This is the Official Biography of
Ruby Murray

as provided by Bernie Burgess
17.11.2013

 

"The breeze of her entrance into my life brought light to my world but the breeze of her passing - blew my candle out."


From
'Ruby My Precious Gem'
by Bernie Burgess

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Ruby Murray, a beautiful Irish Colleen, was born on 29th March 1935 in a lowly area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, to working class parents. She was blessed with a fascinatingly husky and unmistakable speaking voice, which gave her singing voice a very velvety style. As a child all she ever wanted to do was sing and her father Dan Murray encouraged her and found concert work for her in the Belfast area. 

As a consequence she became a child entertainer and at the age of 5 years her father began promoting shows and featuring Ruby who by then was receiving a fee for her singing performances. At 12 years of age, whilst singing in a show in Ireland, she was spotted by BBC television producer Richard Afton who took her to London to appear on a television show that he was producing at Alexandra Palace. Being under age for professional engagements she was unable to capitalize on her remarkable success but from this point onward her life was to change. Any local promoters who selected her to appear as a child entertainer in their shows were able to enhance their bill matter which henceforth read - 'Ruby Murray - BBC Television Star.'

Ruby toured all over Ireland, both North and South, and even appeared in t
he prestigious Belfast Ulster Hall. These were mainly 'fit-up' shows (that is, shows in which everybody helps out doing all the extra jobs needed to put on a show, selling programmes, acting as usherettes, loading scenery, etc) , one of which 'Yankee Doodle Blarney', crossed the Irish Sea to England and it was in that show where she was once again seen by the same television producer Richard Afton. He had an ongoing BBC television show called ‘Quite Contrarywhich had a predominantly feminine theme. In 1954 the resident female star vocalist Joan Regan was leaving the show to tour in Variety throughout the British Isles and a replacement was needed.  Richard had the foresight  to replace Joan with Ruby and she was an instant success. The impact of her very first television appearance was immense, she had captured the hearts of millions of television viewers. The Musical Director of the TV show, Ray Martin was also an A & R man (Artiste and Repertoire) at Columbia Records and he gave Ruby a recording test at the famous Abbey Road Studios, which she passed with flying colours.  A star was born, a bright shining star.

Her first record was 'Get Well Soon' which sold moderately well and became popular on the radio show 'Family Favourites' but her first 'hit' record was 'Heartbeat'. Released in November 1954 it zoomed into the charts (in this biography this means the Top Twenty) and reached Number 3, quickly followed by her greatest and most popular recording 'Softly Softly'. This gently appealing song with it's immaculate strings and harp arrangement by Ray Martin was released in January 1955 and went straight into the charts climbing quickly to the Number 1 position and staying in the charts for an amazing 22 weeks.

Her recording success was instant and she became a world record holder in a matter of weeks when she had no less than 5 hit single recordings in the Top Twenty all at the same time in the same week. In order these were – 'Heartbeat',  'Softly Softly', 'Let Me Go Lover', 'Happy Days and Lonely Nights', and 'If Anyone Finds This I Love You'.  The unforgettable  'Softly Softly' from this moment on was forever linked to her and it became her signature tune. 

During the 52 weeks from the release of 'Heartbeat', Ruby had hit records in the charts for every single week for the whole year, a total of 7 Top Twenty hit recordings. In addition, her final release for 1955 called 'The Very First Christmas of All' also made one of the lesser Top Twenty charts.   No-one has ever beaten Ruby’s 5 hit World Record, a proud achievement which still stands to this very day. It has been claimed erroneously in some publications that Madonna and/or The Beatles and/or Elvis Presley broke Ruby's World Record but this is incorrect. Checking with The Guinness Book of Records it was indisputably stated that although these artists had many hit records they never beat the World Record of having 5 recordings in the Top Twenty all in the same one week period. It has been established that Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson (sadly after his death) all equalled Ruby's World Record but nobody has had more than 5 and she will always be the first to have done so and is currently the only female to have done so. Since Ruby's day 'the charts' have been changed to include the Top Forty recordings, and downloads are permitted to help in determining the positions, but it is thought to be unlikely that the World Record which Ruby shares will ever be beaten now. For details in graphic form of Ruby's hit year of 1955, please follow this link.

In addition to the songs mentioned in the previous paragraph, later chart entries included 'Evermore', 'I'll Come When You Call', 'You Are My First Love', 'Real Love', 'Goodbye Jimmy Goodbye' and 'Change Your Mind'.

 

The huge success that Ruby was now enjoying in 1955 was such that she was contracted to appear alongside Norman Wisdom at The London Palladium in a spectacular show called 'Painting The Town'. which ran for over seven months.  During the run of that show she was presented with the ultimate accolade, that of appearing in a Royal Variety Command Performance in front of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh. In 1955 and 1956 the readers of the Daily Mirror voted Ruby as "The Most Popular Female Vocalist", and on one occasion she was voted as the second most popular female singer in the world after Doris Day. In later years Ruby appeared in other Royal shows including one that celebrated '40 Years of Peace' which was attended by Princess Anne.

 

 

Ruby made many appearances on TV, and was in great demand for variety shows and summer seasons. In 1956 her voice appeared over the opening credits of the film 'It's Great to be Young' and her one and only film in which she appeared was released, 'A Touch of the Sun' starring Frankie Howerd in which she plays the part of a hotel chambermaid and sings two songs 'In Love' and 'O'Malley's Tango'.

In 1957, Ruby appeared in a  Blackpool summer season show where she met and married one of The Four Jones Boys – Bernie Burgess. Theirs was a lightening courtship and they married in secret in August just six weeks after they had met. They later had two children, Julie and Tim, and both were to follow in their parents' footsteps by choosing to enter show business.

During the 70s, demand for female singers singing lovely melodies waned as the rock and pop scene took over, and naturally Ruby had to scale down her recordings and appearances. She made her last record in 1971, ironically called "I Will Wait for You' but continued with a successful career in clubs and smaller venues. She also toured several places abroad entertaining British troops who had been posted overseas, and performed in places such as the USA and South Africa.

Ruby always suffered immensely with nerves - recording studios and television cameras terrified her. She permanently strove hard to combat her nervousness but eventually it became part of her struggle to survive, both personally and professionally.  As Ruby continued to combat her nerves she gradually became dependent upon alcohol and later this became a very big 'problem' in her marriage and eventually it inevitably caused a marriage breakdown.  She left home to live in Torquay joining a man who had worked in The Bernard Delfont Agency - Ray Lamar. Her divorce with Bernie was finalised in 1974 and Ruby married Ray Lamar many years later.

Ruby never lost contact with Bernie, they were in constant touch with each other. Regrettably she eventually began to lose her battle to regain sobriety and became desperately ill. Upon learning of her desperate condition Bernie regularly visited her in both Nursing Home and Hospital. Ruby sought a divorce from Lamar but was too weak to see the litigation through - she passed away on December 16th 1996 at the age of 61yrs. She had made history in the recording world and her recordings are still being played by radio stations all around the world. A wealth of Ruby's recordings can be found on 'Youtube' and in the Library of this website.

Never to be forgotten, her name lives on, not only through the Ruby Murray website, which her dedicated fans lovingly maintain with the help and support of Bernie, but through folklore where it was adopted by Cockney rhyming slang in connection with Indian food – “Going for a Ruby Murray - going for a curry ”.  Ruby considered that connection highly amusing.  

 
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