The sixties singing star from Broseley with name straight from the phone directory

Who in Broseley remembers the town’s big singing star of the 1950s and 1960s who took her name out of a phone directory?

Broseley singer Janie Marden raises a glass to the wedded couple after making the dash to Shropshire for the Hadley marriage in March 1965 of her cousin Diane Garbett and Clifford Biddulph.
Broseley singer Janie Marden raises a glass to the wedded couple after making the dash to Shropshire for the Hadley marriage in March 1965 of her cousin Diane Garbett and Clifford Biddulph.

Her stage name was Janie Marden, but her real name was Janet Instone, the only child of Mr and Mrs Edward Instone, and was born at New Road in Broseley.

But if you are a Broseley old ‘un and cannot remember the family, it’s probably unsurprising, because she was still not two years of age when they moved to Bristol, where young Janet, a mezzo-soprano, became a telephone operator.

She explained how she chose her stage name when she chatted to a Shropshire Star reporter in March 1965 when she came back to the county for a family wedding.

“When I started my career, my agent Tito Burns did not think the name Instone was very commercial, so we looked at the London directory and chose Marden,” she said.

That wedding, incidentally, was at Hadley and was that of her cousin Diane Garbett, of Hadley, and Clifford Biddulph, of Donnington.

Janie Marden, a 1960s singing star born Janet Instone in Broseley.

Janie had to rush to get there. She didn’t finish her cabaret spot at the Grosvenor, London, until 3am that morning and only had time for three hours’ sleep before making the journey to Shropshire.

She arrived, the Star report said, looking radiant despite her early start, in a bright green dress and matching coat, and after the wedding she rushed back to London for a cabaret engagement at the Dorchester.

She was on television too, and was about to start a new series of television shows with Ronnie Carroll, and her latest record was Burt Bacharach’s “They Long To Be Close To You” which, our report said, “came out last week and is doing very well.”

Among shows she was on were Morecambe & Wise, the Frankie Howerd Show and the Benny Hill Show. Janie released several records but does not seem to have had chart success. It looks like she was a contender to sing Britain’s song when the UK entered the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 1957, but was among the eliminated hopefuls.

What happened to her? Information about her on the internet is sparse, and for some reason wrongly claims she was born in Littlehampton in 1937. One site says: “After cutting a one-off disc in German and taking part in the 1967 Sopot song festival in Poland, she returned to Britain. There, The Big Put on, recorded for Pye in 1970, proved her last release. She is believed to have died in the late 1980s.”

If that too is wrong, then Janie would be in her late 80s now.

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