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16 October 2014
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Ruby Murray: 1935-1996

Irish singer, Ruby Murray, was one of the most successful stars in the history of British popular music. She set a pop-chart record in 1955 by having five hits in the Top Twenty at one time, a feat equalled only by Elvis Presley and Madonna.

Listen to Ruby Murray talking about her career in 1956 at the age of 21. LISTEN: 'Ulster Mirror'

(broadcast 6th April 1956 BBCNI Home Service)

Ruby Murray talking to W. Everingham

Listen to Ruby speaking here about her career, which started when she was just aged 11. She was 21 at the time of this interview in 1956.

She talks about the thrill of topping the bill at the London Palladium for 7 months, the more difficult aspects of being a 'star' and how great it is to be back home in Belfast.

Ruby Murray and Brendan O'Dowda taking part in 'Rinnce Mor', 1968
Ruby Murray and Brendan O'Dowda
taking part in "Rinnce Mor" (1968)
Born in Belfast -
Born on 29th March 1935, Ruby had an operation for swollen glands when she was just six weeks old which left her with an unusually husky voice. Her musical career began at the age of 11 when she entered and won a local talent competition. When she was fourteen she toured Scotland with Tommy Morgan and spent a further two years touring Ireland in variety.

A hugely successful recording career -
Initially signed by Columbia, an EMI label, and her first single " Heartbeat " reached No.3 in the charts. However, it was her famous No.1 hit " Softly, Softly " that was to become her 'signature tune'.

BBC break -
While appearing at the Metropolitan Theatre in London, she was spotted by the BBC's Richard Afton, who signed her up to take part in the series "Quite Contrary". She went on to take part in many BBC programmes, including the first broadcast of "Rinnce Mor" on BBC Northern Ireland. The show, broadcast on 17th January 1968 also featured Brendan O'Dowda, Albert Healey, the Glenfolk and John Bennett.

Last chart number -
Ruby reached No. 10 in the charts with " Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye " in 1959 which was to be her last chart success, although she continued both her recording and successful careers on the cabaret circuit throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

YOUR RESPONSES

 

Bernie Hicks - Aug '08
Good Evening. This is Bernie Hicks. I was in the Jones Boys with Bernie Burgess. Could anyone tell me how to contact him.
Thank you
Bernie Hicks (Texas)

MAGGIE DUNLOP - July '08
My 4x gr grandfather William Veacock was born in Donaghadee in 1806 his father John was an Innkeeper. Are there still Veacocks in Donaghadee or does anyone have information on the family.

It is possible that John Veacock is related to William Veacock who is buried in the cemetary any information that anyone has on William Veacock in the cemetary would be most welcome.

Tina - May '07
Hello, was on holiday in Devon last week, the cabaret singer said he is Ruby's son, can't remember his name though, can anyone help on this? Thanx

Henry Samuels - Apr '07
To the attention of Bernie Burgess, I hope you are well and that you are still active in the entertainment business. I appreciate you mentioning me in your article about the good old days during 1957 when we were on the North Pier show in blackpool. I am awfully sorry about the passing of Ruby and also surprised about Clem Ratcliffe. I just hit 84 and am still doing casuals for senior organizations in California and Florida. I had all my accompaniment pre-recorded and placed on CDs and happy to say that my 45 minute act goes over very well. Are the rest of the Jones Boys still around? The business has really taken a nose dive and it will never be the same. I'm thankful that there is many old timers around to still want our kind of music. Meanwhile Bernie stay well and hope to hear from you. All the best. Henry Samuels.

Cliff Sweeting - Mar '07
I was a kid in Hartlepool in 1956 when I first saw & heard Ruby - fell in love with her singing "You've Got To Have Heart" (think it might have been on the Billy Cotton Band Show or some such.) She was a lovely-looking girl - and that voice was achingly beautiful. Came to Australia in 1969, & amazed to find nobody here had heard of her. I was shocked to hear she died so young. (These days, 61 is when you're dusting yourself off for a fresh start in life.) All my best wishes to her family and fellow fans.

