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of the week

The Canadian singer J.J. Barrie is 90 this week. He is the second oldest living male singer to have had a UK number one after Tony Bennett.

In the UK, he was a one-hit-wonder and his song, No Charge, often gets voted as one of the worst songs of all time. Why? Who knows.

Barrie was born Barrie Authors, a song writer and former manager of the British group Blue Mink. No Charge was written by Harlan Howard and first recorded by Melba Montgomery in 1974 who said of it, “Harlan wrote that song for me and gave it to myself and my producer, Pete Drake. I didn’t think I could do it because of my southern accent and I had never done a recitation before. It came off so naturally in the studio that everybody loved it. It is a very emotional song, especially for anyone like myself who has kids,” and indeed it is.

It was Authors’ wife Kristine who first heard Montgomery’s version and suggested Barrie record a cover which he did under his son’s nickname J.J. He thought it need a female voice on it and asked Vicky Brown from the Breakways to sing the choruses. Vicky was the wife of Joe Brown, so at least she managed a number one hit whereas her husband didn’t.

Kristine, who had also recorded solo under the name Christine Holmes, late joined Family Dogg and featured on their only hit A Way of Life. She also wrote songs most notably Devil Woman under the name Krstine Sparkle but it was Cliff Richard who covered it and had the hit.

Get your hanky out, it’s not that bad….really.