Dame Shirley Bassey (b. January 8, 1937) is a highly acclaimed and veteran Welsh singer with powerful, seductive vocals who became internationally famous beginning in the early 1960s. She is best known for her gripping hit renditions of the James Bond movie themes, "Goldfinger" (1965) and "Diamonds Are Forever" (1970).
Born Shirley Veronica Bassey in Tiger Bay, Cardiff to a Nigerian father and English mother, she began singing publicly at age 14 at local clubs while working weekdays in the packing department at a steel factory. She continued performing professionally through her teens in the theater and at various other venues and at age 18, was discovered on TV by Philips record producer Johnny Franz who offered her a recording contract. Bassey's first charting song came in 1956 with her cover of "The Banana Boat Song," which made the U.K. Top 10 and became the first in a long string of top hits that also include the chart-topping "As I Love You" (1959) and "Reach For The Stars/Climb Ev'ry Mountain" (1961). On November 13, 1960, Bassey appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and in 1964, she gave her first performance at Carnegie Hall.
Shirley Bassey debuted on the U.S. charts in 1961 with "You'll Never Know," a minor hit on Cashbox and Record World which made the U.K. Top 10. She had her biggest hit in early 1965 with "Goldfinger," which made the U.S. Pop/Rock charts Top 10, while the movie soundtrack topped the Billboard 200. Her hits in the U.S. also include a cover of The Beatles' "Something" (1970), the theme to "Diamonds Are Forever" (1972), and "Never, Never, Never (Grande, Grande, Grande)" (1973). Other songs for which Bassey is well known worldwide include her rendition of the title theme to another 007 movie, "Moonraker" (1979).
In 2000, Bassey was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to the performing arts. In 2020, she became the first female artist with a Top 40 album in seven consecutive decades on the U.K. charts. Widely regarded as one of the U.K.'s all-time most popular acts, she has continued to perform and record actively to the present day.
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- Goldfinger 1965
(This song also became a hit in 1965 for Billy Strange, John Barry, and Jack Laforge.)
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