Liverpool's first number one artist
Liverpool's first number one
By Paul Coslett
Lita Roza, who has died aged 82, was the first Liverpool performer to have a number one record.
As the first woman to have a UK Number One, you might think that Lita Roza would have been proud of the song that took her to the top of the charts, but in actual fact she never liked the song and only performed it once.
Lita, who was born Lilian Patricia Lita Roza, was the eldest of seven children, her Spanish father played accordian in Liverpool clubs.
Lita first took to the stage in a pantomime and by the time she was 15 she was performing with fellow Liverpudlian Ted Ray.
In 2002, just after she had unveiled the Liverpool Wall of Fame honouring all the Liverpool artists to have number one records, Lita recorded a special programme with BBC Radio Merseyside's Billy Butler and recalled her life in Liverpool, "I was born in Upper Pitt Street at my grandmother's house."
"My father was a self taught musician, he played the piano accordian and concertina, so I was always surrounded by music."
"I belonged to St Michael's Church in Pitt Street and I used to love going to church and singing on Sunday morning's."
At the age of , Lita decided she wanted to be a performer when she went to see a pantomime, "I thought that's what I'd like to do, go on the stage, thought I didn't know how to."
Set on being a performer Lita saw an advert in the Liverpool Echo for a singer, "It was for a singer wanted in Southport at a little restaurant called the New Yorker on Lord Street.
"I asked my mother if she would come with me while I did an audition.
"I'd never sung, not as a solo singer, just singing round the house with my sister.
"So I went to Southport with my mother and I got the job."
In search of stardom Lita went to London and her first big break came when dance band leader Harry Roy asked her to tour with him, "I thought London is waiting for me, and my mother said to me 'If you haven't got a job in two weeks you've got to come home'
"I just wanted to do something, to be something.
"I took a studio flat in Mornington Crescent advertised in The Stage, it cost me 35 shillings a week.
"I started doing the rounds of Denmark Street going to the publishers.
"I thought someone must need a singer but nobody did.
Finally, wandering down a side street, Lita found a small publisher's called Norris Music Publishing where she was auditioned and a tape of her singing was sent to Harry Roy.
"My two weeks were almost up, a day or so later they said 'Harry wants to see you'.
"So I went up to Coventry [where Harry Roy was performing] and Harry obviously liked me and I got the job."
In 1953 Lita Roza became the first female artist to have a UK number one with 'How Much Is That Doggie in the Window', a song she never liked, "There was this A&R man at Decca and he brought this song to me.
"I can't even say what I said about it, it was a children's song really.
"They never let me have free expression.
"I never sang it on stage, I only sang it once anyway.
"I sang it once for balance and once, and then said 'That's it I shall never sing that again."
last updated: 14/08/2008 at 18:58