Beverley Sister Joy dies aged 91 - BBC News
Joy Beverley, one third of the vocal harmony group the Beverley Sisters, has died at the age of 91.

The singer, from Bethnal Green in London, was the eldest sister in the trio, who were known for songs including Little Drummer Boy and the Irving Berlin standard Sisters.

They had their own BBC TV show in the 1950s and were made MBEs in 2006.

Joy was also married to Wolverhampton Wanderers' star Billy Wright until his death from cancer in 1994.

She died on Monday after suffering a stroke last week her son, Vince Wright, told the Express and Star.

"We all thought the world of her and we are devastated she is gone," he said.

"She was a very bubbly, but private, character. We are all going to miss her terribly, she has been a part of our lives for so long now it really is going to be a big loss for all of us."

World record holder


Joy, born Joycelyn V Chinery in 1924, and the twins Babs and Teddie, born in 1927, were brought up in Bethnal Green in east London.

Their parents were George and Victoria Beverley - who performed as music-hall duo, Coram and Mills.

During their formative years, money was scarce and the sisters shared a bed until they were teenagers.

Speaking in 2002, Joy insisted they did not notice being poor. "Mother was very clever," she told the Independent. "If we said we wanted a bike, she'd say: 'Oh, I love you too much to give you a bike.'"

During the Second World War the girls were evacuated to the Midlands. There they secured a contract to become "Bonnie Babies" in an advertising campaign for the bedtime drink Ovaltine.

Radio appearances for the BBC followed - with support from bandleader Glenn Miller they became professional singers, renowned for their close harmonies and glamorous lifestyles.

After the war the siblings were given their own TV show, initially called Three Little Girls in View and later retitled Those Beverley Sisters as the group's profile improved.

In 1951, the trio signed a recording contract with Columbia Records that helped them become the highest paid female act in the UK, earning more than 700 a week at a time when the average weekly wage was 5.

They were the first British female group to break into the US top 10 and enjoyed chart success with Christmas records like I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.

Other favourites included Bye Bye Love and Always and Forever.

But they all but retired after Joy married Billy Wright, then captain of the England football team, at Poole Register Office in 1958.

"I felt it was time we had an ordinary life," she recalled in a 1995 interview. "We'd had a successful career and I felt no guilt."

But the trio reunited in the 1980s, resurrecting old songs such as It's Illegal, It's Immoral Or It Makes You Fat for gay clubs and variety shows.

The sisters entered the Guinness Book Of Records in 2002, as the world's longest surviving vocal group without a change in the line up.

The same year, they sang for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at a Jubilee concert.

In 2006, the group were made MBEs for services to music, and arrived at Buckingham Palace - as always - in identical outfits.

Joy is survived by her twin sisters, three children, Vince, Vicky and Babette, as well as three granddaughters and one grandson.