Malcolm James Roberts was born on 31st March 1944 at Blackley, Manchester. He was the second child to Doris and Jim Roberts. As a junior he attended Crosslee School before moving to Moss House Secondary School. One of his school friends at Crosslee School was Fred Eyre, who went on to become a well-known footballer, and in his book “Kicked into Touch” there is a chapter all about the antics that he and Malcolm used to get up to. Well worth a read! At the age of thirteen Malcolm passed the entrance exam to attend Manchester College of Art. He was always interested in the music and arts and became a member of Blackley Brass Band playing the trumpet and soon joined the local operatic societies and made his first appearance in “Showboat” when he was only thirteen. In 1957 Malcolm took part in the eleventh Annual Drama Festival for Schools at The Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. His school, Moss House presented Scenes from The Tempest and Malcolm took the role of Alonzo, King of Naples. The following year again he was chosen for a role in the presentation and took the role of Monsieur de Beauolis in The Poison Party, a play by F. Sladen-Smith; and Malcolm was also in the North Manchester Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society’s productions of “Carousel” in which he appeared as Mr Snow, and in 1962 was in Wild Violets for them. In 1959, for the Schools Festival of the Arts he was Silas Snaker, a rascally banker in a Melodrama “Hiss the Villain”.
When he became a full time student at Manchester College of Art he studied interior design and architecture; drawings and painting became a hobby to him in later life. Acting and singing began to be a very important part of Malcolm’s early days, and he said in an early interview that he first started taking an interest in singing at junior school when he used to compete with another boy in assembly every morning to see who could sing the hymns the loudest. Soon he had progressed to taking the lead roles in musicals. And Feb 1961 he was chosen to take the part of Lt Cable in Preston Musical Comedy Society’s production of “ South Pacific” and in March 1964 he took the role of Tony in Ashton -Under-Lyne Operatic Society’s production of “ West Side Story”. In both productions Malcolm’s fine voice had been noticed, and he got excellent reviews in the local press. He continued to make appearances with the National Youth Theatre in productions of Henry V and Julius Caesar along with other up and coming young actors including Simon Ward, Timothy Dalton, and Hywell Bennett.
Football was another hobby of Malcolm’s and he played regularly with the Manchester Northern team, and was invited to join the Manchester City Colts. He also had a couple of games with the City’s reserve team, but decided that his music was to take first place in his life. However Malcolm never lost the support for Manchester City and continued to give it to the end of his life.
It was while he was taking the role of Tony in West Side Story that he was hand picked by Lionel Bart to appear in his West End production of “Maggie May” at The Adelphi Theatre. He took the role of Eric Dooley, but during the run he also understudied five of the lead roles in the show. This was in 1964 and around this time Malcolm was also doing walk on parts in various TV shows, including Coronation Street. After the run of Maggie May ended, Malcolm had a variety of jobs including being a bouncer in some of the clubs in Soho, an ice cream sales man and he also managed a nightclub called The Zebra. It was while he was here that he met and became friendly with Kenny Clayton, who was pianist to Shirley Bassey, and he introduced Malcolm to Tony Lewis who was manager to Shirley, and soon he became Malcolm’s first manager.
Within months Malcolm had a recording contract with RCA and recorded his first record entitled “ Time Alone Will Tell,” and on April 23rd 1967 Malcolm made an appearance on Sunday Night at The London Palladium. His first Album was also released entitled “Mr Roberts” the cover notes were written by Pete Murray, the well-known DJ and broadcaster. In one year Malcolm appeared on some 65 television shows. On July 22nd 1968 Malcolm was invited to appear in A Royal Gala from The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in which he sang songs from various shows that had appeared at Drury Lane. It was a memorable performance when he sang “Oklahoma” when it was shown on TV a few days later. In 1968 Malcolm had a great success with a record called “May I have the Next Dream with you”, a catchy song which reached No. 8 and was in the charts for 14 weeks, and Malcolm was appearing most weeks in cabaret clubs up and down the country and gathering quite a following of female fans. He had also changed record labels and was now with Major Minor.
