FROM THE ARCHIVE 442 -2019-

Today an article from a Dutch magazine from this year. No new facts but more a case of history repeating. As you can judge yourself when reading. Anyway the pictures came out nice. With special thanks to Rien for the article.

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Shirley Bassey may be best known for the performance of three title songs for James Bond films, but the living legend has achieved many more successes. She scored countless hits, of which Big Spender and This Is My Life are still immensely popular. Despite her high age, the British singer with the powerful, theatrical voice refuses to retire. She can look back on an impressive career that earned her – along with many other awards – the title of Dame in 2000. With this acknowledgment by Queen Elizabeth Shirley was naturally very pleased! But behind her fame there is immense sorrow, because her private life is by no means a success story. Shirley was born on January 8, 1937 in Tiger Bay, a suburb of Cardiff (Wales, Great Britain). She was the youngest in a family of seven children. Father Henry Bassey, a sailor, was of Nigerian descent, mother Eliza Jane Start was from Yorkshire. They were poor, but that was not the biggest problem in the Bassey house. The disgusting ‘activities’ of Shirley’s father: he was found guilty of the repeated sexual abuse of a child and disappeared behind bars. Eliza Jane broke up with Henry and moved with her children to Splott, a working-class neighborhood in Cardiff. Shirley was three years old then . As a divorced woman with seven children, Shirley’s mother had even more trouble keeping her head above water. To bring some money in Shirley exchanged high school at the age of fifteen for the local sausage factory where she started working as a packer. To be able to do this monotonous work she was always singing. Shirley’s talent was noticed in no time in the pubs and clubs. She was also approached for a musical role in Memories of Al Jolson. She performed every weekend in the musical about the life of the singer but soon Shirley was  fed up with the showbiz. She returned to Cardiff, where she went to work as a waitress, became pregnant, and gave birth to daughter Sharon at the age of seventeen. Shirley never wanted to reveal the name of the father and Sharon grew up at her sister’s house. When after one year it came out that Shirley had a daughter, it was brought as a major scandal, but Shirley did not respond in any way.  She had started her singing career, which brought her very quickly lots of success. Booking agent Michael Sullivan loved Shirley’s voice and wanted to make her famous. He arranged a performance in Such Is Life, the then popular TV show of Al Read, after which producer Johnny Franz immediately offered her a recording contract with Philips. Shirley’s debut single Burn My Candle At Both Ends was boycotted by the BBC because of the suggestive lyrics, but the record sold well. And with the successor Banana Boat Song, she finally broke through in 1957, after which many more hits followed. Not only did Shirley become one of the greatest English singers, the James Bond title songs made her also an international  megastar. Her personal life was much less successful. Years ago, Shirley said: I have found happiness in my work, not in my private life. In 1961 she married the 11-year-older and gay Kenneth Hume, a producer of films with a homo-erotic character. After a temporary break, their marriage finally failed in 1964. Three years later Kenneth died at the age of 41 on an overdose of drugs. Shirley might no longer be married to him, but she was devastated. After the divorce, she had an affair with actor Peter Finch, but she did not find lasting happiness with this actor. Peter would be the father of her daughter Samantha, who was born in 1965, although she never confirmed that. Just like after the birth of her first daughter Sharon, Shirley did not want to disclose the identity of Samantha’s father. Sergio Novak, former assistant manager of the Excelsior Hotel in Venice, let the sun shine again for Shirley and they adopted son Mark. They married in 1968. Sergio became her manager until they divorced in 1979. After that she never wanted to get married again. No more wedding bells for me Shirley said. I have been happily married to my profession for years, she once said. I think men are afraid of me. They fear women who are successful, because we are strong, know what we want and are not vulnerable. I have already been independent and men have difficulty with that. Her star status also turned out not help her either. It is often difficult for someone to live with a famous woman. Few men can. Most of the time they get really jealous of the relation I have with my fans. According to Shirley, her unfortunate private life also had to do with the fact that she had experienced little affection as a child. Shirley once said that she wasn’t the mother she wanted to be. If you are not cuddled as a child, you can not pass it on as an adult. Much pain In August 1985, Shirley lost her daughter Samantha, who was 21 at the time. She was found death in the River Avon, nine days after she suddenly disappeared after a bar visit. Samantha is said to have jumped from a suspension bridge in the English town of Bristol. Shirley could not believe this. She was convinced that Samantha’s death was not a suicide. This was confirmed in 2010 by the mother of Penny Beale, a young woman who was murdered in 2001 by her lover Michael Moffat. Penny’s mother told the police that Michael once told her that he had been involved Samantha’s death, with whom he would have had a relationship. Michael’s alleged involvement, however, could not be proven. Shirley did not believe that her death was an accident as the police states. But suicide, murder or an unfortunate fall: Shirley has been missing her daughter for almost 34 years. And the singer who lives in Monaco is still grieving. Children must bury their parents, not the other way around she once said.