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Saturday, 23 December, 2000, 17:00 GMT
Singing Postman dies
Allan Smethurst
Allan Smethurst recorded more than 80 songs
Sixties music act the Singing Postman, Allan Smethurst, has died aged 73.

Mr Smethurst broke his hip in a fall three months ago and his health deteriorated before his death on Thursday.

He had success in the 60s as a novelty pop star with songs like the 1965 hit Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy?, which won an Ivor Novello award for best novelty song in 1966.

But due to stage fright he descended into alcoholism and spent the last 20 years of his life in a Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris visited him at his hostel
He recorded some 80 songs, all in Norfolk dialect, including I Miss My Miss from Diss and Oi Can't Get A Noice Loaf of Bread.

He always performed in his Royal Mail uniform.

But he suffered from stage fright and could not cope with fame, becoming an alcoholic and appearing regularly in court.

At the height of his fame Mr Smethurst appeared on the same edition of Top of the Pops as the Rolling Stones.

By 1970 he was on the dole and said of his showbiz earnings: "I've been foolish and spent the lot. It's gone on hotel bills, travelling, entertaining and a few pints here and there."

There were several promises of a comeback but the closest he came to the limelight was when Hev Yew Gorra Loight Boy? was used as on a TV commercial for Ovaltine in 1994.

He wrote exceptional lyrics which had depth yet made people laugh too

Tony Palmer
Recording manager
The manager at Bighowgate Hostel, where Mr Smethurst had lived since 1980, said he was going to be missed.

"He was well liked by everyone who stayed at the hostel," said Mike Hardy.

"Earlier this year Rolf Harris popped in to visit Allan because he knew him years ago and had a hit with one of his songs.

"That gave you an indication of just how famous Allan was."

Recording manager Tony Palmer, who has re-released Mr Smethurst's ditties on a series of CDs on the Anglian Music label, said: "I think there will be a revival of Allan's songs - they are too good to be forgotten.

"He wrote exceptional lyrics which had depth yet made people laugh too, which is a very difficult thing to achieve.

"Unfortunately there was this hint of tragedy in his life. He was one of the great 'might-have-beens' who ended up a bit of a recluse.

Rolling Stones
Mr Smethurst was once on the same show as the Rolling Stones
"Allan could have gone on to write many more songs to be recorded by other artists but he just clammed up. He just couldn't handle the publicity.

"I shall miss him greatly."

The woman who was the inspiration behind one of the Singing Postman's most famous characters said she was saddened by news of his death.

Mollie Bayfield, 67, was immortalised in the Hev Yew Gorra Loight Boy? as a chain-smoking Norfolk girl.

"I'm very sad about Allan's death and I think he deserved better," she said on Saturday.

"His songs gave a lot to us and to the people of Norfolk in particular, and received very little in return."

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