One spring day, bored with secretarial
life, Sylvan read a horoscope that advised her to "follow every golden
opportunity" that month. As you could only do in those magically innocent and
exciting days of no qualifications whatsoever, she applied for jobs at Annabelle’s
night club as a disc jockey, and Moyses Stephens as a florist. She also sent off a demo
disc of her singing and playing her guitar, to the Radio Luxembourg Talent Search, and, to
everyone’s surprise, got to the top 6 in the London finals. Dana having taken top
place. Cyril Stapleton encouraged her to take voice coaching lessons with tutor Freddie
Winrose in Denmark Street with a view to a recording contract when she had had more
Three weeks later, having been discovered and
plucked from obscurity from Tin Pan Alley’s "Gioconda" coffee bar, she had written and recorded
her first record "We don’t Belong" an appearances followed that summer on ITV in such shows as "Thank Your
Lucky Stars" and Granada’s "Scene at 6.30".
She also spent a weekend marooned on the famous "Mi Amigo" Radio Caroline’s
pioneer pirate ship with Tony Blackburn,
Roger Gale (now an MP!) & Dave Lee Travis
"Sylvan was the only singer to have stayed on board in those early days"
"Sylvan was marooned
with 15 men"
Excerpt from “POP WENT THE
PIRATES” by Keith Skues
An illustrated history of Pirate Radio
“ The next girl ever to stay on Radio Caroline South was a young Yorkshire-born singer named
Sylvan Whittingham. Sylvan, came out for the day on 19 September 1965 with the intention
of promoting her record “We Don't Belong”, and saying hello to the disc jockeys.
But she became stormbound as high winds sprang up and the tender which took her out from
Harwich was forced to return to land urgently, just as Sylvan was appearing on the radio.
She spent the weekend of 18-20 September 1965 on board with the captain, crew and
broadcasting personnel. As far a I know she is the only singer to have stayed over on
board in those early days. Sylvan was the daughter of Jack Whittingham who wrote the
screen play of the James Bond film Thunderball. She said “It was very rough when I
set out but after lunch, when I should have gone back, it grew worse and the tender was
rising up and down beside Caroline. I knew I would be sick, so I locked myself in the
lavatory and just refused to leave. The tender hooted at me for half-an-hour but
eventually left without me.” As there was no tender on the Sunday, Sylvan had to wait
until the Monday, and a quiet sea, before returning to Harwich.
listener, Mrs Monni Aldous of Brentwood, Essex, remembers Sylvan’s ordeal as follows:
Have you e’er heard the tale, which now must be told
How sweet Sylvan was captured by pirates so bold
A blonde so attractive, a gorgeous young thing,
And to add to her talents she really can sing.
She came out on the tender one fine Saturday,
And rough weather prevented her getting away
Two days she was kept, though not chained to the floor,
And Roger Gale howled at her cabin door.
Of her beautiful frame Patrick caught just one glimpse,
And poor scientist’s never been quite the same since.
On Caroline party time, Saturday night,
The listeners could hear her and pity her plight
Held fast in the studio by Blackburn and Gale,
She couldn't escape, only sit there and wail
“Stand aside let me get off this ship,” she did roar
“No, never” cried Roger, as he locked the door.
On Sunday she kept all the good guys in order
And monkeyed about with the tape recorder,
Recording some gimmicks, as listeners well know,
To enliven the Tony Blackburn show.
But Monday dawned fine and clear once more,
And our heroine was able to go ashore,
Avowing out loud as she stepped off the boat,
That never again would she set foot afloat.
continued writing lyrics and the following records were released in the early 70’s:
in Malta, Sylvan was introduced to Ernie Wise who was looking for a new song for the
Morecambe and Wise TV series. She played him Following You Around, which was a song she
had adapted from an old folk song her brother Jonathan had discovered.
It subsequently became the theme tune for the series in 1972.
Morecambe and Wise "Following You Around"
Singing with Ernie Les Reed on Piano
With Eric & Ernie in Studio
A Word Eric!
