Ricky Valance: First Welshman to have solo UK Number One dies

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Ricky Valance performing in A Song For Europe
Image caption,
Ricky Valance's single Tell Laura I Love Her sold more than a million copies in 1960

Welsh singer Ricky Valance has died at the age of 84, his agent has confirmed.

Valance, who was born David Spencer, became the first Welshman to have a solo UK Number One hit with the song Tell Laura I Love Her in 1960.

The singer was born in Ynysddu, now in Caerphilly county, and joined the RAF aged 17 before going into the music business.

His agent said he had been diagnosed with dementia and had been in hospital since before the start of lockdown.

Valance was lead soprano in his local church choir as a child, before joining the air force, where he saw active service in north Africa before returning three years later.

It was then he started performing in clubs in the north of England, before being signed and recording Tell Laura I Love Her.

The song tells the tragic story of a boy called Tommy and his love for a girl called Laura.

Image source, One Media iP Ltd
Image caption,
Valance released a final single, called Welcome Home, in 2017

It was controversial at the time and reportedly banned from airplay by the BBC, but went on to be a number one single, selling more than a million copies.

It spent 16 weeks in the chart, three of those at number one, but was to prove his only big hit in the UK.

Nevertheless, fans have taken to social media to express their sadness at his death.

Hyder Ali Pirwany tweeted: "Ricky Valance, RIP. Great singer from Wales. His "Tell Laura I love her" song was tear jerking."

While another fan wrote: "Another one gone. RIP. Hope Laura is waiting for you."

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In 2015, Valance was given an award at a St David's Day concert at the Wales Millennium Centre for being the first Welshman to have a UK Number One hit.

In 2017, he released a final single, called Welcome Home, to raise money for the Royal Air Force Museum and RAF Association.

Valance and his wife Evelyn were living in Skegness, Lincolnshire, at the time of his death.