Jenny Darren is a solo British Rock singer. Her initial claim to fame was that the Pat Benatar hit "Heartbreaker" was written for her. Known for her huge bluesy rock voice, on such tracks as "Ladykiller", and the Buk single classic, "Slay me like a lady". Darren has released eleven albums to date, plus she has been featured on various other albums and compilations. Although never having had a hit record, her style is unique, being one of the few female Classic Rock vocalists in the world.
- 1 Early career
- 2 Residencies
- 3 Strawberry Studios
- 4 Dick James Music (DJM)
- 5 Painted Lady (Helen Mirren)
- 6 Jazz duo
- 7 Paidarion
- 8 The Ladykillers (Studio band 1 – late 2014)
- 9 Draco Angelis
- 10 Ladykillers 2 (Live and recording band)
- 11 Britain's Got Talent
- 12 Personal life
- 13 Discography
- 14 Television appearances
- 15 Videos
- 16 Films
- 17 References
- 18 Other sources
- 19 External links
Darren was born Jennifer Harley in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, the adopted and only child of Maud Phillips (née Smith) and Leslie Phillips. She was raised in Dudley (which was originally in the county of Worcestershire) and attended The Sir Gilbert Claughton Grammar School. Writing her first song "Why does it have to be with me", at the age of eleven, then joining her first band (her cousin George's ) "Johnny Dark and The Rocking Phantoms", at the age of thirteen.
During senior school, she gigged locally with a Blackheath group called "The Roving Saracens" as one of four singers, two other girls, and one boy, (Darren being the youngest by far) At this time she met Manchester Evening News journalist Richard Jaffa, who became her manager for the next three years, before he was called to the Bar to undertake his Barrister Law degree.
Jenny was just fourteen years old when she signed a two singles deal with Nathan Joseph's folk label-" Transatlantic Records", who had notables such as "Long John Baldry". Jenny was working a minimum of two nights per week with alternating pop and jazz outfits, after which she became a backing vocalist for "Clifford T. Ward", a Kidderminster singer-songwriter. With all this given experience, she soon learned her trade. Jenny was also taken to see jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dakota Staton and Oscar Peterson, when they were appearing in the UK in concert.
After leaving school at the end of her fifth form year, Darren went professional and joined alternative cabaret group "The Second City Sound", for a period of four years. Jenny recorded the "Love is blue" album, plus two singles, one being a remake of Ike and Tina Turner's "River deep, mountain high", with the B side "Julie", penned by the group's bassist Bill Gilbert. The other single was a piano and string spectacular of the classical piece, "The Dream of Olwyn", with a vocal harmony song on the B side "A touch of velvet, a sting of brass". At the time the group were managed by Harry Gunn, a Manchester agent. At the end of the four-year stint, London agents Phil and Dorothy Solomons came on board, subsequently to manage Jenny's solo career.
Two years went by treading the boards, then her "ROCK" career beckoned. Firstly, with the Lancashire rock band "Stoney End" (who went on to become "Shabby Tiger") then in stepped "Hot Chocolate's" manager, Peter Walsh, a London impresario who pursued a recording deal with Decca records for Jenny. Walsh then went on to ask pianist and arranger, Mike Moran, to produce a remake of the Ronette's track "Be my baby",with the B side "How soon hello becomes goodbye" (from the Italian film "ill Silencioux" - "The Silent Ones")
At the time in the UK, there was a "Mecca Band Residency" in most towns (which later became the Mecca Bingo Halls) therefore, a lot of professional musicians skipped from one location to another, Darren being no exception. Jenny was resident at Manchester (Oxford Street-Tiffany's) then Rotherham, then Stafford. Later on, her London residencies were at Tiffany's Oxford Street, then subsequently Tottenham Mayfair, and Wimbledon Tiffany's. In the 1980s (in her drop out Rock years) Darren worked at both Reading, and Brighton, Top Rank residencies, drifting from residency to residency. Later she joined The Dave White Band (Warners) twice over the years at various Norfolk and Nottingham venues. At the same time, Jenny joined forces with Dave White's guitarist Lee Vasey (The Lee Vasey Band) playing jazz/rock on their one night and one lunchtime off each week.
