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Monday, July 16, 2018

Honestly, where would I be without Wikipedia?

I can't say I'd taken much notice of Alvin Stardust before yesterday, when I read that his son, the Headmaster of Reigate Grammar School, was the new chair of the Headmasters' Conference. When I did take notice I was glad his Wikipedia page was there to provide the level of detail that even the nosiest newspapers don't get involved in. Here's what I learned and what I already knew.

Real name: Bernard Jewry. Knew that. Born in Muswell Hill. Didn't know that. Mother a theatrical landlady which meant he was on stage as an infant. Didn't know that. First tasted fame in the sixties as pop singer Shane Fenton. Knew that. He took on that name and persona when the original Fenton died. Now I didn't know that. By then he had married Iris Caldwell, the sister of Rory Storm and former girlfriend of both Paul McCartney and George Harrison. I knew about Rory Storm but not the rest. They had a child who they (bizarrely, to my mind) christened Shaun Fenton. He's the guy who's now the senior head master. There is another son who was called Adam Fenton who grew up to produce dance records under the name Adam F. Knew that. In the early seventies Jewry became Alvin Stardust. Obviously knew that. Stardust was the invention of one Peter Shelley. Knew that. Shelley appeared as Stardust promoting his first hit and then handed off the job to Jewry (didn't know that), who became Stardust for the rest of what Wikipedia calls "a chart span lasting twenty-five years". In 1981 he married the actress Liza Goddard (knew) under his original name Bernard Jewry (didn't know). He was married to his third wife when he died in 2014.

There's nothing there that's particularly outlandish, nothing that would excite a headline writer, nothing that would justify me devoting the time to read a book about him, but I found it all fascinating and I was glad Wikipedia was there to provide those facts in its flat, dispassionate style.

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