MUSIC MONDAY Shirley Bassey became well-known for her expressive voice and for recording the soundtrack theme songs of the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker(1979)!


NO TIME TO DIE | Final US Trailer

007 : James Bond : Theme

Goldfinger Theme Song – James Bond

Diamonds Are Forever Theme Song – James Bond

Moonraker Theme Song – James Bond

Shirley Bassey


Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey, DBE (/ˈbæsi/; born 8 January 1937)[1] is a Welsh singer. Born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, she began performing as a teenager in 1953. She became well-known for her expressive voice and for recording the soundtrack theme songs of the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker(1979).[2][3][4] In January 1959, Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a number-one single on the UK Singles Chart.[5] In 2020, with the release of her final album, I Owe It All To You, Bassey became the first female artist to chart an album in the top 40 of the UK Albums Chart in seven consecutive decades.[6]

Shirley Bassey
Bassey in 1971


Bassey in 1971
Background information
Birth name Shirley Veronica Bassey
Born 8 January 1937 (age 84)
Cardiff, Wales
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1953–present

In 2000, Bassey was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to the performing arts. In 1977, she received the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist.[7] Bassey is widely regarded as one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain.[8][9]


Early lifeEdit

Shirley Veronica Bassey, the sixth and youngest child of Henry Bassey and Eliza Jane Start,[10] was born on Bute Street, Tiger Bay, Cardiff. She grew up in the adjacent community of Splott.[11] Her father was Nigerian, and her mother came from Teesside.[2][12][13][14]

Two of her mother’s four children from previous relationships lived in the Bassey household. Bassey’s mother listed her first husband, Alfred Metcalfe, as her own father in the registry of her marriage to Henry Bassey, giving rise to speculation that this marriage was bigamous in the absence of a prior divorce.[15] Eliza and Henry’s second child died in infancy, so Shirley was born into a household of three sisters, two half-sisters, and one brother.

Teachers and students alike at Moorland Road School noticed Bassey’s strong voice, but gave the pre-teen little encouragement: “…everyone told me to shut up. Even in the school choir the teacher kept telling me to back off till I was singing in the corridor!” A classmate recalled her singing the refrain “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Show Boatwith such feeling that she made their teacher uncomfortable.[16] She left Splott secondary modern school aged 14 to work at Curran Steels and, in the evenings and weekends, to sing in local pubs and clubs.[17]



1953–1959: Career beginningsEdit

In a 1999 interview with Nigel Havers in her Monte Carlo apartment, Bassey pointed to a piece of paper framed on the wall and referred to it as her first contract, at a salary of £14 a week (a considerable sum for a sixteen-year-old in 1953). However, upon closer inspection, this document, dated 17 December 1953 (three weeks before her 17th birthday), appears to promise £10 for two performances.[18] Also in 1953, Bassey signed a contract to sing in the touring variety show Memories of Jolson, a musical based on the life of Al Jolson.[19] She next took up a professional engagement in Hot from Harlem, which ran until 1954.[citation needed]

In 1955, Bassey toured various theatres until she was noticed by the impresario Jack Hylton. He invited her to feature in Al Read‘s Such Is Life at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End.

During the show’s run, Philips record producer Johnny Franz spotted her on television, was impressed, and offered her a recording deal. Bassey recorded her first single, “Burn My Candle“, released in February 1956, when she was 19. Owing to the suggestive lyrics, the BBC banned it. More singles followed, and in February 1957, Bassey had her first hit with “The Banana Boat Song“, which reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart.[20]

In 1957 she also recorded under the direction of American producer Mitch Miller in New York City for the Columbia Records label (which at the time had a distribution deal with Philips), producing the single “If I Had a Needle and Thread” b/w “Tonight My Heart She Is Crying”. She then made her American stage début in Las Vegas at El Rancho Vegas.[21]

In mid-1958, she recorded two singles that would become classics in the Bassey catalogue. “As I Love You” was released as the B-side of another ballad, “Hands Across the Sea”; it did not sell well at first, but after an appearance at the London Palladiumsales began to pick up. In January 1959, “As I Love You” reached number one and stayed there for four weeks; it was the first number-one single by a Welsh artist.[5]

