain was the world’s undisputed centre of pop in the 1960s. Though male groups dominated the UK charts, each of the four main record labels had a girl singer to satisfy those teenagers in need of a heroine fix.
Together the four girls – Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black – scored nearly 60 top 40 UK hits between 1963 and the end of the decade, including half a dozen number ones. Petula Clark, who was older and ended up with the unenviable ‘easy listening’ tag, added a further ten hits and one chart topper to the tally.
A whole raft of other girls, from Helen Shapiro at the beginning of the decade to Clodagh Rodgers at the end, enjoyed success too. They included Billie Davis, Jackie Trent, Twinkle, Mary Hopkin, the Paper Dolls, Julie Grant and Marianne Faithfull. Each offered her own unique sound.
But for every Lulu there was a Samantha Jones, for every Cilla there was a Tammy St John, a Beryl Marsden, an Antoinette or a Barbara Ruskin. These girls, and a host of others beside them, tried for fame and fortune. Sadly, despite having some great songs and the backing of some of the top songwriters and producers of the decade, they didn’t catch the attention of record buyers.
Whether a hit or a miss, as it were, all of them are celebrated here.