But in 1966, at the age of 16, she auditioned for Noel Walker, a former jazz musician, based in Liverpool, who worked as an A&R man for Decca records. She was offered a contract with the label and picked a new name for herself, Truly Smith.
Walker took over the production of her first single,
'My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down'
a version of a non-hit for Motown singer Carolyn Crawford.
For the B-side, he also used a Tony Hatch song, 'Love Is Me Love Is You', which Hatch’s then girlfriend (and later, wife) Jackie Trent had issued as a single. Vocally, the two versions are not overly similar, and indeed Truly’s vocals drew comparison with those of Cilla Black.
Perhaps because Truly sounded more comfortable performing ballads, the Les Reed and Barry Mason song:
'I Love Him' was picked for the follow up and issued in June 1966 though the flip, a revamp of the traditional 'Buttermilk Hill', proved the more interesting side).
Despite the disc’s lack of success, another dramatic ballad, 'You Are The Love Of My Life', originally an Italian tune, was released next. 'The Merry-go-round Is Slowing You Down' was the B side.
The French arm of the Decca label decided that the singer was also worth a shot in France, and an EP was issued in 1966 which included both sides of her UK debut, plus 'You Are The Love Of My Life' and 'He belongs to me'.
A big push to promote Truly throughout the rest of Europe that year saw her guest with Tom Jones on The Dave Berry show, which aired on Belgian television, and she took part in the Knokke Cup alongside Engelbert Humperdinck, Germany’s Katja Ebstein, the Netherlands’ Janneke Peper and Belgium’s Ariane, amongst others.
Back in Britain, where , Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black, had been enjoying big hits with songs written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Truly issued her version of Bacharach and Davids':
'Windows And Doors'.
The tune had originally been recorded by Jackie de Shannon, and a second Bacharach and David number, 'Take A Broken Heart ' originally recorded by Ricky Nelson, was included on the reverse of the 1967 release.
The quality of her vocals and her choice of material should have made the Warrington girl a star in the UK – and despite TV and live promotion, an attempt to launch the singer in the rest of Europe didn't take off.
Truly returned to the Motown songbook for her second release of the year.
Her version of 'I Want To Go Back There Again' is generally considered one of her finest recordings. But successful British cover versions of Motown songs were few and far between and Truly’s proved no exception. It didn't help when two rival covers of the song – one by New Formula and another by Bill Kenwright and The Runaways were released.
All three versions shared a week inside the top 30 compiled by pirate station Radio London in early August 1967.
'Window Cleaner ' was the B side.
Her final release for Decca came in the form of the excellent
'The Boy From Chelsea',
The Boy From Chelsea
a little-known tune written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, issued in late 1967.
'Little Man With A Stick' appeared on the B-side.
'This is The First Time'.
The song was written by Doug Flett and Guy Fletcher, Cilla Black also recorded a version for her Sher-oo! album.
Mike Hurst wrote the B side, 'Taking Time Off'
Sadly, it proved her final release.
This page created January 2010