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Marty Wilde

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Marty Wilde (born Reginald Leonard Smith, April 15, 1939, in Greenwich, South London) is an English singer and songwriter. He was among the first generation of British pop stars to imitate American rock’n’roll.

He was performing under the name Reg Patterson at London’s Condor Club in 1957 when he was spotted by impresario Larry Parnes. Parnes gave his protégées surnames like Fury, Power, Gentle and Pride etc, hence the change to Wilde. The ‘Marty’ came from the commended 1955 film Marty. Wilde was signed to the British recording arm of Philips, with US releases appearing on the Epic label via Philips’ reciprocal licensing agreement with Columbia Records Stateside. (Philips had yet to acquire the Mercury group as its US division).

From mid 1958 to the end of 1959, Wilde was one of the leading British rock singers, along with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard. Wilde’s backing group were called the Wildcats who featured Big Jim Sullivan on lead guitar, and Brian Locking and Brian Bennett (drums) who later joined The Shadows.

He appeared regularly on the BBC Television show 6.5 Special and was the main regular artiste on the Saturday ITV popular music shows Oh, Boy! and Boy Meets Girls. There he met and married Joyce, one of The Vernons Girls who were also show regulars. The courtship was highly public but, after the marriage, Wilde’s popularity as a teen idol declined.

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