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Malcolm James Roberts, singer, actor:
Born Manchester 31 March 1944; married (one son)
Died Addlestone, Surrey 7 February 2003

“Malcolm Roberts had one of the greatest, purest voices
that has ever been heard in popular music. Les Reed and I
tailor-made ‘Love Is All’ for him. We put long, operatic notes
in the hook and the verses were moody and full of emotion
– bags of emotion – and he did a great, great job with it.”
Barry Mason, co-writer of ‘Love is All’

Malcolm Roberts was born in Blackley, Manchester in 1944, he was the second child of Doris and Jim Roberts. His older sister was Jeannie. A pupil at Crosslee Primary School and Moss House Secondary School it was apparent, according to Spencer Leigh, from an early age, Malcolm was going to be a star – either on football field or on stage.

A talented player, football was Malcolm’s hobby and he played regularly with the Manchester Northern team and was invited to join Manchester City Colts. He also played a few games with City’s reserve team but decided that his music would come first in his life. However, Malcolm never lost his support for Manchester City and continued to support until the end of his life.

One of his school friends at the Crosslee School was Fred Eyre, who became a well known football player, and in his book “Kicked into Touch” there is a chapter about the antics he and Malcolm used to get into.  It’s worth reading!

Malcolm said he first became interested in singing in primary school, when he would compete with another boy in assembly every morning to see who could sing the hymns the loudest.

At thirteen, Malcolm passed the entrance exam for the Manchester College of Music and Drama, where he studied opera and acting. He was always interested in music and the arts and became a member of the Blackley Brass Band playing trumpet and soon joined local operatic societies. He made his first appearance in “Showboat” when he was just thirteen. It was evident that Malcolm’s voice warranted professional attention.

It was a musical background, my dad used to play
the piano until he had drunk too much and fallen off
the stool and I would sing in the shops for broken
biscuits and small change. I made more than my dad
just by singing in the school dinner-hour
and he was making £16 a week.
Malcolm Roberts

In 1957, Malcolm attended The Eleventh Annual Drama Festival for Schools at The Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. His school, Moss House, presented scenes from “The Tempest” and Malcolm took on the role of Alonso, King of Naples.

The following year he was again chosen for a part in the performance and took on the role of Monsieur de Beaulois in “The Poison Party”, a play by F. Sladen-Smith. Malcolm also appeared in the North Manchester Amateur Operatic Dramatic Society productions of “Carousel” in which he appeared as Mr. Snow and in 1962 he was in “Wild Violets” for them.

In 1959, for the Schools Arts Festival, he was Silas Snaker, a roguish banker in the melodrama “Hiss the Villain”.

When he became a full-time student at Manchester College of Art, he studied interior design and architecture; drawing and painting became a hobby for him later in life. Acting and singing began to be a very important part of Malcolm’s early days.

“I don’t have much time for painting.
Van Gogh isfé sort of lilacs:
most people have never seen them.
He had an incredible mind.
Raphael, I like too. And Gaugin.”
Malcolm Roberts

But for Malcolm, music was his first love and his intended career path.

In February 1961 he was cast to play Lieutenant Cable in the Preston Musical Comedy Society’s production of “South Pacific”.

In March 1964 he took on the role of Tony in the Ashton-Under-Line Operatic Society’s production of “West Side Story”.

In both productions Malcolm’s fine voice was noticed and got excellent reviews in the local press.

He went on to make appearances with the National Youth Theatre in productions of “Henry V” and “Julius Caesar” alongside other young actors, including Simon Ward, Timothy Dalton and Hywell Bennett.

It was while playing Tony in “West Side Story” that he was chosen by Lionel Bart to appear in his West End production of “Maggie May” at the Adelphi Theatre. He took on the role of Eric Dooley, but during the run he also took on five of the show’s lead roles.

“I really enjoyed the whole
Production [of Maggie May] and learned a lot.”
Malcolm Roberts

That was 1964 and at that time Malcolm was also doing parts on several TV shows, including Coronation Street. After the run of Maggie May ended, Malcolm held a variety of jobs, including bouncer at some Soho clubs, selling ice cream, leather goods shop, and managing a nightclub called The Zebra. As a bouncer in London, he ended in Charing Cross Hospital – “I was beaten up, but I got four guys first.” The Zebra Club in Soho was in the same building as Peter Cook’s Establishment Club and the first band he booked was Episode Six, who became Deep Purple.

