Found Performance: “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey

I heard a Shirley Bassey record the other day and that got me thinking about her unforgettable voice and her contribution to the many James Bond theme songs. Dwarfing all others was “Goldfinger.” It’s the epitome of a Bond theme. In my book, the closest runner up as a Bond theme was “Thunderball” by Tom Jones. Dame Shirley Bassey is a Welsh singer (as is Tom Jones). She has been a giant in Europe and the first Welsh artist to have a #1 song in Great Britain (“As I Love You” from 1959).

In the U.S., Goldfinger was Bassey’s only Billboard Hot 100 smash. It peaked at#8 in January 1965. Even more impressive, the Goldfinger soundtrack album, including her renowned single, went to #1 on the U.S. album charts. Bassy recorded two other Bond theme songs — “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), and “Moonraker” (1979). But “Goldfinger” is the one that stood above all others.

This “Found Performance” originally came from a TV performance in which Bassey performed three songs. The photography and the setting are both intriguing. Bassey exhibited a sensual, sexy and graceful style. I don’t know exactly where it was shot, maybe the set represents a gold mine?  Regardless, it is an interesting look into the early days of the genre that would give us music videos.

If you were around in the sixties, “Goldfinger” received lots of radio and jukebox play. The beginning of this clip pays homage to the good old days of the classic jukebox in almost every restaurant and bar. The video is at ad free Vimeo. Click on the start button 2x – first time to get to Vimeo and once you’re there click again to start the video.

Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with QZVX.COM in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions. View other articles by Steven Smith

11 thoughts on “Found Performance: “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey

  1. I started reading what they called “James Bond Thrillers” in 1953 or ’54 just because they were laying around the house. My mom was a voracious reader. She may have bought them off a paperback rack in the drug store or at Safeway, who knows? I doubt they even cost a dollar. All the early ones had the same cover design.

    They were easy to read, real page turners. The characters all had weird names that were descriptive of their appearance or personality. I wondered if Ian Fleming was inspired by Chester Gould and Al Capp, who used equally strange, and strangely named, characters in “Dick Tracy” and “Li’l Abner.”

  2. My first experience with 007 was seeing Thunderball. I loved all the underwater parts and the glitz and the Bond Girls. I was in 8th grade and bought the book. A teacher saw me reading it and asked if my folks knew. They did, but they did not know anything about the series or its sexy side. I think they just thought I was reading a spy series. By today’s standards it was quite tame.

  3. I made a very prescient choice of reading material, as a 13yo kid back in 1961,,,I wandered into the Mystery/Adventure section at my local Green Lake Branch of the Seattle Public Library, and out of curiosity, perused a book with the title, “Dr. No”….I read it, and was amazed, and delighted, to read several salacious passages concerning this James bond character, and his easy way of screwing various women!…I could not believe a public library would even carry such a book!…I told my buddies about the book, and began reading the other available titles in the series….fast forward less than a year, and there was my new hero–on screen!…and I could not believe how much Connery matched up with my image of James Bond in my head….weird synchronicity!

  4. Jack.. I sure remember Robert Shaw. He reminded me of Errol Flynn. My fave of the series was Thunderball. It was also the first one I ever saw as a kid….so a big day at the movies on a Saturday. I sat thru it twice you could do in those days. They did not chase you out after a show

  5. Great voice from that pretty woman…but of course, the woman I remember from Goldfinger, was Shirley Eaton….the gal that was covered in gold…she died not long ago…goldfinger is considered by many to be the best movie in the series…I personally liked the storyline of From Russia with Love….there is a classic fight scene in that movie, between Connery and a good friend (and excellent actor} Mr. Shaw…very realistic….they discussed their ultimate fight scene, and agreed that they would both be as aggressive as possible…only a few seconds of their rumble was covered by stuntmen…Both actors had some bruises after that scene…Robert Shaw was a premiere Shakespearian actor…he died from a massive heart attack at age 50, while on vacation with his family…..Maybe his most famous role was “Quint”,,,the half-crazy captain in Jaws.

  6. Jackson…I found the “lame” plot in the video sort of charming in a nostalgic way. I still do not get it…is that setting a gold mine in the UK? I have another video of her doing the same song, early 70s at a concert. It too is good quality…but not as odd. Maybe I will post it one if these days,

  7. Thanks Michael. For some reason I had thought she passed away. But you are correct and I changed that. I was busy working on the video and should have caught that in my text.

  8. “The late Dame Shirley Bassey?” Shirley Bassey is still around and occasionally performing at benefits. About three years ago she released the studio album “Hello Like Before.”

  9. Jay….I have watched a few of her videos and she knew the key to alluring stage presence. By the way, Moonraker which she also sang….one of your friend Richard’s 007 roles.

  10. Steve ~ I was lucky enough to see Shirley Bassey in concert at the Greek Theater in LA in the late summer of 1968. I had done a favor for a friend (at the time somehow involved with Lou Rawls’ management) who repaid me with backstage passes and 2nd row seats in the orchestra pit to a Lou Rawls concert that featured Ms Bassey as the opening act. I actually don’t recall much about Lou Rawls (other than meeting him backstage), but Shirley’s stage performance was supremely memorable. Not only did she have a truly terrific voice, but she was absolutely gorgeous. One of my better memories of my time living in LA LA Land.

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