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Ricky Valance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ricky Valance
Birth nameDavid Spencer
Born(1936-04-10)10 April 1936[1][2]
Ynysddu, Monmouthshire, Wales
Died12 June 2020(2020-06-12) (aged 84)
Skegness, Lincolnshire, England
GenresPop, Doo-wop, Rock and Roll
Years active1958–2020
LabelsColumbia, Decca, Crystal, One Media iP

David Spencer (10 April 1936 – 12 June 2020), known professionally as Ricky Valance, was a Welsh pop singer. He was best known for the UK number one single "Tell Laura I Love Her", which sold over a million copies in 1960.[3] He was the first male Welsh singer to have a UK number one single hit.

Early life


Born as David Spencer in Ynysddu, Monmouthshire, Wales, the eldest of seven children,[3] he sang in his church choir and worked in a coal mine and a factory before joining the RAF at the age of 17.[4][3]

Music career


He started his musical career after leaving the armed forces.[3] He performed in local clubs in the north of England as a cabaret singer for a couple of years,[4] before he was discovered by an A&R representative from EMI, signed to EMI's Columbia label, and placed with the record producer Norrie Paramor.[5]

He claimed he selected the stage name Ricky Valance because he liked the name Ricky, and took the name Valance from that of a trainer at a horse racing meeting; it was not a tribute to Ritchie Valens as sometimes reported.[6]

At his first recording session, Paramor suggested that Valance cover Ray Peterson's American hit, "Tell Laura I Love Her", co-written by Jeff Barry.[7][5] The recording was arranged by Frank Barber.[8] Peterson's original version of the song had never been released in the United Kingdom, as Decca Records considered a rock song about death and tragedy to be in bad taste.[9] The BBC refused to play teenage tragedy songs like "Tell Laura I Love Her", but, thanks to airplay on Radio Luxembourg, Valance was rewarded with a number 1 hit in September 1960.[5][10] Valance thus became the first Welsh man to reach the top spot – Shirley Bassey being the first Welsh female with "As I Love You" in February 1959. The record was his only chart hit in the UK.[10]

After topping the UK Singles Chart, Valance appeared in the 1961 A Song For Europe competition, hoping to represent the UK in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest. His song, "Why Can't We?", placed third out of the nine entries; the winner was "Are You Sure?" performed by the Allisons.[11]

Further singles included "Movin' Away" and "Jimmy's Girl". Over 100,000 copies were sold of "Jimmy's Girl",[12] and "Movin' Away" made it to number one in Australia and Scandinavia.[12]

While Valance continued to have some international success, changes in musical taste in the mid 1960s resulted in the ending of his Columbia contract. He sang in Ireland with a showband, the Chessmen, in 1967, and also undertook work as an actor, and performed country music.[13][14] In later years, he featured in 1960s revival festivals in Britain, and on cruise ships. In 1989, he visited Nashville where he appeared on the show Nashville Now, and he returned there in 2001 to record an album, One of the Best. Later, he continued to perform, when living in Spain, and hosted a local golf-based chat show on television, Play a Round with Ricky.[13]

In 2015, he was given an award at the Wales Millennium Centre, as the first Welsh man to have a UK number one hit. He released a single, "Welcome Home", in 2017, to raise funds for the Royal Air Force Museum.[2]

Personal life and death


Valance lived in Cabo Roig on the outskirts of Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca in Spain, where he performed regularly.[13] In 2015 he and his wife moved to Skegness, Lincolnshire.[15]

He died in Skegness on 12 June 2020. He was 84, and had been hospitalised for dementia in the months leading up to his death. His funeral was held at St. Mary's Church in Goldington, Bedfordshire on 13 July 2020.[2][16][17]

UK singles



  • DB4493 – "Tell Laura I Love Her" / "Once Upon a Time" (1960)[18]
  • DB4543 – "Movin' Away" / "Lipstick on Your Lips" (1960)[19]
  • DB4586 – "Jimmy's Girl" / "Only the Young" (1961)[20]
  • DB4592 – "Why Can't We" / "Fisherboy" (1961)[21]
  • DB4680 – "Bobby" / "I Want to Fall in Love" (1961)[22]
  • DB4725 – "I Never Had a Chance" / "It's Not True" (1961)[23]
  • DB4787 – "Try to Forget Her" / "At Times Like These" (1962)[24]
  • DB4864 – "Don't Play No.9" / "Till the Final Curtain Falls" (1962)[25]


  • F12129 – "Six Boys" / "A Face in the Crowd" (1965)[26]


  • CR7004 – "Abigail" / "My Summer Love" (1969)[27] (as Jason Merryweather)[28]


  • BSS313 – "Hello Mary Lou" / "Walking in the Sunshine" (1978)[29]


  • UMO111 – "Daddy's Little Girl" / "Ticket to Dream" (1988)[30]

One Media iP


See also



  1. ^ "Help Ricky Valance raise a million pounds for the RAF – One Pound for every record he sold in 1960", One Media News, 17 February 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2020
  2. ^ a b c "Ricky Valance: First Welshman to have solo UK Number One dies". BBC News. 12 June 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "BBC Wales – Music – Ricky Valance". BBC. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b "First Person: Ricky Valance", South Wales Argus, 19 December 2012; retrieved 12 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Ricky Valance Biography – Music Artist Band Biographies – Artists Bands Bio – FREE MP3 Downloads". Music.us. Archived from the original on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Ricky Valance: Recording Artist and Entertainer", RickyValance.com; retrieved 12 June 2020.
  7. ^ "BBC Wales – Music – Ricky Valance". BBC. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  8. ^ John Schroeder, All for the Love of Music , Troubadour Publishing, 2016, p.70
  9. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 53. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  10. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 579. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  11. ^ Leigh, Spencer (1 January 2014). "Bob Allison: Eurovision contestant who was fielded as one half of the British answer to the hitmaking Everly Brothers". The Independent. London. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  12. ^ a b Beacham, Rhiannon (1 March 2017). "Ricky Valance: First Welshman to have number one hit releases final song". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  13. ^ a b c "Ricky Valance: Recording Artist, Entertainer & Broadcaster". RickyValence.com. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Flashback show – Country show with Ricky Valance", Juke Box Promotions. Retrieved 13 June 2020
  15. ^ Wightwick, Abbie (15 December 2015). "Sixties chart topper who made rock and roll history wants to reconnect with his Welsh roots". Wales Online.
  16. ^ "Seventies star Ricky Valance passes away in Spain". The Leader. 12 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Sixties singing star Ricky Valance laid to rest in Bedfordshire". ITV Anglia News. 13 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Ricky Valance – Tell Laura I Love Her". Discogs. 1964. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  19. ^ "Ricky Valance – Movin' Away". Discogs. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Ricky Valance – Only The Young". Discogs. 1961. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Ricky Valance – Fisherboy". Discogs. March 1961. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Ricky Valance – Bobby". Discogs. 1961. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  23. ^ "Ricky Valance – I've Never Had A Chance". Discogs. 1961. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  24. ^ "Ricky Valance With Martin Slavin And His Orchestra – Try To Forget Her". Discogs. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Ricky Valance – Don't Play No. 9". Discogs. 1962. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  26. ^ "Ricky Valance – Six Boys". Discogs. 1965. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Jason Merryweather – Abigail". Discogs. 9 September 1969. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Ricky Valance". Discogs. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Ricky Valance – Walking In The Sunshine". Discogs. 1978. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Ricky Valance – Daddy's Little Girl". Discogs. 1988. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  31. ^ "Welcome Home – Single by Ricky Valance on Apple Music". iTunes Store. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.