The Avons were a British pop vocal group. Originally composed of Valerie Murtagh (born 1936, Willesden, London) and Elaine Murtagh, (born 1940, County Cork, Ireland) and known as 'The Avon Sisters', they added Raymond S. Adams (born 1938, Jersey, Channel Islands), and changed their name to 'The Avons'.
The two sisters-in-law Valerie and Elaine (sometimes known as Eileen) Murtagh, performed as 'The Avon Sisters' at the 1958 BBC Radio Exhibition, in the Olympia Exhibition Halls, Earls Court, London. There they were heard by Norrie Paramor, who signed them to the UK's Columbia label.
Their first recording was with The Mudlarks on the B-side side of their 1958 single "My Grandfather Clock", a cover of "Which Witch Doctor". Following this they added Ray Adams from Nat Gonella's band, and changed their name to 'The Avons'.
"Seven Little Girls"
The Avon's first single release in 1959 was a cover version of Paul Evans and the Curls' Stateside hit song "Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat)", written by Bob Hilliard and Lee Pockriss. The record reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart, and stayed on the chart for thirteen weeks.
The Avons had three other chart entries in the Top 50 up to 1961, but never achieved the same success as their first record. The charting follow-ups were "We're Only Young Once", "Four Little Heels", and another cover, of Bobby Vee's "Rubber Ball". The Avons were approached to perform the song "Pickin' Petals" in the UK heat of the 1960 Eurovision Song Contest, but their participation was cancelled due to a European Broadcasting Union rule that stated that trios could not compete.
In 1963 an instrumental version of a song they had jointly written, "Dance On!", was a UK number 1 instrumental hit for The Shadows. The vocal version reached the Top 20 the following year, recorded by Kathy Kirby. They also wrote "In Summer", a number 5 UK hit for Billy Fury in 1963.
Between 1963-64 the group also recorded for the Decca and Fontana labels, without achieving any more hits. Valerie Murtagh became a successful songwriter, and remained involved with the British music industry. With her songwriting partner, Harold Spiro, she wrote (under the name, "Valerie Avon") the UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1974, "Long Live Love", performed by Olivia Newton-John.
Groups with the same name
There was also an American 1950s doo-wop group of this name. Their biggest hit in 1957 was entitled "Baby". In addition, there was also a third group with the same name. This was a group of three girls from Nashville, TN., Paula Hester, Beverly Bard and Fran Bard. They record several "Northern Soul" tracks, starting out on RCA's Groove label in 1963, then moving to Sound Stage 7 in 1966, and then to Excello in 1967, releasing their last single on Ref-o-Ree in 1968.
- Larkin C 'Virgin Encyclopedia of Sixties Music' (Muze UK Ltd, 1997) ISBN 0-7535-0149-X) p22
- "Seven Little Girls (Sitting In The Back Seat) by Paul Evans Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 34. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Dance On Tab by Shadows @". Ultimate-guitar.com. Retrieved 2013-02-13.
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 68. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
- "Billy Fury - I'll Never Fall In Love Again / In Summer (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- Hamilton, Andrew. "The Avons - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-13.