Time moved on, and Jenny met up with songwriter-producers Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade, who worked at Strawberry (10 CC's studios) in Stockport, Cheshire. Jenny was pulled in to do backing vocals on some tracks that they had written. This was the beginning of the rock career that was to take off with a jolt! The next four years were spent touring the UK and Europe. Along the way, there were three "Jenny Darren Bands" over this period. TV slots and tours followed; AC/DC, plus a "Rock goes to College" appearance supporting the band Be Bop de Luxe. Reading, Glastonbury, and Knebworth, Festivals amongst many others soon followed.
Dick James Music (DJM)
After four years, Darren signed directly to DJM; with Father and son - Dick and Stephen James, who in turn became her joint Managers and Music Publishers. A new Band was to follow. They were: Ex England prog keyboard player Robert Webb, Andy Richards on second keyboard (Frankie goes to Hollywood), Chas Kronk (The Strawbs) on bass, Chris West (Stomu Yomashta) on guitar, Luis Jardim on percussion, and Nicko McBrain on drums (Iron Maiden) The Band recorded one album only (Jenny Darren 2, later to become The pink album) produced by Tony Sadler. Due to internal problems, the band played two gigs only. A live "off the desk" recording still survives from The Fulcrum Hall, Slough. After which, Jenny came off the road and also halted her recording career. Rock was no longer an option. After a passage of time away from it, she embarked upon a jazz career. Working at Ronnie Scott's club in Soho, London, the 606 Club Chelsea, plus various other jazz clubs around the country. Although live jazz recordings have been completed along the way, little has been released in the jazz vein. Two unreleased albums have not (so far) seen the light of day. In the twilight years, Jenny also pursued a career as a vocal coach in colleges and involved herself in other areas of music pop, blues, Celtic, M.Theatre, and classical.
Painted Lady (Helen Mirren)
In early 1997 Darren received a phone call from jazz pianist John Donaldson, regarding a two-part mini-series he was working on, featuring actress Helen Mirren as Maggie Sheridan. Maggie was portraying in the film, as a washed-up blues vocalist from the 1960s, who had long since stopped performing. The writers of the two-part mini-series (Peter Salem and Alan Cubitt) heard Jenny sing (on the recommendation of Donaldson) and then offered her the singing role of Maggie.
Some wonderful musicians played on the mini-series, music tracks, including Rock Drummer Cosy Powell, who also hailed from Jenny's more recent neck of the woods. The miniseries was released firstly on video, then DVD. Consequently, it has proved to be a big hit in the U.S. Canada and the UK. Darren is also credited within the film credits. Interpreting songs veering from light pop, to heavy blues, with Celtic overtones at times. This is largely down to the fact of Maggie Sheridan's changing singing voice over the years, from a young teenager to middle age. The pure clarity of a youthful voice, leading into a more bluesy, rasping, mature sound.
There has been some talk over the years regarding the making of ‘'Painted Lady 2''. However, this has never come into fruition.
For a short period in mid-2000 onwards, Darren rehearsed and recorded with jazz pianist Max Turnbull. Recording songs along the way which were initially meant to be an experiment for a new studio in Hampshire, eventually leading to making an album, entitled Song for New York, the title track written by Jenny and Max. The songs were never released, however, they were a perfect soiree into her mainstream jazz song programme. Sadly, so far the songs in the main, have not been heard. Although it is thought that the original recordings still exist.