While “As I Love You” climbed the charts, so did Bassey’s recording of “Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me” and both records would end up occupying the top 3 at the same time. A few months later, Bassey signed to EMI‘s Columbia label, and the second phase in her recording career had begun.[citation needed]

1960–1979: Success and breakthroughEdit

In the early and mid-1960s, Bassey had numerous hits in the UK, and five albums in the top 15. Her 1960 recording of “As Long As He Needs Me” from Lionel Bart‘s Oliver! reached number two, and had a chart run of 30 weeks.[4] Bassey made her American television début on 13 November 1960, when she performed on The Ed Sullivan Show.[22] Her collaboration with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra, the album Let’s Face the Music (1962), reached number 12 in the UK album chart; and the single, “What Now My Love” made it to number five. Other UK top 10 singles of the period included her second number-one, the double A-sideReach for the Stars“/”Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (1961), “I’ll Get By” (also 1961), and a cover version of the Ben E. Kinghit “I (Who Have Nothing)” in 1963.[20] Bassey appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine in 1963, and sang at a Washington gala celebrating President Kennedy‘s second year in office.[23]

Bassey made her Carnegie Hall debut on 15 February 1964. The complete concert recording was not released until it was included in the EMI compilation ‘The EMU/UA Years 1959–1979’ (ref: AllMusic review by Bruce Eder).

Bassey enjoyed her only US top 40 Billboard Hot 100hit in 1965 with the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger. The single, released in the United States during January 1965, peaked at number eight, while the original soundtrack of Goldfinger hit number one in the US that year. Also in 1965, she sang the title song for the James Bond spoof The Liquidator, and had a top 20 live album, recorded during a sold-out run at the Pigalle in London.

Bassey recorded a song for the next Bond film, Thunderball (1965). “Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” was not used in the movie, although the film’s score follows its melodic theme. Written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, after Bassey’s version it was re-recorded by Dionne Warwick, and then rejected in favour of a new song, “Thunderball,” hastily written by Barry and given to Tom Jones (who, like Bassey, is Welsh) after the film’s producers decided the song over the opening credits must feature the film’s title.[24]

The “Goldfinger” theme song, however, had a lasting impact on her career. In the sleeve notes for Bassey’s 25th Anniversary Album (1978), Peter Clayton noted that: “Acceptance in America was considerably helped by the enormous popularity of (“Goldfinger”)…But she had actually established herself there as early as 1961, in cabaret in New York. She was also a success in Las Vegas…’I suppose I should feel hurt that I’ve never been really big in America on record since “Goldfinger”…But, concertwise, I always sell out.’…”[25] This was reflected in the fact that Bassey had only one solo LP reach the top 20 in a US chart (R&B, Live at Carnegie Hall), and she was technically a one-hit wonder. In the aftermath of “Goldfinger” her UK sales started to falter as well: only two of her singles would enter the UK top 40 from 1966 to 1970. She had signed to United Artists, and her first album on that label, I’ve Got a Song for You (1966), spent one week on the chart; from 1966 to 1970, only two albums would chart, one of those a compilation. One of her best-known singles, “Big Spender” was released in 1967, charting just short of the UK top 20.[20]

Bassey began to live as a tax exile in 1968 and was unable to work in Britain for almost two years.[14][26]

In 1969, she appeared in NBC‘s The Spring Thing, a musical television special hosted by Bobbie Gentryand Noel Harrison. Guests included were Goldie Hawn, Meredith MacRae, Irwin C. Watson, Rod McKuen, and Harpers Bizarre.[27]


Bassey performing in West Germany in 1973

Bassey’s UK comeback came in 1970, leading to one of the most successful periods of her career. Starting the year with a BBC Television ‘Special’ The Young Generation Meet Shirley Bassey, recorded in Sweden and shown on BBC1 on 18 March.[28] She returned to the UK with a record-breaking run of performances at the Talk of the Town nightclub. Also that year, her album Something was released, and showcased a new Bassey style, a shift from traditional pop to more contemporary songs and arrangements (the eponymous single was more successful in the UK charts than the original recording by The Beatles) – although Bassey would never completely abandon what that had been her forte: standards, show tunes, and torch songs.[citation needed]

