In the beginning ...
Lyn Paul (real name Lynda Susan Belcher) was born in Wythenshawe, Manchester on 16th February 1949. Lyn comes from a large family to whom she has always been close. She has two brothers, Michael and Paul (whose name Lyn borrowed for her stage name) and three younger sisters, Mandi, Cathy and Nikki. Her mum and dad are both musical though neither have entertained professionally. As Lyn told Peter Robertson from YOURS magazine: "Mum used to play the piano and sing, and dad's always done a great Bing Crosby impersonation in the bath."
Other members of Lyn's family are also musical. Lyn's sister Mandi performed on stage with Lyn in the early 1980s and her youngest sister Nikki appeared with her in the musical Footloose. Nikki has also performed in stage productions of Starlight Express, Singin' In The Rain, Sunset Boulevard and Sweet Charity as well as filmed version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Lyn set her sights on the stage from a very early age and was encouraged by her parents from the word go. She made her stage début aged just three, playing the part of a flower! Lyn's mum enrolled her for dancing classes, which led to more stage appearances in local pantomimes and revues, to brief appearances on TV's favourite soap Coronation Street and ultimately to a qualification as a dance instructor.
At aged 14 Lyn formed the Chrys-Do-Lyns with two of her friends from the Joan Lawrence Dancing School - Christine Lowe and Doreen Jones. The girls began by performing at working men's clubs in Manchester and went on to tour the UK and Europe. When they went their separate ways in 1965, Lyn enrolled on a short modeling course and went solo for a while. Chrys later went on to help run the New Seekers' Fan Club while Lyn was a member of the group. Doreen (or Donna as she preferred to be called) later joined Springfield Revival and in the 1980s also ended up as a member of the New Seekers.
When she was 17 Lyn auditioned for a Manchester-based group called the Nocturnes. Although successful, she was not allowed to perform with the group until she'd had her 18th birthday. Until then her place in the group was kept warm by Sandra Stevens, who subsequently went on to join the Brotherhood of Man.
Joining the Nocturnes proved to be a significant career move. Lyn sang on television for the first time; her voice was captured on vinyl for the first time; and, perhaps most significantly of all, Lyn met Eve Graham, who was the other girl singer in the group.
In 1968 (the same year that the Seekers split up) Lyn left the Nocturnes to go it alone as Tanzy - a name she would later admit was "pretty horrendous"! The following year an opportunity arose to audition for a group being formed by ex-Seeker Keith Potger. Lyn's managers wanted a slice of the action and Lyn was unable to join the group. However, she tipped the wink to Eve Graham who successfully auditioned for Potger's group and became one of the founding members of the aptly named New Seekers.
Within a year Eve was able to return the favour when singer Sally Graham quit the New Seekers. After a word to the wise from Eve, Lyn auditioned for the group and joined the New Seekers in early 1970.
By the end of 1971 Lyn had travelled with the New Seekers to Europe, Australia and the United States of America. The group had scored international hits with What Have They Done To My Song, Ma and Never Ending Song Of Love. The Big Time was beckoning.
In January 1972 I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) - a tune which had started its life as a Coca-Cola commercial - went to number 1 in the UK. This success was repeated around the world and the New Seekers became a household name. In March the New Seekers represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest with Beg, Steal Or Borrow (a song which featured Lyn on lead vocal). In true British tradition the song came second - the 8th time that the UK had finished in the runners up slot - but the song nonetheless went on to become one of the biggest-selling Eurovision hits of all time. More hits followed - Circles, Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me and Come Softly To Me. The New Seekers seldom had time to relax and were rarely out of the public eye, with punishing concert schedules, constant appearances on TV and the merry-go-round of photo shoots and interviews for the teen music magazines. "We were mobbed everywhere we went" Lyn told Peter Robertson, "which was very unusual for a band with two girls in."
Inevitably fame began to take its toll. Peter Doyle was the first to leave the group in 1973 and when Eve Graham announced that she also wanted to go, Lyn dropped the bombshell that she too had decided to quit. Before they disbanded in May 1974, the New Seekers had two final top ten hits (both of which featured Lyn on lead vocal) - You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me (UK number 1) and I Get A Little Sentimental Over You (UK number 5).
Lyn launched her solo career with Sail The Summer Winds, the theme song to the 1974 film The Dove, directed by Gregory Peck. Although the song sold well (it hovered just outside the Top 50 for a couple of weeks) it wasn't until the following Summer that Lyn was to see her name back in the charts again. It Oughta Sell A Million didn't do quite that but it was a Top 40 hit and it did help to establish Lyn Paul as a name in her own right.
