19 January 1928|
Romford, Essex, England, UK
|Died||12 September 2013
London, England, UK
|Genres||Traditional pop music|
|Labels||Decca, Pye, Nectar|
Regan was born in Romford, Essex, to Irish parents. Before becoming a singer, Regan worked at a number of jobs, including re-touching photographs. The beginning of her successful singing career in 1953 resulted from her making a demo record of "Too Young" and "I'll Walk Alone". The demo came to the attention of Bernard Delfont, leading to her signing a recording contract with Decca Records. She had a number of Top 40 hits for that label, many of them cover versions of American hits by Teresa Brewer ("Ricochet", "Till I Waltz Again with You", and "Jilted"), Doris Day ("If I Give My Heart to You") and Jill Corey ("Cleo and Me-O" and "Love Me to Pieces").
She became the resident singer on BBC's producer Richard Afton's television series, Quite Contrary. Afton later replaced Regan with Ruby Murray. She appeared on the Six-Five Special and was given her own BBC television series, Be My Guest, which ran for four series. After being knocked out by a descending safety curtain during her first appearance in variety, she developed her act to include impressions of Gracie Fields, Judy Garland and actress Anna Neagle, to whom she bore a facial resemblance.
In the late 1950s, she appeared several times at the London Palladium, including the Royal Command Performance and also in the show, Stars in Your Eyes. In 1958 she appeared as herself in the film, Hello London.
On leaving Decca in 1958, she signed with EMI's HMV label, where she had a Top 10 hit with a cover version of the McGuire Sisters' "May You Always". Two years later, she left EMI for Pye Records and two minor record successes ("Happy Anniversary" and "Papa Loves Mama").
She married Harry Claff in 1957 who was the joint general manager and box office manager at the Palladium. In November that year, the Daily Herald reported Regan was to have a baby in February 1958, seven months after the wedding. After receiving "abusive and wounding letters from people who were personally unknown to her', Regan successfully sued the newspaper for libel; her daughter was actually born in April. Claff and Regan divorced in 1963 after he was jailed for five years for fraud. By this time, the hits had completely dried up and she suffered a nervous breakdown, and relocated to Florida, marrying Dr. Martin Cowan, a medical doctor.
In the United States Regan recorded two singles for Columbia (one of which, "Don't Talk To Me About Love", went on to become a Northern soul classic). In 1984 she slipped in the shower, hit her head on the tiles, and suffered a brain haemorrhage. After an emergency operation she was left paralysed and speechless.
Her recovery, which entailed much physical and speech therapy, was aided by her miming to her old records. It took many months of treatment before she regained the ability to sing. In 1987, some of those old tracks, together with others by Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza and Jimmy Young, were issued on the double album, Unchained Melodies. She returned to the UK in the 1990s and, with the help and encouragement of Russ Conway (who had been her rehearsal pianist in the early 1950s) she resumed her stage appearances. She recorded for Nectar Records from 1992 to 1996, for whom she made a single ("You Needed Me") and two albums (The Joan Regan Collection and Remember I Love You).
Joan Regan continued singing, entertaining and supporting her charities (including The 'Not Forgotten' Association) to the age of 82, and died on 12 September 2013, aged 85.
- "Ricochet" (1953) (with The Squadronaires) (cover of Teresa Brewer) – UK No. 8
- "Someone Else's Roses" (1954) (cover of Doris Day) – UK No. 5
- "If I Give My Heart to You" (1954) (cover of Doris Day) – UK 3
- "Wait For Me, Darling" (1954) (with The Johnston Brothers) – UK No. 18
- "Prize of Gold" (1955) (used in main credits of the film, A Prize of Gold) – UK 6
- "Open Up Your Heart" (1955) (Joan and Rusty Regan) (cover of the Cowboy Church Sunday School) – UK No. 19
- "May You Always" (1959) (cover of The McGuire Sisters) – UK No. 9
- "Happy Anniversary" (1960) (cover of Jane Morgan) – UK No. 29
- "Papa Loves Mama" (1960) – UK No. 29
- "One of the Lucky Ones" (1960) – UK No. 47
- "It Must Be Santa" (1961) – UK No. 42
- Just Joan (1956) (Decca)
- The Girl Next Door (Decca)
- Joan And Ted (1961) (Pye-Nixa)
- Remember I Love You (1996) (Nectar Music)
Regan recorded a number of other songs, including "Love Me to Pieces", "Most People Get Married", "Pine Tree, Pine over Me", "It's a Big, Wide, Wonderful World", "That Old Feeling", "Anema e Core", "Croce di Oro" and "This Ole House".
- NME.com – accessed April 2009
- Sharon Mawer. "Joan Regan biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
- "Joan Regan obituary". Guardian. 15 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- "SINGERS OF THE FABULOUS FIFTIES". CommuniGate. United Kingdom: This Is Sussex. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- IMDb.com database – accessed April 2009
- "Obituary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 457. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.