Something” was also a top 10 US hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. Other singles of this period included the hit “Never Never Never“, an English version of the Italian “Grande grande grande”, reaching the top 10 in the US Adult Contemporary Chart, the UK top 10 and number one in Australia and South Africa. The success of “Something” (single number four, album number five in the UK) spawned a series of successful albums on the United Artists label, including Something Else (1971), And I Love You So (1972), I Capricorn (1972), Never Never Never (1973), Good, Bad but Beautiful (1975), Love, Life and Feelings (1976), You Take My Heart Away (1977) and Yesterdays (1978). Additionally, two of Bassey’s earlier LPs also entered the charts in the ’70s: And We Were Lovers (1967, re-issued as Big Spender), and Let’s Face the Music (1962, re-issued as What Now My Love). Two compilations, The Shirley Bassey Singles Album (1975) and 25th Anniversary Album (1978), both made the top three of the UK charts: The Shirley Bassey Singles Albumher highest-charting album, reached number two and earned a gold disc, and the 25th Anniversary Album eventually went platinum.[20][29]

Between 1970 and 1979, Bassey had 18 hit albums in the UK Albums Chart.[4] Her album The Magic Is You(1979) featured a portrait by the photographer Francesco Scavullo. In 1973, her sold-out concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall were recorded and released as a two-LP set, Shirley Bassey: Live at Carnegie Hall. This album and the majority of her recordings from this period have been released on CD by EMI and BGO Records. Returning to the James Bond franchise, she recorded the theme song for Diamonds Are Forever (1971).[citation needed]

Bassey was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions: in November 1972 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Heathrow Airport,[citation needed] and in January 1993, when Michael Aspel surprised her at the curtain call of a sell-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall.[citation needed]

Bassey appeared on the Morecambe and WiseChristmas Show, broadcast on Christmas Day in 1971.[30] Bassey starred in the six-episode The Shirley Bassey Show (1976), the first of her television programmes for the BBC, followed by a second series of six episodes in 1979. The final show of the first series was nominated for the Golden Rose of Montreux in 1977. The series featured guests including Neil Diamond, Michel Legrand, The Three Degrees and Dusty Springfield and featured Bassey in various international locations as well as in the television studio. In 1978, Bassey pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly “after shouting abuse in the street and pushing a policeman”.[3] In 1979, Bassey recorded the title theme song for the Bond film, Moonraker.[citation needed]

1980–1999: Continued successEdit

Throughout most of the 1980s, Bassey focused on charitable work and performing occasional concert tours throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. She had ended her contract with United Artists, whose former record division was now part of EMI, and began what she referred to as “semi-retirement”. Bassey recorded an album entitled All by Myself (1982) and made a TV special for Thames Television called A Special Lady with guest Robert Goulet. Around this time she recorded a duet with the French film actor Alain Delon, “Thought I’d Ring You” (1983). Bassey was now recording far less often but an album of her most famous songs, I Am What I Am (1984), was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) conducted by Carl Davis. This was followed by a single and video to support the London Tourist Board, “There’s No Place Like London” (1986), which was co-written by Lynsey de Paul and Gerard Kenny. She recorded an album of James Bond themes, The Bond Collectionin 1987, but was apparently unhappy with the results so she declined to release it. (Five years later it was released anyway, Bassey sued in court, and all unsold copies were withdrawn.)[31]

Bassey provided vocals for Swiss artists Yello on “The Rhythm Divine” (1987), a song co-written by Scottish singer Billy Mackenzie.[2] An album sung entirely in Spanish, La Mujer was released in 1989. In the latter mid-1980s Bassey had started working with a vocal coach, a former opera singer, and her album Keep the Music Playing (1991) displayed a grand, operatic pop style on several songs (perhaps also influenced by her album with the LSO seven years earlier).

