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Sharon Tandy

sharontandy_3If there was any justice in the world, Johannesburg-born Sharon Tandy (born Sharon Finkelstein) would have been up there with Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield in the 60s.

Unquestionably, she had the voice for it, and her choice of songs was pretty much impeccable. Her South African debut LP, Sharon Loves You-Know-Who, showcased her strong, intuitive delivery on Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley covers.

Sharon honed her vocals on the South African club circuit before hooking up with lover (later husband) Frank Fenter of Atlantic Records and playing a couple of dates with his proteges, UK beat band The Couriers.

She moved to London in 1964 to seek fame and fortune.

Between 1964 and 1969 Sharon flirted with melodramatic, Sandie Shaw-like Brit pop, freakbeat and psychedelic rock with Southampton pop art beat combo Les Fleur de Lys, recording superb numbers such as Stay With Me and You’ve Gotta Believe It.

sharontandy_lpShe appeared on Thank Your Lucky Stars, Beat Club and Top Of The Pops, and her fiery version of Hold On (1967) became her signature tune – with her breathless rasp going head-to-head with searing Yardbirds-like guitars.

Signed to Stax in 1966 she cut earthy Southern soul with Booker T & The MGs and Isaac Hayes, becoming the first European-based artist to record in East McLemore Studios. She also appeared as an opening act on the 1967 Stax/Volt Tour of Europe.

On her return to England she teamed with Les Fleur de Lys again, but by 1970 she was back in South Africa.

Sharon Tandy died on 21 March 2015 in London, after a long illness. She was 71.

Quite why she wasn’t superglued to the top of the charts in the mid-60s is hard to fathom.