One Saturday Jenny went to Balham, in London to see a retro keyboard workshop by Robert Webb. There she met Finnish record Producer and drummer - Kimmo Porsti, who asked her if she would like to record with his band Paidarion, to which Jenny replied a resounding, "Yes!". Jenny recorded her vocals in the U.K. The musicians recorded their own separate musical parts from around the world. They were: Ákos Bokor Bogarti (electric acoustic guitars,backing vocals), Jan-Olof Strandberg (fretless and fretted bass), Otso Pakarinen (Keyboards, synth), Robert Webb (England - keys, acoustic guitar, vocals), Kev Moore (vocals). The album entitled Two Worlds Encounter -The Finlandia project, was released in November 2016.
The Ladykillers (Studio band 1 – late 2014)
Have taken three forms since the first recording of the 2017 Ladykillers album. The first being the very first studio band. The hard core members being: Andy Hawkins - drums: Clive Poole - guitar (younger brother of drummer Mac Poole from '70s rock band Warhorse) and Kev Moore (Witchcross/BCSweet/Christie).
The album itself was initiated by Moore, taking up on the idea made to Darren by a friend of hers, fellow musician (Gordon Milton) who suggested that she should re-record and then re-release "Heartbreaker". Moore was instrumental from the first in bringing the project into being. He initially brought in fellow guest musicians Graham Oliver (Saxon-guitarist) Tom Leary (Fiddle-Lindisfarne) Andrew Hawkins (Drums - BC Sweet). Then Jenny brought in Tony Williams (Guitar-Jaki Graham), Robin George (Guitar-Roy Wood/The Move/ Magnum); then Pete Way (Bass-UFO) and Chris Slade (Drums-AC/DC) by courtesy of Robin George. Nicko McBrain (Drums-Iron Maiden) who was the drummer in Darren's Band when the song "Ode to Billy Joe" was recorded. As also were Robert Webb (England-Keys) Andy Richards (Keys-Frankie Goes to Hollywood) Chas Kronk (Strawbs-Bass) Chris West (Guitar-Stomu Yamashta) and Luis Jardim (percussion-The Buggles). As well as two versions of "Heartbreaker" being featured on the disc, there is also an updated version of "Ladykiller", taken from the Jenny Darren (1977 album) plus some original songs by Moore, and Witchcross guitarist Mike Koch, Darren and keyboardist/ MD re Cindy Lauper) Jan Pulsford. The album backtracks were initially recorded with the band, at The Two Rivers Studios. The vocals were recorded at Soundshack in Cheltenham.
The project also came further into being when a promo video was undertaken. Moore had by this time dropped out of the project, only to return (briefly) a few months later. Jenny then brought in Wishbone Ash musicians Bob Skeat (bass) as a replacement for Moore, plus Muddy Manninen (guitar) together with Bill Hunt (keyboards-Roy Wood- ELO) (on drums on the video - Martin Magic Johnson - Jo Harman Band) plus Ian Horley (2nd guitar) video’d by Greg Wilson-Copp from Soundshack.
Draco were initially an acoustic Celtic rock duo formed by Kev Moore and Darren herself. With Moore on acoustic guitar, plus Darren on vocals. Moore brought in electric violin and fiddle player Tom Leary, and Darren, guitarist Muddy Manninen for an initial recording. Draco wrote over thirty songs in total. However, only one song at present has been recorded to studio quality – the ballad "Queen Arachnid"; the rest of the songs being demoed to be recorded at some future date. Darren and Moore performed at a charity concert in North London in 2016 for the Legacy Project (ex-members of pre Iron Maiden)
Ladykillers 2 (Live and recording band)
The third and final phase was organised in January 2017, after Moore finally left the project for good, and went back to live in Spain. Jenny happened to spot drummer Rupert James Irving playing locally with a Gloucestershire band. After contacting him, he, in turn, introduced her to other local musicians.The new Ladykillers Band members being Rupert James Irving (drums), J Evans (guitar), Jo Ward (keys) Alun Roberts (bass). The new Ladykiller album being finally scheduled for its release in May 2017, and its album launch on the 31 August 2017.
