Biography: Going solo

BIOG: EARLY YEARS > THE CARAVELLES > GOING SOLO

Lois in Belfast

My first solo gig was at the Flamingo Club, Darlington with Gerry Dorsey; who turned into Englebert Humperdinck the following week. Thereafter came a long round of Northern Club dates and a 4 week contract at the L’Hirondelle Club in London. Bandleader Jules Rubens sent some of my recordings to the BBC. Producer, Paul Williams asked me to do a ‘programme audition’ with The Tony Osborne Trio. With such fine musicians how could I fail!

Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club

The day after the broadcast Leslie Lowe, who worked for music publishers Lorna Music, rang wanting to discuss being my manager. Meanwhile my good friend, Musical Arranger Les Williams, had negotiated a record deal with RCA. My first single, appropriately called ‘One Little Voice’ became a record of the week on Pirate Radio London, with plays on the BBC, but no hit.

Then Ronnie Scott’s Club, the place I wanted to sing in most of all, booked me. Top of the bill was the ‘Father’ of Jazz Tenor Sax players, ‘Coleman Hawkins’. Other engagements followed with headliners such as, Bill Evans, Roy Eldridge, Toots Thielemans, Eddie Lockjaw Davis etc. Success also came at The Knokke le Zout Singing Contest as part of the winning British Team, with Gerry Marsden, Roger Whitaker, Dodie West and Paul Nicholas.

In Crossplot film with Roger Moore

I’d started writing songs with Andrea, then out of the blue came the chance to write a song for ‘Crossplot’ a feature film starring Roger Moore in which I sang and played guitar. In 1969 I was asked to make an Album to be produced by Alan Dell, highly respected big band expert and radio presenter. It contained standards mixed with new songs, and the delightful Fran Landesman/Simon song called A Brontosaurus Named Bert, all sensitively arranged by Johnny Arthey.

Knokke - the winning team

Happily lots of TV and radio work came my way with notable names like Val Doonican, David Nixon, Simon Dee, Michael Aspel etc. TV series One More Time, One Over the Eight and Hold the Front Page (children’s TV). Then in the mid seventies along came Esther Rantzen with a 6 month series of ‘That’s Life’. Jazz drummer and composer/arranger Tony Kinsey put me forward to sing a new song each week. Esther wrote the words, Tony the tunes. Occasionally Tim Rice or Fran Landesman helped with the lyrics. It was a daunting prospect every Saturday.

Radio 1 Producer Roger Pusey and I married in 1971 and the following year our lovely son David was born, four and a half years later our beautiful daughter Clara joined us.

During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with the very best. The Don Lusher Quartet, Eddie Thompson Trio, Ralph Dollimore Trio, Alan Skidmore Quartet, Pat Smythe Trio, Tony Kinsey Quartet with Peter King, to name just a few. And more and more frequently with all the BBC Orchestras, The Dutch Metropole Orchestra, and in particular the BBC Radio Big Band. My idea of heaven.

Lois working with John Horler

Many more records were released including an over the top orchestral version of River Deep, to no avail. I worked with some great people, Dick Emery, Frankie Howard, Harry Secombe, David Jacobs, Mike Redway and The Barron Knights, who are still great friends.

I’ve also been lucky enough to share John Horler, (one of this countries best jazz pianists), with Dame Cleo. A highlight was when Producer Barbara Page gave John and I a series on Radio 2, then a follow up series including the wonderful singer, Danny Street. We still do the occasional gig together and have a ‘piano and voice album’ in the pipeline.

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