Hazel Hirst - Mar '07
Thanks everyone. I now know the song I was looking for was called:
Nobody's Child

J Crotts - Mar '07
I have an autograph from Ronnie Collis signed at a show in London in the 60s. As I was sorting out cupboards I found my old autograph book and decided to check out information on him.

Betty Watson - Feb '07
It is good to have found this site with memories of Ruby, whom I knew as a young girl. She lived in Benburb Street, Donegall Road and I lived in Lecale Street. Thursday nights was our singing nights, we had a piano and Ruby at that time didn't have one. We also did the travelling variety shows, I was in a vocal group called the Hill Sisters and I remember one of the other groups was called the Hawiaiian Trio, that would have been early 1950s, Ruby worked in a confectionary shop on the Lisburn Road. My name at the time was Betty Mackin, (now Betty Watson and I live in Australia).
Nice memories are good for the soul.

Trevor Grimsell- Jan '07
I've been a fan of Ruby Murray for years. I saw her at the London Palladium in painting the town with Norman Wisdom. I listened to her on the old 78's and recently bought some of her cd's. They are still available. I'm glad to say. They don't make singers like Ruby anymore. Most of todays singers shout. Ruby was much more sincere and warm with her lovely voice.

Hazel Hirst - Oct '06
I am trying to find the lyrics of a Ruby Murray song. It is about an orphan boy I think. Anyone help?

Bernadette R M Tuffs - Oct '06
I'm trying to compile a history of my Church (SS Austin & Grgeory R.C. Church, in Victoria Road, Margate, Kent, UK) and apparently Ruby came there for a visit in (it is thought) 1958 and opened the fete...was just wondering if anyone has any information about that, or can point me in the right direction to obtain information or even has a photo of that day and would be willing to send me a copy. Please email BernieSolly@ hotmai l. co . uk if so...thank you in advance!

Colin Andrews - Aug '06
Bernie
Glad to hear that you are well and in Spain - Linda, me & the girls look back on time spent in your chalet with great affection.

Linda - July '06
Hello there I was reading the article from John E West, saying about the chaplin impersonator his name was Ronnie Collis he was my mums cousin. Sadly he is no longer with us.

Harry Rigby - July '06
Ruby Muarray, Alma Cogan, Edna Savage.....we had a supurb talent in the 50's. Each one uniquely individual and instantly recognisable.
I can find no information on the internet relating to Ruby's cause of death. She was great.

Bernie Burgess - April '06
Hello Friends,
I have read all the stories about Ruby with great interest. For the benefit of the ex squadde who drove the C.S.E. show around in the Middle East. The Chaplin impression was done by a great artiste - Ronnie Collis (who sadly is no longer around). Hal Roach was the Dublin comic who is currently working the cruise liners off the west coast of America.
A little information for Henry Samuels. A member of the Harmonica Gang, Clem Ratcliffe, eventually became one of The Jones Boys. He later was resident at a cabert venue in Wales. He lived for a time in Newport. Sadly he passed away recently.
Belfast City has just paid a huge tribute to Ruby by erecting a commemorative plaque on the facia of The Ulster Hall, a venue where Ruby appeared in her childhood days. A book has just been published about Ruby's life and career. - I wrote it, - I'm Bernie Burgess, Ruby's ex husband.

Sandy Everitt - March '06
There are a couple of queries about what happened to Bernie Burgess, Ruby's husband. He is alive and well and living in Spain. Go to the Ruby Murray website at www.rubymurray.org for more info. On the 29th March (which was Ruby's birthday) Bernie will be with a group of Ruby Murray fans at the Ulster Hall, Belfast when the Lord Mayor unveils a plaque in honour of Ruby. It starts at 2.30pm if there are any fans out there would like to attend. (The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.)

