Marty Wilde (real name Reg Smith) was the first of the Larry Parnes stable to make it as Britain searched for its own mini-Presley.
After compering the music TV show Oh Boy! he hit big in 1958 with Endless Sleep, following it in 1959 with a cover of Ritchie Valens‘ Donna and a cover of Dion and the Belmonts‘ Teenager In Love.
Wilde had hits right through to 1962 with Sea Of Love, Bad Boy, Rubber Ball and Jezebel.
While Wilde’s renditions of these songs lacked the cachet of the American originals he succeeded because he was the best Britain had to offer.
As the frontman of Oh Boy! and a subsequent series, Boy Meets Girls, he was able to give full rein to his talents.
When the hits trailed off in the early 60s he branched into films and cabaret, also finding a niche for himself as a songwriter – providing hits for Status Quo, The Casuals (Jesamine) and his own daughter, Kim.
After the Magnet label revitalised Shane Fenton by turning him into Alvin Stardust, Wilde got in on the act in 1971 by donning a mirrored crash helmet and a Superman suit to sing “Got new sneakers and a Bowie haircut” on Rock and Roll Crazy – billing himself as Zappo . . .
A Glitter Band-like stomper with burbling synths and rock guitars, it came with an embarrassment of “hey!”s and handclaps.
He also wrote glam-flavoured I Wanna Go To A Disco for his son Ricky.
Marty celebrated 50 years at the musical coalface in May 2007 with family, friends and former band-mates at the London Palladium.