Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh Helen


Helen Shapiro was Britain’s buck-toothed teen pop queen of the 60s, who never changed her name. Shapiro’s first gig was lead singer of Susie and the Hula Hoops, a band that included a bass player named Mark Feld who did change his name, to Marc Bolan. She quickly left the band and in ‘61, at the age of 14, had her first solo chart hit, “Don’t Treat Me Like A Child.” She was no kid novelty act, though, and over the next few years Shapiro released tons of hit singles and a stack of LPs that made her so huge that when she did her first nation-wide tour in England, The Beatles were her opening act. She even published her own teen advice book, Helen Shapiro’s New Book For Girls. Campus curls up with it at night and reports that it includes the top ten rules of good dress (Golden Rule number 2– “undies may not show but they mattter - -they are a secret between you and your dress”), ”My Friends — The stars,” a collection of photos of her with (Jewish-American) Neil Sedaka and (Arab-Canadian) Paul Anka, and Films of the Year (Steve Reeves in the little remembered Son of Spartacus).This is her version of Sedaka’s “Little Devil” which is remarkable for Shapiro’s lack of vocal re-interpretation– a nearly note for note gender-flipped replica of the original. The track appeared on the 1962 LP, Tops With Me, which she recorded with another no-name-changer, Martin Slavin and His Orchestra. The liner notes tell us that her hobbies include “jiving, netball and playing banjo.” In the 1980s, Shapiro hit the gospel circuit and traded it all for Jesus: “One of the interesting things for me when I first became a believer in Jesus was to find out how Jewish it is and that I didn’t have to stop being Jewish to believe in Jesus.” I blame the netball and the banjo.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful singer helen shapiro is, i must politely protest however , about the remark on, helens buck teeth. she has a wonderful warm smile, no buck teeth whatsoever. i have followed helen since 1961 meeting her in person for the fist time in 1976, when she came to southsea in portsmouth, caberet evening for 3 nights, at the long gone vermont hotel. she is one of the nicest, genunine people in show biz you could ever hope to meet. since then have met helen on quite a number of occasions over the years, long may her singing in gospel continue for many more years yet to come. david barber portsmouth hampshire. i have posted artifacts on her, photos, records. autographs, on loan, current pop music exhibition portsmouth city museum

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What I have to say is this woman is the best in her genre, actually my father has all her albums.

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