Alvin Stardust

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Alvin Stardust the Original Performer

    City of London
   Original Bands
RANK #1350
Bernard William Jewry was born in the Muswell Hill district of London on September 27th 1942. At the age of two the family moved to Mansfield, where his mother ran a boarding house. Many of the guests were either artists or musicians appearing at the Mansfield Theatre and in this sort of atmosphere, it's not surprising that although only a toddler, he took an avid interest in music and stage work.

At four he made his first vocal stage appearance in "Babes In The Wood"; five years later he made his straight acting debut in the Carl Jenner Mobile Theatre's presentation of "No Room At The Inn"; and three years on, whilst attending boarding school he fronted his first band at local fetes and garden parties. Aged 17, he took part in a talent showcase at the Mansfield Palais.Also appearing were a group who'd evolved from the remnants of the Diamond Skiffle Group and Roger Lymer and his Crusaders. Johnny Theakston with his Beat Boys newly re-named the Tremeloes won the competition and Bernard threw his lot in with the group as their road manager, occasionally joining them onstage.
By the turn of the 1960's Theakston had assumed a more 'Americanised' stage persona from an amalgam of the lead character from the western "Shane" and a local printer firm, Fentons'. The newly re-christened and now fully professional "Shane Fenton and the Fentones" went from strength to strength in the Nottinghamshire area and beyond, and encouraged the group to submit a tape recording to the BBC Light Programme (forerunner of Radio 1). Although granted a coveted audition tragedy struck just days before the event: 17-year old Johnny Theakston was taken seriously ill with rheumatic fever and was rushed into hospital, where he died two days later. The band, whose line-up had long settled of Jerry Wilcock and Mick Eyre on lead and rhythm guitars, Bill Bonney on bass and Tony Hinchcliffe on drums were ready to quit, but with some persuasion from Johnny's Mother they steeled their resolve and coerced Bernard into full-time singing by taking over the Shane Fenton role.Passing the audition with flying colours, they were given a slot on the two-hour "Saturday Club", a show recorded in Birmingham but transmitted nationally. The gig went so well they became regular guests on the series and the programme's musical director, Tommy Sanderson became their manager. He got them a long-term recording contract with EMI's Parlophone label, the eccentric relation to its associate labels, Columbia (Cliff Richard, the Shadows) and HMV (early Elvis, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates). True, George Martin's roster consisted of more unusual signings on the company like established comedy acts, like Bernard Cribbins, Charlie Drake and Peter Sellers, although their current biggest and consistent seller was teen idol Adam Faith. The bulk of the groups' production work was handled by George Martin (the man behind the Beatles' hits), occasionally handing over to others.