In September 2017, ex-Wishbone Ash guitarist Muddy Manninen joined The Ladykillers for a short time, as an additional member to the lineup. Manninen also wrote and recorded with Jenny until March 2018.
In August of the same year, bassist Alun Roberts, and keys player Jo Ward left the band for personal reasons.Then Birmingham bassist David Brown (brother in law of Robin George) joined The Ladykillers, together with (also from Birmingham) guitarist Ben Bartlett. Ben was a temporary addition to the band and was later replaced by a further Birmingham member, guitarist - Nigel Jones.
Britain's Got Talent
Jenny took part in the 12th season of the Britain's Got Talent TV show at the age of 68. Initially head hunted for the show late in 2017, she debated on whether it was a good career move; finally agreeing to do so, she started her BGT audition dressed as a granny, before stripping down to rock chick the black outfit underneath, and rocking out to AC/DC's "Highway to Hell". The entire audience, including all four judges, gave Darren a standing ovation when she finished singing. Following her appearance, there was an initial, unsubstantiated, negative tabloid newspaper report regarding her, which resulted in Jenny no longer appearing in the show. However, the video itself has received over 200 million views worldwide, on various collated sites.
During an appearance on Good Morning Britain, Jenny revealed how she had missed out on her big chance with the hit song "Heartbreaker". Her record company released it on a previous album of hers – "Queen Of Fools in 1978. As they were also a publishing house, in 1979 the song was given to rising U.S. singer Pat Benatar who went on to record it and made it into a huge international hit.
Darren married in her mid-twenties, when she lived in Manchester. She divorced some years later, and moved to London to pursue her career in the late '70s. During the end of the DJM years (re: the Jenny Darren -2 Album) she lived and worked with the England Prog rock band virtuoso keyboard player Robert Webb. Their songwriting relationship carried on and off for some years after the album was written and released. Much later, Darren resided in Essex in her college teaching years.
From 2014 Jenny wrote her song material in collusion with (Danish Band Witchcross - bass player) Kev Moore. This was to end when Moore left Draco Angelis.
It is rumoured that Jenny Darren has been writing her autobiography (Heartbreaker) for some time now. A speculated release for this is sometime in 2020.
Jenny Darren's first album Love is blue with the Second City Sound was released on the Columbia label in 1968, with her name listed as Jenny Phillips. Releasing her first solo album entitled City Lights, on the DJM label in 1977. Followed closely by the "Jenny Darren" (1-album) in late 77. The album Queen of Fools (which included the song "Heartbreaker", was written for her and which U.S. vocalist Pat Benatar covered and released later) was released in 1978. Her last of the four DJM albums "Jenny Darren" (2) later known as The Pink Album, was released in 1980.
There was a musical hiatus for many years until 2014. On November 6, 2015, Heartbreaker - The Best Of, was released on the Angel Air label. This was followed on by a guest appearance on an album recorded with the Finnish band Paidarion (The Finlandia Project - Two Worlds Encounter - 2016). Then Ladykillers a collection of originals and covers by Jenny Darren and The Ladykillers, which was released in 2017 on the Seacrest Oy label, and features two versions of "Heartbreaker".
Following on from this a compilation of songs that Darren wrote with Robert Webb (England band) released on Green-Tree Nu Music Records, in thesdummer of 2018. Then, the re-release (on download only) of Jenny Darren - 2 re-titled "The Pink Album", in the late Summer of 2018 on CD Baby. On February 8, 2019 Jenny released an album in collaboration with guitarist Robin George entitled "SavageSongS" on Angel Air Records. Darren has also been a guest vocalist on the Robert Webb Liquorice Allsorts album, plus the ENGLAND - "Box of Circles album.
- Love is blue (1968) with Second City Sound (1963 – 1975?)