Throughout the rest of the 1970s Lyn appeared regularly in concert and in cabaret, including a tour with Jack Jones (1975) and three Summer Seasons with Freddie Starr (1976. 1977 and 1978).
The 1980s saw Lyn riding the vicissitudes of fortune (and making numerous appearances in the UK's tabloid press) - a short-lived and unhappy marriage, a robbery at her home and two car break-ins as well as a cancer scare. Having battled through some tough times, Lyn describes herself as a survivor: "My life is a very strange life" she told Stewart Knowles from the TV Times, "It goes up and I have terrific highs. Then it comes down and the whole world collapses around me. I have career problems, money problems, personal problems, just about everything."
The '80s end more happily than they had begun, with a successful second marriage to Alan Young and a baby son called Ryan, whom Lyn adores.
Lyn spent the early 1990s looking after her young son. She continued to perform, making annual appearances in Christmas pantos with many of Britain's top comedians and actors. 1994, however, marked the lowest point of her career when she was forced to declare herself bankrupt.
From then on the only way was up! In 1997 Lyn broke into stage musicals, playing the lead role of Mrs. Johnstone in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers. Following a short run in the West End, Lyn spent four months in the UK touring production. She then returned to the West End production at the Phoenix Theatre where, on 28th July 1998, she led the cast in celebrating the show's triumphant 10th anniversary. Lyn continued to perform in Blood Brothers throughout 1999 and returned to the show again after a ten-month break in October 2000. On Saturday, 5th May 2001 Lyn brought down the curtain on a role which had brought her critical acclaim and huge personal success.
But, as Lyn herself once sang: "There's nothing that's so final about leaving." In 2002 producer Bill Kenwright persuaded Lyn to return to the show for a few weeks, including two weeks in the West End (one in March and another in December), a week in Malvern and a fortnight at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool. Lyn was persuaded to return yet again in 2003: first it was for a week (31st March - 5th April), then for a six-month run beginning in September.
Lyn ended up spending most of 2004 in Blood Brothers and returned again in 2006 when Linda Nolan was forced to pull out of the touring production after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the end of 2007 Bill Kenwright again invited Lyn to return to Blood Brothers, this time for a special production of the show to herald in Liverpool's year as European Capital Of Culture. 2012 saw Lyn take part in another special production of Blood Brothers - and this time it really was the last time. With the Olympics taking its toll on London's theatre audiences, the curtain finally came down on the West End production of Blood Brothers. A special cast of old favourites was assembled for the final two weeks (29th October - 10th November) and, of all the Mrs. Johnstones, Lyn was the one chosen to come back for the emotional final farewell.
In May 2002 Lyn Paul joined Boy George in the new cast of his hit West End musical Taboo. The Original London Cast recording of the show, which was due for release at the time, was delayed so that Lyn could be included on it. The album was eventually released in October and featured Lyn singing what is arguably the strongest song in the show, Talk Amongst Yourselves. Lyn performed the song at the Royal Albert Hall in July 2002 at Culture Club's 20th anniversary concert. She left Taboo in November 2002.
Lyn's career began as a child actor in Coronation Street. In February 2003 it came full circle when she returned to TV soaps with an appearance as Freda Danby in Emmerdale. Her other acting roles have included appearances in Doctors and In Deep, both recorded in 2001 for the BBC, Holby City (BBC1, 2006), as well as a return to Emmerdale in 2005.
In February 2007 Lyn Paul returned to stage musicals, taking the part of Vi Moore in the UK touring production of Footloose The Musical. The show then transferred to the West End for a three-and-a-half month run at the Playhouse Theatre, at the end of which Lyn returned to her favourite role - Mrs. Johnstone in Blood Brothers.
In 2011 Lyn Paul was invited to join the cast of a new musical, Rhinestone Mondays. Billed as a Country music comedy, the show had its premiere at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester on 31st August and toured the UK for just seven weeks.
After the last night in Newcastle on 22nd October, Lyn put her energy into promoting a calendar in memory of her mother, who had died from Alzheimer's disease the previous year. The calendar, titled The Ladies of Willy Russell's Blood Brothers "Uncovered!", featured Lyn and eleven other members of the Blood Brothers cast posing in the nude on the stage of the Phoenix Theatre. All proceeds from the sale of the calendar went to the Alzheimer's Society.