An icon of British rock’n’roll, Marty Wilde’s hits include A Teenager In Love, Donna and Sea Of Love. Alongside an acting career that saw him appear in the hit movie Stardust, Marty also reinvented himself in later years as a songwriter and record producer, masterminding a string of 1980s hits for his daughter, Kim Wilde.
10 Don’t Be Cruel, Elvis Presley
My first Elvis purchase was the album Elvis. I was so impressed when I heard it I couldn’t wait to buy his next record. That happened to be Hound Dog. I’d already got the Mama Thornton version so was knocked out when I heard Elvis’ version on the radio. It was awesome, so I went straight to the record store and bought it. When I got home, I played Hound Dog and was over the moon, that was until I flipped the record to play the B-side, Don’t Be Cruel. I couldn’t believe how good it was and it’s been my favourite ever since.
9 Make Me Know You’re Mine, Conway Twitty
I worked with Conway on the Oh Boy! television show and heard him sing it a couple of times at rehearsals and thought it sounded very sexy. I’d never heard anything quite like his voice or the arrangement before, so the next time he did a rehearsal with Lord Rockingham’s Eleven, I moved closer to him to try and find out if his voice was as sexy in real life as it came across via the microphone, and it was. The record proved to be one of the raunchiest country rock-style ballads I’d ever heard.
8 Cara Mia, David Whitfield
David and I first appeared together early in my career on the Six-Five Special BBC TV show. It was a lovely summer’s day and we had the dressing room window open when a lady spotted David and almost fainted. Within seconds, David started to sing Cara Mia to her and she nearly fainted again. The record itself has the Mantovani Orchestra backing him and the subtle chord changes and arrangement are awesome. David also enjoyed success in America and he became the first British artist to have No. 1s in both the UK and US at the same time.
7 Peter Gunn, Duane Eddy
I love most of Duane’s recordings as he gave some bog standard tunes wonderful twists. On the Peter Gunn recording, it’s the riff that makes it so powerful. When I played this track in my car I used to think it made the car appear more powerful than it was. The writer Henry Mancini arranged it with the piano and guitar playing the same riff in unison, and that really drives it. On top of that, however, there’s an awesome drummer who pushes it to yet another level. Without doubt my all-time favourite Duane Eddy track.
6 Don’t, Elvis & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
This is just too beautiful. It’s a wonderful track supported with the most beautiful orchestral arrangement. I remember when it was first released in the late 1950s and it stood alongside Elvis classic ballads such as Loving You and Love Me Tender, but to hear it with the London Philharmonic Orchestra makes me want to cry.
5 America, Paul Simon
When I write songs myself, I always try to paint a picture and put a movie into the heads of the listeners, and that’s exactly what Paul does with the lyrics of this song. When he does lyrics such as “And a moon rose over an open field…” you can see the whole thing and “his bow tie’s really a camera” and “laughing on a bus”, he paints these wonderful pictures and it’s a classic song and that was beautifully recorded. One of my all-time favourites.
4 Kentucky, Louvin Brothers
The Louvin Brothers were cousins of songwriting Hall Of Famer John D. Loudermilk, and started their vocal careers as a Gospel act. It wasn’t long, however, before they branched out into country music – where they were considered the best harmony duo around. In spite of writing and recording some great tracks such as Kentucky, a big hit eluded them. They did, though, play a major part in the development of country rock when Don and Phil Everly emulated their vocal style. Kentucky is a classic Louvin Brothers track.
3 As I Love You, Shirley Bassey
Of all the British female recording artistes, I don’t think there’s ever been a more consistent performer than Shirley Bassey. Her power, artistry, musicianship, call it what you will, never waiver. I’m on record as saying many, many times that Shirley’s version of As I Love You is the best vocal performance ever by any British singer. It’s the ultimate – for me nobody would get past it. It’s incredible. The record-buying public obviously agreed as it went to No. 1 and proved to be one of the biggest-selling recordings of all time.
2 Gee Whizz It’s You, Cliff Richard
This is certainly one of Cliff’s best rock’n’roll recordings. I was in Pretoria in South Africa filming The Hellions at the time when I first heard it on a local radio station. The DJ was raving about it and considered it to be one of Cliff’s best, and I agreed, but was surprised that I hadn’t heard it being played in the UK. It was off Cliff’s third album Me And My Shadows and wasn’t due to be released as a single in the UK, but due to its popularity, it was released overseas as a single and that’s how I came to hear it in South Africa.
1 Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On, Jerry Lee Lewis
I love this, because it had something we didn’t have in the UK at the time. It had a really relaxed drummer and a laid-back sound in general, with an understanding between the band that was mindblowing. At times, the track appeared to slow down and then pick up again. It had such a great rhythm section and Joe Brown used to say that up until this record, our musicians couldn’t really play rock’n’roll because the Americans had a different feel and were much more relaxed than we were, and it certainly shows in this record.