Jess, who was born Gerald James on 24th February 1940, left school at 15 for a job with a steel merchant in Kingston, Surrey.

When a colleague lost two fingers in an accident, Jess decided that his future lay elsewhere, and he began working in his father's flower business in Sherpherd's Bush, London.

However, his real ambition was to act, and he managed to find work as a film extra and in repertory.

On Valentine's Day, 1959, he played a rock and roll singer in the ATV play Rock-A-Bye Barney, then had a part in the Arthur Askey film Friends And Neighbours.

Jack Good saw him in Rock-A-Bye Barney and is reported to have said to him: "Jess, you can't sing, but you have a certain teenage quality."

He made his first appearance in Boy Meets Girls in 1960, then moved on to Wham! in 1961.

Most people agreed with Jack Good's assessment of Jess's singing ability, but at 6ft 1½, and with his striking looks, that didn't matter too much to the female fans. He was voted the most popular singer on Wham! (in which he is pictured left).

His first single, Cherry Pie, limped into the top 40, but in February, 1961, he had his only top 20 record, Mystery Girl. Pretty Jenny in 1962 sold reasonably.

Jess's singing was the subject of many jokes, and in 1979, three of his songs were included by K-Tel in their compilation World's Worst Record Show. DJ Kenny Everett chose This Pullover as the worst record he had ever heard.

Jess found work in the theatre and in films during the 1960s and 1970s, including, in 1979, the Sex Pistols' The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

He was one of the mourners at Billy's funeral in 1983.

Jess continues to appear in cabaret, stage shows in the UK and abroad, musicals and music festivals and in television shows.

He gives much of his time to raising funds for the Variety Club and the Showbiz XI by organising events with star-studded football and golf teams.(Jess is pictured with British comedian Duncan Norvelle at one of these events in 2000.)

He now lives in Denham, near Uxbridge, Middlesex, where he is a neighbour of Cilla Black and Paul Daniels.

Jess's new CD, GoldenBoy Of The Sixties, was issued by K-Tel in August 2001. The one new song that was advertised, Salute The Kings And Queens Of Rock 'n' Roll, is actually a spoken tribute by Jess. After that, the sung content is of the standard you would expect, but this is one CD I respectfully suggest you must have. It includes the excruciating This Pullover, as well as Cherry Pie and Mystery Girl, butregrettably, not Pretty Jenny. At less than a fiver, no 60s collection is complete without it.

Many thanks to Tony Gardner for additional material for this feature.