Credit: Shutterstock/Gladys Mills

I’m mighty Glad

Gladys Mills was one of the unlikeliest stars of the 1960s pop charts, but had hit after hit album with her cheerful singalong medleys of popular piano tunes.

She was already middle-aged when she was talent spotted and made her TV debut on a popular light entertainment show in 1961. That year, she had a top 20 hit with her debut single, Mrs Mills Medley. Working by day as the head of a typing pool in the London civil service, she’d been playing piano at a golf club dance near her Essex home.

Glad began recording music at the famous Abbey Road studios, bashing out her knees-up melodies on an old Steinway which had been stripped down to achieve a distinctive pub piano sound. The Beatles later used it on hits including Penny Lane but it’s still known as the Mrs Mills Piano.

Mrs Mills produced album after album of the kind of tunes that people still liked to sing along to at parties, with the eccentric covers – now prized by fans of kitsch – featuring her good naturedly smiling in happy-go-lucky poses.

One of Morecambe and Wise’s favourite guest stars, Gladys became a familiar face on TV long before she was finally persuaded to pack in her day job at the typing pool. She’d beam cheerfully at the camera, as she tinkled the ivories.

During her career, the ever-upbeat Gladys turned out 40 albums, covering pop hits as well as singalong classics such as I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles and The Lambeth Walk.

In recent years, Mrs Mills has had something of a revival, with fans charmed by her joie-de-vivre and quirky album covers. A cult icon, her honky-tonk style melodies have inspired pub singalong nights and even a tribute band.