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May 19: Alma Cogan and John Lennon

May 18, 2015

almabeatBritish pop singer Alma Cogan (Cohen), the highest-paid female vocalist in Great Britain during the 1950s and early 1960s (although she remained living with her mother) was born in London on this date in 1932. She broke into recording in her teen years, and in 1953, after laughing during the recording of one of her songs, she became known as “the girl with the giggle in her voice.” Cogan became close friends with the Beatles. Paul McCartney composed the melody of “Yesterday” on her piano. John Lennon, whom she met in 1964 on a rehearsal stage, is said to have had a serious romance with her — about which his wife, Cynthia Lennon, would say: “Alma was about eight years older than John and very much the Auntie figure. Don’t forget that Yoko was also older than John by about seven years. Like Yoko in so many ways, Alma was a very compelling woman.... When Alma died from ovarian cancer, aged only 34, John was inconsolable.” To read a detailed account about Cogan and her relationship with the Beatles, click here.

“By the late fifties, Alma was a huge star, dazzling audiences with her perfect black bouffant hairdo, Hollywood smile, bouncy novelty songs and huge glittery dresses. She became legendary for these dresses and would make as many as eleven dress changes during one show. Many of her flamboyant costumes had been designed by Alma herself, including a dress that required over 250 yards of material in its petticoat to achieve the shape...” —Beatles Girls