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Bill Martin and Phil Coulter

When the moody Forever and Ever topped the UK charts for Slik on Valentine’s Day 1976 it completed a remarkable ten years at the top for its writers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter.

Their Eurovision songs, Sandie Shaw‘s Puppet On A String and Cliff Richard‘s Congratulations topped the UK charts, as did the England World Cup Squad’s rousing sing-a-long Back Home.

Lesser hits were Surround Yourself With Sorrow (Cilla Black) and My Boy (Elvis Presley).

By 1974, the duo were aiming their wares firmly at the teenybopper market. They transformed the obscure Bay City Rollers into a cultural phenomenon with a string of hits including Shang-A-Lang and Saturday Night (the latter a chart-topper in America).


Though undeniably skilled craftsmen, their approach now took cynicism to new depths, with the artists for whom they wrote almost interchangeable.

When an Irish male vocalist (with whom they’d had hits under the name Kenny) decided to retire they simply gave their songs to a group and released them under the Kenny sobriquet.

One of those singles – a novelty dance disc called The Bump – had been a Bay City Rollers B-side. Forever and Ever (the #1 hit for Slik) had previously been an album track for Kenny.

Slik singer Midge Ure (later of Ultravox and Band Aid fame) had been amazed to find he merely had to sing over a pre-recorded backing track. Of its chart-topping triumph, he later said; “I was kind of smiling but distant at the same time because it wasn’t mine. It was nothing to do with me at all”.