Dickie Valentine (4 November 1929[1] – 6 May 1971)[2] was an English pop singer who enjoyed great popularity in Britain during the 1950s. In addition to several other Top Ten hit singles, Valentine had two chart-toppers on the UK Singles Chart with "Finger of Suspicion" (1954) and the seasonal "Christmas Alphabet" (1955).

Dickie Valentine
Background information
Birth nameRichard Maxwell
Also known asRichard Bryce
Born(1929-11-04)4 November 1929
Marylebone, London, England
Died6 May 1971(1971-05-06) (aged 41)
Glangrwyney, Brecknockshire, Wales
GenresTraditional pop
Occupation(s)Singer, guitarist
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1957–1971
LabelsPye Records
Decca Records

Early lifeEdit

Valentine was born Richard Maxwell in 1929 (his birth father was Dickie Maxwell) in Marylebone, London.[1] He was known as Richard Bryce after his mother married Bryce.


Valentine's first acting job was at age only three when he appeared in the British comedy film Jack's the Boy starring Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge

Music careerEdit

He developed a flexible vocal style and skills as an impersonator of famous singers. Actor-singer Bill O'Connor overheard him singing as a call boy at Her Majesty's Theatre in London and paid for his voice lessons.

He sang in clubs and learned stagecraft to help gain confidence and experience. While he was in his late teens, he was singing at the Panama Club one night when music publisher Sid Green saw him and brought him to the attention of bandleader Ted Heath.[3]


On 14 February 1949, Valentine, an unknown, was signed by Ted Heath to join his band, Ted Heath and his Music, to sing alongside Lita Roza and Dennis Lotis.[4] He was voted the Top UK Male Vocalist in 1952 while singing with the Ted Heath Orchestra, the most successful of all British big bands,[5] and again after going solo in 1954.

In November 1954, Valentine was invited to sing at the Royal Command Performance, and in February 1955 he was top billed at the London Palladium. He also cracked jokes and impersonated entertainers, including Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, Mario Lanza and Billy Daniels.[6] He recorded two number one hits, "Christmas Alphabet" and "Finger of Suspicion". His first chart-topper came only two months after his marriage to Elizabeth Flynn at Caxton Hall, which caused scenes of hysteria and was widely expected to sound the death knell to his career.[7] In fact, 1955 was by far his best chart year, with two number ones and three other Top Ten hits.[7] While his second number one saw Valentine playing 'King Canute' to Bill Haley's incoming tide of rock and roll, "Christmas Alphabet" marked the first time in the UK that a song created for the Christmas market would hit number one.[7] In April 1955, Valentine again topped the bill at the London Palladium for two weeks, a month after winning the male vocalist category in the NME poll.[8] He went on to win this title consecutively from 1953 to 1957.[9]

In 1961, he had a television series Calling Dickie Valentine. In 1966 Valentine partnered with Peter Sellers on the ATV sketch show The Dickie Valentine Show.[10]

Although his fame began to wane during the 1960s, he remained a popular live performer until his death.


Travelling to his next gig at the Double Diamond Club in Caerphilly, Wales, he was killed outright in a car crash on a single lane bridge at Glangrwyney, near Crickhowell, Wales on 6 May 1971, at the age of 41, together with pianist Sidney Boatman and drummer Dave Pearson, aged 42.[10]

The coroner's inquest revealed the car in which the three were travelling to have been driven in excess of 90 mph at time of impact, and that Valentine, who was driving his wife Wendy's Hillman Avenger, with which he was unfamiliar (he was awaiting delivery of his new customised car), had lost control of the vehicle while attempting to take a (clearly marked) dangerous bend. Valentine had travelled on that stretch of road many times and was familiar with its hazards. It was thought Valentine's attention might have been distracted by conversation with his friends, in addition to fatigue (the crash having happened at 4:20am). There was also heavy fog in the area.[10] The coroner returned a verdict of 'death by misadventure'.[1] Valentine is interred at Slough Crematorium.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

He married Elizabeth Flynn, a professional ice skater, in 1954. They had two children together, Richard and Kim, but divorced in 1967. (Richard Valentine (Junior) would later work as a television director). Dickie Valentine married the actress Wendy Wayne in 1968. Prior to the car accident, Wayne and Valentine were scheduled to undertake a twenty-week summer season at the Water Splash in Jersey.[11]



Year Film Role Notes and awards
1932 Jack's the Boy
Lord Babs Minor role (uncredited)
1954 The Ed Sullivan Show
1955 Sunday Night at the London Palladium
1956 Val Parnell's Startime
1957 Six-Five Special
Salute to Show Business
The World Our Stage
1958 The 6.5 Special
1959 The Anne Shelton Show
Oh Boy!
1960 Life with the Lyons
1961 Alfred Marks Time
Calling Dickie Valentine
Thank Your Lucky Stars also was featured in 1963, 1964 and 1965
1964 The Ed Sullivan Show
1965 The Ed Sullivan Show
1966 The Ed Sullivan Show

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Sharon Mawer. "Dickie Valentine | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Dickie Valentine Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  3. ^ Pallett, Ray (2011). "The Last of the Dance Band Crooners: Dickie Valentine". Memory Lane. Jeanette and Ray Pallett (172): 22. ISSN 0266-8033.
  4. ^ "Memory Lane", p. 21
  5. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 23. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  6. ^ "Memory Lane", pp. 22–23
  7. ^ a b c Rice, Jo (1982). Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 17. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  8. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 13. CN 5585.
  9. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 226. CN 5585.
  10. ^ a b c "Memory Lane", p. 23
  11. ^ a b "Memory Lane", p. 24
  12. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 579. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External linksEdit