In 1962, Ms. Richard -- at age 18 or 19 -- was picked to record a pop music song with the British artist Mike Sarne. (Of some interest might be the fact that both Sarne and Richard used stage names: Wendy's real name was Emerton, and Sarne, of German descent, was born Michael Scheur.) The song they recorded, Come Outside (written by British producer/composer Charles Blackwell) appeared on the British pop charts in mid-May of '62, eventually reaching No. 1 by the end of June, knocking Elvis Presley's Good Luck Charm from the top spot. Come Outside remained at the top for two weeks, and stayed on the charts for a total of 19 weeks.
How did she get the break? Judging from an article about music/movie producer Robert Stigwood in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph (9 May 98), it appears that Ms. Richard was employed as a secretary for Stigwood at the time the song was being worked. To quote the newspaper: "From her desk, Wendy started lobbing sardonic comments in her native Cockney. Stigwood had the notion of including them on the record, making it a duet." -- and, to boot, doing so over the objections of the song's original writer!
The accuracy of this description is in some question; in her book Wendy implied the opportunity came about in a much more routine fashion, though she did confirm that she had to make up those sassy comments on her own. She said as much back in 1962, when she apparently penned this article in New Music Express in June of that year, when the song was at the top of the UK pop charts.
|Photos accompanying the 1962 New Music Express article||Wendy and other British artists (Disc, 23 Jun 62)|
Actually, Sarne's involvement with this song may have also had a measure of serendip attached to it. According to an article by singer Helen Shapiro, written in August of 1962, Sarne had been an actor, not a singer, before this time. A friend of his asked him to cut a demo disk -- sung in German, yet -- and as soon as his manager heard Sarne's work, he had him in a recording studio to do some pop music numbers, in English this time. Fountain of Love was originally slated for the 'A' side of the disc, and they were still casting around for something to put on the flip side, when composer Charles Blackwell appeared with his catchy new song in hand -- and that became the new Side 'A'.
According to a 2008 Daily Express interview with Sarne, the two were not romantically involved at the time, though the implication is that they came close. He says, "Stigwood, my manager, then put an end to our relationship, saying, 'You're not a double act'." With apparent regret, Sarne notes Wendy and he went their own ways and never spoke with each other again.
Come Outside was originally released in 45 rpm vinyl record format. As noted, it was on the Parlaphone label (R4902) as the 'A' side, with Sarne's tune Fountain of Love (sans Wendy) as the 'B' side complement. You can still find these 45's around; they show up fairly frequently on eBay. Asking prices are surprisingly low: under £5.00 (US$10.00) is typical. For those folks who are vinyl-challenged, an anthology of 1950s and 1960s Rock & Roll music containing Come Outside was released in the late-1990s on the Mavis label in CD format. It's called "Look What I Found, Volume Three" (MSCD-4503) and Wendy's song is track 18. It is also included along with three other songs on a 45rpm EP album entitled The Mike Sarne Hit Parade (17k), Parlaphone label #GEP8879. Even better, in 2002 Sarne himself released a collection of his hits from that era, including Come Outside. It's in CD format and is still available in the UK, and in the US as an import; though it's not cheap. (Note that the US website for Amazon has messed up and displays the wrong cover art.)
The song itself runs about 2:48 in length, and is mostly sung by Sarne. The subject of the song is a boy who is trying to convince a girl at a dance to "come outside" so they can get away from the crowd. She is reluctant and repeatedly declines, answering him during the chorus with curt retorts such "wha' for?", "it's cold outside", and "lay off!", and, toward the end "ooh, all right" and "not for too long", and finally they chat and laugh as the song fades to its end.
Wendy's lines are actually more spoken than sung, but the lovely quality of her voice is quite evident even this early. It is a charming coincidence that her first words on the song are the same as (and spoken exactly like) her final words in the movie Gumshoe ten years later.
According to The Illustrated History of Pop, Sarne capitalized on the appeal of the song to later record both German and American versions -- for the latter, the girl spoke with a Brooklyn accent.
In Oct 99, a British television production researcher told me that the Mike and Wendy photos at the top of this page were taken in Regent's Park, London "as publicity for the single [song], on a shoot organized by the record company Parlaphone, now part of EMI" and that prints can be obtained from the EMI archive. Judging from Mike's and Wendy's outfits, I suspect the bottom left photo, above, was done during that same shoot (this picture, also from EMI, appears in the 1997 book End of Innocence).
A bit of investigation has shown the photo locations to be recognizable even fifty years on, and easily accessible:
The best known of the 1962 photos were indeed made in Regent's Park, at the south end of Boating Lake near the Baker Street entrance. Behind Mike and Wendy one can see Clarence Bridge, meaning the two are walking along the east bank just north of the bridge. In this 2013 photo, right, one may see the bridge's appearance remains nearly identical, though the pretty flower beds, sadly, are no more.
The shot in front of a newstand was snapped at the intersection of Portman Square and Wigmore Street. In the photo from 2013, right, one may see the same facade and skylights in the sidewalk (though the block count is different now). In fact, Westminster Bank (now called Nat West), still occupies this corner building.
