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Watkins was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey when his mother was only fourteen years old and was raised by his grandmother. He studied microbiology at Rutgers University and also trained as a boxer. His operatically trained and signature booming voice took him to Europe where he became so popular that he was invited to entertain at the Royal Command Performance for the Queen of the United Kingdom. The Times called him “the best entertainer on earth.” In South Africa he received two gold albums and was so celebrated that a public parade was held in his honor – an unprecedented reception for a black entertainer at the height of Apartheid. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1961 while promoting his album "The Big, Big Voice of Lovelace Watkins", music arranged and conducted by Ray Ellis. In addition to appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Lovelace also appeared on the Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas shows.
Nicknamed "The Black Sinatra", his stage personality was earthy and electric. However this charisma and the power and quality of his voice never quite came over on his record releases. As a result of this, plus poor management decisions and a Hollywood screen test that never transpired, Lovelace never reached his full potential in the United States. The discerning Liverpool public made his debut at their Wookey Hollow's night club an overnight sensation and he was recalled for a second show one week later. His third Wookey Hollow caberet appearance was recorded and televised on BBC1 at 11.35pm on 8 May 1974.
Following this, Lovelace Watkins at one time held the attendance record at the "Talk Of The Town" in London, England at the height of its prominence as an entertainment venue and did a "Command Performance" for Queen Elizabeth II. He appeared on the British religious variety series "Stars on Sunday", and after his last reappearance at the Wookey Hollow when he introduced his blonde wife, Lovelace disappeared into obscurity as far as his UK fan base was concerned.
Later life and death
Nearing the end of his music career Lovelace started a successful company that prepped apartments and commercial buildings for rental companies in the Las Vegas area, and continued singing at various functions in Las Vegas. Lovelace died of leukemia in 1995.
The Big, Big Voice Of Lovelace Watkins MGM Records E3831 1960
Love Is UNI Records – 73068 1969
Recorded Live At The Talk Of The Town York Records – LYK 901, York Records – LYK 902 1971
Live In South Africa Gallo – GL 1759 1971
Love Makes The World Go Round York Records – FYK 404 1972