Sharleen Spiteri, Popular Singer
Pop star and songwriter, Sharleen Spiteri, came to live in the Mollanbowie Estate, Balloch, when she was just a young girl. Now if she wanted to do a gig at Loch Lomond, all she would have to do is more or less climb over the fence of the former family home, push through the hedge into Balloch Park and she'd be on stage in the arena in a couple minutes.
Sharleen was actually born in Bellshill Maternity hospital in November 1967. Her father was a Maltese seaman who worked at the Clyde Bases and her mother had a German / Irish background, both were musical. She went to Haldane Primary and then Vale of Leven Academy, where her schoolmates gave her the nickname “The Spit”, after Spit the dog, a character on a popular Saturday morning children's TV program. Very inventive, these Vale kids.
After leaving school, she became a hairdresser in Glasgow, a job she enjoyed. However, music was in the blood, and with some friends she formed the band Texas in Glasgow in 1988, which she fronted right from the start. As well as writing much of the band's material, Sharleen also set its image and style, particularly the visual image, which was inevitable, since she was fronting the Band. She wanted it to have a gritty edge (some Vale influence there perhaps?) and black and white have featured strongly, as has the trademark black 1967 Fender Telecaster guitar slung over her shoulder, an influence from The Clash. To say that it has stood both her and the band in good stead is a bit of an understatement.
In 1989 Texas released its debut single, “I Don't Want a Lover”, and the rest, as they say, is history. Texas was one of the great rock success stories of the 1990's, and Sharleen the dominant female singer of the decade. Their 1996 album, White on Blonde sold more than 1.5 million copies in the UK alone, and it's a fair bet that there will hardly be a home in the Vale without a copy.
The band's success continued throughout the 1990's right until now. They cut down on tours, but all appearances have been sell-outs and the album sales speak for themselves. They have continued to be one of the UK's top earning groups without ever compromising their own style and approach.
Sharleen's success as a singer means that sometimes her song-writing abilities are overlooked, which, of course, happens with most singer-song-writers. She is refreshingly up-front about song-writing: “I'm a firm believer that every time you sit down to write a song, you should try and write a hit record”, a pretty simple, uncluttered philosophy which could be applied to lots of things in life.
In 2008 Sharleen embarked on a solo career and her first solo album, Melody, has just appeared in July 2008. This does not mean that Texas has broken up, far from it. As she says “Texas will always be part of my family”, its just that the band members are going to do some different things from now on.
Sharleen now lives in North London.