Petula Clark

  • British singer born Sally Clark in 1932 in Epsom, Surrey England.
  • Her stage name of Petula was invented by her father. He claimed that it was a combination of the names of 2 previous girlfriends, Pet and Ulla.
  • Her first radio performance was as a 9 year old in 1942. She was attending a BBC broadcast with her father, and the broadcast was delayed by an air raid. The producer of the radio show asked someone in the nervous audience to sing to bring some calm, and she sang a pop standard of the day, Mighty Lak’ a Rose. The audience liked it so much, the BBC had her repeat it for their radio audience. She was discovered, and she went on to perform over 500 times in programs for the troops.
  • As a teenager, she was discovered by a director, and was cast in 30 different film and TV roles between 1944 and 1981, with most of her work in the 40s and 50s.
  • Clark’s first record was in 1949, a song titled Put Your Shoes On, Lucy. The record company did not want to sign her to a long term contract, so Clark’s father formed a record company with a partner, financing the business with Petula’s earnings. She released 28 singles in the UK and Australia between 1949 and 1955, with several charting as high as #7 on the UK charts.
  • Her first albums were released in 1956, and by 1963, she had issued 12 albums and 67 singles. Some of her records were sung in French, others in German, Spanish and Italian, in addition to her recordings in English. She hit #1 on the charts in the UK with Sailor, and #1 in France with Romeo and Ya Ya Twist, but still had not had her breakthrough in the U.S.
  • That changed in 1964, with her hit Downtown. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February of 1965. Clark was the first British female artist to have a US #1 hit during the rock & roll era. It was the first of 15 consecutive top 40 singles that Clark would have in the U.S.
  • Other U.S. top 10 hits for Clark in the 60s were I Know a Place, My Love (her only other #1 song), I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love, This Is My Song, and Don’t Sleep in the Subway. She often released the same song in multiple languages. Another 19 albums also were released in the 60s. The album Downtown was the highest charting album, at #21.
  • During the 60s, Clark wrote many songs using the pseudonym Al Grant.
  • Clark continued to release albums and singles into the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and even today. Her most recent album, From Now On, was released in 2016, at the age of 83!
  • She became popular as a stage performer in the 80s. She starred as Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music to rave reviews, and also starred in Candida, Someone Like You, Blood Brothers, and most notably, the role of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. She played the role of Desmond in over 2,500 performances, more than any other actor.
  • Clark has had a prolific career, across many genres. Here’s the song that put her on the map in the U.S.

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