Recently I have enjoyed having a look through various old music magazines online to see if there is anyone featured from the early-80s who I wouldn’t remember from first time round, but if I had been a few years older I’m sure I would’ve liked. I remember coming across a piece about this singer, and I wanted to find out more about them, and once again, even though they had only one hit single about four decades ago, it turns out that they had a rather interesting career in pop music back in those years.
Bette Bright was born Anne Martin in Whitstable in Kent (I haven’t been able to find out exactly when though). She entered the music scene in the mid-70s as a singer in the group Deaf School. They started to earn a good reputation, in July 1976 they appeared on the cover of Melody Maker, and they also made a few TV appearances, where they performed some of their songs including “What A Way To End It All”.
A couple of years later, Bette went out on her own and released five singles (I think that all of them were covers), but only one was a hit. Some of these were credited to Bette Bright And The Illuminations, a backing band that at this time included members of Visage and the Sex Pistols. In September 1978 her first single “My Boyfriend’s Back” was released, and one critic described her voice as “cutesy-cutesy”. This was around the time that Blondie broke big in the UK, so suddenly lots of singles were being released by women who sounded like Debbie Harry for a quick cash-in, but I don’t think that this was the intent with this one. Also around this time, Bette had striking bright red hair.
The next single in February 1979 was “The Captain Of Your Ship” (I can’t help but always think of the version used in the 90s Mullerrice advert). And would you believe it, also in this month, Bette appeared on the cover of Record Mirror. She also toured around this time and was certainly starting to grab an increasing amount of people’s attention, it now only seemed to be a matter of time before she would finally have some chart success.
In February 1980 “Hello I Am Your Heart” was released, and this was somewhat reggae tinged, and I’d have to say this is among my favourites of hers. Bette earned a few more magazine articles, including a review of the single in Smash Hits, who thought it would be an, er, smash hit. But it was a hit, reaching no. 50, and spending five weeks on the chart. I’m not aware of any music video or TV appearances promoting this one though.
Then in July 1981 there was “When You Were Mine”, an early Prince song, that was released on a fancy picture disc. And finally, in September 1981, there was “Some Girls Have All The Luck”, a gender-flipped take on “Some Guys Have All The Luck”. This was followed in November 1981 by the album “Rhythm Breaks The Ice”, also featuring a few original songs, but it wasn’t a hit. By this point, her backing band featured Ian Broudie, who would later find fame with The Lightning Seeds.
By this point, Bette had started to date Graham “Suggs” McPherson, the frontman of Madness, and in December 1981 they got married. Although Bette wasn’t a chart-topping singer herself, at least she was married to one. They have had two children, and almost 40 years later they are still together, how lovely. Bette practically quit the music scene at this point, although she did appear in the video for the Madness single “One Better Day”, and also participated in the eventual Deaf School reunion. She should’ve been huge!