After starting out as a dance band singer, Terry Devon went on to be heard by millions of radio listeners as one of the Keynotes, the group that accompanied the Frank Muir and Dennis Norden-penned comedy series Take It From Here.
She began her working life helping her father in his hairdressing business, but, after winning a crooning competition on Radio Luxembourg, she auditioned for Billy Thorburn, whose orchestra was known as the Organ, the Dance Band and Me, as it boasted the unusual feature of a pipe organ.
Although only 16, Devon was taken on, cutting her first record, Any Old Hearts to Mend, in 1938. This was followed in the months immediately preceding the Second World War by To Mother with Love and a cover version of Gracie Fields’ hit Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye.
In 1940, Devon toured with Thorburn in a revue. She then became vocalist with the Oscar Rabin Band, entertaining troops based overseas.
Take It From Here was BBC Radio’s first major post-war comedy series, starring ‘Professor’ Jimmy Edwards and, from 1954, June Whitfield. Its first producer, Charles Maxwell, asked the singer and arranger Johnny Johnston to lead a close-harmony vocal group.
This was the Keynotes, who introduced the show each week with the refrain, “Take it from here/Why go away when you can take it from here?”. Devon, however, left the group before the show ended its 12-year run. She married the accordionist Tito Burns and sang with his band, developing skill at the improvised vocal style known as ‘scat singing’.
She retired when they began a family, but, after Burns had become a manager, she helped him represent Cliff Richard and promote the British tours of Tony Bennett and Victor Borge.
Terry Devon was born on May 19, 1922, and died on April 5, aged 90.
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