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Matt Monro

Idioma disponible: inglés
Though Matt Monro is known best to worldwide audiences as the voice of one of the most beloved James Bond themes, "From Russia with Love," the British vocalist produced a lifetime of great work. Often called Britain's Frank Sinatra because of his light, expressive style of swing, Monro hit the British Top Ten frequently during the 1960s. Workng with the Beatles' producer George Martin, he nabbed two Top 40 hits in America with 1961's "My Kind of Girl" and 1964's "Walk Away." Building upon "From Russia With Love," he again collaborated with composer John Barry, singing the Oscar-winning title theme to 1966's Born Free. He remained beloved in England where he hit the top 30 with 1973's "And You Smiled" and enjoyed a latter-career resurgence with the 1980 collection Heartbreakers before his death from cancer in 1985. Born Terrence Edward Parsons in 1931 in London, Monro encountered difficulties from a young age. His father died when the singer was just three-years-old and after his mother became ill, he spent several years in foster care. In 1948, while still a teenager, he joined the British armed forces, serving as a tank driving instructor in Hong Kong. It was during this period that he began entering talent contests and even performed on the radio. Following his discharge, he returend to London where he pursued a singing career while working odd jobs, including a stint as a bus driver. He caught the attention of Trinidadian-born pianist Winfred Atwell who took the singer under her wing, even purportedly helping to come up with his stagename. With Atwell's help, Monro picked up work, singing for television commercials and performed with a few British bands (including Cyril Stapleton's Orchestra) during the early '50s. After a few sides recorded for various labels, he signed to Decca for an album of standards, 1957's Blue and Sentimental. His career really took off one year later when producer George Martin asked him to lend his deep voice to actor Peter Sellers' album of Frank Sinatra satires, Songs for Swingin' Sellers. Monro's straight-faced contribution, "You Keep Me Swingin'," gained him a contract from Parlophone, and he hit number three in the British charts with 1960's "Portrait of My Love." Monro continued working closely with producer Martin, a fruitful partnership that resulted in an extened period of chart success. Both 1961's "My Kind of Girl" and 1962's "Softly, As I Leave You" hit the Top Ten; the former became his first transatlantic hit, reaching number 18 in America. The singer also proved quite proficient in the growing realm of the full-length; his 1962 LP for Parlophone, Matt Monro Sings Hoagy Carmichael, was a very accomplished songbook collection for a pop singer. Though his theme to the second James Bond vehicle, 1963's From Russia with Love, only hit the Top 20 in Britain, it increased his exposure around the world. His next single, "Walk Away," hit number four in Britain and just missed the Top 20 in America. Monro gained his last British Top Ten in 1965, after his association with George Martin and Parlophone gave him the distinction of being the first artist of thousands to cover the Beatles' "Yesterday." After moving to America that year, Monro gained yet more recognition singing the Oscar-winning title song for the film Born Free. His second collaboration with "From Russia With Love"-composer John Barry, it quickly became his signature tune. He and Barry would record several more film themes, including "Wednesday's Child" from 1966's The Quiller Memorandum and "This Way Mary" from 1971's Mary, Queen of Scots. Following several years living in California, Monro returned to England where he again hit the top 30 with 1973's "And You Smiled." He continued performing his nightclub routine, and recorded sparingly during the '70s. The 1980 hits compilation Heartbreakers rejuvenated his career somewhat, reaching number 5 on the U.K. Albums Chart. He also enjoyed success in Latin America with one of his final studio-albums, 1982's Spanish-language release Un Toque De Distinción. However, his health suffered during the time and he finally died of liver cancer in 1985 at the age of 54. In the decades since his passing the Monro estate has kept his legacy alive, issuing numerous archival collections. 2019's Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions restored a 1966 session the singer recorded for Capitol Records that had never been properly released. It reached number 8 on the U.K. Albums Chart.
© Matt Collar & John Bush /TiVo
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