- City Lights (DJM - 1976)
- Jenny Darren (DJM - 1977)
- Queen of fools (DJM - 1978)
- Jenny Darren (DJM - 1980 - later called - The Pink Album)
- Jenny Darren (Angel Air - Heartbreaker - The Best Of 2015)
- Ladykiller (Seacrest Oy - Jenny Darren & The Ladykillers - 2017)
- Jenny Darren - The Pink Album (Featuring Robert Webb - re-released 2018)
- The Finlandia Project - Two Worlds Encounter (2016)
In collusion (albums)
- The British Company of Rock - 1978 (Brazilian release)
- Rock and Rock and Roll - 1979 (Brazilian release)
- The Girls are at it again (Upbeat Girls - 1964-1969 - as Jenny Wren) - 2009
- Robert Webb - Liquorice Allsorts - 2014
- Decameron - 10 days in 100 Novellas - (part 2) (2015)
- England - Box of Circles - 2017
- Rare Bird in Rock (2018) with Robert Webb
- SavageSongS (2019) with Robin George
Singles (As Jenny Wren)
- Chasing my dream all over town (1964) Fontana
- The Merry-go-round is slowing you down (1965) Fontana
Singles (The Second City Sound)
- Tchaikovsky one (Decca records 1965)
- Grieg one (Decca records 1966)
- A touch of Velvet, a sting of brass (Major Minor records 1967)
- River deep, Mountain High (Major Minor records 1968)
Singles Solo (Jenny Darren)
- Be my Baby (Decca Records 1971)
- Slay me like a lady (BUK records 1974)
- Sure Sugar (DJM records 1975)
- Too many lovers (DJM records 1977)
- Love & Devotion (DJM records 1977)
- Ladykiller (DJM records 1978)
- Ladykiller/City Lights (Spanish edition 1978)
- Love Potion No.9 (Spanish edition 1978)
- Heartbreaker (DJM records 1978)
- Lover (DJM records 1980)
- Rock music (breaks her little heart) (Spanish edition 1981)
Jenny Darren & The Ladykillers single
- Highway to Hell (CD Baby/iTunes/Amazon 2018) D/Load
- Thank your Lucky Stars (as Jenny Wren - 1966)
- Opportunity Knocks (with The Second City Sound - 1969) - 6 times winners
- Opportunity Knocks (with Stoney End - 1971)
- Sight and Sound in concert (supporting Be Bop Deluxe 1978) restricted release via BBC - 2019
- Madrid TV (1979)
- Scotland TV (1980)
- Painted Lady (Featured voice - 1997) - released
- Me & my Toy Boy - (2000) Channel 5 - (not for general release)
- Sight and Sound in concert ( supporting Be Bop Deluxe 1978) - now released by the BBC
- Painted Lady (Featured as the singing voice of Maggie Sheridan (Helen Mirren) - 1997)
- "Heartbreaker (Jenny Darren)｜Jenny Darren をカバーした人は?". カバー音楽大事典｜モトうた.com (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Cover versions of Heartbreaker by Jenny Darren | SecondHandSongs". secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Jenny Darren - Slay Me Like A Lady". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Jenny Wren". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Shazam". Shazam. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "popsike.com - Fontana 772 Jenny Wren The Merry Go Round (Is Slowing You Down) MINT - auction details". popsike.com. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Second City Sound". Discogs (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Second City Sound - Love Is Blue". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
- Jennie Darren And The Second City Sound - River Deep, Mountain High, retrieved 2019-04-14
- "Second City Sound - The Dream Of Olwyn / A Touch Of Velvet A Sting Of Brass". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Jenny Darren - Be My baby". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Concerts | Highway To ACDC : le site francophone sur AC/DC". highwaytoacdc.com (in French). Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- Jenny Darren/Be-Bop Deluxe, retrieved 2019-04-14
- "Be-bop Deluxe and Jenny Darren (1978)". BFI. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
- "Reading Rock Festival.Reading 1978". ukrockfestivals.com. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- Painted Lady (TV Movie 1997) - IMDb, retrieved 2019-04-14
- "Review: "Paidarion Finlandia Project: Two Worlds Encounter" - Sea of Tranquility - The Web Destination for Progressive Music!". seaoftranquility.org. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Paidarion Finlandia Project – Two Worlds Encounter". The Progressive Aspect – TPA. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Home Page". Iron Maiden fan site Legacy Project fans of Iron Maiden. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- ♫ Ladykiller - Jenny Darren and the Ladykillers. Listen @cdbaby, retrieved 2019-04-14
- Randell, Louise (2018-04-23). "Britain's Got Talent's rock pensioner Jenny Darren reveals she missed out on millions after giving hit song to Pat Benatar". Retrieved 2018-07-28.
