Web Page No 2342
4th February 2017
Top Picture: As she appeared with The Bodysnatchers
Second Picture: The Belle Stars
Third Picture: Sarah Jane plays lead guitar in the Belle Stars
Forth Picture: As Sunjay
Sarah Jane Owen of the Belle Stars an ex Manor Court Girl.
Sarah Jane was born in Portsmouth and for several years was a pupil at Manor Court School and moved onto the Portsmouth Art College then to London to The Royal College of Art studying fashion and then teaching fashion.
Her first foray of note into the music scene was with a band a seven piece all girl band called the Bodysnatchers in 1979 who had a minor hit with 'Lets Do Rock Steady'. The Bodysnatchers moved on and evolved into the Bellestars in 1981 - they had a number of hits with the best known being 'Sign of the Times' which was a UK No3. In this group Sarah Jane played Lead Guitar and undertook some of the vocals. Their first performance was on Christmas Day, 1980 and this was before they had even chosen a name for the group. Within a short time, they became well known around London, notably appearing on the front cover of Sounds magazine early in 1981. Shortly thereafter, they were signed by Stiff Records, then highly successful due to its star act, Madness.
The band's debut single, "Hiawatha" was released in the late spring of 1981 and the band promoted the single by playing support for acts such as The Beat and Madness. However, the single failed to chart, despite continuing media attention. The same production team was responsible for "Slick Trick", the second single. It too failed to chart. When the third single, the radio friendly "Another Latin Love Song" again failed to break into the charts, the band tried cover versions instead, with some success. "Iko Iko", a cover of The Dixie Cups' 1965 hit (later featured in the 1988 movie Rain Man), was The Belle Stars' long-hoped-for UK Singles Chart debut, peaking at a modest number 35 in June 1982. This single was unfortunately released at the same time as another version by Natasha England, whose version went on to reach the UK Top Ten. The Belle Stars furthered this with "The Clapping Song" (their first top 20 hit), a remake of the 1965 Shirley Ellis hit, and then "Mockingbird", a hit for Inez and Charlie Foxx in 1969 and James Taylor and Carly Simon in 1974.
In January 1983 the Belle Stars released what would be their signature single, "Sign of the Times", peaking at number three, and a chart success throughout Europe. The song's music video, showing the Belle Stars in tuxedos, was also played frequently by MTV in the United States. The song went on to become the 30th bestselling single of 1983 in the UK. .
This was followed a month later by the band's debut album, which reached number 15 on the UK Albums Chart. As with the band's singles, it was a mix of original songs and cover versions, including Bob and Earl's "Harlem Shuffle" and Al Wilson's "The Snake".
However, "Sign of the Times" proved to be the peak of the band's success. Each follow-up single was less successful than its predecessor: "Sweet Memory", reached number 22 in the charts in April 1983; "Indian Summer" number 52 in August; whilst "The Entertainer" did not chart. It took another year before the band had a minor hit, "80's Romance", which made number 71 in August 1984 before it dropped out after a week. Despite this, the band continued to tour throughout Europe. However, the lack of success took its toll, and members began to leave the band leaving Sarah Jane as the lead vocalist.
By 1984, Stiff Records was ailing, and it merged with Island Records; and was liquidated and bought by ZTT. The three remaining members recorded a new Belle Stars album however, the only tracks to be released were as singles "World Domination", which flopped in Britain peaked at number two for two weeks on the Billboard Dance floor charts in the US. Following this release the band broke up.
However, in March 1989, the Belle Stars finally had a big US chart hit, when "Iko Iko" reached number 14 on the Billboard Top 100 after it was included on the soundtrack of the film Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.
From mid 80s onward Sarah Jane did a couple of other music projects and adopted the name SunJay and, alongside her fashion lecturing, now works as a native American healer and facilitator in her own Pow Wow Lodge Retreat near Los Angeles.
Not bad for a Manor Court girl !!!!!!
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On this Day 4th February 1960-1965
On 04/02/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Margaret Thatcher gives her first Commons Speech.
On 04/02/1961 the number one single was Are you Lonesome Tonight? - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/02/1962 the number one single was The Young Ones - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was US bans imports from Cuba.
On 04/02/1963 the number one single was Diamonds - Jet Harris & Tony Meehan and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Liz Taylor films Cleopatra
On 04/02/1964 the number one single was Needles & Pins - Searchers and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Steptoe & Son (BBC) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/02/1965 the number one single was You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - Righteous Brothers and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.