British singer of the 1960s noted for writing the theme tune to Neighbours.
Jackie Trent on Thank Your Lucky Stars Photo: Copyright (c) 1965 Rex Features. No use without permission
Jackie Trent, the singer and songwriter, who has died aged 74, topped the British charts in 1965 with Where Are You Now (My Love), composed by her and her producer (and future husband) Tony Hatch; the pair later wrote the theme for the Australian soap opera Neighbours.
Where Are You Now (My Love) was originally commissioned as a theme for the ITV detective series It’s Dark Outside and became a hit while Jackie Trent was on tour in South Africa. Captivated listeners contacted TV Times magazine to inquire about the song’s availability, provoking a sales rush. Until then, she had been known chiefly for singing hits written by others, on the BBC Light Programme and television variety shows.
Her own compositions included (with Tony Hatch) the much covered If You Ever Leave Me (1966) and, most conspicuously, the title theme to Neighbours, first recorded in 1984 by Barry Crocker. It has been cited as the world’s most recognisable television melody. Inspired by their love affair, Hatch and Jackie Trent also wrote I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love, recorded by Petula Clark in 1966.
The daughter of a Staffordshire collier, Jackie Trent was born Yvonne Burgess at Chesterton, a mining village near Newcastle-under-Lyme on September 6 1940. Aged 10 she took a bit part in a pantomime, which gave her a taste for performing in public. A year later she won her local heat in an itinerant talent contest supervised by the ITV impresario Carroll Levis, thus gaining her first exposure on national television.
By the time she left school, Yvonne – now calling herself Jackie Trent – was in demand as an entertainer in regional clubs and as the featured vocalist on palais bandstands. Uprooting to London, she met Hatch, who was on National Service but had permission to leave the barracks most afternoons to work as a producer and arranger for the Pye record company . The pair were married in 1966.
Jackie Trent recorded her debut single for the Oriole label, Pick Up the Pieces, in 1962 . Her principal source of income, however, was collaborating with Hatch on writing more than 400 songs for artists including Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Des O’Connor, Val Doonican, Shirley Bassey, Vikki Carr, Scott Walker and Dean Martin.
Though she was not subsequently able to match her week at No 1 with Where Are You Now (My Love), Jackie Trent had fun with Hatch as part of a husband-and-wife cabaret turn and recording team (“Mr and Mrs Music”), notably with The Two of Us, a duet, in 1967.
This became a smash in Australia, where the pair later came up with a song, written and recorded in just one day, for the opening and closing credits of Neighbours.
“We called in Barry Crocker at about 10pm to put his voice on it,” Jackie Trent recalled, “and it was on the producer’s desk by 10am the following morning – and they loved it.”
Jackie Trent took potshots at the charts on her own with songs such as I’ll Be Near You (1970), a number from the musical Nell!, in which she landed the title role for its round-Britain tour.
In 1972 the couple wrote We’ll Be With You, an anthem for Jackie Trent’s home football team, Stoke City , which was ranted omnes fortissimo by supporters at the 1972 League Cup Final, and spent a fortnight in the Top 40. During this period the couple composed two musicals, the most enduring of which was Rock Nativity , which still surfaces occasionally in amateur productions.
Jackie Trent’s marriage to Hatch was dissolved in 2002. In 2005, she married Colin Gregory, a police officer, and moved to Spain. Towards the end of her life she been finishing the autobiography which is the basis for Jackie: The Jackie Trent Story, a musical written by Jonathan Ferneyhough and Tim Wedgwood, West Midlands radio presenters.
She is survived by her husband, and by her two children with Tony Hatch.
Jackie Trent, born September 6 1940, died March 21 2015