- Young, Graham (2018-04-22). "Rocker Jenny Darren finds instant fame on Britain's Got Talent - after decades of plugging away". Retrieved 2018-07-28.
- "Baby Boomer rocks ACDC in amazing video, leaving judges shocked". 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
- Cornell, Jeff (2018-05-01). "68-Year-Old Woman Sings AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell' on 'Britain's Got Talent'". Retrieved 2018-07-28.
- Taylor, Frances (2018-04-23). "Here's how Britain's Got Talent's Jenny Darren narrowly missed out on huge fame in the 1970s". Retrieved 2018-07-28.
- "Covers of Jenny Darren Songs". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- Vinyl Album: Jenny Darren - City Lights (1977), retrieved 2019-04-14
- "Jenny Darren discography". RateYourMusic. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Jenny Darren - Queen Of Fools". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Jenny Darren - Jenny Darren". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "JENNY DARREN Heartbreaker-Best Of 1977-1980". Angel Air Records. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Paidarion". seacrestoy.com. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
- "Jenny Darren". seacrestoy.com. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- ♫ Rare Bird in Rock - Jenny Darren. Listen @cdbaby, retrieved 2019-04-14
- ♫ The Pink Album - Jenny Darren. Listen @cdbaby, retrieved 2019-04-14
- "ROBIN GEORGE ft. JENNY DARREN Savage Songs". Angel Air Records. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
- "ROBERT WEBB - Liquorish Allsorts (2014)". Progarchives.com. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- ♫ Box of Circles - England. Listen @cdbaby, retrieved 2019-04-14
- "mysite | ALBUMS". Jenny Darren Vocalist. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "mysite | SINGLES". Jenny Darren Vocalist. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
- "Various - The British Company Of Rock". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Various - Rock And Rock And Roll". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Colossus Project – Decameron: Ten Days In 100 Novellas – Part II". The Progressive Aspect – TPA. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "The Second City Sound* - Tchaikovsky One". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "The Second City Sound* - Grieg One". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Sure Sugar". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Too Many Lovers". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Love And Devotion". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Ladykiller / City Lights". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Ladykiller / City Lights". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Love Potion Nº 9". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Heartbreaker". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Lover". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Jenny Darren - Jenny Darren". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Highway to Hell by Jenny Darren and the Ladykillers on Amazon Music - Amazon.co.uk". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- "Thank Your Lucky Stars" Episode #9.24 (TV Episode 1966) - IMDb, retrieved 2019-04-17
- "2nd City Sound". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
- Death Promise - IMDb, retrieved 2019-04-16
- "Pagliaccio Productions (@death_promise_film) • Instagram photos and videos". instagram.com. Retrieved 2019-04-18.
- Lucas/Erwin "Outside Iron Maiden", MaidenHolland 2015 p. 235 - 237. ISBN 978-90-823445-0-9
- The Best Poems of 2001 (poetry.com) Jeffrey Franz. p. 108 - Burial at Sea (Jenny Darren) ISBN 0-7951-5180-2
- The best poems of 2002 (poetry.com) Jeffrey Franz. p. 113 - Burial at Sea (Jenny Darren) ISBN 0-7951-5192-6