It was while he was in The Zebra that he met and befriended Kenny Clayton, who was Shirley Bassey’s pianist and introduced Malcolm to Tony Lewis, who was Shirley Bassey’s manager.

“I did like rock’n’roll, but I found myself leaning
towards Wagner and Puccini.
I never liked records with fade-out endings,
I liked the singer to sell his voice and hit the big notes,
if he could, but I’ve never thought that opera singers
should make pop records.”
Malcolm Roberts

It was while appearing as Tony in “West Side Story” that he received his big break.

Shirley Bassey’s manager heard Roberts singing and within months Malcolm had a recording contract with RCA, making his first album, a single entitled “Time Alone will Tell”, which reached the Top Fifty in 1967. His album entitled “Mr. Roberts” was also released, the liner notes were written by Pete Murray, the well-known DJ and
broadcaster. On 23 April 1967 Malcolm made an appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium when Roberts’s acapella version of “Maria” convinced the public that he could be a star.

In one year, Malcolm appeared on around 65 television shows. On 22 July 1968, he was invited to appear at The Theatre Royal’s A Royal Gala, Drury Lane, in which he sang songs from various shows that had appeared on Drury Lane. It was a memorable performance when he sang “Oklahoma” which was shown on TV a few days later. Within a year, Malcolm found himself ranked just below John Lennon in the New Musical Express’s
1969 male vocalist popularity poll.

Also in 1968, Malcolm heard Andy Williams singing the oldie “May I Have the Next Dream with You” and realized that it could be arranged for a hit single. He sang it during a two-week engagement at La Reserve Night Club in Birmingham. Local record shops were bombarded with requests for copies, which made for Malcolm’s new label, Major Minor, realize that they had a smash hit on their hands. The single made the Top Ten, reached No. 8, and was on the charts for 14 weeks and Malcolm appeared most weeks in cabaret clubs for across the country and gathered a large number of female fans. After “May I have the Next Dream with you” Malcolm said:

“We should have had another hit but they made me
do a country song, “Stand Beside Me”,
I should have insisted on You’re Breaking My Heart”
which was a nice singalong thing.”
Malcolm Roberts

In December 1968, Malcolm was invited to participate in the Malta Song Festival as a special guest, and other cabaret shows and TV shows on the continent followed shortly thereafter.

The Royal Gala shows and Showbiz football matches were part of the early days of 1969 and it was in May 1969 that Malcolm was a special guest at a concert at The Festival Hall given by the well-known musician Geraldo. Malcolm sang “In the still of the night”, “Night and Day” and “I Love Paris”. It was another prestigious appearance.

June 1969 saw Malcolm again at another Royal Gala, this time at The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. It was to raise funds for York Minster. Beginning in July, Malcolm was in the Corbett Follies at The Palace Pier Brighton. It was a big moment for him.

By this time, Malcolm knew he had been selected to be the British representative at the Festival Internacional da Canção in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and would be singing a song written especially for him by Les Reed and Barry Mason called “Love is All”. The Festival took place in October and Malcolm was surprised by the reception he received during rehearsals for the big night.

Brazilians girls went crazy because of his blonde hair, his beauty and his talent. He was chosen as the favourite to win the competition, which featured singers from several other countries.

Malcolm won the Festival as a Performer.

At the Festival, there were two distinct awards, one for the Performer/Singer and the other for the Song.

Malcolm got the award for Best Performer and was applauded by the audience.

But on the final night, watched by a strong crowd of 40,000 at the Maracanazinho Stadium and thousands more on TV, Love is All didn’t win the Best Song, because of a mistake in the voting system and a Japanese judge’s who awarded song one point instead of the maximum ten, and when the points were tallied, Love is All came in third
place. The whole stadium erupted with chanting for Malcolm, and there was twenty minutes standing ovation before there was some sort of order. Love is All was beaten by Bill Medley’s “Eva”. Medley could not reprise his second-place song because of jeering from the audience, until Roberts magnanimously draped a United Kingdom Jack over his shoulders. The Brazilian song “Cantiga por Luciana” won Best Song Award.

