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24 September 2014

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Lita Roza
Lita Roza

Liverpool's original Number One

The first Liverpudlian to have a number one. Lita Roza who topped the charts with 'How Much is that Doggie in the Window?' in 1953 talks to BBC Liverpool about her career and the growing up in Liverpool.

Prime Ministerial Approval

Margaret Thatcher once told Smash Hits Magazine that her favourite record was Lita Roza's hit "How Much is that Doggie in the Window". The interviewer Tom Hibbert observed that Thatcher was "obsessed with free-market economics even as a child."

Lita Roza reportedly disliked her number one hit and has never sung it in public since the day she recorded it. Even refusing to sing it at shows while it was Number One.

Lita Roza was the first Liverpool artist to reach the top of the charts, taking the number one slot in 1953 with "How Much is that Doggie in the Window".

Lita Roza was brought up in Liverpool and worked from an early age in local factories and shops. She took to the stage at the age of 12 in a pantomime and by the time she was fifteen was working with fellow Merseysider comedian Ted Ray.

She sang with the Ted Heath band and recorded many hit records throughout the 1950's.

As she turned 80 this month Lita Roza spoke to BBC Liverpool about her career.

You sang once at a concert with Michael Holliday and he forgot the words.

“It was something to do with radio, I thought it was a poll winners concert.

“Michael and I were given this song ‘Let’s Do It’. I  knew Michael was going to forget the words, he was always writing things down on the back of his hand.

“We started off ok and then he started humming and doing a bit of a Bing Crosby, I just fell about, it was just so funny. I managed just about to get through it but we did have a laugh about it. It was funny.”

You worked at Decca with Dick Rowe who famously turned down the Beatles

audio Lita Roza talking about her career >
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Well yes, he was the A&R man..They had to renew my contract, they wanted to renew it. I said I didn’t want to. One of the directors he tried a bit of bribery, so I said “If you give me a hoover and a television!” I’ll re-sign. So that’s what I did and I stayed with them until 1957.

Did you used to enjoy coming back to Liverpool to perform?

Lita Roza
Lita Roza with BBC's Mick Ord

“Oh yes, Absolutely loved it.

“If I was within a 50 mile distance of my mum I would always come back home and saty with my mother. Well, she always had something nice for me to eat.”

Did people pester you in the street?

“No, not really. I think they just sort of took it for granted. I was just doing something different

“I think I did everything my father would have liked to have done. He was a self taught musician and he really would have liked to have gone on the stage.

I went to this audition for the juveniles in pantomime when I was just twelve and when I got home my mother said “Where have you been?”

“And I said “I’ve been to an audition and I’m going on the stage.”

And my mother said “What stage? The landing stage?”

“So when my father came in she said “Your daughter’s going on the stage,” and his eyes lit up.

Lita Roza
Lita Roza

Mother was slightly embarrassed by it all. She wasn’t the kind of mother who walked around saying “That’s my daughter!”

“My mother said “I can’t go shopping these days everyone stops me and wants to know about you!”

“We were all very close, neighbours were different in those days. Everyone knew each other and of course having worked on Lodge Lane, a shopping street, when I worked in Home and Colonial, everyone knew me there.

“And of course everyone knew that I’d become famous and I suppose they knew me when I worked in the shop when I used to give them extra rations.

You almost married a Spanish property owner

“He was in the ambassadorial staff. I was always about to marry someone!

“I was at Ronnie Carrol’s wedding and as I was going in someone from the Daily Mail stopped me and said “Is this your new romance”. And I was with this little fella who was as gay and as camp as a row of tents, they must have thought I was really hard up, no one could have mistaken him.

The Daily Mail said “Is this your new romance Miss Roza”, I should have said yes.

last updated: 13/03/06
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