Freddie Starr (1943-2019), born Frederick Leslie Fowell, was raised in Huyton, Liverpool, and became an entertainer at the age of 11 in 1954 when he joined a road show as a song and comedy act.
In 1958 (aged 15, and still under his birth name Fred Fowell) he was recruited to play the part of a junior member of a gang of teddy boys in the film ‘Violent Playground’. In 1961 – aged 18 – he joined a high-powered rock’n’roll or beat band, the Seniors, as understudy to the main singer was black Liverpudlian Derry Wilkie. This band had been the first beat band from Liverpool to appear in Hamburg in 1960 – booked for a season at the Kaiserkeller – and subsequently issued the first Liverpool beat group to issue an LP ‘Twist at the Top’. The song ‘double twist’ released in January 1962, written by Derry and Freddie one can hear the ‘double’ vocal work as the song is sung alternatively and in response by Derry and Freddie. They where let down financially by the promoters which resulted in the break up of the group.
In the early spring of 1963 Freddie joined the Midnighters as lead singer as they turned professional (replacing Gus Travis). Three singles on the Decca label in 1963 (‘who told you?’ and Freddie’s own excellent composition ‘it’s shakin’ time’) and in October 1964, billed only as Freddie Starr (‘never cry on someone’s shoulder’) ; they all failed to make the charts.
Freddie left in 1965 and joined the Delmonts for a short period, appearing in cabaret. After pursuing a solo career for some years, he appeared on ‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium’ and became a leading comedian steering himself through a successful but controversial career.
Freddie did have a hit record, in 1974 he released ‘It’s You’ which reached No. 9 in the charts.
‘Who Do You Do?’ (1972-76)
‘Freddie Starr’s Variety Madhouse’ (6 episodes, 27.Oct to 01.Dec.1979)
in the autumn of 1979 when Freddie Starr invited Russ to appear with him in the ITV show Freddie Starr’s Variety Madhouse. Luckily for Russ, Freddie was (and probably still is) a teensy bit restless and far too odd to stick at something as safe and conventional as a Saturday prime-time family-orientated TV show. After just six episodes Starr quit the show, leaving LWT with a large gaping hole in their shooting schedules. When the show would return in the spring of 1980 it was titled as Russ Abbot’s Madhouse, which is the beginning of another story …
What did Starr do in the 1980s ?
‘Freddie Starr’ (1993–94)
‘The Freddie Starr Show’ (1996–98) made by Central
Here’s an amusing portrayal of teds accompanying Freddie Starr’s impersonation of Elvis’s ‘trouble’ from a 1979 episode of ‘Freddie Starr’s Mad House’.
Here is Freddie’s faultless rendition of Little Richard’s mannerisms on London Weekend’s parody sketch show ‘Who do you do?’ dating from 1972-73 (then make sure you jump to 10:23 and 45:30) :
Freddie imagines an Elvis rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on ‘Who do you do?’ dating from 1972-73 (jump then to 19:43, 57:34, and 1:01:00 for other short Elvis impersonations) :
Freddie performs Roy Orbison as a ventriloquist’s dummy (!) performing ‘Glue Gayou’ (remember that one ?) on ‘Who do you do?’ dating from 1972-73 :
Freddie as the Man in Black on ‘Who do you do?’ dating from 1972-73 :
Freddie as Cliff Richard with a second-rate Shadows line-up on ‘Who do you do?’ dating from 1972-73 :
Freddie recorded a number of singles.
Here he’s playing ‘blue moon of Kentucky’ on the bus during his tour of the West Country:
I would really love to track the 2001 Channel 4 documentary “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”, which ended up being a quite brutally unflattering portrait of the man in question, including numerous former colleagues in the industry and family members testifying to what an absolutely contemptuous arsehole he is. What stuck in my mind was the bizarre ending where Starr was filmed alone on stage doing a rant to camera about the state of modern television. It was the kind of that might’ve gone viral called something like FREDDIE STARR AMAZING TV RANT if he hadn’t been four years too early for youtube. Bad luck, Freddie.
I remember it included a bit when he ranted at the filming crew, another bit about him assaulting his 17 year-old son at the latter’s workplace, and a bit about him assaulting a journalist while shouting for his friend to get a gun from in his house to ‘kill this bastard’.