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Kathy Kirby - the U.K.'s highest paid girl singer of the swinging sixties - was often referred to as Britain's answer to Marilyn Monroe because of her close resemblance to the Hollywood icon.  Hopefully it won't be ungallant to state however that Kathy sang much better than the American superstar. It is generally agreed that the busty  glamour girl of song possessed one of the finest female singing voices that the United Kingdom has ever produced.  Nicknamed both "The Golden Girl of Pop" and "The Queen of British Television", she dominated both BBC and ITV with her spectacular shows and guest appearances. From topping the bill at the London Palladium to appearing at the world famous night spot "The Talk of the Town" (where she was told by the management she was one of the top four artistes ever to appear there) Kathy had the world at her feet.  Hit recordings both here and abroad, millions tuning in to watch her spectacular television shows and record breaking stage shows all over the country. A genuine STAR had arrived.

 Born in October 1938 in Ilford, Essex, as a young girl Kathy had private singing lessons with her sights set on a career in Opera. However her teenage years saw her discover the excitement of modern pop music. At the age of 16 - in a story that has now gone down in legend - Kathy noticed that the world famous bandleader Ambrose was appearing soon with his band at her local dance hall: the Ilford Palais de Danse. During the evening of the show, she walked up to Bert Ambrose and asked if she could sing with his band.  Amused by the cheek of the young lady he gave her the opportunity she wanted.  Kathy sang the two standards "Love Me or Leave Me" and "All of Me" and was greeted by wild applause at the end of her spot.  Stunned Ambrose could see - no matter how raw at this stage - what a remarkable voice and talent Kathy possessed.  As he later stated:  "Over the years I have had many great singers in my band, including Hildegarde, Vera Lynn and Anne Shelton, but I have never known anyone with everything Kathy has to offer - voice, tone, range, feeling, personality and looks.  In fact this girl has it all, and nothing can stop her becoming one of the greatest stars of our time". And indeed she did...........

 Within weeks of the show at the dance hall in Ilford, Kathy was touring with Ambrose and his band.  Eventually he became her manager and the two were virtually inseparable right up to his death in 1971. It was a relationship that would bring Kathy international fame, wealth, adulation and ultimately heartache, disaster and immense personal pain. Kathy never really recovered from his death and some dark years lay ahead.  She carried on working for the next few years but her heart wasn't really in it and she eventually retired from the profession in the early 1980s. Avoiding the media glare, she settled into a very quiet life away from the spotlight surrounded by just a small circle of close friends.  Kathy Kirby has known much joy and sadness, and has over -come some cruel arrows that life has thrown at her.  Happily she has come through the bad times and survived it all.

 Her fan base remains massive, due in no small part to her recording library. While not being disparaging about her hit recordings both in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is her timeless recordings of such standards as "My Man", "If I Loved You" and "Body and Soul" amongst countless others, that have  appealed to generation after generation. So "Miss Lip Gloss" I salute you as an artiste who had (and indeed has) intangible star quality.  Thank you for your friendship. 

I love you. James Harman

 

Image by Paul - popart@homecall.co.uk

 

WHAT THE STARS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT KATHY KIRBY

"Kathy was such a star, but more than that, she was so sweet and down to earth, which was unusual for someone of her stature. She made such a contribution to our world of music, and left all of us, her fans some precious memories.  MISS BRENDA LEE

 

"She wasn't the racy, over glamorous person that the lip gloss implied. She was quiet and kept herself private.  We can say we never once saw her at a party, and there were many.

We would love to see Kathy present herself to the public, she is missed, and we feel she would be shocked at how well the public would welcome her back.  We love you Kathy! You are a shining star in the firnament of show business.  You are an icon. THE BACHELORS

 

Kathy had an endearing quality and, at times, resembled Marilyn Monroe in looks and body language. We met many times "on the rounds" and I admired her greatly. She expressed lyrics wonderfully, particularly songs of emotion. Kathy will be remembered as much for her artistry as for her beauty, her emotion and her generous heart. MISS ANITA HARRIS

 

Image by Paul - popart@homecall.co.uk

From the moment Kathy walked through the door there was no doubting she was destined to be a star.  The blonde hair, the boobs, the lip gloss - the whole image was of a British Marilyn Monroe.  She was every man's fantasy woman. You didn't need to spend much time with Kathy to see that she simply radiated stardom.  She always knew she would be a star and she was. She was the girl of the moment, the 'IT' girl of her time. MR. VINCE HILL

 

Kathy Kirby suggested beauty and glamorous sex appeal. Working together in various television shows, I realised Kathy was much more than that.  A woman of warmth and quality with a dramatic and powerful edge to her voice.  Conversely I sensed a frailty and vulnerability in her persona that was almost childlike. An outstanding vocalist of the British Big Band era, her bright light was dimmed all too soon..  However, a little of something special gives more lasting pleasure than many of today's transient, pyrotechnic song thrushes. MR MARK WYNTER

 

I know it has been said before, but Kathy was truly the most glamorous of all our female artistes. Kathy was someone who was so close to so many people's hearts, especially my own. MR JESS CONRAD

 

Kathy Kirby was a lovely lady with a great voice. We are happy to pay tribute to this great star.
THE BEVERLEY SISTERS

 

Kathy was very shy offstage, but the minute she stepped on stage, she shone like a beacon and her melodic voice had the power to stop you in her tracks. When she became a well established artiste, she was still the same unassuming and rather shy person I had first met years earlier. MR FRANK IFIELD

 

Image by Paul - popart@homecall.co.uk

Kathy, I believe, had her first hit a little before me - I think in about 1963 - but brought in the "big ballads" for the girls.  She brought great glamour to the scene. I think that it's a great shame we haven't seen more of Kathy.  She always appeared to me a very nice person. MISS JULIE ROGERS

 

Kathy Kirby was always to me, a special person. Meeting her as a teenage patron of my dance hall in London, I was immediately struck by her vital looks and personality,

The rest is history because she met up with Bert Ambrose, and she became the superstar that we all know. SIR JIMMY SAVILLE OBE KCSG

 

Image by Paul - popart@homecall.co.uk

There can be no higher compliment from one performer to another than to say "What A Performer!"  That is something I can truly say about Kathy Kirby.  She had a voice that was quite unlike any other at the time, full of emotion and power. She looked and sounded like and angel, and I hope she will take great pleasure  from knowing she still has so many devoted fans, MR STAN STENNETT MBE