Greenwich “Bad Boy” Marty Wilde: “Rock ‘n Roll will live a thousand years”

The king of English rock’n’roll in the late 50s was Greenwich’s city kid, street boy, Marty Wilde. After Tommy Steele, he took over the English rock kingdom and he was even more popular than Cliff with his hits. “Endless Sleep”, “Donna”, “A Teenager In Love”, “Sea Of Love” and Bad Boy” were storm successes. Until Marty got married in the fall of 1959, and at that time marriage meant suicide for the rock star.

The marriage gave birth to a real baby in the Wilde family β€” Kim Wilde!


Along with Robert Gordon, Marty Wilde is a big star whose popularity has not diminished over the years. Anyone who sees Marty as slim and good-looking on stage is mistaken for the man’s age. Marty still looks 23 years old, when in reality he is 43. Marty’s sensational career has included wild ups and downs and he was the cause of incredible front page headlines long before he was known as Kim’s father.

“This dynamite rocker drove his admirers to the brink of madness. As the fan howls and screams more, more, Marty Wilde – slides across the stage like jelly, accompanied by the band Wildcats. Marty’s entire 180-centimeter body vibrates and his hip movements remind me of a cylinder rotating around its axis…”

“Marty Wilde dances the jive in a denim shirt and black pants, with the Wildcats in jeans and T-shirts in the background. With Marty, the years roll by rock along with the rhythms. When Marty launches yesterday’s records Rubber Doll, Donna and Teenager in Love, then a collection of classics Blue Suede Shoes, Summertime Blues and Oh Boy .. . sweat begins to flow, lips quiver, violent hip movements begin and Wilde’s voice resonates powerfully, in full swing β€” it’s almost impossible to believe that this is the silver jubilee (25th anniversary celebration of artists) in the entertainment industry. Marty’s tour show Wild Sounds of the Sixties is a real hit.”’

The first clipping comes from New Musical Express 5/9/1958 and the second from Stage magazine 9/11/1982.

Coincidentally, the same issue of Stage magazine has an assessment of Billy Fury’s return to the stage: Billy looks 20 years old (he’s 41) in skin-hugging leather suit, shirt open in front, just as we remember him … Billy brings us back to our own youth as he performs songs I’ll Never Find Another You, Once Upon A Dream and Halfway to Paradise. Billy bewitched both his old and new admirers at the same time. Although Fury was nervous during the performance,
it only added to his boyish charm. Billy scored full points when he performed his new hit single Devil or Angel.


Like Billy, Marty is still such an attraction that all of his concerts are sold out, not just because of the nostalgia, but also because of the performance itself. Currently, Marty Wilde is best known as Kim’s dad, but he doesn’t mind it. On the contrary, Marty laughs and notes that two of his rivals from the 50s, namely Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele, have no children at all, let alone talented children like Marty himself. Marty has Kim and Ricky, both first class entertainers. Ricky is also a very talented lyricist. Like Cliff and Tommy, Marty has perfectly preserved his youthful good looks and enthusiasm and desire to entertain his audience.

The fourth member of Marty Wilde’s super talented quartet is mother Joyce. Unless Joyce had a very young daughter to take care of, the mother of the Wilde family would also appear. Joyce was a member of one of the most famous singing groups of the 50s, the Vernon Girls. Joyce continues to come up with ideas for her talented family and in addition maintains a happy home.


SUOSIKKI: How did it feel in 1957 when you realized β€” that you had risen β€” from a sawmill worker to a rock star in a short time?

MARTY WILDE: Right, at first I was just Reginald Smith. I lived in Blackheath, south-west London. I went to a couple of gigs as a skiffle musician and a rock player. I performed, accompanying myself on a second-hand guitar β€” and then suddenly Larry Parnes comes to hear me in Soho at the Condor Club. My name was changed to Marty Wilde and I was performing regularly at the Winston Club in Mayfair.

SUOSIKKI: Your next foray was TV β€” you appeared regularly on the likes of the Six-Five Special, other entertainment shows, until you became a true TV star as the announcer on Boy Meets Girls.

MARTY WILDE: Yeah, oh those days. I didn’t have a minute to myself β€” but I never cared. It was as if the only things needed were a good voice, health and a sense of rhythm. Also, I was lucky enough to have Johnny Franz of Phillips Records as my record producer. Johnny took really good care of my career … .

SUOSIKKI: And Johnny kept calm even though your first records didn’t sell well. Johnny continued to produce your records and in July 1958 a slow, soft rock song: Endless Sleep finally hit the charts.

MARTY WILDE: So it happened and I was really scared at first because I had three well-known singers in front of me, but I won the competition anyway.
I was number three or four with the Everly Brothers (All I Have To Do Is Dream and Claudette), Pat Boone was on Sugar Moon and Connie Francis Sorry I Made You Cry. Plus Dean Martin’s Return To Me. I was in seventh heaven when I was in statistics with such stars.

SUOSIKKI: The papers even said you were better than Tommy Steele, the top rocker of the day. Also, you beat Cliff Richard in stats: his song Move It only entered the charts in September 1958, when Endless Sleep was still high.

MARTY WILDE: We were probably the Big Three together, but I never felt that Tommy or Cliff were my competition. We worked together in TV and were a bunch of friendly late-teens having a lot of fun. It was just a figment of the press’s imagination that we were murderous rivals among ourselves.

SUOSIKKI: After Sleep, you made Honeycomb, with the addition of your own song Wild Cat on the flipside. After that you did Oh Oh I’m Falling in Love Again β€” but those songs didn’t cause fire or burn in the charts because at that time all the tops were American. The fact remains that your new visit to the statistics did not take place until April 1959.