John E West - Feb '06
I once had the honour and indeed pleasure of driving Ruby Murray and her colleagues, whilst she was touring with forces entertainment group C.S.E We were all in a mini bus type of vehicle and I drove the party along the Libyan coast to several Army "Outposts" From Tripoli to Tobruk. I remember her husband Bernie was with us at the time and several other artistes, one of which done a beautiful performance, imitating Charlie Chaplin, but I don,t remember his name sadly. I think the manager of the party was Hal? would that be Roach? I shall always remember being Rub,s chauffeur, if only for a few days, my only claim to fame in life. I pray that there is a life after death because I would love to meet Ruby again, although I was one of millions that loved that voice, she would not remember this old squaddie of 1959! God Bless and Keep You Ruby.

Brenda Dewar - Dec '05
Yes Henry Samuels, I too would like to know what happenned to Bernard Burgess, Ruby Murrays Husband.

Rob Harbinson - Nov 05
Around 1955/56 I was attending Sunday evening service at my church. (Richview Pres. Donegall Rd.) I was sitting beside a neatly dressed, pleasant looking older lady (I was 14/15) It seemed odd to me at the time that, although holding the hymn book open, she did not sing the hymns. It was only after the service was over and I was outside the church that someone pointed out that I had been sitting beside the one and only Ruby Murray, on home for a visit. I would have to say the reason she did not sing was it might have drawn attention away from the worship and praise. And that says to me the kind of person Ruby was. Where ever you are Ruby, Thanks for all the beuatiful memories.

Brid Thogorntogon - Oct '05
FAO Jenny Wilson who, in February '05, posted the request for, and I quote, " Brenden O'Dowda singing La Golindrina, The Swallow, it was part of my growing up". Me too, Jenny. If you've had any luck would you please do another posting! Anybody else?

Henry Samuels - June '05
What became of Ruby Murrays husband who was a member of the 4 Jones boys when they got married in Blackpool in 1957?

Henry Samuels - March '05
I had the pleasure of being in the same show as Ruby Murray in 1957 at the North Pier in Blackpool. I was a member of the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang. Towards the end of the summer season an epidemic of Asian flu had broken out and most of the entertainers in Blackpool were affected by it including myself. I left the act shortly and moved to California where I am still residing. Ruby was a fine friendly person and her performance was great. I remember her getting married to one of the 4 jones boys who were in the same show at the time. I always treasure the good old days of variety. Unfortunately there is nothing like the good old days anymore. Last year 2004 I re-visited the North Pier in Blackpool where the show took place and the Blackpool Gazette had given me a great write up. Thanks for the memories. Henry Samuels.

Jenny Wilson - February '05
I'm looking for information on Brenden O'Dowda and got this site I love irish music and had Ruby Murray. If you can help me I'd be very grateful I want to try and find a record of Brenden O'Dowda singing La Golindrina The Swallow it was part of my growing up and I' love to find a CD with it on sincerely, Jenny.

Don Attenborough - January '05
I would like to say how dissapointed I was at the fact neither Devon or Cornwall did a tribute to ruby. I feel this country owed a lot to her for the wonderful music she gave us I remember seeing ruby for the first time in the 50s at the empire theatre in sheffield I could not begin to tell you what a great feeling that was and I was only 16 then. I saw her again in Sheffield in the early 80s at the lyric in Donnington where she was on tour and I still got that same feeling to me she was the greatest female singer of our time. Although she has gone ruby is still as popular to me today as she was back then. She is dearly missed.

Russell Kerr
Ruby Murray was the best singer on radio when I was a little boy. It is a shame you never hear of her records in the shops now. I have asked a lot of people have you ever heard of her ? Not many kids today would know her.


Do you remember the "Rinnce Mor" programmes? Perhaps you were lucky enough to be a member of the audience at a recording. Did you ever hear Ruby sing live? Would one of her songs be a particular favourite and why?

We'd love to hear your stories and memories here at "Your Place & mine". To share them either use the form at the bottom of the page or e-mail us at ypam-online@bbc.co.uk .

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