Sylvan's second recording, "When You Do
What You're Doing" followed which was penned and dueted with Barry Mason with whom
she co-composed many of his hit lyrics. In particular, "Delilah" and
"Love Me Tonight" for Tom Jones; "Lonely Is A Man Without Love"
"Love Is All" (Malcolm Roberts) "Kiss Me Goodbye" (Petula
Clark) "Love Grows Where Rosemary Goes" (Edison Lighthouse), and many others
which were the subject of a lengthy legal battle with Barry which was settled in
View "When You do What Your Doing "
With the proceeds of Delilah they bought 'Kinfauns'
- Beatle George Harrison’s house in Esher.
"Barry is reported to have said that
Sylvan has good ideas about tunes and lyrics and helped him compose his latest song
intended for offer to well established singers"
Quote from a 1969 Jackie magazine
cutting. "They write songs together". Says Barry, "It’s only in the
last 18 months that we’ve been so close. Sylvan’s inspired me – all my
success has come in these 18 months. She inspires me all the time and I’ve really
come to rely on her".
A letter from my
Father dated 6th Feb 1970 states
"I must put on record how vastly
paternally and emotionally proud I am of you and Barry. Of course we know that ‘Love
Grows’ is top of the Pops. Your success is so heartening to me, and I feel so proud
and glad for you both. Think of the times I did my utmost to restrain you. Oh dear!"
A letter from Barry on TWI paper dated April 5th says "Are you
still smudging (taking photographs)? I hope so…mind you writing is your forte. You
must remind me to get the sub-publishing contracts drawn up when I get back"
From Barry April
8th 1977 "By the way, Aznavour rang up and said he liked the
lyric. You really are a clever girl and when we are all sorted out, I’ll make you
into a great lyricist and songwriter, which you always have been, I just haven’t
given you enough push and help. I’ll make sure you get your full credit for
half the lyrics as we agreed as soon as the contracts are drawn up".
A letter also on TWI paper dated April 27th
"you are a GREAT lyricist and it
will be a pleasure to work with someone of such stature" "Aznavour is coming
here in a few days, did I tell you he called and said how much he enjoyed the lyrics?
I’ll tell him all about your talent and contribution (I know, half)"
And how about:
"I need a
great follow up story song, and no one can write a better story song than us."
And "send me a great lyric if you like. You’re a
super lyricist and I’ll treat you seriously as a song writer from now on, I
airlines paper "I told him (my Father Jack Whittingham) you were
the greatest influence and inspiration I had ever known, I’ll never be able to
describe what you have done for me, and given to me."
LATEST RELEASE! Girl
Group Sounds [Box Set]
Including "WE DON'T BELONG" - Sylvan Mason
Vol 4. Track 17. From Spectropop
+ Eurovsion clips... Mark Frumento wrote:
"Having had a chance to listen to the Rhino Girl Group box a few times I want to gush
about it a little bit more". As was already pointed out, the packaging is fantastic
and clever as all get out. But what impresses me most about the set is the track selection
and running order.
It's a real testament to the art of CD compilation I completely endorse all that you say.
It is without doubt the best girl group compilation ever. Every household should have
Hatbox collection of Girl Groups Lost and Found was
nominated in the 2007 Grammy Awards for 'Best Packaging' and 'Historial
"Discovered this on the essential
Girl Groups box set a few years ago, and suffice to say
my life has not been the same since. Like finding a
soulmate in the dark, foggy ocean of life. A big kiss
and thank you Sylvan"
The mystery and charm of Dream Babes, March 16, 2003
Reviewer: A music fan from New Castle, PA
These songs range from the beautiful to the bizarre, all of them catchier than the flu!
There's something special about their obscurity as well - listening to this compilation is
like hearing a radio broadcast from a long lost world.
Highlights include The Chantelle's fierce "Gonna Get Burned," Peanut's charming
"Come Tomorrow," the McKinley's three blues/folk inspired pop gems , Samantha
Jones go-go-tastic "Go Ahead," Sylvan's cinematic "We Don't Belong," and Cheryl St Clair's heartbreaking
Bacharach-esque "I'll Forget You Tonight."
This compilation is a must have for fans of girl groups, classic pop, modern club pop like
Pizzicato Five and Saint Etienne... and any fans of music. I've had it on non-stop play
Dream Babes Vol.3 can be purchased Here
Don't Belong was issued on Columbia.
It is one of the most arresting songs heard here, with its dramatic, filmic, descending
piano breaks and its mysterious-sounding melody.