DORIS TROY Doris passed away yesterday, 16th June 2004, in her Las Vegas home.
I’m not sure of the causes but she had suffered from breathing problems for a long while. Born Doris Payne in New York City in 1937, she was a truly great soul singer and songwriter who shot to fame in 1963 with her top ten Atlantic smash ‘Just One Look’. She cut more soulful sides for the label; ‘He Don’t Belong To Me’ and ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’ are personal favourites.
By 1964 she had visited the UK and enjoyed the Swinging London scene so much that she stayed (she recorded here frequently over the next ten years). In that year her ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ single was a hit in the UK only and that as well as ‘Just One Look’ were covered to great commercial success by the Hollies. She then moved on to Capitol records for a great double sider, ‘Face Up To The Truth’ / ‘He’s Qualified’, and then on to Calla for the Philly produced Northern Soul classic ‘I’ll Do Anything’. Lack of commercial success Stateside saw her return to the UK where she signed for the Beatles’ Apple label for whom she cut an album and several singles. Her signing was down to the group themselves who had been big fans of hers for years, in fact the whole of the UK pop scene seemed to be captivated by her talent and unaffected charm.
After Apple she cut for the UK People label and staged concerts with gospel choirs that she had worked with throughout her music business career. In the early 90s she wrote and performed in an autobiographical play about her career called "Mama I Want To Sing". When the show came to the West End she acted her own mother’s role and Chaka Khan, Deniece Williams and Mica Paris acted her part at different times. The show ran for several months, and stars such as Prince and Stevie Wonder turned up to see it and meet the legend.
At this time I was running my fourth Cleethorpes Northern Soul weekender and had been let down by an act I had booked for it. I rang Doris cold and asked her if she could come up and help me out with a PA at the event. She agreed to straight away (and very reasonably), even if it was on the only day she had off from the show. Her presence was tremendous and of course she was great with the fans. The meeting lead to me working as her agent, when she decided to stay on in London after her show closed.
She performed many jazz and supper clubs and did a full soul show at the 100 Club where Van Morrison came down to see her as a fan, remembering her fondly from the 60s. She then appeared at another Cleethorpes weekender with full backing band and this was filmed by Channel 4 for a documentary they did about the event. Bad health forced her to return to the States where she lived in New York with her sister Vi, a top DJ over there.
Eventually her health worries forced her to live in Las Vegas where the climate helped her breathing. Doris was one of the most understanding and kind hearted people you could ever wish to meet. Her approachability often made you forget what a talented artist she was. She would treat each fan as graciously as each megastar who came to see her. And when she referred to her friends as "Baby, Baby, Baby", they always felt very special.