As we embark on a new decade, the sad reality is that many of our beloved Eurovision stars are no longer with us. On the 16th of February, the UK woke up to the news that Pearl Carr, their Eurovision representative in 1959, had died aged 98.
Carr competed in the 4th edition of Eurovision, held in Cannes, France, against 10 other countries. As part of a duo alongside her husband Teddy Johnson, she performed “Sing, Little Birdie”, receiving 16 points overall and finishing in 2nd place.
Pearl’s nephew, Bobby Crush, took to Twitter to share the sad news, with fellow British Eurovision alum Cheryl Baker of Buck’s Fizz tweeting her condolences.
Sad to report that my darling "Auntie Pearl", PEARL CARR, passed away peacefully this afternoon at the grand old age of 98. With her beloved husband, TEDDY JOHNSON, they were the most popular singing duo of the 1950's & 60's and my friends for 40+ years https://t.co/sZGqly1hDf
— Bobby Crush (@theBobbyCrush) February 16, 2020
Beyond Eurovision, the pair were successful both as a duo and as solo artists. Pearl’s husband, Teddy Carr, was no stranger to the spotlight. He had a career in radio and children’s TV before sadly passing away in June 2018, also aged 98.
Pearl was the lead singer with the Keynotes, who had a number of hit singles in the UK across the 1950s. As a duo, you’d find Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson in the British charts, or appearing regularly on entertainment programmes. The pair were also residents onstage at the West End, before eventually retiring.
Pearl and Teddy’s finish as runner-up had a game-changing impact on the UK at Eurovision that many younger fans may not be aware of.
When the pair entered the 4th Eurovision Song Contest, the UK had a far from perfect track record. Year one: The UK missed the entry deadline and didn’t participate. Year Two: The UK finishes 7th out of 10th. Year Three: the UK didn’t participate.
When “Sing Little Birdie” scored 2nd place in Year Four, Pearl and Teddy showed Europe, and perhaps more importantly the British public, that the UK had the potential to be a force to be reckoned with at Eurovision. Thanks to their impact, the UK managed a string of four 2nd place finishes and an eventual win in 1967 with “Puppet on a String” by Sandie Shaw.
It goes without saying that the UK could really do with a sprinkle of Pearl’s magic this year, at Eurovision and beyond. Here’s to Pearl, and the hope that her story may inspire the BBC and the British public once again, just like it did over 60 years ago.
May she rest in peace.