Doug Sheldon was among the last successful members of the generation of teen pop crooners -- which included Adam Faith, John Leyton, and Craig Douglas -- to come along in the early-'60s England, immediately prior to the advent of the Merseybeat boom. An actor by training, his singing career happened almost by accident, yet he managed to record almost two-dozen sides for English Decca in the first half of the '60s. Sheldon was born in Stepney, London in 1936, the son of a carnival fairground owner -- from age 15 on, he lived in the seaside town of Skegness, Lincolnshire, and worked at his father's establishment as a barker and bingo caller. He'd had some acting training as a boy, and after finishing his obligatory military service, Sheldon got a tiny role in the movie The Guns of Navarone (1961), which put him on to a performing career. He mostly acted in small theatrical roles, and one day in 1961 he was spotted on-stage by manager-songwriter-producer Bunny Lewis, who at that time represented Craig Douglas and Christine Quaite -- and Lewis got Sheldon signed to Decca in short order. Though Sheldon had no prior experience as a singer, he had an attractive yet defiant, put-upon look, like a young Marlon Brando, James Dean, or John Derek, and it turned out that he did have a voice. His debut single, "Book of Love," failed to chart, but the follow-up, a cover of "Runaround Sue," reached the U.K. Top 20 on the New Musical Express charts. His version is a little less dramatic than Dion's rendition (which did eventually sweep it aside, even in the U.K.), with different embellishments and more of a traditional swing feel to it. He also charted high with that single in Ireland, a small but important adjacent market in the U.K. at the time, where the record hit number eight. Sales were good enough to justify a third single, "Your Ma Said You Cried Last Night," which reached the Top 30 in England. In 1963, Sheldon crossed paths professionally with American producer Shel Talmy, who produced the single "Lollipops and Roses" for him. That record failed to chart, and he reached the U.K. charts one last time that year with "I Saw Linda Yesterday," which got to number 36 in a six-week run. By that time, however, the Beatles had broken through to chart success, and Sheldon's brand of pop/rock crooner was on the wane. He did make one more serious run at the charts, however, with a cover of "Mickey's Monkey." Sheldon returned to acting full-time in the mid-'60s, and his screen credits included episodes of Doctor Who and the David Lean epic Ryan's Daughter (1970), in addition to publishing fiction -- all of these activities have been conducted under the name Douglas Sheldon. He is fondly remembered by Britons of a certain age for his records, however, and an 2007, Vocalion Records re-released Sheldon's complete Decca library on CD, paired off with Craig Douglas' work.
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