Ronnie Carroll Biography

Ronald Cleghorn, 18 August 1934, Belfast, Northern Ireland. A singer with an extremely high baritone voice, who became known as ‘The Minstrel’, Carroll also worked as a baker, plumber, greengrocer, milkman, car mechanic and auctioneer’s assistant. He began his career in shows promoted by Ruby Murray’s father, then joined Eddie Lee’s Hollywood Doubles Show, ‘blacking up’ to provide Nat ‘King’ Cole impressions. Cole attended his performance in Liverpool and asked, ‘What are you trying to do, cripple me?’. Carroll toured the UK variety circuit with the show, adding Billy Eckstine material to his repertoire. After BBC producer Albert Stevenson gave him his television debut, he met singer and actress Millicent Martin on a show and they were married in 1959.

Carroll was signed to Philips Records by A&R manager Johnny Franz who had seen him at the London Metropolitan, Edgware Road. In the late 50s, Carroll had UK hits with ‘Walk Hand In Hand’ (1956) and ‘Wisdom Of A Fool’ (1957), and in the early 60s with ‘Footsteps’ (1960), ‘Roses Are Red (My Love)’ (1962 - a number 3 hit), ‘If Only Tomorrow’ (1962) and two songs with which he won the British heats of the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘Ring-A-Ding Girl’ (1962) and ‘Say Wonderful Things’ (1963 - Top 10).

After separating from Millicent Martin in 1965, Carroll married the Olympic Sprinter June Paul. In 1972, they emigrated with their children to Grenada and opened a nightclub, but a political revolution ruined their plans, and Carroll returned to Britain in deep financial trouble. Although continuing to perform occasionally at holiday camps and Far East locations, he eventually abandoned singing for a more profitable hot sausage stall at London’s Camden Market. This he later combined with helping to run the Everyman Cinema and Jazz Club in Hampstead. Having lived in that area of London for many years, in 1997 Carroll stood for Parliament on a ‘Home Rule for Hampstead’ ticket at the General Election. In the event, he posed little threat to the sitting member, another former refugee from showbusiness, ex-film star Glenda Jackson. He returned to politics in 2004 as the public face of the obscure Rainbow Connection party. In 2005 he released a new album of covers with the band Lebab.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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