There is an entire continent of Planet Vinyl called Neverquite. This is where we find the recordings of those honest toilers in the vineyard of song who “never quite” made it big. There is sadness here, but less than you might expect. There are those who were crushed along with their dreams, and whose ghosts are bitter. But more often there is pride in having done something good, and a mature acceptance that failure in terms of fame and showbiz is not failure in life.
The patron saint of Neverquite is Dick Contino. He was a talented piano-accordionist from L.A., who had a hit or two in the late 1940s. He later became friends with crime writer James Ellroy, who wrote a novella about Contino. Right at the end Contino muses:
My career never regained its early momentum. Lounge gigs, dago banquets—I earn a decent living playing music I love.
So many artists who pop up on Planet Vinyl belong in this space: happy enough living in Neverquite.
Here is another. Jackie Lee. No, not the handsome young country singer of recent times. This Jackie Lee was female, born Jacqueline Norah Flood, in Dublin in 1936. She was a child prodigy, enjoying success first in Ireland and then after moving to London. She sang with dance bands and vocal groups and was a fixture on variety shows. She sang backing vocals on international hits, including Tom Jones’ “Green, Green Grass of Home”.
She had extraordinary vocal range, and she was good looking, and a decent actor. She seemed set for stardom … but it never quite happened. If you are interested, some loyal fans have established a website, The World of Jackie Lee which tells her story. Meantime, have a listen to the two sides of this single, an Australian release from 1962.
There’s No-One In The Whole Wide World
(I Was The) Last One To Know
The website says of this record:
The fact that these … recordings were issued overseas suggests far greater commercial success was expected than actually happened.
Never quite … but she earned a decent living playing music she loved. Nothing wrong with that.
- Artist: Jackie Lee and The Raindrops
- A Side: There’s No-One In The Whole Wide World
- B Side: (I Was The) Last One To Know
- Format: 7”, 45 rpm, vinyl, mono
- Label: W&G
- Made in: Australia
- Catalogue: WG-S-1361
- Year: 1962
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