Black Lace Mary Ann
"Mary Ann" was the British entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1979, performed in English by Black Lace.
The song is about a man who loves a woman called Mary Ann, but can't express his sentiment to her.
The single reached No.42 in the UK charts, the lowest placing for a Eurovision entrant in many years, although Black Lace went on to greater chart success in the 1980s.
After seeing a promotional video the band had made for agents in a bid to get more work around the country, songwriter Peter Morris approached Black Lace with a view to recording his song Mary Ann. He wanted the group to sound like chart-topping band Smokie.
As the song required a ‘throaty’ vocal line, it was decided that Alan would take the lead vocal. This was a controversial decision at the time: Alan had not sung lead before and Steve, the band's lead singer, felt that his position within the band was being threatened.
The band travelled to London to record a demo of the song which was sent to EMI Records. The record company liked it, and within a few weeks the band returned to London and signed a recording contract. It took just two days at the Berwick Street studios in Soho to record their first official single Mary Ann.
However, there was a problem: Smokie’s publishers, RAK Music, insisted that Mary Ann was a rip-off of Smokie’s song Oh Carol and threatened to take legal action. The song's publishing company, ATV Music, insisted that any similarity was purely coincidental, and since they showed that the notation of the two songs were different the case was dropped.
However, it was no secret in the Black Lace camp that everything possible was done to sound like Smokie, from the lead vocal to the harmonies, the guitars and even the bass line. "It was an intentional rip-off," said the band's Colin Routh.