Ruby Murray Biography

29 March 1935, Belfast, Northern Ireland, d. 17 December 1996, Torquay, Devon, England One of the most popular singers in the UK during the 50s, Murray toured Ulster as a child singer in various variety shows, and, after being spotted by producer Richard Afton, made her television debut at the age of 12. Stringent Irish laws regarding child performers held her back for two years, and she returned to school in Belfast until she was 14. In 1954 she travelled to London in comedian Tommy Morgan’s touring revue, Mrs. Mulligan’s Hotel, and was again seen by Afton, at the famous Metropolitan Theatre, Edgware Road. He offered her a position as resident singer on BBC Television’s Quite Contrary, replacing Joan Regan who was about to leave.

Signed to Columbia Records by recording manager and musical director Ray Martin, Murray’s first release, ‘Heartbeat’, made the UK Top 5 in 1954, and was followed by ‘Softly, Softly’. The latter reached number 1 in 1955, and became an ideal theme song, reflecting her shy image. In the early part of 1955 Murray had five singles in the Top 20 at the same time, an extraordinary record that lasted until the emergence of Madonna in the 80s. Murray’s hits included ‘Happy Days And Lonely Nights’, ‘Let Me Go Lover’, ‘If Anyone Finds This, I Love You’ (with Anne Warren), ‘Evermore’, ‘I’ll Come When You Call’, ‘You Are My First Love’, ‘Real Love’ and ‘Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye’. She sang ‘You Are My First Love’ over the opening titles of the film musical It’s Great To Be Young.

Murray’s own film appearances included the comedy, A Touch Of The Sun, with Frankie Howerd and Dennis Price. During a hectic period in the mid-50s, she had her own television show, starred at the London Palladium in Painting The Town with Norman Wisdom, appeared in a Royal Command Performance, and toured the USA, Malta and North Africa. In 1957, while appearing in a summer season at Blackpool, she met Bernie Burgess, a member of the vocal group the Jones Boys. They married in secret 10 days later. Burgess became her personal manager and, during the early 60s, they toured as a double act. In 1970 Murray had some success with ‘Change Your Mind’, and released an album with the same title, which included contemporary songs such as ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’, and revamped some of her hits. In 1989 Ruby Murray’s EMI Years included other songs regularly featured in her act such as ‘Mr. Wonderful’, ‘Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)’ and ‘It’s The Irish In Me’.

In the 90s, based in Torquay, Devon, with her second husband, impresario Ray Lamar, she was still performing in cabaret and in nostalgia shows with other stars of the 50s right up to her death in 1996. Her memory will be kept alive as the subject of a popular cockney rhyming slang. Most people who use the term ‘fancy going for a Ruby’, meaning ‘a curry’, have no idea as to who it alludes to.


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


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