EMI released the five-CD box set Bassey – The EMI/UA Years 1959–1979 in 1994. The accompanying booklet opened with a poem by Marc Almond. Bassey collaborated with Chris Rea in the film La Passione (1996), appearing in the film as herself and releasing the single “‘Disco’ La Passione“. The remix of this single charted just outside the UK top 40.[20] Bassey’s “History Repeating” (1997), written for her by the Propellerheads, reached number one on the UK Dance Chart, and number 10 on the US Dance Chart.[32] The liner notes of the Propellerheads’ album Decksandrumsandrockandroll included the lines: “We would like to extend our maximum respect to Shirley Bassey for honouring us with her performance. We are still in shock….” Bassey celebrated her 60th birthday in 1997 with two open-air concerts, at Castle Howard and Althorp Park, and another TV special. The resulting live album The Birthday Concert received a Grammy Awardnomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance.[33] On 7 October 1998 in Egypt, Bassey performed for a benefit at an open-air concert close to the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid. Bassey played the Friday night at Henley Festival in 1984.[citation needed]

Bassey was sued in a breach of contract case in 1998 by her former personal assistant, who also accused Bassey of hitting her and making an ethnic slur. Bassey won the case.[3] The episode was lampooned by Alexander Baron in his one-act play The Trial of Shirley Bassey. The following year, she performed the official song for the rugby World Cup, “World in Union“, with Bryn Terfel at the opening ceremony at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, wearing a gown designed on the Welsh flag. Their single made the top 40, and Bassey contributed two more songs to the official album Land of My Fathers, which reached number one on the UK compilations chart, and went silver.[29][34]

2000–present: High profile performances and final albumEdit


Bassey at Wembley Arenain 2006

Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, Bassey continued to perform at various high profile events. In 2001, Bassey was principal artiste at the Duke of Edinburgh‘s 80th birthday celebration. On 3 June 2002, she was one of a prestigious line-up of artists including Elton John, Paul McCartney and Tom Jones who performed at the Queen’s 50th Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace. Bassey celebrated 50 years in show business in 2003 with the release of the CD Thank You for the Years, which was another top 20 album. A gala charity auction of her stage costumes at Christie’s, “Dame Shirley Bassey: 50 Years of Glittering Gowns”, raised £250,000 (US$500,000) for the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Appeal.[35] Bassey topped the bill at the 2005 Royal Variety Performance, introducing her new song “The Living Tree“.[citation needed]

Two popular Audiences with Shirley Bassey have aired on British television, one in 1995 that attracted more than 10 million viewers in the UK, with the second being broadcast in 2006. Bassey returned to perform in five arenas around the UK in June the same year, culminating at Wembley. She also performed a concert in front of 10,000 people at the Bryn Terfel Faenol Festival in North Wales broadcast by BBC Wales. Marks & Spencer signed her for their Christmas 2006 James Bond-style television advertising campaign. Bassey is seen in a glamorous Ice Palace singing a cover version of Pink‘s song “Get the Party Started“, wearing an M&Sgown.[citation needed]

The Living Tree“, written, produced, and originally recorded by the group Never the Bride, was released as a single on 23 April 2007, marking Bassey’s 50th anniversary in the UK Singles Chart – and the record for the longest span of top 40 hits in UK chart history.[4] Bassey performed a 45-minute set at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival wearing a pink Julien Macdonald dress, and customised Wellington boots.[36] A new album, Get the Party Started, was subsequently released on 25 June 2007 and entered the UK Albums Chart at number six.[20] The single of the title song reached number 3 on the US Dance Chart.[37] The same year, Bassey performed “Big Spender” with Elton John at his annual White Tie and Tiara Ball to raise money for The Elton John AIDS Foundation.[38] In 2007, Bassey performed in Fashion Rocks in aid of The Prince’s Trust at the Royal Albert Hall.[citation needed]


From left to right: Sting, Debbie Harry, Lady Gaga, Sir Elton John, Dame Shirley Bassey and Bruce Springsteen at Carnegie Hall in 2010

She was rushed to hospital in Monaco on 23 May 2008 to have an emergency operation on her stomach after complaining of abdominal pains. She was forced to pull out of the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Tribute concert because of her illness.[39] A biography of Bassey, Diamond Diva, was published in 2008.[citation needed]

