Barbra is now 70 - I was 20 when I saw her on stage in FUNNY GIRL in London in 1966, from the front row, yet! So she would have been 23 then ... my affection for her has waxed and waned over the years (her A STAR IS BORN being a low point) - but here we are, better than ever ...
Another trouper, on television here this week, is 80 year old Petula Clark, promoting a new album, which I already have, "Lost In You" with that stunning new slowed down "Downtown", as Pet said its not a happy song at all, but a wistful one about loneliness. Petula of course was a child star in the '40s, entertaining the troops, and appearing in films. She is the little girl (right) in my perennial favourite I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING (Petula label), 1945, and was also Sid Field's daughter in LONDON TOWN, Kay Kendall's debut in 1946.
She is a nice teen in DANCE HALL in 1950 as one of the 4 girls who go dancing every week (Petula label). Then she was a '60s pop star both in the UK and in France and also very popular in America with all those hits - I vaguely remember she caused a sensation in those different times when she and Harry Belafonte touched each other in a tv special! I like her a lot in Francis Coppola's FINIAN'S RAINBOW, perhaps the oddest musical of all? where she does a marvellous "That Old Devil Moon", and she squares up nicely to Peter O'Toole in the musical remake of GOODBYE MR CHIPS in 1969. Pet has continued through the decades, we saw her live in concert 3 or 4 years ago, and - unlike Julie Andrews - she still has the voice, as good as ever it was. Wish I had seen her in THE SOUND OF MUSIC tour or in SUNSET BOULEVARD!
Another blonde British singer - Dusty Springfield, alas no longer here, but tonight is Dusty night on BBC4 - where there are documentaries, all her BBC appearances, an episode of her TV specials - with guest Scott Walker, left. (I saw one of her tv shows being recorded in 1969 at the old Golders Green Hippodrome, memorable as the first number went wrong and Dusty had to re-record it so she was stomping around the stage in a strop! They will probably be showing her Pet Shop Boys appearances too tonight, including that great one at The Brits in 1988, when she was Diva incarnate, (above, with Neil Tennant).
Another returning veteran is of course David Bowie, breaking a long silence and causing major headlines. There is an exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, opening on March 23, and that new album THE NEXT DAY is out on March 11. I shall pre-book it next, and must look out for that new video with Tilda Swinton .... As the "Daily Telegraph" said: "He has timed the release of singles and an album to regenerate the reputation of David Bowie, so that this would not be merely an exhibition romanticising a star in decline ...".
I have just got a re-issue (with 3 extra tracks) of his 1974 YOUNG AMERICANS, which I used to have on cassette - its a terrific soul record with David in powerful voice (plus Luther Vandross on backup vocals) and an interesting contrast to the Berlin records. Meanwhile the hyperbole over the new album is going into overdrive, with lengthy reviews in the quality papers. Bowie's long silence ensured he became a mythical figure, almost as if he were dead. He is now widely recognised as England's greatest solo rock star, with an oeuvre second only to The Beatles! It seems the new album is "richly satisfying, and by the standards of today's charts, it is genius" - so says Tim DeLisle in The Mail. I will find out for myself next Monday when the new album will be delivered.