Shan Kaye

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Singing trio the Kaye Sisters, at one time rivals of the indestructible Beverley Sisters, lost their lead singer with the death of Shirley Palmer, known as Shan.

During the late 1950s, their songs reached the charts five times. Two of their most successful recordings were collaborations with Frankie Vaughan – Gotta Have Something in the Bank, Frank (1957) and Come Softly to Me (1959).

The three girls, invariably dressed in matching outfits and with the same blonde hairstyles, took their name from their manager, Carmen Kaye. They first sang together in 1954, but had to wait two years before enjoying their lucky break on In Town Tonight, an innovative television magazine programme that had begun on BBC radio in 1933.

They were quickly given a two-week spot at the London Palladium before cutting their first single, Ivory Tower, which climbed to No 20 in the charts. The royalties of their first disc with Vaughan went to the National Association of Boys’ Clubs, an organisation with which Vaughan had been involved for many years.

In 1957, the Kaye Sisters appeared in the Royal Variety Show and travelled to America to be guests on the hugely popular Ed Sullivan Show. Their last hit was a cover version of Anita Bryant’s Paper Roses (1960), but they continued to be seen in top London cabaret clubs, such as Churchill’s.

In the variety theatre, they supported such stars as Frankie Howerd, Tommy Cooper and Ken Dodd, and were particularly popular in Blackpool summer seasons throughout the 1960s and 1970s. They often appeared on Max Bygraves’ variety bills, notably co-starring with him in SingalongaMax at the Victoria Palace in 1972.

One member of the trio, Sheila Jones, had left the act in the late 1960s, but they carried on with a replacement singer. However, the original threesome reformed in 1992, singing numbers made famous by the Andrews Sisters and joining tours around Britain of In the Mood, a tribute to the US bandleader Glenn Miller.

Shirley Palmer, who was born on August 15, 1938, died on July 14, aged 74.

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