CLODAGH RODGERS

 

 

site updated 2001

 

 

 

 

Clodagh Rodgers was born in Ballymena in Northern Ireland and began her singing career at the very early age of 13. At that age she appeared on the same bill as the then renowned British singer, Michael Holliday.  Her father was a promoter who ran tours around Irish Dance Halls for the many chart acts of the day and Clodagh went too.  She saw many of the artists of the day including Alma Cogan amongst others.  A quite different life to her contemporaries.

In 1962 she was signed to Decca records and her first single "Believe Me I'm No Fool" was released. On the strength of that recording she appeared in the 1963 U.K. film "Just For Fun". This was one of the "pop" films of the early 60's, Cloda (As she was known then) was featured alongside Karl Denver (Wimoweh), The Tornados (Telstar), Brian Poole and the Tremeloes (Do You Love Me), Tony Meehan and Jet Harris among others, the film is described as fascinating "to both eye and ear. The action is brisk, the photography compelling, the music is.....all your hit parade favourites are going to provide you with some pretty fabulous listening". Cloda sang "Sweet Boy", reminiscent of the type of song often covered by Kathy Kirby.

Her entry into the world of Song Festivals happened in Knocke, the European Song Festival. Her entry was "Powder Your Face With Sunshine", a precursor and in a similar vein to her 1971 Eurovision song more later.

In 1964, another film appearance in "It's All Over Town". This time she appeared with "The Springfields", including another young, soon to be famous Dusty, The Batchelors, an Irish trio who had great success in the UK charts with "I Believe" and "Charmaine", the star was none other than Frankie Vaughan, it followed his Hollywood appearance in the Marilyn Monroe film "Lets Make Love", it was in this film he sang "Give Me The Moonlight" (his theme song). This time she got to sing "My Love Will Still Be There".

In 1965 saw a move to Columbia Records (U.K. Columbia) and her single "Wanting You" /"Johnny Come Home". She had now released material on 3 record labels and had no chart success. She was well known within the industry and had film exposure but this had not translated into massive sales. Her move to RCA records began the change.

Her first hit came in 1969 with "Come Back and Shake Me", written and produced by Kenny Young. He was to guide her career for the next few years as producer. This recording made 4 on the U.K. chart and launched her into the first division of U.K. women singers.

Her first album featured covers of Beatles songs ("Get Back" & "I Will"), Moody Blues ("Tuesday Afternoon"), Reperata and the Delrons ("Captain of Your Ship") and The Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk"). This was followed up quickly by hit singles "Goodnight Midnight" and "Biljo" both taken from the "Midnight Clodagh" album. The number of covers were cut on this album and she sang more original songs, written by Kenny Young, the 2 covers Jackie De Shannon's "Put a Little Love In Your Heart", has also since been covered by artists from Dolly Parton to Annie Lennox with Al Green, and "Mr Bojangles" associated with Sammy Davis Jnr.. the album is an eclectic mixture.

Her next hits were "Wolf", a song about a not so goody goody Little Red Riding Hood and Clodagh with those lovely legs, green eyes and long blonde tresses made a very convincing waif, and "Everybody Go Home". Both were featured on her 1971 third album "Rodgers and Heart". This album featured "Jack In The Box", a song chosen from a field of six by the British Public to represent the U.K. in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Dublin, the other songs were "Look Left, Look Right", Wind of Change", "Someone To Love Me", "In My World of Beautiful Things" and "Another Time Another Place" (which became a hit for Englebert Humperdink, one of the few times that a failed Eurosong became a hit for someone else). Covers included "Stand By Your Man", the Tammy Wynette country classic, "I Who Have Nothing", one of Shirley Bassey's best known songs, and "Nothing Rhymed", Gilbert O'Sullivan's first hit single. The album was a mixture of styles and influences foreshadowing a move away from the pop singer to a more sophisticated image.

Before sophistication took over though there came the "Eurovision Song Contest". Ireland had won for the first time in 1970 with "All Kinds of Everything" and it had taken RTE by complete surprise as they had to get full colour broadcasting up and running in time for the Contest. I still remember the U.K. presenter that year, Dave Lee Travis (a U.K. DJ who was one of Clodagh's biggest fans) who said that she should win because of her outfit alone. Clodagh wore pink min skirt it was very camp and fashionable and showed her legs to perfection,  with her hair flowing she did indeed look the best presented act of the evening. Unfortunately, although she gave it all she had, she didn't win.

Her next single "Lady Love Bug" was a poppy little number which made the lower reaches of the charts and was the last of her truly pop numbers, the last of her collaborations with Kenny Young who went on to the band "Fox" . She changed direction and producer, "It's Different Now", was the single and album. The aforementioned Dave Lee Travis wrote the cover notes "This album contains new dimensions of singing which have in fact existed from the start of her singing career but have now for the first time come to light........track by track you will come to realize, as the title suggests, "It's Different Now." The change in style meant that she lost her poppy audience from the dolly bird to the sophisticated lady. With the arrival of "Glam" she was considered old hat by the youth of the day. Keith Mansfield produced and there were indications that she would go country in this album and in the 1973 follow up "You Are My Music".

She left RCA and before her next album she toured extensively in cabaret (breaking Sammy Davis Jnr's record at "The Talk of the Town"), Summer Seasons and in "Cinderella" which had a 6 month run at the London Palladium. She had always been guest on television programmes and kept cropping up as a guest on the "Two Ronnies" etc.

It wasn't until 1977 that "Save Me" was released on Polydor, the single gave her a radio hit, you couldn't turn on Radio 1 without the song being played. This album was "New Country", it had a country feel and is her best overall album (in my opinion). Clodagh wrote the sleeve notes, "I wanted the songs to reflect me as I am today and which give me the chance at last to establish my own musical identity. So if I tell you that I think this is the best album I have ever made you will realize, I am pleased with the results."

The singles which followed through the end of the 70's and 80's have kept that country feel. Clodagh starred in many country Festivals throughout the UK and Britain had their very own Country Female Great. I got to catch a performance she gave in Lambeth at a Capital Radio country event in 1984, she topped a bill which included the Hank Wangford Band, to me she stole the show but I was too in awe to talk to her or even ask her for her autograph.

She took to the stage in the West End Production of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" in the role done originally by Carlene Carter, now a very popular country singer and in 1996 returned to the boards in "Blood Brothers" as Mrs Johnson, following in the footsteps of Barbara Dickson, Kiki Dee, Stephanie Lawrence and Petula Clark, following in her footsteps were Helen Reddy and Lyn Paul.

Out of the limelight for many years she concentrated on bringing up her two sons and is now ready to sally forth again.  She now has an agent for acting and has made an appearance on "The Bill" in 2001 playing Bridget Riley the mother of one of the new DCs.

I wish her well and know that she will be successful all over again. I hope that soon we will hear a new set of recordings from her.

 

Sandy Wilson