“The public turned it into mine, a night that
belonged to them. It was so wonderful, so wonderful,
that I don’t know what happened. When I return to England,
I will be sure that a night like this will take
a long time to come back.”
Malcolm Roberts

After such a night, Malcolm was hailed as a truly international star and Love is All became a huge hit in South America. To this day people still hold the song dear to their hearts and it is played at weddings, funerals and so on. In England, the record reached No. 12 in the charts and stayed there for 12 weeks. However, Major Minor went into
liquidation and “I never got a penny from Major Minor and I never got my gold discs either”, Malcolm said.

Malcolm was soon invited back to South America to appear on TV and do his own shows in major cities in Brazil and Argentina. It was a very busy months as Malcolm was also booked to appear in Torquay in his first pantomime “Puss in Boots” at The Princess Theatre, the show started on December 26 and ran until January.

In February, 1970, Malcolm was again traveling the world, this time to appear at The Hilton Hotel in Hong Kong on a month-long cabaret booking. Other records were released. In May 1970, Malcolm appeared in concerts and numerous TV shows throughout Brazil and Peru and again the girls were enthralled by his voice and his
beauty. Malcolm was now in demand around the world and in July he headed to Las Vegas to perform with Jack Benny at The Sahara Hotel.

He has also appeared in Lake Tahoe and Reno. This turned out to be a wonderful booking and opened up another world for Malcolm. He also appeared on American television on 6 November 1970, via The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and The David Frost Show in New York. He met some of Las Vegas’ legendary stars such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Malcolm was so popular that he was asked again to appear with Jack Benny in The Sahara and Malcolm returned in November for another stint on the Las Vegas scene.

In the autumn, 1970, Malcolm was preparing for his appearance in The London Palladium pantomime “Cinderella”, where he played the role of Prince Charming. It was a great success and the race lasted almost until Easter!

“I know where I’m going.
I know the way I want to go.
And I like competition, but I care about
how I get there which doesn’t include
stepping on people along the way.”
Malcolm Roberts

Another trip to South America followed and, not long after his return to England, in 1972, he went to the European Song Festival, this time in Knokke, Belgium. Malcolm headlined the English team which consisted of Penny Lane and the Union Express band, as well as Malcolm himself. That English team won the contest, with Malcolm also
receiving an award for the highest scoring singer and the BBC winning The Golden Sea Swallow award for best live TV programme. There were several events in which Malcolm stood out.

In March 1974 Malcolm went to The Diplomat Hotel in Miami, Florida to appear in a cabaret, where he again received rave reviews. Liza Minelli was also appearing there in one of the other cabaret rooms. He also played shows in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and more dates in Germany and Belgium followed. Malcolm was also in demand for cabaret appearances and TV shows, making guest appearances on Olivia Newton John’s show Startime, The Talk of the Town and Malcolm had his own episodes on Moodys of Love and My Life my Way.

“What I’m thinking of doing is a whole
set of albums dedicated to each sign of
The Zodiac: you know, one for Aries, another for Aquarius.
Nobody’s done it. I can’t think why.
The temperaments of a Taurus or a Libra can be depicted
by bits of music and prose throughout twelve albums.”
Malcolm Roberts

It was also in 1974 that Malcolm landed a one-month contract on the famous Talk of the Town in London. There he made the live recording which is available on CD.

And still in 1974, Malcolm topped the charts in Argentina with the song “She” and moved to live in America.

By 1975 Malcolm was back at The Diplomat Hotel appearing in a cabaret and over the next few years he also made many trips to South America.

In 1978, Malcolm returned from South America, where he lived for some time. He found the lifestyle very different from that of England and the music scene was not what he expected. He had concentrated on writing his songs, co-writing with Edwin Starr. “Contact”, the song they wrote, was a hit for Edwin in 1979, reaching No. 6 in the UK

“I’m good with music, and
getting better with poetry.”
Malcolm Roberts

When he returned to the UK the cabaret scene was very different than when he was there before. Malcolm appeared at a Royal Gala at The Dominion Theatre in London in 1981 and also began playing cricket with the Showbiz team, raising money for various charities.

The Pebble Mill at One daytime show was the only show Malcolm appeared on, but theatre performances started happening and this gave devoted followers a chance to hear Malcolm Roberts again.

In 1982, the thriving Fan Club got the chance for Malcolm to perform at the local cabaret club in Chesterfield and was able to hold a meeting for him, with fans coming from all over the country. Also that year, Malcolm went to Hawaii to perform at yet another music festival, again with a Les Reed song called “I Never Thought I’d Cry”, but without success; it was a long way to go for just five days.

