Singer-songwriter who achieved fleeting fame in 1964 with 'Terry', her lament for a dead motorcyclist
Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30
Lynn Ripley, who has died of cancer aged 66, enjoyed fleeting celebrity as the pop singer Twinkle, scoring a Top Ten hit just after she left school in 1964 with 'Terry', a mawkish ballad about a dead biker.
She wrote it aged 14 while bored during French lessons at Queen's Gate School in Knightsbridge and gained her entry into the recording studios at the age of 16 when her then boyfriend, Dec Cluskey, a member of The Bachelors, helped her to secure a recording deal with Decca. Following a television debut on Thank Your Lucky Stars, the song - a young girl's lament for a boyfriend killed in a motorcycle accident ("He rode into the night/ Accelerated his motorbike/I cried to him in fright/Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it!") with its plaintive refrain "please wait at the gates of Heaven for me, Te-erry" - reached number four in the charts in December 1964 .
Its success owed something to Twinkle's Sixties dolly-bird looks - but also to the horror with which it was greeted by the establishment. Condemned as "dangerous drivel" by Lord (Ted) Willis, the song was subsequently banned by both the BBC and by Ready Steady Go! on ITV, though it brought Twinkle a good luck card from Sir Alec Douglas-Home, a friend of her father's.
Twinkle went on to tour with the Rolling Stones, although her parents insisted that she be accompanied by a uniformed nanny. Nonetheless she recalled that, on a flight from Dublin, Brian Jones and Mick Jagger had fought (she claimed unsuccessfully) for her favours. "I was sitting next to Brian. Actually he was holding my sick bag - there was quite a bit of turbulence," she said. "I thought he was very nice. Then Mick came over and angrily said 'you're sitting next to my girl'. The language became appalling."
But a follow-up single, 'Golden Lights' (later covered by The Smiths), failed to make it into the Top 20, and she did not enjoy performing live.
Lynn Annette Ripley was born in Surbiton on July 15, 1948, and was brought up in a large house in Surrey. Her father, Sydney, a rich businessman and prominent Conservative councillor, gave her the pet name "Twinkle".
She showed early musical talent when, aged three, she picked out the National Anthem on the grand piano in the family drawing room: "I was playing concerts when I was four," she claimed, "but got bored, and gave up when I was eight."
Her interest in music rekindled at Queen's Gate School, where she was a contemporary of the young Camilla Shand (now the Duchess of Cornwall), who she recalled as "fun and definitely no angel".
The inspiration for 'Terry' came to her as she sat in the back of her parents' chauffeur-driven limousine travelling on the A3. "These boys on big bikes came by and everything flowed from that image," she said. "There never was a real Terry in my life - I wasn't interested in sex then, certainly not with boys who greased their hair back and drove motorcycles. Anyway, my parents would not have allowed it."
The £15,000 she made from 'Terry' was gone in a couple of weeks. "I moved into a flat owned by Daddy in Hampton, and he gave me an allowance. I lived there with a housekeeper, seven dogs and a pig and spent my time writing songs and taking in stray animals."
Twinkle recorded four more singles for Decca, however, she confessed that "after Golden Lights, nothing I have ever done has been to my liking". In 1972 she married Graham Rogers, who appeared on television as the Milk Tray Man in several Cadbury's adverts.
For many years they lived in Oxshott, Surrey, where Twinkle became an animal rights activist, later moving to the Isle of Wight.
Twinkle died on May 21 and her husband survives her with their son and daughter.