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Wednesday, March 3, 1999 Published at 10:55 GMT


Obituary: Cancer claims 'White Queen of Soul'

Dusty Springfield: one of the greatest white Soul singers

The British singer Dusty Springfield, who was described by the Rolling Stone magazine as 'Britain's best ever pop singer', has died.

She had been fighting breast cancer since 1995.

Born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in 1939, she was best known for her 1960s' hits Son of A Preacher Man, I Only Want To Be With You and You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.

[ image: A family snapshot with brother Tom]
A family snapshot with brother Tom
Her early music career included a folk trio she formed with her brother Tom Field, but it was her decision to go solo which really put her on the music map.

Her beehive hairdo and panda eye make-up gave her an instantly recognisable image on both sides of the Atlantic where she had a string of top ten hits.

Her first single success came in 1964 with I Only Want To Be With You which, with bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, led the British invasion of the US pop charts in the 1960s.

Following her frequent trips to the US, she took to the black American music of Motown and was dubbed the White Queen of Soul.

Her soulful voice, at once strident and vulnerable, set her apart from her contemporaries Sandie Shaw and Cilla Black.

[ image: A 1965 album release: Ev'rything's Comin' Up Dusty]
A 1965 album release: Ev'rything's Comin' Up Dusty
She was equally at home singing Broadway standards, blues, country or even techno-pop.

The broadcaster Paul Gambaccini paid tribute to Dusty Springfield's achievements.

He told BBC News Online: "She really had a great range from folk to rock and R and B, all in one concentrated career.

"She had a tremendous impact in the States, where she became known as one of Britain's greatest white soul singers."

In the 1970s her career went into decline and she moved to the west coast of the US, where for a while she became addicted to drinks and drugs.

[ image: He collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys brought worldwide acclaim]
He collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys brought worldwide acclaim
In 1987 she enjoyed renewed success with the Pet Shop Boys' What Have I Done To Deserve This? The single was a worldwide hit and brought Dusty Springfield to a whole new generation of fans.

Bisexual herself, she was adored by the gay community.

In 1998 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and she was awarded an OBE in the 1999 New Year's Honours list.

Few singers could match the versitility of her voice. Powerful, husky and evocative, it defied one to not to listen and earned Dusty Springfield a well deserved place in rock history.

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