|Birth name||Ruby Florence Murray|
29 March 1935|
Donegall Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Died||17 December 1996
Torquay, Devon, England
|Genres||Traditional popular music|
Ruby Florence Murray (29 March 1935 – 17 December 1996) was one of the most popular singers in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 1950s. In 1955 alone, she secured seven Top 10 UK hit singles.
Ruby Florence Murray was born on the Donegall Road in south Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her voice's distinctive sound was partly the result of an operation on her throat in early childhood. She toured as a child singer and first appeared on television at the age of 12, having been spotted by producer Richard Afton. Owing to laws governing children performing, Murray had to delay her start in the entertainment industry. She returned to Belfast and full-time education until she was 14.
Again spotted by Afton, Murray was signed to Columbia and her first single, "Heartbeat", reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1954. Afton had offered her the position of resident singer on the BBC's Quite Contrary television show, to replace Joan Regan. "Softly, Softly", her second single, reached number one in early 1955. That same year Murray set a pop-chart record by having five hits in the Top Twenty in one week, a feat unmatched for many years.
The 1950s was a busy period for Murray, during which she had her own television show, starred at the London Palladium with Norman Wisdom, appeared in a Royal Command Performance (1955), and toured the world. In a period of 52 weeks, starting in 1955, Murray constantly had at least one single in the UK charts — this at a time when only a Top 20 was listed.
Murray appeared with Frankie Howerd and Dennis Price, in her only film role, as "Ruby" in a 1956 farce, A Touch of the Sun. A couple of hits followed later in the decade; "Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye", a No. 10 hit in 1959, was her final appearance in the charts. EMI put together a compilation album of her hits on CD in 1989, including songs that regularly featured in her act; "Mr. Wonderful", "Scarlet Ribbons" and "It's the Irish in Me". They updated this with the release of EMI Presents The Magic Of Ruby Murray in 1997 and a triple album, Anthology — The Golden Anniversary Collection, in 2005, the 50th anniversary of her peak successes on the charts.
Murray's popularity led to her name being adopted in Cockney rhyming slang as a rhyme for "curry". The reference to "having a ruby tonight" appears in the BBC TV comedy series Only Fools and Horses.
In 1957, while working in Blackpool, Murray met Bernie Burgess, a member of a successful television and recording vocal quartet, the Four Jones Boys. Shortly afterwards she left Northern Ireland to marry him and live with him in England. Burgess, contrary to press reports, didn't become her manager, but rather his role was that of a supporting husband. The couple included a song and dance segment in Ruby's act during the 1960s. After their marriage failed in 1974, she was granted a divorce in 1976. She married an old friend, Ray Lamar, in 1991 and lived in Torquay, Devon. She had two children from her marriage to Burgess.
Although her days as a major star gradually diminished, Murray continued performing until close to the end of her life. She died of liver cancer, aged 61, in December 1996 in Torquay after a long struggle with alcoholism.
Spending her last couple of years in Asprey's Nursing Home, she often delighted her carers with a song and was visited by her special friend, Max Bygraves.
- "Heartbeat" (1954) — UK number 3
- "Softly, Softly" (1955) — UK number 1
- "Happy Days and Lonely Nights" (1955) — UK number 6
- "Let Me Go Lover" (1955) — UK number 5
- "If Anyone Finds This, I Love You" (1955) — UK number 4 †
- "Evermore" (1955) — UK number 3
- "I'll Come When You Call" (1955) — UK number 6
- "The Very First Christmas Of All (1955) — UK number 9 (Record Mirror)
- "You are My First Love" (1956) — UK number 16
- "Real Love" (1958) — UK number 18
- "Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye" (1959) — UK number 10
† Ruby Murray with Anne Warren
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
- List of Northern Irish people
- Culture of Northern Ireland
- List of Belfast people
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