Barbara Rosemary Ruskin was born in East Ham, London, in 1948, and moved to Stoke Newington before starting secondary school. Her father died when she was still young and her mother – who worked for music publisher Lawrence Wright in Denmark Street – encouraged her young daughter to pursue her love of music, buying her first guitar.
Barbara taught herself to play it, began composing her own songs and, before long, was spending her spare time performing at weddings and youth clubs.
In 1964, she was offered a contract with Piccadilly Records and released her first single, a version of Billy Fury’s Halfway To Paradise, in February 1965.
Barbara’s second single was one of her own compositions, You Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying (1965) – which she had written with Sandie Shaw in mind – while her third single – Well, How Does It Feel? (1965) – was recorded in the style of Sonny and Cher. In 1966, Barbara released the stomping single Song Without End but once again, the single failed to chart.
Light of Love (1966) was her final single for Piccadilly before Barbara moved to Parlophone. Sun Showers (February 1967) became her first 45 for the new label, followed by Euston Station just two months later. The single was voted a hit on Juke Box Jury but not by the record-buying public.
She followed it up with one of her finest singles, Come Into My Arms Again (1967), a song she wrote on the bus on the way to the studio. Barbara was then offered a role co-hosting the radio programme, Cool Britannia, on the BBC’s World Service.
Pawnbroker, Pawnbroker was released in October 1968 and Barbara composed Gentlemen, Please as an offering for Lulu to perform as the British entry for the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest. When the song wasn’t selected, she released it herself.
Barbara continued releasing singles throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Hail, Love (1969) and A Little of This (And A Little of That) (1970).
She eventually turned to cabaret in London’s West End with Beautiful Friendship (1972) her final single release.