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Timi Yuro in 1965
|Birth name||Rosemary Timothy Yuro|
August 4, 1940|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Died||March 30, 2004
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Years active||1961 – early 1980s|
Rosemary Timothy Yuro, professionally known as Timi Yuro (August 4, 1940 – March 30, 2004), was an American singer and songwriter. Sometimes called "the little girl with the big voice," she is considered to be one of the first blue-eyed soul stylists of the rock era. According to one critic, "her deep, strident, almost masculine voice, staggered delivery and the occasional sob created a compelling musical presence." Yuro possessed a contralto vocal range.
Rosemary Yuro was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1940, into an Italian-American family whose original name may have been Aurro. By the time of her birth, however, the family used the spelling Yuro. Young Rosemary moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1952. There, she sang in her parents' Italian restaurant and, despite her family's opposition, in local nightclubs before catching the eye and ear of talent scout Sonny Knight. Signed to Liberty Records in 1959, she had a U.S. Billboard No. 4 single in 1961 with "Hurt", an R&B ballad that had been an early success for Roy Hamilton. Yuro's recording was produced by Clyde Otis, who had previously worked with Brook Benton and Dinah Washington. Later that year she recorded as a duo with Johnnie Ray. She charted some further minor hits, including "Smile" (No. 42), and opened for Frank Sinatra on his 1962 tour of Australia.
In 1962 Bob Johnston and Otis produced Yuro's single "What's a Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You?)", which went to No. 12 on the Billboard pop chart. On both "Hurt" and "What's a Matter Baby", Yuro showed an emotional but elegant vocal style that owed a debt to Washington and other black jazz singers. Many listeners in the early 1960s thought Yuro was black. Her single "The Love of a Boy" reached No. 44 in 1962. It was arranged and co-written by Burt Bacharach, but Yuro refused to record his suggested follow-up, "What the World Needs Now Is Love".
In the following year, Liberty released Make the World Go Away, an album of country and blues standards. The singer at her vocal peak, this recording includes the hit title song (later a bigger hit for Eddy Arnold, with whom the song is usually associated), a version of Willie Nelson's "Permanently Lonely", and two different blues takes of "I'm Movin' On". Yuro was also known for soulful reworkings of popular American standards, such as "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", "Smile", and "I Apologize". She toured Europe in 1963, and appeared on the British TV show Ready Steady Go!. However, in the U.S. her image became established as a cabaret performer rather than as a soul singer.
By 1964, Yuro had moved to Mercury Records, but her first record for the label, "You Can Have Him", arranged by Jack Nitzsche, only just scraped into the chart and was her last hit. Nevertheless, her album The Amazing Timi Yuro, produced by Quincy Jones, was an artistic success. Subsequent records were unsuccessful, although a B-side, "Can't Stop Running Away," was later popular on the UK's Northern Soul circuit. In the 1960s, Yuro made two TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and was a guest on American Bandstand, Where the Action Is, and The Lloyd Thaxton Show. In 1967, she appeared in a black-and-white film in the Philippines as a guest star alongside Filipino comedians Dolphy and Panchito in a comedy titled Buhay Marino (Life of a Sailor), a film released by Wag-Wag Productions, Inc. At that time, the singer was very popular in the Philippines. She re-signed for Liberty Records in 1968, and recorded in London.
Later career and death
In 1981, Yuro attempted a comeback in the Netherlands, performing as a guest of honor on Dutch national television. She rerecorded a version of "Hurt" that reached No. 5 on the Dutch pop charts. She also signed to the Dutch record label Dureco to record a new album, All Alone Am I; it went to No. 1 on the Dutch album charts and was eventually certified as a gold record. With these successes, Yuro moved to the Netherlands and continued with a string of hit singles and albums. After her record sales began to decline there in the mid-1980s, Yuro returned to the United States. Her last recording was the vinyl album Today, which was released in 1982 by Ariola and produced by her old friend and collaborator Willie Nelson. In 1990, the disc was reissued as a CD, remastered and remixed by Yuro herself on her own label Timi and titled Timi Yuro Sings Willie Nelson.
In the mid-1980s, Yuro's American doctors detected throat cancer. Her larynx was eventually removed, and in 2004 she died of cancer.