In 1963, encouraged by her and Sarne's smash hit of the previous year, Wendy made another record with a friend of hers, hairdresser Diana (or Diane -- references vary) Berry (see photo, below). The songs were We Had a Dream, with the flip-side piece Keep 'Em Looking Around. Wendy noted wryly in her book that the record received "mixed reviews" and concludes that it "was a bit of fun -- and that's all". It was released by Decca in 45 rpm vinyl record format (F11680). As one might expect, Wendy gets top billing on the record's printed label. The disc is actually fairly hard to find nowadays, though it can probably be had for under US$10.00, if you happen to come across a copy.
|Photo from New Music Express, June, 1963, with article|
The "A" side, We Had a Dream is about 2:43 long. Wendy and Diana sing it (464k mp3 sample) as a very close-harmony duet; indeed, it's actually difficult to discriminate between the girls' voices. The subject of the song is fairly teen-topical: the girls are dreaming of spending some time with their favorite radio singers and disk jockeys. They reel off their names with ease, though I dare say few people today -- aside from historians of the era -- would recognize any of the DJs so named. Keep 'Em Looking Around is much shorter, about 1:42, and almost seems as if it was done as an afterthought, simply to occupy the back side of the 45. The girls sing (378k mp3 sample) about going to a dance and how to keep the boys' attention. While the instrumentation accompaniment for side "B" is simple and uninspired, the piece is more than redeemed by an short, somewhat gushy -- indeed, almost heartbreakingly naive -- monologue by Wendy at the end of the song.
While the record never made the charts, it's still a rather charming work, delightful in its innocence and for its reflection of the ideal of nascent early-1960s teen pop culture.
Twenty-four years after her duet with Mike Sarne, Wendy re-recorded her hit with singer-actor Mike Berry, with whom she'd worked for some years on Are You Being Served? (and who, interesting, is actually three years older than Wendy). Berry's specialty seems to be Rock and Roll oldies from the 1960s, so this tie-in may have had something to do with the decision to make the record. This Dec '86 interview in Seventeen seems to indicate the two had been discussing the concept for some years.
Distributed on the WEA label, the record was released in December 1986 in two vinyl formats: a standard 7-inch 45rpm, and also "extended versions" of the two songs on a 12-inch 45rpm record. It didn't come close to the original's success, but, according to Ms. Richard, did in fact chart briefly in the top Pop 100 list after its release. The 'A' side, of course, was Come Outside; the 'B' side was a tune written by Berry titled Give It A Try. Copies of the record, in both formats, are still available, but fairly scarce. The running price for either is perhaps US$8.00 or more. Berry actually has a number of LP albums out, but none of them contain Wendy's songs. Likewise, to my knowledge, these 1986 cuts haven't shown up on any CD anthologies -- yet.
Now, as to the music:
Look at 'im, in all that Fifties gear,
With 'is medallion dangling in 'is beer . . .
With these words, Wendy revisited her hit song of 1962 --
but this time with a distinct turnabout twist, thanks to Berry's partial
rewording and rearrangement of the song. Instead of an insistent man
asking a reluctant woman to step out of the dance for a quick snog
[smooch], it's now a song of the modern Eighties: the woman is being
pestered by a pathetic aging hipster. The man starts out asking her to
come outside for the same reason as before, but she recognizes him as
someone who did her wrong many years before. By the end of the song,
she's firmly insisting he step outside, but for quite a
different reason -- and she has some persuasive backup to make sure he
does . . .
The result is a catchy tune (about 3:13 in length for the short version; 5:53 extended), the kind you find yourself wanting to whistle along with, structured with a set of lyrics that provides a hilarious counterpoint to the semi-seriousness of Sarne's 1962 original. The best part about the 1986 remake, of course, is that Ms. Richard actually sings some of the verses! Her voice is absolutely delightful; a contralto or mezzo-soprano, it balances well with Berry's baritone, and Wendy seemed to control it well over the range required by the song. It's interesting to note that by inflection, tone, and vocabulary, Wendy's voice in spots reminds one of her bygone character Miss Brahms and in other places, her newly acquired persona of Pauline Fowler. Overall, as arranged by Berry this version of Come Outside may not be all that sophisticated, but it's bright, catchy, and certainly a lot more fun than the original.
Wendy can also be heard on the flip side cut Give It A Try. This selection sounds like it was pretty much intended as a straight dance track. It has a strong, almost disco beat that's actually quite nicely done; though I personally don't think it's helped by the occasional gimmicky stutter-effect. Berry does a bit of singing; Wendy banters with him between the verses (a reluctant dancer, he needs a bit of convincing by her to "give it a try"). It's amusing to note that Berry addresses Wendy as "Shirl" and she him as "Shane". The piece is about 3:20 in length (6:30 in the extended version).
About the photos: The two shots are the obverse and reverse of the original 45-rpm record's dust jacket. Both the 7-inch and the 12-inch versions use exactly the same jacket images front and back.