British singer Sandra Barry started out on the radio and in film – notably in a St Trinian’s cinematic gem – before launching herself into the world of pop under several aliases.
Even at just three years old, Sandra Alfred, as she was known, showed a talent for entertaining. By the age of ten, she had enrolled in the Aida Foster stage school.
She spent the 1950s taking part in talent shows and making a name for herself on the radio, in the light entertainment programme Educating Archie, and in film, playing a naughty fourth former in the classic 1954 British comedy The belles of St Trinian’s.
In 1957 she cut her first record, the novelty number Six day rock, and it took her another six years before she tried again, under the moniker Mandy Mason, on the Parlophone label, with A sweet love.
In 1964 she reinvented herself as Sandra Barry. In this guise, she cut Really gonna shake, which issued on the Decca label in March 1964 and credited to Sandra Barry and the Boys. (The Boys in question later became cult Mod group the Action.)
She joined the Pye record label a year later, where she was to issue three singles. The first, The end of the line was penned by Tony Hatch, the man behind dozens of songs by Petula Clark, Jackie Trent and others.
However, it is more highly regarded for its flip, the excellent We were lovers (when the party began), a cover of a US release by The Exciters. With back-up vocals supplied by The Breakaways, the song has become in demand amongst fans of British girl pop of the 1960s. It even gained a US release on the Parkway label.
When it failed to sell, she came back with a feisty – but equally unsuccessful – remake of Lloyd Price’s 1960 release Question. (The B-side, the cheerful You can take it from me, was another Hatch composition.)
For live appearances she was backed by the Jet Blacks, which included future Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.
Her final single for Pye was 1966’s Stop! Thief, backed with I won’t try to change your mind. Both sides were written by Tony Macauley and John Macleod, who later worked with British girl group The Paper Dolls, amongst others.
After touring Germany in the early 1970s, she reappeared on the London pub circuit in 1973 as Alice Spring, lead singer of the group Slack Alice.
Later, after dyeing her hair neon-red but keeping the Alice Spring moniker, she would sing lead vocals for post-punk outfit Darling. The group cut several singles and one album, 1979’s Put it down to experience.
With thanks to Nico Barrett for additional research.