In December 1968 Malcolm was invited to attend the Malta Song Festival as a special guest and other cabaret dates and TV shows on the continent soon followed. Royal Gala Shows and Showbiz Football matches were all part of the early days of 1969 and it was in May 1969 that Malcolm was a special guest in a concert at The Festival Hall given by the well-known musician Geraldo. Malcolm sang “In the still of the night” “Night & Day” and “I love Paris”. It was another prestigious appearance. June saw Malcolm again in another Royal Gala, this time held at The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. It was to raise funds for York Minster. From July Malcolm was in the Corbett Follies at The Palace Pier Brighton. It was a great time for him, as he made friends with the Life Boat Crew who had their station just by the pier and Malcolm could be found most afternoons spending time with them and getting a good tan at the same time.
By now Malcolm knew he had been selected to be the British representative at the International Song Festival in Rio de Janeiro and would be singing a song especially written for him by Les Reed and Barry Mason called “ Love is All”. The Festival was taking place in October and Malcolm was amazed at the reception he got during the rehearsals for the big night. The Brazilian girls went wild for his blonde hair and handsome looks. He was made favourite to win the competition which had singers from many other countries, but on the final night, watched by a 40,000 strong audience in the Maracanazinho Stadium and thousands more on TV there was a mistake in the voting system by the Japanese judge, and when the points were added it made Malcolm third place. The whole stadium erupted with chanting for Malcolm, and he received a 20-minute standing ovation before there was some sort of order and eventually Malcolm went forward and draped the Union Flag around the shoulders of Bill Medley to quieten the audience, so that he could sing his song. The winner of the contest was in fact the Brazilian singer Evie, who the audience did not consider to be the outright winner. After such a night Malcolm was hailed as a truly international star and “ Love is All” became a huge success in South America. To this day people still hold the song dear to their hearts and it is played at weddings and even funerals. In England the record reached No 12 in the charts and was there for 12 weeks.
Malcolm was soon invited back to South America to appear on TV and to have his own concerts in the major cites of Brazil, and Argentina. It was a very busy few months because Malcolm was also booked to appear at Torquay in his first pantomime “Puss in Boots” at The Princess Theatre, though fortunately the show opened on Dec 26th and ran all through January. In February Malcolm was again globe trotting, this time to appear at The Hilton Hotel in Hong Kong in a month long cabaret booking. Further records were released but none came up to the success he had with “Love is All”. In May 1970 Malcolm appeared in concerts and numerous TV shows all over Peru, and again the girls were enthralled by his voice, and his good looks. Malcolm was now in demand world wide, and in July he went over to Las Vegas to appear with Jack Benny at The Sahara Hotel. He also appeared at Lake Tahoe and Reno. This turned out to be a wonderful booking and opened up another world to Malcolm. He made TV appearances on The Johnny Carson Show and The David Frost Show in New York and met some of the legendary stars in Las Vegas like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Malcolm was so popular that he was invited again to appear with Jack Benny at The Sahara, and Malcolm returned in November for another stint on the Las Vegas scene.
By the Autumn Malcolm was preparing for his appearance in The London Palladium pantomime “Cinderella” where he took the role of Prince Charming. It was a great success and the run was extended almost until Easter! Another trip to South America followed, and not long after his return to England he went to The European Song Festival, this time at Knokke in Belgium. He appeared with Penny Lane and the couple won the contest outright, with Malcolm also receiving an award for the singer scoring the highest points and the BBC winning The Golden Sea Swallow award for the best live TV show. In March 1974 Malcolm went to The Diplomat Hotel in Miami, Florida to appear in cabaret, where again he got rave reviews. Liza Minnelli was also appearing there in one of the other cabaret rooms. He also did shows in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and more dates in Germany and Belgium followed. Malcolm was also in demand for cabaret appearances and TV shows, making guest appearances on Olivia Newton John’s show, Startime, from The Talk of the Town, and Malcolm had his own show on BBC. It was also in 1974 that Malcolm got a month long booking at the famous Talk of the Town in London. While there he made the live recording which is available on CD.
