Teenager Craig Douglas ended Living Doll‘s six weeks at pole position with this chirpy upbeat pop ditty.
Douglas was born Terence Perkins, a twin in Newport, Isle of Wight on 12 August 1941. Before he became a singer he was known as the ‘Singing Milkman’ while doing his rounds.
Winning a local talent contest at 16, he became managed by Bunny Lewis, who had co-written 1954 number 1 Cara Mia under the pseudonym Lee Lange. Perkins changed his name to Craig Douglas on Lewis’s suggestion (not the most of exciting of stage names anyone has ever come up with), and, still 16, began singing lessons for his move into professional singing.
He made his television debut on the BBC’s Six-Five Special alongside Cliff Richard and Joe Brown. He specialised in songs about teenagers, being one himself. His first single was A Teenager in Love, earlier in 1959, and second single Only Sixteen made him one of the youngest number 1 acts up to that point – he was 17 at the time. It was US soul singer-songwriter Sam Cooke’s song, but Douglas’s version eclipsed it in this country.
The most surprising aspect of this song is Douglas’s vocals. Had I not read about him beforehand, I’d have thought he was twice the age he was. He doesn’t look that young on pictures from the time either. In fact, there’s little youthful exuberance to be found here, unfortunately. It sounds leaden, safe and old-fashioned – not living up to the now risqué title. The fact the singer is only a year older than the song’s subject matter makes the record safer than originally suspected anyway. The highlight is the whistling from Mike Sammes. You’d think the singing milkman would be the whistler, but it wasn’t meant to be.
For the next few years Douglas troubled the lower reaches of the top ten, but the writing was on the wall when The Beatles started their chart domination. Now in his late-70s, he still tours internationally on the nostalgia circuit.
Written by: Sam Cooke
Producer: Bunny Lewis
Weeks at number 1: 4 (11 September-8 October)
Music producer Simon Cowell – 7 October
Soprano Agnes Nicholls – 21 September
8 October: The Conservatives won their third successive General Election, becoming the only party since World War Two to do so while increasing their majority. The election was perfect timing for Harold Macmillan’s party, due to an economic boom. Labour suffered due to Hugh Gaitskell’s claim that Labour would not raise taxes, despite their manifesto stating otherwise. It was Jo Grimond’s first election as leader of the Liberals, and the election saw future Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe and Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher enter parliament for the first time.
18 September: 47 miners died in the Auchengeich mining disaster in Lanarkshire, Scotland.
7 October: 300 people needed rescuing when fire broke out on Southend Pier.