Bernard Jewry

... previously had modest success as Shane Fenton.

According to Wikipedia, in the early 1960s he was working (in his late teens) as a roadie for an unknown band called Shane Fenton and the Fentones. They sent a demo tape to the BBC, but while they were waiting for a reply their front man and singer, Shane Fenton (real name Johnny Theakston, aged 17) died of rheumatic fever, from which he'd suffered since childhood. The band was planning to break up, but unexpectedly, they received a reply from the BBC inviting them to audition in person. Theakston's mother urged them to do it, and to honour her son's memory by keeping their name unchanged. She told Jewry, who'd performed with the band on occasion, that Johnny would have wanted him to be the new Shane Fenton.

The group became regulars on the BBC Light Programme's Saturday Club, and this led to a recording contract with EMI's Parlophone label. They had five minor hits in 1961 and 1962 – the biggest of which was Cindy's Birthday, which just made it into the Top 20 in July 1962. On their fifth and last hit, The Breeze and I (September 1962) they were credited as just The Fentones.

The Fentones split up in 1964. Jewry worked in music management, and performed with his wife Iris Caldwell (sister of Rory Storm – real name Alan Caldwell – whose claim to fame is that Ringo Starr was his drummer before joining the Beatles in August 1962. Iris herself had dated both George Harrison and Paul McCartney, having grown up with them in Liverpool).

In 1973, a singer and songwriter (and record company founder) named Peter Shelley wrote and recorded a song entitled My Coo–Ca–Choo. He had no interest in performing live however, so after My Coo–Ca–Choo – credited to Alvin Stardust – entered the charts he began to search for someone to take over the persona. Jewry was suggested by his manager, Hal Carter, and he took over the role in time to mime to the record in its first appearance on Top of the Pops.

My Coo Ca Choo peaked at No. 2, but the follow–up, Jealous Mind, went one better in February 1974. Alvin Stardust went on to have eleven more hit singles in the UK, five of which made it into the Top Ten. His last chart entry was Got a Little Heartache, which reached No. 55 in 1985.

Jewry continued to perform as Alvin Stardust, and to act. In 1995 he briefly joined the cast of Channel 4's Hollyoaks, playing a character named Greg Andersen. He was married three times; his second wife (from 1981 to 1989) was the actress Liza Goddard. He died in 2014, aged 72, of cancer. He was due to release his first album in 30 years, and had performed his final live show just six days earlier in Evesham, Worcestershire.

© Haydn Thompson 2022