MARTY WILDE: But at the time I was too busy to realize it. I was touring most of the time and then I also made my first film, Jetstorm. I also remember that I played drums in one show.

SUOSIKKI: True . . . but remember how the New Musical Express wrote about you? The paper read in cat-sized letters MARTY WILDE DANCES IN GAY STAGE ACT!

MARTY WILDE: Gay! God forbid, did the newspaper really say that?

SUOSIKKI: Yes, but that was a time when gay meant something completely different from what it means today.

MARTY WILDE (laughing): Wait while I tell Kim I had a gay act in my repertoire β€” Kim will die of shame!

SUOSIKKI: My ruler of your career statistics started again in early April 1959 with the song Donna. Donna was such a smash hit that it superseded the likes stars like Conway Twitty (It’s Only Make Believe), Elvis Presley (One Night/l Got Stung/A Fool Such as I), Buddy Holly (It Doesn’t Matter Any More) and a whole host of other rock stars. Do you still remember what your favorite records were in those days? You told us in 1959 that the most important records for you were Bobby Darin’s Dream Lover “‘because it’s such a fresh interpretation”, Elvis Presley’s Blue Moon of Kentucky “because it has a completely inimitable originality”, Elvis’ A Fool Such As I “the best rock singer of all time and it’s because of this song”, Tallahassee Lassie by Freddy Cannon β€œA great song with a really exciting and exciting vibe”, Lipstick on Your Collar by Connie Francis β€œMy favorite singer girl at her best”, 3.30 Blue by Duane Eddy β€œI like the tune because it represents evil, sad mood”, Buddy Holly’s I’ve Got Love “‘really wonderful, soft poetry'” and Julie London’s Cry Me a River “The height of sexiness for me”?

MARTY WILDE: All the songs that bring back memories for me. I have all my old favorite records. I have to call again.

SUOSIKKI: Donna was followed by hits such as Teenager In Love, Sea of Love and Bad Boy, which you wrote yourself.

MARTY WILDE: Those were happy times.


FAVORITE: But luckily there were other reasons than statistical success. For five months in 1959, you had a smoking hot secret that you had to keep – even in the Sunday school where you work as a teacher. . .

MARTY WILDE: (Laughing) It wasn’t that bad. But in the 50s, a young rock singer was supposed to be a wild and free bachelor. When the press and admirers asked if he had a girlfriend, the only correct answer was many. There couldn’t be one favorite, the performing artist had to be “available” to anyone. The record companies felt that established dating did not promote sales. It was so difficult for me that when we were doing the Oh Boy TV show, we collaborated with the dance and singing group Vernon Girls. Liverpool’s Vernon football team supported the Vernon Girls and somehow, I spotted the brown-eyed and brown-haired Joyce Baker among the girls. Joyce was 18 and I had just turned 20, but we secretly got engaged in May, after a month of dating. I was doubly afraid, because my manager Larry Parnes had preached to me for hours that it was never okay to date. Larry also had a deal with Tommy Steele and Billy Fury and they had nothing to hide. I had to pretend all the time. Fortunately, Joyce was in the entertainment industry herself, so she understood.

SUOSIKKI: In October 1959, you could no longer hide your happiness. On the second of December you were married in the same Christ Church as your parents and you were baptized 20 years ago. Rock performer Mike Preston served as best man and the honeymoon went to Paris. After that you moved to Chiswick, west of London. You moved from your parents in Blackheath to your own home. Did you ever think that marriage would have hurt your career?

MARTY WILDE: Not then, although in hindsight it feels like the marriage was a career setback. However, if I had the chance to choose again, I would make the exact same choice. The same week we got married, Bad Boy went up in the charts and Sea of Love was already there. My fellow musicians and singers probably thought I was a really bad boy when I got married in my 20s, but I thought it was a better solution than going from bed to bed or constantly hiding a girlfriend. I have never regretted my marriage to Pushka, as Joyce is called. I have been lucky enough to still be in love with my wife after 23 years of marriage.

FAVORITE: Your daughter Kim was born after two years of marriage and son Ricky a year later. Both children have already established a permanent foothold in the world of entertainment and it is understandable that you are very proud of them. Also, you and Joyce have another family Roxanne, now three and a baby Marty Junior.

MARTY WILDE: I love them all. Kim is the most exciting because she has created her own career just like Ricky. Of course, I have helped a little, but the children have had to take care of most of the things themselves. Without my own talents, Kim and Ricky would not have survived, no matter how much I pushed them forward. I am also very happy that the children have stayed with us. Our home is a happy place where everyone is comfortable and Kim absolutely adores Roxanne. I’m also absolutely certain that Kim will be 50 times more important in the rock world than I ever was. I am dumbfounded and in awe of her success.

SUOSIKKI: 50 times more important? Never, Marty, you’re far too modest. You’ve always been too modest. Look at you now, slim youthful and as enthusiastic to perform as ever. How many others have as much going on as you? It’s true that in the early 60s your career was on the decline due to the great arrival of the Beatles, but who hasn’t experienced the same? You had also just finished Boy Meets Girls for TV, toured America and made the Hellions movie in Africa. You had also become an actor in Conrad Bridie’s West End musical Bye Bye Birdie, a satire of Elvis Presley and Little Joe Brown in With A Crazy World 1963. No temporary setback in your career has stopped you from continuing: you’ve always come back. You have always increased the appreciation of rock music enormously. So that you continue by vibrating your voice and rotating your hips. Rock’n’roll needs you, Marty!