Kenneth Lynch, OBE (18 March 1938 – 18 December 2019) was an English singer, songwriter, entertainer and actor.
He appeared in many variety shows in the 1960s. At the time, he was among the few black singers in British pop music.
Lynch grew up in Stepney, East London as one of 13 children; his sister Gladys (stage name Maxine Daniels) was a jazz singer of some note. After leaving school at 15 and working various jobs, he did national service in the Royal Army Service Corps and was the regimental featherweight boxing champion. He was also a professional singer. He had two daughters, Amy Lynch and Bobby Lynch. His father was born in Barbados and his mother was mixed-raced British and Jamaican.
Lynch had several UK hit singles in the early 1960s, including the two Top Ten hits, "Up on the Roof" in January 1963, and "You Can Never Stop Me Loving You" in August 1963. He is also known for a single release of "Misery", the first cover version of a Beatles song to be released. In early 1963, Lynch had been on the same bill as the Beatles on the group's first British tour; John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote "Misery" in January 1963, in the hopes that the artist on top of the bill, Helen Shapiro, would record it. Shapiro's record producer turned it down, but Lynch took the composition and gave it a much more pop oriented arrangement than the Beatles would use when they recorded "Misery" themselves on their debut album, Please Please Me. Whilst on a coach with the Beatles (on tour with Helen Shapiro), Lynch reportedly offered to help them write a song, but quickly became frustrated and criticised their ability to compose music – at the time Lennon and McCartney were writing "From Me to You". Years later he appeared on the album cover of Wings' 1973 album Band on the Run, along with other celebrities.
Much of Lynch's material was self-written, but he also covered songs by writers of the Brill Building.
Lynch also wrote songs for others including actress Linda Thorson, Small Faces' No. 3 UK hit "Sha-La-La-La-Lee" and Cilla Black's No. 5 UK hit "Love's Just A Broken Heart", in collaboration with American songwriter Mort Shuman. "You'd Better Believe It" (co-written with Jerry Ragavoy) and "Sorry She's Mine", which also appeared on the Small Faces' 1966 debut album, were both Lynch works.
Lynch took part in the A Song For Europe contest in 1962 with the song "There's Never Been A Girl", but failed to win through to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Lynch had more success in 1978, as a songwriter and producer. That year, his song "Don't Bother To Knock", written for the group Midnight, placed second in the contest. The same year he wrote '"Love Crazy", the theme used for Carry On Emmannuelle, and "You Can't Fight It", the vocal version of the theme to the John Carpenter film Assault on Precinct 13. He also oversaw the production for Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard's comedy version of You're the One That I Want which reached 22 in the UK charts in September 1978.
In the early 1980s, Lynch formed a songwriting partnership with former tennis player Buster Mottram, a long-time white nationalist political activist.
Lynch has appeared on various television programmes, including Celebrity Squares, Mooncat & Co., Room at the Bottom, Bullseye and Curry and Chips. He has also appeared on Z-Cars, The Sweeney, Till Death Us Do Part and Treasure Hunt.
Lynch played in several charity football matches and took part in Michael Parkinson's 'Celebrity Cricket' fundraisers. In 2018 Lynch had a concert tour with Jimmy Tarbuck and Anita Harris, as well as appearing in ITV's Last Laugh in Vegas.
He died in the early hours of 18 December 2019, aged 81.
Lynch's appearances on the UK Singles Chart include:
- "Mountain of Love" (1960 – No. 33 UK)
- "Puff (Up In Smoke)" (1962 – No. 33 UK)
- "Up on the Roof" (1962 – No. 10 UK)
- "You Can Never Stop Me Loving You" (1963 – No. 10 UK)
- "It Ain't Fair" (King) The Boys (1964 Producer)
- "Stand by Me" (1964 – No. 39 UK)
- "What Am I to You" (1964 – No. 37 UK)
- "I'll Stay by You" (1965 – No. 29 UK)
- "Half the Day's Gone and We Haven't Earned a Penny" (1983 – No. 50 UK)
- Just for Fun (1963)
- Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)
- The Plank (1967)
- Carry On Loving (1970)
- The Alf Garnett Saga (1972)
- The Playbirds (1978)
- The Plank (1979) – remake of the 1967 film
- Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979)
- The Riddle (2007)
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