POP IDOL: I'M A LUCKY GUY!
With his boyish charm, smartly turned out appearance, and well-scrubbed ‘boy next door' good looks Mark was one of the most popular brylcreem boys of the pre-Beatles era and enjoyed a phenomenally high profile on TV & radio, in adverts and commercials, in films, pop mags and girls' comics, on package tours, summer seasons and pantomimes.
His path to pop stardom began in a Peckham dance hall in July 1959. Sixteen year old Terry Lewis was fronting a semi-pro beat group, (deputising for a friend who had lost his voice) and was noticed by a talent scout, one Ray Mackender, who became his manager and was responsible for guiding him from part time amateur to full time professional. Ray and Mark below.
The first change was his name! Terry was a very fashionable name at the time of his birth - remember Adam Faith and Matt Monro - they were both Terry's! – but to lessen the confusion with Jerry Lee Lewis Terry Lewis decided to change his name to ‘Mark' and ‘Wynter' came out of the phone book. And so the newly named Mark Wynter made his first major public appearance at a charity bash in Cheshunt thrown by local hero Cliff Richard, with his newly formed backing group called “The Snowdrifts.”
Mark's “Snowdrifts” failed to settle and were a seasonal affair lasting only three months, but Mark enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame during his first year in showbiz. The rave reviews from Mark's first London cabaret dates at the Blue Angel in June 1960 led to impresario Harold Fielding offering him his first Summer Season in Bournemouth and radio and television appearances followed along with his first recording contract with Decca Records. The picture on the left is from Mark's first ever photo session shot by Brian Tufano who went on to be a very successful cinematographer on BLADE RUNNER, TRAINSPOTTING, EAST IS EAST and BILLY ELLIOTT.
The May 1960 issue of REVEILLE carried a ringing endorsement from the King himself - Elvis Presley – “I know one of your best new ballad boys is a kid called Mark Wynter.”
1961 was a big year for 18 year old Mark as he appeared on UK package tours alongside visiting US hit recording artists, Jimmy Jones and Gene Vincent .Mark was voted ‘Most Promising Newcomer' in the New Musical Express. The silver cup award was presented by American star Connie Francis.
Also during 1961 Mark toured Australia , twice, where he made a simply enormous impact that included his own hour long TV spectacular, EXCLUSIVELY YOURS. The colour pictures below show Mark arriving in Australia and greeting fans.
On the Australian tour bill with Mark were Bobby Vee [pictured above] and The Everly Brothers, he returned to the UK for Summer Seasons at Bournemouth and Southsea plus prestige Sunday Summer concerts at Blackpool with Shirley Bassey.
Mark ended 1961 playing his first pantomime – Cole Porter's ALADDIN. Cliff Richard was one of the friends who came to watch the show.
By 1962 Mark was very much on a roll. He won rave reviews for his appearances both as singer and compere on a Spring package tour alongside American singing stars Johnny Burnette, Gene McDaniels and Gary US Bonds. Mark topped the bill at another highly successful Summer Season at Bournemouth juxtaposed alongside Sunday night concerts at the Opera House in Blackpool and landed the leading role in the film JUST FOR FUN, that is now considered to be a cult film of its time.
The only fly in the ointment was that his latest single ANGEL TALK hadn't shown up in the charts despite Mark having plugged it on TV shows like THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS and STAR TIME and this led to Mark changing labels and entering into the most commercially successful phase of his recording career.
Pye records ambitious young A&R man Tony Hatch had heard a great new American song VENUS IN BLUE JEANS written by the Brill Building team of Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller and was looking for the right teenage voice to record it. He knew who he wanted, Mark Wynter and so Mark moved to Pye records, recorded VENUS IN BLUE JEANS and by October 1962 it was in the Top 10, peaking at No 4, giving him his biggest hit and winning his first Silver Disc.
Mark spent his 19th birthday in Tahiti , pictured right. The autumn/winter of 1962/63 was a hectic time for Mark what with his 13-week BBC series IT'S MARK TIME, a hugely successful UK package tour, THE MAMMOUTH STAR SHOW OF 62 with Billy Fury, Joe Brown, Marty Wilde and Jimmy Justice, and filming JUST FOR FUN.
Mark's next record, GO AWAY LITTLE GIRL was another Brill Building classic, this one written by Gerry Goffin and Carol King, which made it to No 6 in January 63, - Mark's second top ten hit in a row.
ALADDIN'S LAMP didn't do quite as well but SHY GIRL restored Mark to the Top 30. Another steady seller around this time was the JUST FOR FUN EP which included a couple of numbers Mark had sung in the movie, VOTE FOR ME and HAPPY WITH YOU.
Another popular item was his EP IT'S MARK TIME which featured his version of Billy Fury's then-current hit IN THE SUMMER although the EP's standout track was Mark's own composition I'M A LUCKY GUY.
Other singles recorded by Mark during this period were RUNNING TO YOU, the Dream Weavers oldie IT'S ALMOST TOMORROW, THE BOY YOU'RE KISSIN', the Platters' ONLY YOU (AND YOU ALONE), ANSWER ME, LOVE HURTS and the Beatles' AND I LOVE HER.(See Discography for full details)
September 1964 encompassed an extraordinary tour which included performances in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Belgium, finishing in London at the Royal Albert Hall - and all in just two weeks! Mark had last appeared there as a solo chorister when he was eleven years old. The choir boy had come a long way.
Mark joined Morecambe and Wise in 1965 for a season at Blackpool 's ABC Theatre.
However Mark was becoming increasingly restless as a pop singer and was anxious for new challenges. A regular theatre-goer, his aspirations lay in becoming a respected actor.