Another pantomime, “Robinson Crusoe”, this time in Eastbourne and then Malcolm got the chance to appear on some of the Scandinavian cruise ships doing cabaret. This was certainly a change that Malcolm quite enjoyed for some time.

The Bournemouth pantomime “Goldilocks & the 3 Bears” was the order of the day for winter 1984, and in May 1985 Malcolm joined five other singers to represent Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest in Gothenburg. The song was called “Children Kinder Enfants”, but unfortunately it didn’t win.

In September 1985, the next big thing in Malcolm’s career was starring in a new musical at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre called “Jeanne” based on the life of Joan of Arc.

It got really good reviews and there were some lovely songs in the show. It stayed there for several weeks and then moved to Sadler’s Wells theatre in London in February 1986.

Unfortunately, with the cast change and also some changes in the show, it didn’t get good reviews and only had a short run.

After appearing on more cruise ships in the latter part of 1986, Malcolm decided to return to South America to see if he could still draw the crowds he had on previous visits. He did maintain a high profile in musical shows and continued as a popular stage performer throughout the 1980s.

“In the business you tend to have
a lot of people around you with whom
you have nothing in common
but the business.”
Malcolm Roberts

Due to many administrative issues Malcolm found himself in a position he was not happy with, however for the next four years Malcolm remained in Brazil. He wrote many songs and played some stadium shows across the country.

In 1990 he moved back to the UK and started to pick up the pieces there, however the music scene changed a lot again and Malcolm found it increasingly difficult to re-establish himself.

“I haven’t had anybody artistic
around me for a long time.
When you spend five- or six-years studying art,
it’s just as much part of you as anything you’re doing now.
It’s something you need to make
your contribution complete.”
Malcolm Roberts

In 1991, song writing was taking a long time and he wrote and performed the song “One Love” which reached the final selection for the UK choice for the Eurovision Song Contest, singing it himself. It reached the final eight but did not win. However, it did give fans a chance to see Malcolm on TV after such a long absence.

Malcolm also booked a month at Pizza on the Park in London, one of the few places left for cabaret. The backing group was the Kenny Clayton trio, for whom Malcolm had much to be thankful for in the early days of his career.

Malcolm’s popularity on the continent was still very strong and he began making frequent trips to make TV shows and theatre bookings in Belgium and released a CD of Will Tura songs.

In Malcolm’s private life, he was thrilled to become a father for the first time and Oliver was born in April 1995.

“It’s good for people to have responsibility; it grounds them.”
Malcolm Roberts

In 1996 he took part in a very different theatrical show at The Café Royal in London. It was an American idea, and it was called “Joey & Gina’s Wedding”. The audience became guests at the wedding and reception, and Malcolm played the part of the Irish priest who officiated at the ceremony. The night was certainly fun, and Malcolm slipped back easily into acting. The show ran for a few months, but British audiences were more inhibited than American audiences.

Before long, Malcolm joined Right Recordings, a company that was interested in promoting his singing, and they decided to release the first recordings on CD. Promotion of the CDs was very important, and Malcolm did many local and national radio interviews and also appeared at The Brighton 60 revival weekend at The Conference
Centre where he was very well received.

In 2001, Malcolm appeared with The Bachelors, Ray Alan and The Vernon Girls in A Night at the Music Hall at the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton, but because of the need for a new hip, he had severe arthritis, had to cut back on several other shows that he had organized. The operation took place in May 2002 and by July Malcolm was back onstage in Blackpool, performing at the Winter Gardens and wowing audiences once more with his beautiful voice.

Work was also underway on a new CD which contained songs that Malcolm had written himself, when the sad news came that Malcolm had suffered a heart attack and died at 3pm on Friday 7th February 2003. A spokeswoman for Surrey Police said that they were called at just after 3pm and Malcolm was taken to Sr. Peter’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His funeral took place at Henley on Thames, and he was buried in St Nicholas Cemetery at Remenham, near Henley, on 20 February. About 200 people, fans, friends, and family were in attendance and the service featured the hits of Malcolm, Ave Maria and Love is All.


Malcolm Roberts Autograph 3

The album entitled “Rio” was released in October 2003. EMI also released the album “The Best of Malcolm Roberts-May I Have the Next Dream with You?” that year.

In June 2021, there was a new release, “Lost and Found”, which gathered songs found after Malcolm’s death.

The legend lives on….