In the mid-1960s, Welsh teenager Tawny (sometimes spelt Tawney) Reed issued just two singles on the Pye label – and one on New York’s famous Red Bird label. Though she failed to score a hit, her gutsy vocals have made her a favourite of fans of the Brit girl genre.
She was born in Cardiff, Wales, and raised in the Adamstown district of the city.
As a teenager, she signed up with a local management company and began performing in clubs in south Wales with backing group the Flower Pot Men.
In 1965, the now 17-year-old Tawny signed to the Pye label, where she was taken under the wing of Tony Hatch, the writer and producer of hits for Petula Clark and Jackie Trent, amongst others.
Her first 45, released in October 1965, was a cracking cover of Motown girl group The Velvelettes’ Needle in a haystack. On the flip was a suped-up version of Baby Washington’s I’ve got a feeling. Both sides proved perfect showcases for her energetic vocal style and drew comparisons with Scottish singer Lulu.
The single was considered strong enough for release in the US, where it was issued on the Red Bird label. Tawny was the only Brit girl to receive the distinction of having a release on the legendary New York label, arguably the home of the girl group sound.
Back in the UK, Pye lifted both sides of a single by US singer Fred Hughes for Tawny’s follow up. You can’t take it away, backed with My heart cries, was released in early 1966 but failed to capture the interest of British record buyers. Nevertheless, the song also gained a US release, where it was issued on the Congress label, though it fared no better than it had at home.
However, with no hits to her name, Tawny was dropped by Pye.