Twinkle – Terry

17th March 2022 · 1960s, 1965, Music

In the pantheon of one-hit wonders, Terry by Twinkle deserves a place at the top table.

Surrey schoolgirl Lynn Ripley, singing under the stage name Twinkle, reached no.4 in the charts on my seventh birthday in January 1965. She was 16.

I can find no better description of Terry, which features a young Jimmy Page on guitar, than the one by AllMusic: “Phil Spector meets The Shangri-Las on a rain-slicked English back-road.”

Ripley/Twinkle was only 14 when she wrote the song during a French lesson in her private school.

It was inspired by being in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce with her father – the chairman of Surbiton Council – when it was overtaken by a pack of bikers.

The lyric, about the death of an imaginary boyfriend who is killed in a motorcycle accident, proved too controversial for both the BBC and ITV, who banned it from Ready Steady Go!

Lord Willis – a Labour peer and the creator of Dixon Of Dock Green – declared it to be “dangerous drivel.” The record company disagreed, insisting it was “a road safety record.”

I’ve always had a particularly soft spot for ‘death discs’ like this one, and Emma (Hot Chocolate), Tell Laura I Love Her (Ray Peterson), Ode To Billie Joe (Bobbie Gentry), Seasons In The Sun (Terry Jacks) and Leader Of The Pack (Shangri-Las) – which was released at almost the same time as Terry and was also banned by the BBC.

The success of Terry should rightly have set up Twinkle for a long career but, echoing the experience of her soundalike Lesley “It’s My Party” Gore the previous year, she had only only other minor hit.

Golden Lights, written after her first visit to Blackpool, rose no higher than No.21 (and was later covered by The Smiths).

After four more singles for Decca and a tour with The Rolling Stones, Twinkle retired from the studio in 1966 at around the time of her 18th birthday, and moved into a house in Hampton with six dogs and a pig.

She went on to marry the “Milk Tray man” off the TV ads (the black-clad Graham Rogers) and died of cancer in 2015.

In 1986 Terry was covered by another 16-year-old, Mandy Smith, more than a quarter of a century after her “relationship” with Rolling Stone paedo Bill Wyman when he was 47… and she was just 13.