Friday, March 16, 2018

Michael Holliday (1924 – 1963)

Norman Michael Miln was born in 1924 in Liverpool, UK the son of a New Zealand seamen. He grew up in Kirkdale (north of the city) in St Agnes Road, off Melrose Road. Young Norman had a talent for singing. During the war he worked as a merchant seaman sailing the Atlantic. On shore leave in New York Norman was persuaded by friends to enter a talent contest at Radio City Music Hall and won. The experience was so enjoyable he vowed to become a professional singer. When he left the navy in 1950 he started singing around Liverpool dancehalls calling himself Michael Holliday. Michael won a local talent contest called ‘New Voices of Merseyside’ and joined Dick Denny's band playing summer season at the Butlin's Holiday Camp in Pwllheli, Wales. In 1953 he joined the Eric Winstone Band and started touring and appearing on BBC Radio. The good looking young man got a break on television in 1955 and appeared on The Centre Show (BBC). Norrie Paramor spotted him and Michael Holliday was signed to Columbia label. Michael Holliday sang in a Perry Como style heavily influenced by Bing Crosby. ‘Nothin' to Do' became his first Top 30 record in 1956, and he made the Top 20 with the double-sided hit ‘The Gal with Yeller Shoes' and ‘Hot Diggity' later that same year.

Michael recorded at EMI’s Abbey Road studio and covered many US hits including: The Yellow Rose of Texas (1955), Sixteen Tons (1956), Hot Diggity, All of you, and Old Cape Cod and enjoyed UK chart success. Michael had two number ones hits: The story of my life (1958) and Starry eyed (1959).

Relaxed style made him an armchair favourite with young and old alike and he appeared in the Six Five Special (BBC) as well as hosting his own TV series, Relax with Michael Holliday (BBC). Michael released 16 extended players (EPs) one of which included “The Runaway Train,” which is an evergreen favourite among young children.

By the beginning of the 60s music tastes had changed and Michael’s chart success was over. Despite his continued popularity as a performer behind the scenes he was suffering and had a mental breakdown in 1961. A year later he appeared in the film ‘Life is a Circus' but never recovered his best form and died two years later from a suspected drugs overdose.

Worth a listen
The Yellow Rose of Texas (1955)
Sixteen Tons (1956)
Nothin' To Do (1956)
Hot Diggity (Dog Diggity Boom) (1956)
Ten Thousand Miles / The Runaway Train (1956)
I Saw Esau (1957)
All of You (1957)
Old Cape Cod (1957)
The Story of My Life (1958)
Stairway of Love (1958)
Starry Eyed (1959)

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