Perhaps being twins made life in pop’s rollercoaster limelight a little easier to dip into and escape from for Paul and Barry Ryan?
Mere sibling rivalry later saw Noel and Liam Gallagher realise they loathed each other – causing Oasis to implode, Phil and Don Everly eventually fell out, Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks haven’t spoken for years and who actually remembers what happened to Ricky and Geoffrey Brook after their third record label in four years let them go?
But with Paul and Barry things were always going to be different. For starters they weren’t bad looking and then there was the key to the pop door that mum Marion (dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe of pop songs”) provided courtesy of her own 1958 Top Five hit Love Me Forever and frequent exposure on the likes of Granada TV’s Spot the Tune.
So by their mid teens they had been groomed as clean cut Mods – Carnaby clobber, carefully coiffed hair, plenty of publicity and a singalong debut single, Don’t Bring Me Your Heartaches which reached the UK Top 20 in 1965.
Subsequent releases did steadily less business despite using material penned by the Hollies and Cat Stevens.
With Barry increasingly becoming the focal point on stage and Paul increasingly seeking a less public persona they split amicably in 1968 – Paul embarking on a songwriting career and Barry recording as a solo act.
Just as nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition few people (except possibly their mum) could have predicted what was to happen next.
With Bill Landis producing and veteran Johnny Arthey providing the arrangement along came Eloise – a massive slab of soaring vocals, sweeping strings, high energy orchestration, changing tempos and enough hooks in tribute to a name far removed from the usual Donna, Suzy and Diana pop babes, to make every male wish they knew someone with that moniker to sing it to (or at least buy them the record). No one even seemed to care that part way through the lengthy song Eloise becomes Eloisa.
It eventually peaked at number two being held off the top spot by the likes of The Marbles, Joe Cocker and the unlikely Hugo Montenegro.
On the plus side it sold more than a million. Sadly it also echoed the twins’ joint story in being the high spot of a UK chart career for Barry which faded completely by 1972.
Paul continued writing – including I Will Drink The Wine, which was recorded by Frank Sinatra – eventually moving to the USA where died of cancer in 1992 aged 44.
But the legacy of Eloise lived on and again few people (except perhaps their mums) could have seen it coming. Enter stage left, The Damned. Credited as being the first UK punk band to release a single and an album back in 1977, by 1986 they’d become official life members of the rock establishment so why not tackle the lovely Eloise? Anyone who flinched to Sid Vicious stumbling his way through My Way or of The Dickies hurtling through Nights In White Satin must have feared the worst.
But The Damned’s Eloise is as much a triumph as Barry Ryan’s original – largely because for the most part it’s a faithful copy of his ground shifter. And it was also almost as big a hit – peaking at number three after being held at bay by Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and, for goodness sake, Su Pollard.