Lee Lawrence

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Lee Lawrence
Birth name Leon Siroto
Born 1920
Salford, Lancashire, England
Died 26 February 1961
Genres Traditional pop music
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1940s–1961
Labels Decca, Columbia

Lee Lawrence (born Leon Siroto, 1920 – 26 February 1961) was a British singer who was popular in the 1950s.

He was born in Salford.[1][2] Both his parents sang with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, and at the age of 16 he went to Italy to study opera for three years. After returning to England, he enlisted in the Royal Tank Regiment and sang with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), where he was noticed after the end of the war by BBC radio producer Roy Spear. He sang on Spear's programme Beginners Please, and made many appearances with other bands including those of Stanley Black, Sydney Lipton, and Cyril Stapleton.[1]

He made his first recordings for Decca Records in the early 1950s, in a romantic ballad style which was compared to that of David Whitfield and Ronnie Hilton. By late 1951, he was being promoted as "Britain's outstanding singing star", and topped the bill at the Shepherds Bush Empire above radio comedian Peter Sellers and (at the foot of the bill) Morecambe and Wise.[3] His first and biggest UK singles chart success was a version of "Crying In The Chapel", backed by the Tony Martin Orchestra, which reached no. 7 in late 1953. Subsequent releases on the Decca label failed to make the charts,[4] and he moved to the Columbia label, for whom he had another British hit with "Suddenly There's A Valley" (no. 14 in 1955).[2] He was a popular attraction on the British variety circuit in the early and mid 1950s, his theme song being "The World Is Mine Tonight", and had his own series on Radio Luxembourg in 1955.[1]

After losing popularity to rock and roll performers in Britain, and failing to have a hit with the song "Rock'n'Roll Opera" which parodied such singers as Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and Tommy Steele, he moved in 1957 to the US, where he performed cabaret shows in the Catskills "Borscht Belt".[1] He died in February 1961 of a heart attack at the age of 40, while touring in the West Indies.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Biography by Rovi at Allmusic.com. Retrieved 18 December 2012
  2. ^ a b Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 442. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  3. ^ V&A Museum, Poster, Tribe Brothers Ltd. Retrieved 18 December 2012
  4. ^ Lee Lawrence at Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 December 2012