Pop star remembered as ‘hard act to follow’

The Kaye Sisters, left to right, Sheila, Shan and Carol, meet the Queen at a 1950s Royal Command Performance in the London Palladium
The Kaye Sisters, left to right, Sheila, Shan and Carol, meet the Queen at a 1950s Royal Command Performance in the London Palladium
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A 1950s pop singer who found fame with a female vocal trio has died suddenly at the age of 74.

Family and friends of Shan Kaye, from The Kaye Sisters, will gather in Steyning on Monday for her funeral.

Shan, whose real name was Shirley Sangster, was the lead singer in the trio, which originally formed with Carol Young and Sheila Jones.

They had several hits in the UK singles chart in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

They got their name from their manager, Carmen Kaye, and were not real sisters but had matching outfits and hairstyles.

The trio headlined in top London cabaret clubs and supported stars such as Frankie Howerd, Tommy Cooper and Ken Dodd.

Sheila left in the late 1960s but they carried on with a replacement until the late 1970s.

The Kaye Sisters reformed for a 1988 tour, ending at the Dome Theatre, Brighton.

They then toured with the Herb Miller Orchestera, led by the nephew of Glenn Miller, and did a tribute to The Andrews Sisters until 1999.

Daughter Lara Boyt, of Breach Close, Steyning, said her mum was ‘quite something to watch’.

She added: “She was quite incredible. I have got lots of memorabilia and I remember going around touring the theatres.

“She used to say I was born in a trunk. The people I met were phenomenal – I called Max Bygraves and Frankie Vaughan ‘uncle’.

“When I was two, she was at the Victoria Palace and I used to watch her. It was an incredible childhood. It was very exciting.”

An only child, Lara said she grew up in Hove with her mum. Lara moved to Steyning 13 years ago and has since, co-incidentally, had three girls. She said her mum visited them in Steyning every week and the girls were able to watch her perform online.

“There is so much for her grandchildren to access on YouTube, so they can see her and hear her. There is even some stuff from the 1950s.”

As much as Lara enjoyed the theatre life, she did not follow in her mum’s footsteps. She explained: “I could sing but she was a hard act to follow and she used to say to me, get a proper job.”

Sadly, Shirley, who was still living in Hove, was diagnosed with cancer only three weeks before she died on Sunday, July 14.

A funeral service will be held at St Andrew and St Cuthman Church, in Church Street, Steyning, on Monday at 2pm, followed by a burial at Hove Cemetery.