Bassey recorded the album The Performance(2009), with James Bond composer David Arnold as co-producer (with Mike Dixon). A number of artists wrote songs expressly for Bassey, including Manic Street Preachers, Gary Barlow, Tom Baxter, KT Tunstall, Pet Shop Boys, Nick Hodgson of the Kaiser Chiefs, John Barry and Don Black. Bassey headlined at the BBC Electric Proms on 23 October 2009, in her only full live set of 2009.[3][40] She performed several of the new songs from The Performance in November 2009 on various TV shows: The Graham Norton Show, The Paul O’Grady Show and as the guest singer on Strictly Come Dancing.[citation needed]

Bassey performed at a gala celebrating the 80th birthday of Mikhail Gorbachev on 30 March 2011.[41]She also performed at the Classical Brit Awards in 2011, singing “Goldfinger” in tribute to John Barry.[42]

The BBC broadcast a 70-minute drama entitled Shirley on 29 September 2011, depicting Bassey’s early life and career.[43] Ruth Negga played the title role. Bassey was one of the line-up of artists on 4 June 2012 who performed at the Queen’s 60th Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace, singing “Diamonds Are Forever”.[44] She performed at the 2013 Academy Awards on 24 February 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise. It was her first appearance at an Oscars ceremony as a performer.[45] She sang “Goldfinger” to a standing ovation.[citation needed]

Bassey performed “I’m Still Here” and “The Lady Is A Tramp” on 13 November 2014 at the Royal Variety Performance in the presence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.[citation needed]

Bassey released another album, Hello Like Before, was released on 17 November 2014. It includes a 50th-anniversary re-recording of “Goldfinger” (recreating the original orchestration) and a duet of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” with Paloma Faith, produced and conducted by Stuart Barr.[46]

In December 2016, Bassey starred in a 60-minute BBC broadcast hosted by David Walliams.[47]

On 11 March 2018, Bassey performed “Almost Like Being In Love” in a tribute to Sir Bruce Forsyth at the London Palladium. At a gala for AMFAR (The Foundation for Aids Research) in Los Angeles on 18 October 2018, Bassey sang “Goldfinger”, “Diamonds Are Forever”, “Almost Like Being In Love” and “I Am What I Am”.[citation needed]

On 9 August 2019, Dame Shirley performed at UNICEF’s Summer Gala in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, singing “Goldfinger”, “Diamonds Are Forever” and “S’Wonderful”. Bassey appeared on the Ball & Boe TV Christmas Special on Friday 20 December 2019, singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Michael Ball and Alfie Boe.[citation needed]

In 2020, with the release of her final album, I Owe It All To You, Bassey became the first female artist to chart an album in the top 40 of the UK Albums Chartin seven consecutive decades.[6]

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Barry, Beatles, Billie: 60 years of Bond tunes

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British actor Daniel Craig poses during a photocall to promote the 24th James Bond film ‘Spectre’ on February 18, 2015 at Rome’s city hall. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO and TIZIANA FABI / AFP)

Paris, France — Ever since the twanging guitar of John Barry’s theme song first appeared in “Dr No” in 1962, music has been crucial to the James Bond phenomenon.

The songs written for each title sequence have become a way of marking out the evolution of pop music through the past 60 years, from the classics of Shirley Bassey and Paul McCartney to Adele and Billie Eilish.

Nobody remembers Monty

Many assume the original theme was written by John Barry, in part because he became so closely associated with the Bond franchise, composing the soundtrack for 11 of the films.


In fact, Barry only arranged and performed the theme tune.

The famous dung-digger-dung-dung line was actually written by theater composer Monty Norman, developed from an unused Indian-themed score he had written for an adaptation of VS Naipaul’s “A House for Mr Biswas.”

It was Barry’s job to jazz it up, adding the blaring horns that made it so dramatic.

While Norman was given a one-off payment of just £250, Barry built a Hollywood career that has included five Oscars and classic soundtracks to “Midnight Cowboy,” “Out of Africa,” and many more.

Golden girl Shirley Bassey

Bassey became almost as closely linked to Bond as Barry — the only singer to deliver three title tracks: “Goldfinger” (1964), “Diamonds are Forever” (1971), and “Moonraker” (1979).

The first two are considered the most memorable in Bond history, the latter less so — Bassey later admitted she hated the “Moonraker” song and only did it as a favor to Barry.

“Goldfinger” made her a star, but the recording sessions were grueling, with Barry insisting that Bassey, then 27, hold the last belting note for seven full seconds.

“I was holding it and holding it — I was looking at John Barry and I was going blue in the face and he’s going — hold it just one more second. When it finished, I nearly passed out,” she later recalled.

 A new Beatles beginning

The first Bond film without Barry on the baton was “Live and Let Die” in 1973.

For this, the producers turned to another famous “B” The Beatles.

The group’s producer George Martin took over composing duties and brought in Paul McCartney and his band Wings for the theme song.

It became another classic and spawned a famous cover by Guns’N’Roses in later years.

From this point on, the Bond title song became its own mini-industry, without the involvement of the composer.

Big pop tie-ins followed, ranging from the not-so-successful (Lulu’s “The Man with the Golden Gun”) to classics like Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” and Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill.”

<img class=”i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer” role=”presentation” src=”data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />Barry, Beatles, Billie: 60 years of Bond tunes

FILE PHOTO: Auctioneer specialists hold a rare intact James Bond ‘Thunderball’ (1965) film poster (estimate £8,000-£12,000), featuring two panels of poster illustrations on the left by Frank McCarthy and two on the right by Robert McGinnis, at Ewbank’s Auctioneers, ahead of an upcoming sale, in Woking, Britain, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay


The next generation

After a few desultory outings during the Pierce Brosnan years, the Bond genre got a shot of adrenaline with Adele’s “Skyfall” in 2012, which was the first to win an Oscar for best song.

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Image: Twitter/@007

The following year’s “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith also won an Oscar, though it got a more mixed critical reception.

The latest incarnation is pop princess Billie Eilish with “No Time to Die,” which she co-wrote with her brother Finneas.

It already has a thumbs-up from the doyenne of the Bond theme world, with Bassey telling The Big Issue: “She did a good job.”

Golden girl Shirley Bassey Bassey became almost as closely linked to Bond as Barry -- the only singer to deliver three title tracks: "Goldfinger" (1964), "Diamonds are Forever" (1971), and "Moonraker" (1979).  The first two are considered the most memorable in Bond history, the latter less so -- Bassey later admitted she hated the "Moonraker" song and only did it as a favor to Barry.

The latest James Bond movie “Skyfall” stars Daniel Craig. 007 boozed so much that in all reality he would have had the tremulous hands of a chronic alcoholic, according to an offbeat study published by the British Medical Journal. PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK.COM/JAMESBONDOO7

Live And Let Die Theme Song – James Bond

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Paul McCartney Uncle Albert Rare Studio Demo

Paul McCartney; Uncle AlbertAdmiral Halsey. (RAM 1971)

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”
Single by Paul and Linda McCartney
from the album Ram
B-side Too Many People
Released 2 August 1971 (US only)
Format 7″
Recorded 6 November 1970
Length 4:49
Label Apple
Writer(s) Paul and Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul and Linda McCartney
Paul and Linda McCartney singles chronology
Another Day
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
The Back Seat of My Car
Ram track listing

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is a song by Paul and Linda McCartney from the album Ram. Released in the United States as a single on 2 August 1971,[1] but premiering on WLS the previous week (as a “Hit Parade Bound” (HPB)),[2] it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 4 September 1971,[3][4] making it the first of a string of post-Beatles, McCartney-penned singles to top the US pop chart during the 1970s and 1980s. Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1971 year-end chart.[5]

Elements and interpretation[edit]
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is composed of several unfinished song fragments that McCartney stitched together similar to the medleys from the Beatles‘ album Abbey Road.[6] The song is noted for its sound effects, including the sounds of a thunderstorm, with rain, heard between the first and second stanza, the sound of a telephone ringing, and a message machine, heard after the second stanza, and a sound of chirping sea birds and wind by the seashore. Linda’s voice is heard in the harmonies as well as the bridge section of the “Admiral Halsey” portion of the song.

McCartney said “Uncle Albert” was based on his uncle. “He’s someone I recall fondly, and when the song was coming it was like a nostalgia thing.”[7] McCartney also said, “As for Admiral Halsey, he’s one of yours, an American admiral”, referring to Fleet Admiral William “Bull” Halsey (1882–1959).[7] McCartney has described the “Uncle Albert” section of the song as an apology from his generation to the older generation, and Admiral Halsey as an authoritarian figure who ought to be ignored.[8]

Despite the disparate elements that make up the song, author Andrew Grant Jackson discerns a coherent narrative to the lyrics, related to McCartney’s emotions in the aftermath of the Beatles’ breakup.[9] In this interpretation, the song begins with McCartney apologizing to his uncle for getting nothing done, and being easily distracted and perhaps depressed in the lethargic “Uncle Albert” section.[9] Then, after some sound effects reminiscent of “Yellow Submarine,” Admiral Halsey appears to him calling him to action, although McCartney remains more interested in “tea and butter pie.” McCartney stated that he put the butter in the pie so that it would not melt at all.[9] Jackson sees a possible sinister allusion in the use of Admiral Halsey as a character in the song, since Halsey was famous for fighting the Japanese in World War II and claiming that “after the war, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell,” and McCartney’s ex-Beatle partner John Lennon had recently married a Japanese woman, Yoko Ono.[9] The “hands across the water” section which follows could be taken as evocative of the command “All hands on deck!”, rousing McCartney to action, perhaps to compete with Lennon.[9] The song then ends with the “gypsy” section, in which McCartney resolves to get back on the road and perform his music, now that he was on his own without his former bandmates who no longer wanted to tour.[9]


Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song.[10][11] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[12]

According to Allmusic critic Stewart Mason, fans of Paul McCartney’s music are divided in their opinions of this song.[13] Although some fans praise it as “one of his most playful and inventive songs” others criticize it for being “exactly the kind of cute self-indulgence that they find so annoying about his post-Beatles career.”[13] Mason himself considers it “churlish” to be annoyed by the song, given that song isn’t intended to be completely serious, and praises the “Hands across the water” section as being “lovably giddy.”[13]

On the US charts, the song set a songwriting milestone as the all-time songwriting record (at the time) for the most consecutive calendar years to write a #1 song. This gave McCartney eight consecutive years (starting with “I Want to Hold Your Hand“), leaving behind Lennon with only seven years.

Later release[edit]

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” also appears on Wings Greatest from 1978, even though Ram was not a Wings album, and again on the US version of McCartney’s 1987 compilation, All the Best!, as well as the 2001 compilation Wingspan: Hits and History.


Song uses[edit]


Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1971) Position
Australian Kent Music Report[14] 5
Canadian RPM Top 100 Singles[15] 1
Mexican Singles Chart[16] 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] 1
West German Media Control Singles Chart[17] 30

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1971) Position
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[18] 14
U.S. Billboard Top Pop Singles[16] 22


Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold


  1. Jump up^ McGee 2003, p. 195.
  2. Jump up^ “89WLS Hit Parade”. 1971-08-02. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  3. Jump up^ Billboard.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b “Allmusic: Paul McCartney: Charts & Awards”. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. Jump up^ “Top Pop 100 Singles” Billboard December 25, 1971: TA-36
  6. Jump up^ Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone: a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 46, 50. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2.
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b McGee 2003, p. 196.
  8. Jump up^ Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Jackson, A.G. (2012). Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of The Beatles’ Solo Careers. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0810882225.
  10. Jump up^ “Past Winners Search”. National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  11. Jump up^ “1971 Grammy Awards”.
  12. Jump up^
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b c Mason, S. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”. Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-12-25.
  14. Jump up^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  15. Jump up^ “Top Singles – Volume 16, No. 5”. RPM. 18 September 1971. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). Billboard – Talent in Action 1971. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  17. Jump up^ “Single Search: Paul and Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”” (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  18. Jump up^ “RPM 100 Top Singles of 1971”. RPM. 8 January 1972. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  19. Jump up^ “American single certifications – Paul Mc Cartney – Uncle Albert”. Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH


Preceded by
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” by Bee Gees
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
4 September 1971 (one week)
Succeeded by
Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
Preceded by
Sweet Hitch-Hiker” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Canadian “RPM” Singles Chart number-one single
18 September 1971 – 2 October 1971 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

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