Marty Wilde (born Reginald Leonard Smith, 15 April 1939) is an English singer and songwriter. He was among the first generation of British pop stars to emulate American rock and roll, and is the father of pop singers Ricky, Kim and Roxanne Wilde.
Wilde was born in Blackheath, London. He was performing under the name Reg Patterson at London's Condor Club in 1957, when he was spotted by impresario Larry Parnes. Parnes gave his proteges stage names like Billy Fury, Duffy Power and Dickie Pride, hence the change to Wilde. The 'Marty' came from the commended 1955 film, Marty. Wilde was signed to the British recording arm of Philips Records, with US releases appearing on the Epic label via Philips' reciprocal licensing agreement with Columbia Records stateside. (Philips had yet to acquire the Mercury group as its US division.)
From mid-1958 to the end of 1959, Wilde was one of the leading British rock and roll singers, along with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard. Wilde's backing group was called the Wildcats. At various times they featured Big Jim Sullivan on lead guitar, Tony Belcher on rhythm guitar and Bobbie Clarke on drums; plus Brian Locking on bass guitar and Brian Bennett on drums who both later joined the Shadows.
He appeared regularly on the BBC Television show 6.5 Special and was the main regular artiste on the Saturday ITV popular music shows Oh Boy! and Boy Meets Girls. There he met and married Joyce Baker, one of the Vernons Girls who were also show regulars. The courtship was highly public but, after the marriage, Wilde's popularity as a teen idol declined.
He moved partly into all-round entertainment, appearing in musicals such as Conrad Birdie in the original West End production of Bye Bye Birdie and several films.
He enjoyed success as a songwriter in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With Ronnie Scott, he co-wrote the one-hit wonders the Casuals' "Jesamine" under the pseudonyms of Frere Manston and Jack Gellar. The pair also wrote Lulu's "I'm a Tiger" and the early Status Quo hit, "Ice in the Sun".
In the early 1970s, Wilde changed his music style to glam rock and became 'Zappo'. He released only a few singles which never charted and reverted to Marty Wilde shortly after.
Wilde also appeared on Candid Camera, in on the joke, 'recording' a version of Teenager in Love, with a backing group consisting of three volunteers from a Bingo Hall next door to the recording studios.
Later on, as songwriter and/or record producer, he masterminded a string of 1980s hits for his daughter Kim Wilde.
Like many of his contemporaries, Wilde continued to perform in nostalgia tours in the UK and beyond. In 2007, he celebrated 50 years in the business with another UK tour which featured his youngest daughter Roxanne Wilde, and the issue of a compilation album, Born To Rock And Roll – The Greatest Hits. It included a duet with Kim Wilde of Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", which was released as a promotional only single. The tour culminated in a concert recorded at the London Palladium, and was most notable for reuniting all the remaining Shadows: Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Jet Harris, Brian Locking and Brian Bennett.
He and his wife Joyce have four children, Kim (born 1960), Ricky (born 1961), Roxanne (born 1979) and the youngest, Marty Jr. (born 1983), who was a contestant on the Golf Channel's The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe in 2005. Kim, Ricky and Roxanne have worked in the music industry, like their parents.
His notable UK singles are listed below, with their peak positions in the UK Singles Chart and, for cover versions, the song's original artist given in a further set of brackets.
1957"Honeycomb" (-) (Jimmie Rodgers)
1958"Endless Sleep" (4) (Jody Reynolds) (June 1958)
"Fire of Love" (-) (Jody Reynolds)
1959"Donna" (3) (Ritchie Valens) (February 1959)
"A Teenager in Love" (2) (Dion and the Belmonts) (May 1959) This was also covered in the UK by Craig Douglas.
"Sea of Love" (3) (Phil Phillips) (September 1959)
"All American Boy" (Bobby Bare, mislabelled as by Bill Parsons) (September 1959)
"Blue Moon of Kentucky" (Bill Monroe) (September 1959)
"Bad Boy" (7) (November 1959), which Wilde wrote, a Top 50 hit in the US in 1960 and covered shortly after its release by Robin Luke, in 1964 by Francoise Hardy and later by Nirvana and Robert Gordon. The B-side, "It's Been Nice", a Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman composition, was later recorded by the Everly Brothers and Freddy Cannon.
1960"Johnny Rocco" (30) (March 1960) – written by Les Vandyke.
"The Fight" (47) (May 1960)
"Little Girl" (16) (October 1960)
1961"Rubber Ball" (9) (January 1961) (Bobby Vee)
"Hide and Seek" (47) (July 1961)
"Tomorrow's Clown" (33) (September 1961) – written by Wilde
"Sea of Heartbreak" (Don Gibson)
1962"Jezebel" (19) (Frankie Laine) (April 1962)
"Ever Since You Said Goodbye" (31) (October 1962)
1968"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (Johnny Rivers, Glen Campbell) (January 1968)
"Abergavenny" – which Wilde (as Frere Manston) and Ronnie Scott (not the famous jazz musician) (as Jack Gellar) wrote, with the orchestra of Peter Knight (not the folk musician) backing – was a hit in Europe in May 1968. (It was also a Top 50 hit in the US in August 1969 under another Reginald Smith pseudonym, "Shannon".)
Wilde about Marty (LP Philips BBL 7342, August 1959)
Marty Wilde – Showcase (LP, Philips BBL 7380, 1960)
Versatile Mr Wilde (LP, Philips BBL 7385, 1960)
Bye Bye Birdie (LP, Philips S/ABL 3383, 1961)
Dr. Dolittle (LP, 1968)
Diversions (LP, Philips SBL 7877, 1969)
Rock 'n' Roll (Philips 6308 010, 1970)
Good Rockin' Then and Now (LP, Philips 6382 102, 1974)
The Wildcat Rocker (LP, Philips 6381 022, 1981)
Solid Gold (CD, Select Records SRCD01) (issued to accompany Wilde's 1994 tour of the same name)
Wilde About Marty / Showcase BGOCD594 (CD compilation album of the first two LPs, 2003)
Born to Rock And Roll – The Greatest Hits (CD, 2007)
Marty Wilde appeared in the following films:-Jet Storm (1959)
The Hellions (1961)
What a Crazy World (1963)