In 1975 Malcolm was again back at The Diplomat Hotel appearing in cabaret and over the next few years Malcolm also made many trips to South America. In 1978 Malcolm returned from America where he had been living for some time. He had found the life style very different from England and the music scene was not as he had expected. He had been concentrating on his song writing, co- writing with Edwin Starr. “Contact”, the song they wrote was a hit for Edwin in 1979 reaching No 6 in the UK charts. By the time he was back in the UK the cabaret scene was very different from when he was here before. Malcolm did appear in a Royal Gala at The Dominion Theatre in London in 1981 and also took to playing cricket with the Showbiz team raising money for various charities. The daytime TV programme Pebble Mill at One was the only show that Malcolm appeared on but theatre appearances began happening and this gave the devoted followers the chance to hear Malcolm again. In 1982 the thriving Fan Club had the chance of having Malcolm appear at the local cabaret club in Chesterfield and was able to have a gathering for him, with fans coming from all over the country. Also in that year Malcolm went out to Hawaii to appear in yet another song festival, again with a Les Reed song called “I never thought I’d cry,” but without success; it was a long way to go for just five days. Another pantomime “Robinson Crusoe” this time in Eastbourne and then Malcolm had the chance of appearing on some of the Scandinavian cruise ships performing cabaret. This was certainly a change and one, which Malcolm quite enjoyed for a time. Pantomime at Bournemouth “Goldilocks & the 3 Bears” was the order of the day for winter 1984, and then in May ’85 Malcolm joined up with 5 other singers to represent Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest in Gothenburg. The song was called “Children Kinder Enfants”, but sadly was unplaced. In Sept ‘85 the next big event in Malcolm’s career was starring in a new musical at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre called “Jeanne” based on the life of Joan of Arc. It got really good reviews and there was some lovely songs in the show. It ran there for several weeks and then moved to the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in Feb.’86. Unfortunately with the change of cast members and also some alterations to the show it wasn’t met with good reviews from the theatre critics and it only had a short run. After appearing on more cruise ships in the latter part of the year Malcolm decided to return to South America to see if he could still attract the crowds he had done during earlier visits. Due to lots of managerial problems Malcolm found himself in a position that he was not happy with, however for the following four years Malcolm remained in Brazil. He did quite a lot of song writing and did some shows in the stadiums around the country. In 1990 he returned to the UK and began to pick up the pieces back here, however the music scene had again changed a lot and Malcolm found it increasingly difficult to get re-established. In 1991 with the song writing taking up quite a lot of time Malcolm entered one of his songs, called “ One Love”, as the British entry into the Eurovision Song Festival singing it himself. It got through to the last eight but no further. However it did give the fans a chance to see Malcolm on TV after such a long absence. Malcolm also had a month long booking at the Pizza on the Park in London which is one of the few places left for cabaret. The backing group was the Kenny Clayton trio, who Malcolm had such a lot to thank him for in the very early days of his career. Malcolm’s popularity on the continent was still very strong and he began to make frequent trips to do TV shows and theatre bookings in Belgium and released a CD of songs by Will Tura. Also during this time Malcolm began to produce some of the managers of the boy bands and had some success with his songs being recorded by other artists.
In Malcolm’s private life he was thrilled to become a father for the first time and Oliver was born in April ’95.
In 1996 he took part in a very different theatrical show at The Café Royal in London. It was an American idea and it was called “ Joey & Gina’s Wedding”. The audience became the guests at the wedding and reception and Malcolm took the part of the Irish priest who was officiating at the ceremony. The evening was certainly a fun night out and Malcolm slipped easily back into an acting role. The show ran for a few months but the British audience were more inhibited than the American audiences.
Before long Malcolm joined Right Recordings, a company who was interested in promoting his singing, and they decided to release the earlier recordings on CD. Promotion of the CD’s was very important and Malcolm did many interviews on local and national radio and also appeared at The Brighton 60’s revival weekend at The Conference Centre where he was very well received.
In 2001 Malcolm appeared with The Batchelors, Ray Alan and The Vernon Girls in A Night at the Music Hall at The Grand Theatre Wolverhampton, but because of the need for a new hip had to curtail several other shows that he had lined up. The operation took place in May 2002 and by July Malcolm was back on stage at Blackpool, appearing at The Winter Gardens, and thrilling the audience once more with his beautiful voice.
Work was also underway on a brand new CD that contained songs that Malcolm had written himself when the very sad news came that Malcolm had suffered a heart attack and had died on Friday February 7th 2003. His funeral took place at Henley on Thames and he was buried at Remenham Cemetery near Henley on February 20th.
The CD, titled “Rio” was released in October 2003. EMI also released a new CD titled “The Very Best of Malcolm Roberts – May I have the next dream with you?” in October 2003.