Mary Hopkin (born 3 May 1950), credited on some recordings as Mary Visconti, is a Welsh folk singer best known for her 1968 UK number one single “Those Were The Days“. She was one of the first musicians to sign to The Beatles‘ Apple label.
Hopkin was born in Pontardawe, Wales, into a Welsh-speaking family; her father worked as a housing officer. She took weekly singing lessons as a child and began her musical career as a folk singer with a local group called the Selby Set and Mary. She released an EP of Welsh-language songs for a local record label called Cambrian, based in her home town, before signing to The Beatles’ Apple Records. The model Twiggy saw her winning the British ITV television talent show, Opportunity Knocks and recommended her to Paul McCartney. She became one of the first artists to record on The Beatles’ Apple record label.
Her debut single, “Those Were the Days“, produced by McCartney, was released in the UK on 30 August 1968 (catalogue number APPLE 2). Despite competition from a well-established star, Sandie Shaw, who released her version of the song as a single that year, Hopkin’s version became a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart, reached number two in the US Billboard Hot 100, where for three weeks it was held out of the top spot by The Beatles‘ Hey Jude, and two weeks at number 1 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts (Apple 1801). It sold over 1,500,000 copies in the United States alone, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. Global sales topped 8,000,000.
In December 1968 the NME music magazine reported that Hopkin was considering a lead acting role in Stanley Baker‘s forthcoming film, The Rape of the Fair Country. That particular project did not materialise but Hopkin did sing the title songs to two of Baker’s films, Where’s Jack? and Kidnapped.
On 21 February 1969 her debut album, Postcard, also produced by McCartney, was released. It included covers of three songs from Donovan, who also played on the album, and one song each from George Martin and Harry Nilsson. It reached number three on the UK Albums Chart, although it proved to be her solitary success in that chart. In the United States, Postcard reached Number 28 on the Billboard albums chart.
The next single was “Goodbye” written by McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), released on 28 March 1969 (APPLE 10); it reached number two in the UK Singles Chart and number 15 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts (Apple 1806). It was kept off the top of the charts by The Beatles’ single “Get Back“. “Goodbye” has never been officially released by The Beatles, although a demo version can be found on some of their bootlegs.
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