BBC News


Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Singers and songs of the 60s

By Nick Serpell
BBC Obituary Unit

Dave Dee
Dave Dee's band spent more time in the charts than the Beatles
Our regular column covering the passing of significant - but lesser-reported - people of the past month.

Between 1965 and 1969 the catchy pop songs of Dave Dee, together with Dozy, Beaky Mick & Tich, enjoyed more weeks in the charts than the Beatles. Dave Dee (born David Harmon), began his working life as a police cadet and, in 1960, was at the scene of the road accident in Wiltshire which killed Eddie Cochran. Dee rescued Cochran's guitar from the wrecked car and kept it until his family could reclaim it. The band's first chart success came in 1966 with Hold Tight and they followed that up with a string of hit singles. They made number one in 1967 with Legend of Xanadu, which had Dee performing with a real whip while miming to the record's whip crack effects on Top of the Pops. The band folded in the 1970s but went back on the road 20 years later as part of the increasingly popular "oldies" circuit.

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's song made William Zantzinger infamous
While Dave Dee chased musical success another singer, Bob Dylan, recorded The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. It was based on the case of a Maryland farmer, William Zantzinger who, in February 1963, struck a black barmaid with his cane in a Baltimore hotel. Fifty-one-year-old Hattie Carroll died a few hours later and Zantzinger was charged with homicide. At his trial the court heard that his victim, who was in poor health, had died from a stroke and he was given six months in prison. "Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane/That sailed through the air and came down through the room," sang Dylan in a song which made scant effort to conceal its origins - Dylan's villain was called Zanzinger. Zantzinger always claimed the song was a lie and regretted he had never sued the singer.

John Scott Martin
John Scott Martin outlived five Doctor Whos in his time as a Dalek
As the 60s pop scene got into full swing, actor John Scott Martin took the role for which he became famous; as a Dalek operator in the BBC series Dr Who. Scott Martin began acting in the 1950s and appeared in a host of TV programmes often in cameo parts. He started life inside a Dalek in 1965 when William Hartnell played Dr Who and, during his time with the programme, saw four more doctors come and go. Conditions inside the Daleks became so hot that the operators often worked dressed in swimming trunks. "I always thought playing a Dalek was as interesting as playing a cow in a pantomime," he once said. "There was potential to put some personality into it."

If any actress could have been said to smoulder on screen it was Kathleen Byron, the East End girl whose sexually-charged performances thrilled, and disquieted 1940s audiences in equal measure. The director Michael Powell, cast her in the three films that made her name, the most memorable being Black Narcissus in 1947, in which she played a nun with a raging libido. Clad in tight dress and high heels, her battle in the bell tower with Deborah Kerr's demure Sister Clodagh remains one of cinema's more erotic moments. Her career never attained the same heights again but she continued to work, mainly in second features and latterly in television.

Claude Berri
Claude Berri - actor, screenwriter, producer and director
The world of cinema also lost Claude Berri whose 50 years in French filmmaking saw him take on the roles of actor, screenwriter, producer and director. His best known film is Jean de Florette, a drama set in Provence in 1918 which won 10 Baftas. It also starred two of France's best known actors, Gerard Depardieu and Yves Montand, who was making one of his last screen appearances. The film was later credited with making Provence a popular destination particularly for the English. He also produced Roman Polanski's 1979 film Tess, which received an Oscar nomination for best picture.

Bert Hazell rose from poverty in rural Norfolk to become an MP and champion of rural workers. He began his working life as a bird scarer in the Norfolk fields before becoming a farm worker at the age of 14. He became an organiser for the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers in 1937 working in Essex and Yorkshire. In 1964 he was elected as the Labour MP for North Norfolk, a seat he held until 1970. He rebelled against his own party when he campaigned for the abolition of tied cottages and he was resolute in his support for better wages for farm workers. He was the oldest living former MP when he died at the age of 102.

Among others who died in January were television sports presenter David Vine who hosted Ski Sunday, playwright and creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, John Mortimer, much loved children's TV presenter and artist Tony Hart, prolific American novelist John Updike, star of The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific