CRAIG DOUGLAS (By Steve Walker)

Born Terry Perkins, 12 August, 1941, Newport, Isle Of Wight, UK

Craig Douglas was a milkman on the Isle Of Wight (a few miles off the south coast of England), when he successfully auditioned for an appearance on BBC TV's "6.5 Special". This led, via Jack Good's connections, to a recording contract with Decca records in 1958. His debut disc was "Nothin' Shakin'", the first of what would be a whole host of insipid cover versions - in this case, a cover of Eddie Fontaine's Sunbeam/Argo Stateside hit, which itself was eclipsed when Billy Fury drove a coach and horses through all earlier versions.

No chart action resulted from this, or from the follow-up "Go Chase A Moonbeam" (which I've never heard - probably never will, either). Craig and Decca parted company, but he was snapped up by Dick Rowe's recently-formed "Top Rank" label and made his debut with a lightweight version of the already gossamer "Come Softly To Me", a hit for The Fleetwoods. Although Craig still couldn't break the charts, his luck was about to change. He emasculated Dion's "A Teenager In Love" and reached #13 in the charts for his trouble, although he was outsold by Marty Wilde's superior version. The next victim for the treatment was Sam Cooke's "Only Sixteen", which raced all the way to number one, replacing Cliff's "Living Doll", while Sam's original swam around in the lower reaches of the Top Thirty.

This established Craig as being a purveyor of teenage ballads sung in the sappiest of lightweight voices - a sort of Pat Boone without the balls, if you will. It even led to a film appearance in 1962, co-starring with Helen Shapiro (she was the one with the deeper voice) in "It's Trad Dad" (Richard "A Hard Day's Night" Lester's first directorial job). The film was mightily relieved by the cameo appearances of Gene Vincent, Del Shannon, Gary "U.S." Bonds, Gene McDaniels, The Paris Sisters, Arthur Mullard, Chubby Checker, Acker Bilk, The Temperance Seven and Sounds Incorporated.

Further hits followed through to 1962, with a cover of Steve Lawrence's "Pretty Blue Eyes", "The Heart Of A Teenage Girl" (an original, I believe), and then more covers - of Gene McDaniels' "A Hundred Pounds Of Clay", Jerry Jackson's "Time", The Drifters' "When My Little Girl Is Smiling", Gary Criss's "Our Favorite Melodies" and Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me" (back on Decca again) before, mercifully, the Mersey Sound wiped the likes of Craig, Mark Wynter and Jess Conrad from the teenage consciousness.

The end of 1962 saw Craig on tour with Little Richard, Jet Harris, Kenny Lynch and Sounds Incorporated. When they reached The Liverpool Empire on 28 October, local support act The Beatles were added to the bill, as they had just had their first record released on Parlophone.

Craig didn't submit to the new Brit Beat without a whimper: when he was given a Decca test-pressing of The Rolling Stones' "Come On" to review in the Melody Maker's Blind Date column in the summer of 1963, he wrote: "This is very, very ordinary. I can't hear a word they're saying and I don't know what this is all about. If there was a Liverpool accent it might get somewhere but this is definitely not a hit. I dislike it I'm afraid, take it off!"

In 1964, Craig recorded a Chris Andrews original "Come Closer" and found the tables being turned on him with regard to cover versions when the record crossed the Atlantic and was recorded by Eddie Rambeau under the direction of Bob Crewe.

Today, Craig Douglas still performs in Rock'n'Roll Revival Shows and I think I read that he toured with Helen Shapiro last year in her farewell tour.

CDs: "Only Sixteen" See For Miles CD34 (1989); "The Best Of The EMI Years" EMI Records EMS 1494 (1993)

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These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
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