K-Chuck Radio: The joy and sadness of Yvonne Barrett

For a brief period in the late 1960’s, Yvonne Barrett was a popular singer on the Australian TV shows and their pop charts. She was one of several young stars who appeared on local television shows and performed popular tracks – whether they were covers of American pop hits or some locally-written songs – and, for that brief period of time, was extremely popular and loved.

Many of Yvonne Barrett’s performances and songs still exist today, saved on YouTube as short clips of a bygone era. Such as this cover of Lesley Gore’s “Off and Running,” which has an amazing energy from a performer who was barely in her 20’s at the time.

Yvonne Barrett found her greatest success on a program called The Go Show, where she could perform some of the top hits at the time and build a strong fanbase. Here’s her performance of a song called “Send Her Away,” which has its own seductive cuteness to it.

She was part of a collective of popular Australian female singers at the time – a pre-international fame Olivia Newton-John, for example; along with such singers as Bev Harrell, “Little Pattie” Amphlett, Lynne Randall and Pat Carroll, and it was not unusual for these singers to have their own distinct fanbases and loyalists.

She would later participate in two trips to Vietnam and entertained her compatriots at concerts at the Australian base at Nui Dat. And although her hits were short and few, she would later perform more mature songs, including this cover of Laura Nyro’s “Lu” that deserved more exposure than it got.

By 1972, Yvonne Barrett had released one more single, a double-sided performance that featured a haunting ballad on the A-side, “No Longer Part of Your Life.”

That single’s B-side featured a rather out-of-genre rock track for her, “Mr. 7654312.”

These upbeat, seductive, entertaining clips are a tantalizing fragment into the rise and fall of a pop singer. By 1974, Yvonne Barrett’s singing career was reduced to session singing and small concerts.

Then came a short-lived marriage in 1983 to a man whom she would later divorce a year later. Then, in 1985, that ex-husband came back into her life – and killed her. Beat her with a wine bottle and choked her to death.

Yvonne Barrett was only 39 years old.

It’s not fair. The girl that sang so sweetly and sensually for that short period of time came and went with the speed of a fireworks show. The few 45’s she did release are extremely hard to find – a pressing of “No Longer Part of Your Life” / “Mr. 7654312” recently sold for $400 on the collector’s market. Most of her other recordings exist only on these clips from Australian variety shows.

Even this performance of “Get Ready,” which adds back all the soul and sass that was sucked away by her backing band, gives a tantalizing fragment of what could have been for Yvonne Barrett.

You only receive one chance in life. Make it count.

Yvonne Barrett barely had time to make her own moment count.