Yuro's work is admired in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. According to the obituary in the Las Vegas Sun, her hometown paper, Yuro's most famous fan was probably Elvis Presley, who commanded his own table at the casino where Yuro headlined in the late 1960s. (Presley had a Top 10 country hit, and Top 30 pop hit, with his 1976 version of "Hurt".) In April 2004, Morrissey announced Yuro's death on his official website, describing her as his "favorite singer". (Morrissey also recorded a version of Yuro's "Interlude" with Siouxsie Sioux in 1994.) P.J. Proby knew Timi Yuro from their time in Hollywood, and often mentions it during his performances of "Hurt".
Elkie Brooks recorded a version of Yuro's classic "What's a Matter Baby" on her 1988 album Bookbinder's Kid. Yuro was so impressed with the version, she contacted Brooks while she was on a UK tour, and the two kept in contact.
Yuro found success on the dance floors of northern England in the 1970s and 1980s when Northern Soul DJs championed her up-tempo tracks of "It'll Never Be Over for Me" and "What's a Matter Baby". The former has remained an important Northern Soul track; the latter was re-released on Kent Records in the 1980s.
Yuro's friend Mike Iannarelli currently runs her official fan club group on Facebook, which is endorsed by the singer's family. In addition to her music, Iannarelli shares photos from Yuro's career and personal life, offering a wealth of information and personal stories from her time in the music industry. Iannarelli has made it his mission to keep Yuro's music and memory alive. He has been instrumental in various CD releases of Timi Yuro's music, including the 2012 CD set Timi Yuro: The Complete Liberty Singles. He has also been interviewed on American oldies stations about Yuro's recording career.
- Hurt! (Liberty Records 7208, 1961)
- Soul (Liberty Records 7212, 1962)
- Let Me Call You Sweetheart (Liberty Records 7234, 1962)
- What's a Matter Baby (Liberty Records 7263, 1963)
- The Best of Timi Yuro (Liberty Records 7286, 1963)
- Make the World Go Away (Liberty Records 7319, 1963)
- The Amazing Timi Yuro (Mercury Records 60963, 1964)
- Timi Yuro (Sunset Records 5107, 1966)
- Something Bad on My Mind (Liberty Records 7594, 1968)
- All Alone Am I (Dureco Benelux 77.011, 1981)
- I'm Yours (Arcade, 1982)
- Today (Ariola, 1982)
Hurt! The Best of Timi Yuro (Liberty Records, 1963 /EMI Records, 1992)
Timi Yuro - 18 Heartbreaking Songs (Intermusic, 1993 - RMB 75061)
Timi Yuro: The Complete Liberty Singles (Real Gone Music, 2012 - RGM-0066)
|US||US AC||US R&B|
|"She Really Loves You"||93||—||—|
|"I Believe" (with Johnnie Ray)||—||—||—|
|1962||"Let Me Call You Sweetheart"||66||15||—|
|"I Know (I Love You)"||—||—||—|
|"What's a Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You)"||12||—||16|
|"The Love of a Boy"||44||—||—|
|1963||"Insult to Injury"||81||—||—|
|"Make the World Go Away"||24||8||—|
|"Gotta Travel On"||64||—||—|
|"A Legend in My Time"||—||—||—|
|"I'm Movin' On"||—||—||—|
|"I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)"||—||—||—|
|1965||"You Can Have Him"||96||—||—|
|"I Can't Stop Running Away"||—||—||—|
|"E Poi Verrà L'Autunno / Ti Credo"||—||—||—|
|1966||"Once a Day"||118||—||—|
|"Don't Keep Me Lonely Too Long"||—||—||—|
|"Turn the World Around the Other Way"||—||37||—|
|1967||"Why Not Now"||—||—||—|
|1969||"It'll Never Be Over for Me"||—||—||—|
- Biography by Jason Ankeny at Allmusic.com. Retrieved 4 February 2013
- Bob Dickinson, Timi Yuro: Feisty white singer with a black soul voice, The Guardian, 10 April 2004. Retrieved 4 February 2013
- Dean, Maury (2003). Rock-N-Roll Gold Rush. Algora Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 785. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.