Lee Lawrence

b. Leon Siroto, c.1921, Salford, Lancashire, England, d. February 1961, USA. A popular ballad singer in Britain during the 50s, with a fine tenor voice, rivalling that of David Whitfield. Both his parents were with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, and when he was 16, young Lawrence went to Italy to study opera for three years. He returned to England at the outbreak of World War II, and enlisted in the Royal Tank Regiment. After the war, he continued singing with ENSA before being noticed by BBC producer Roy Spear. He made his radio debut in Spear’s Beginners Please, and continued to broadcast with the bands of Stanley Black and Sydney Lipton, among many others. He was also resident singer for a time with Cyril Stapleton’s BBC Show Band, and had his own Radio Luxembourg series in 1955, on which the orchestra was conducted by Harry Gold. His first recording was ‘How Can You Buy Killarney?’/‘Helene’, and he subsequently made the UK Top 20 with ‘Crying In The Chapel’ and ‘Suddenly There’s A Valley’. His orchestral backings were provided by top musical directors such as Stanley Black, Ray Martin, Geoff Love, Roland Shaw, and Tony Osborne. Like many other balladeers of the day, he was always in demand on the UK Variety circuit, singing numbers such as ‘With These Hands’, ‘Blue Tango’, ‘A Beggar In Love’, ‘Tell Me Tonight’, ‘The Story Of Tina’, ‘Falling In Love With Love’, ‘Lonely Ballerina’, and his theme ‘The World Is Mine Tonight’. With rock ‘n’ roll taking a firm hold in Britain, Lawrence moved with his family to the USA in the late 50s, and played in cabaret and on television, and worked the renowned Borscht circuit in the Catskills until his death at the age of 40. Among his last UK releases was a fascinating single containing completely untypical material. On one side was Annisteen Allen’s ‘Don’t Nobody Move’, and on the other, 1956’s opportunist ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Opera’, a spoof that mentioned Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, and Tommy Steele, along with other newcomers who were preventing Lawrence ever returning to the charts.

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