The Western Mail 25th August 1998
She was the sweet innocent school girl from the valleys who almost over night became a 1960's singing sensation. Mary Hopkin, a shy teenager from Pontardawe, near Swansea, was snapped up by the Beatles' record company, Apple Records, following her appearance on Opportunity Knocks in 1968.
It was the break millions of aspiring singers and musicians dreamed of, and Mary, the 18-year old folk singer from West Wales, had got it.
But in her most revealing interview for for 25 years Mary said she did not enjoy her new found fame. Neither did she want to appear on Hughie Green's Opportunity Knocks the show which launched her career. "I never remember having any great ambition to be a singer. I just wanted to sing," said Mary. "When I was put down for an audition to appear on Opportunity Knocks I was appalled. I didn't like the show at all. I didn't like talent shows and I still don't like talent shows. I know they are of great value to people but I just didn't want to be a part of it. But they said the audition would be of great use to me so I did it."
Mary had her hit and while she was studying for her A - levels she appeared on the show. "I half hoped I wouldn't get onto the show," admitted the reclusive singer. "I didn't expect to win. I hadn't thought about that side of things I didn't think ahead, about what might happen."
Mary had been spotted on Opportunity Knocks but it was Twiggy who recommended to Paul McCartney that Apple sign her up. "A few days after Opportunity Knocks I had a telegram from Apple Records. I just put it to one side on the mantelpiece for a few days, but my mum said I should call them."
Apple took Mary under their wing and she scored several chart hits, most notably the first single she recorded with Apple, 'Those were the days', which reached number one in 13 different countries, including Britain, and which sold more than 8 million copies.
Mary said she was not pleased with how her career was being developed and was unhappy with the songs that were being written for her, songs like Goodbye and Knock Knock - which Mary sang in the 1970 Eurovison Song Contest.
"They did take care of me at Apple, but they did not realise I was not happy with a lot of things, but when I said I did not like a particular song they would say 'Do this now Mary then when you have established yourself you can do the songs you want.' By the time I could do my own music I had lost my confidence. Doing something you are embarrassed about is demoralising. My confidence was wiped out. By the time the Eurovision came along that was the crunch, the last straw."
Mary said she agreed to sing the British entry in the Eurovision Song Contest only if she was written a quality song. She was given Knock, Knock who's there? which she once described as "one of the most appalling songs of all time." Mary finished second. In 1971 she recorded the only Album she was happy with, "Earth Song, Ocean Song".
"That was the first album I liked but couldn't promote because I was stuck in summer theatre and that was a shame. That was the type of thing I would have done if I hadn't been tied up with all the dreadful things which took my confidence."
After "Earth Song, Ocean Song" she retired from the music scene. "I decided to stop all the work and reassess my life."
"I had no intention of making a comeback," said the reclusive singer, she has been offered several comeback opportunities since turning her back on fame in 1971, but has declined them all.
"I'd have a bit of fun in the recording studio then some idiot would get a record deal," she said.
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