Monday, Joy Beverley of Beverley Sisters died at the age of 91, her son confirmed.
- The singer suffered a stroke last week.
- The Beverley Sisters were a British female vocal trio, most popular during the 1950s and 1960s.
- Joy and her twin sisters, Teddie and Babs, were all made MBEs in 2006 for their services to music.
Joy’s son Vince Wright said,”We all thought the world of her and we are devastated she is gone.”
“She was a very bubbly, but private, character. We are all going to miss her terribly, she has been a part of our lives for so long now it really is going to be a big loss for all of us.”
The sisters were born in Bethnal Green, London, the daughters of George Arthur Chinery and Victoria Alice Miles (married 1916), who were known as the music hallact Coram and Mills,and are related to the Lupino acting and performing family.
The eldest, Joy Beverley of Beverley Sisters , was born 5 May 1924. The younger twins, Babs and Teddie, were born three years later, reportedly on the same date as their elder sister (5 May). They were evacuated to Northampton during the war, and, after starting work as typists, auditioned successfully to take part in an advertising campaign for the malt drink Ovaltine. Photographer Jock Ware encouraged them to audition for BBC Radio. They did so in November 1944, and met Glenn Miller who – shortly before his disappearance – offered them the opportunity to record with members of his orchestra. They first appeared in programmes for the Allied Expeditionary Forces, recorded in Bedford.
Immediately after the war they toured with Eric Winstone and his Orchestra, and began making regular appearances on the BBC’s early television programmes. They also performed for NBC in the US with surviving members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. After their return to Britain, promoter Val Parnell booked them to appear at the London Palladium with Gracie Fields; although Fields refused, without explanation, to appear with them, the following year they performed with Danny Kaye. The BBC gave them their own television series, initially called Three Little Girls on View but later renamed as Those Beverley Sisters, which ran for seven years and on which they gave live performances of popular songs of the day.
In 1951 they signed a recording deal with the UK Columbia record label, later moving to the Philips and Decca labels before returning to Columbia in 1960. Their biggest hits on the UK singles chart were versions of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (no.6, 1953) and “Little Drummer Boy” (no.6, 1959), which were both Christmas hits. In 1956, their version of the traditional song “Greensleeves”, orchestrated by Roland Shaw, became their only US chart hit, reaching no.41 on the Billboard pop chart. Generally preferring live cabaret and television appearances over recording work, the song “Sisters”, written by Irving Berlin and originally recorded in 1954 by Rosemary Clooney and her sister Betty, became their theme song; it has been claimed that Berlin wrote the song for the Beverley Sisters.
The sisters are widely credited as having been the highest paid female entertainers in the UK for more than 20 years. In 1952, 1958 and 1978, they appeared at the Royal Variety Performance. In January 1961, they appeared on the radio show, Desert Island Discs. They appeared on the television show Stars on Sunday.
Their career was revitalized in the 1980s, after their children – who had begun performing together as the Foxes – invited them onstage at the London Hippodrome, encouraged by club owner Peter String fellow. The three sisters began performing again for British troops, as well as in gay clubs in Britain, and they produced a new album, Sparkle. They performed as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, and toured with Max Bygraves that year, the 50th anniversary of their appearance at the Royal Variety Performance. They also took part in the D-Day 60th anniversary memorial concerts in 2004.
The sisters entered the Guinness World Records in 2002, as the world’s longest surviving vocal group without a change in the original line up. As late as 2009, the Beverley Sisters appeared in concerts and matinee shows in the United Kingdom. They forged links with the Burma Star Association, as well as McCarthy & Stone, where the sisters were invited to open each new housing development designed specifically for retired people. However, they later fully retired, and lived close to each other in Barnet.
Joy Beverley of Beverley Sisters married the Wolverhampton Wanderers and England football captain Billy Wright on 28 July 1958 at Poole Register Office, a year before he retired as a player. They were married for 36 years until Billy died of cancer in September 1994.IMAGE/Getty images