The death of Kenny Lynch last year signalled a fine heartfelt response from what seemed like half of my ‘friends’ on social media. Most of them, more often than not, were in and around my age, and would have felt like me, that they had grown up with Kenny. He was one of those faces that were ‘just there’ throughout our formative years.
It’s later you gradually realise the body of work that the person has done and how that in itself has influenced your own taste years later.
I once met him down East Lane in SE17 of all places one, when he was down there at the old ‘A1 Records’ store with his old mate ‘Tarby’, Jimmy Tarbuck. I even ended up with a signed single, which I hope I’ve still got somewhere in my stack of vinyl.
So today I will take a look at the life and work of Kenneth Lynch OBE of Stepney, East London. Born in 1938 and one of eleven children, Lynch’s dad Oscar was from Barbados and a seaman, who served in the Merchant Navy during World War I. His mother Amelia was of mixed Irish stock.
Kenny was an amateur local performer from the age of 12, along with his sister Gladys, who was later known as the professional singer Maxine Daniels. Like many of his generation, he worked a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet, including a porter at the Billingsgate fish market and working as a street trader. In 1957, he began National Service in the Army as a driver and ended up the featherweight boxing champion of his regiment.
Once demobbed, he worked as a bar man back in the East End and he often gave over a song there too. He began picking up work in Soho nightspots, working with local dance bands. He was then spotted by Shirley Bassey and her agent Jean Lincoln, which led to a contract with HMV.
Then came a few hit singles, including ‘Up On the Roof’ in 1963 and the first EVER cover version of a Beatle tune namely ‘Misery’ in the same year. His record ‘Movin’ Away’ is still highly regarded on the Soul scene.
Kenny also wrote tunes for other acts too, such as ‘Sha La La La Lee’ ‘You Better Believe It’ and ‘I’m Sorry She’s Mine’ all for the Small Faces and ‘Loves Just a Broken Heart’ for Cilla Black. Most of his recorded works were published by his own Kenny Lynch Music Company. Shrewd. Kenny also owned the Kenny lynch Record Centre in Walkers Court, Soho.
He became a very popular entertainer in the 1960s and 70s, often seen with his showbiz pals, ‘Tarby’ and Brucie and as mentioned earlier, was often seen on the television of that era.
He also made a very popular appearance in the film ‘Dr. Terrors House of Horrors’ alongside an interesting cast, including Peter Cushing, Roy Castle and my man Tubby Hayes. From that, I urge you to check out the song ‘Give Me Love.’ Marvellous.
In his later performing years, he became a regular on programmes like ‘Celebrity Squares’ and appeared episodes of ‘The Sweeney’ ‘Z Cars’ ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ and ‘Curry and Chips’
Kenny was awarded the OBE in 1971 and famously appeared on the album sleeve of ‘Band on The Run’ by the band Wings in 1973.
In later years Lynch performed a cabaret show at many a UK theatre, including Ronnie Scott’s jazz Club in 2011.
He died aged 81 on the 18th December 2019, survived by his daughters, Amy and Bobby.
Good night, God bless.
The Mumper of SE5