A decade before Merseybeat exploded on the scene, singers Frankie Vaughan, Lita Roza and Billy Fury were putting Liverpool firmly in the national spotlight.

Roza became the first women ever to top the UK singles chart in 1953 and Fury ended up matching the Beatles hit for hit in the early 1960s.

And Vaughan became so famous that he even appeared alongside Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe in the 1960 movie Let’s Make Love!

Billy Fury backstage during the Idols on Parade tour, November 1960

Billy Fury backstage during the Idols on Parade tour, November 1960

Born in Devon Street, Liverpool, in February 1928, Vaughan’s original name was Frank Ableson.

He changed it to Vaughan after hearing his grandmother calling him her ‘number one’ grandson in her Russian accent. Vaughan was the closest he could get to her pronunciation of ‘one’.

Always a smart dresser, Vaughan adopted his trademark top hat, bow tie, tails and cane in the 1940s when he performed song-and-dance routines.

Lita Roza relaxes at home with her pet dog, January 1957

Lita Roza relaxes at home with her pet dog, January 1957

After appearing with the Nat Temple dance band, he struck out on his own in the mid-1950s. His signature song – Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl – was released in 1955.

His brand of easy listening coupled with traditional pop proved popular – so much so that his 1956 remake of The Green Door, originally recorded by Jim Lowe, climbed to No. 2 in the UK singles charts.

A year later, Vaughan’s version of The Garden of Eden went to Number One. He hit the top spot again in 1961 with the Burt Bacharach song Tower of Strength.

Liverpool singer Lita Roza on stage, January 1957

Liverpool singer Lita Roza on stage, January 1957

A frequent performer on TV, Vaughan was voted Showbusiness Personality of the Year in 1956. He also appeared in a number of films including These Dangerous Years in 1957 and Wonderful Things in 1958.

Throughout his life, Vaughan was an avid supporter of the National Association of Boys’ Clubs after joining the Lancaster Lads’ Club in his youth. He gave the association the royalties from one song every year until his death in 1999.

Liverpool singer Lita Roza became the first woman to record a Number One single in 1953 with her rendition of the novelty song (How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?

Big-band singer Frankie Vaughan with full orchestra, January 1958

Big-band singer Frankie Vaughan with full orchestra, January 1958

Strange to say that Roza hated the tune so much that she never performed it live!

The eldest of seven children, Roza was the daughter of an amateur accordion player who was well known on the Liverpool club scene.

Following in her father’s musical footsteps, she started singing in Southport’s New Yorker club at the age of 16 and then worked with the Harry Roy Orchestra in London.

Frankie Vaughan with his trademark cane and top hat, April 1958

Frankie Vaughan with his trademark cane and top hat, April 1958

After the war, she joined the Ted Heath Band as lead singer and then branched out on her own in 1953.

Roza was voted Top Female British Singer by both Melody Maker and the New Musical Express during the 1950s and made three appearances in heats for the Eurovision Song Contest.

She gave her final public performance on Radio Merseyside in November 2002 and died peacefully at home in August 2008 at the age of 82.

Marilyn Monroe, who starred in the movie Let’s Make Love with Frankie Vaughan, July 1956

Marilyn Monroe, who starred in the movie Let’s Make Love with Frankie Vaughan, July 1956

Rock-and-roll star Billy Fury achieved the rare distinction of matching the Beatles’ record of 24 hits in the 1960s, although he never reached the Number One spot.

He made his name in the late 1950s after working as a docker in Liverpool. His breakthrough came when he went to meet impresario Larry Parnes at the Essoldo Theatre in Birkenhead.

Fury, who used his real name of Ronald Wycherley at the time, wanted to show his songs to singer Marty Wilde. But Parnes had other ideas. He pushed him straight on to the stage, signed him up for the rest of the tour and renamed him Billy Fury.

Cilla Black and Frankie Vaughan on the TV series Star Time, May 1964

Cilla Black and Frankie Vaughan on the TV series Star Time, May 1964

After continuing his song-writing through the 1970s, Fury died from a heart attack at the age of 42 in January 1983. A major contributory factor was the rheumatic fever he contracted as a child.

A bronze statue of Fury by sculptor Tom Murphy was unveiled at the National Museum of Liverpool Life in April 2003.

Singer Billy Fury at home, January 1963

Singer Billy Fury at home, January 1963