Sandra Ann Goodrich was born and brought up in Dagenham, Essex, England. On leaving school, she worked at the nearby Ford Dagenham factory, and did some part-time modelling before coming second as a singer in a local talent contest. As a prize, she appeared at a charity concert in London, where her potential was spotted by singer Adam Faith. He introduced her to his manager, Eve Taylor, who won her a contract with Pye Records in 1964 and gave her the stage name of "Sandie Shaw".
Taylor teamed Shaw with songwriter Chris Andrews, who wrote her first single, "As Long as You’re Happy Baby", which failed to make the charts. However, for her second single Taylor gave her the Bacharach and David song "(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me", which had been a No.49 US pop hit for singer Lou Johnson. Shaw’s version rose quickly to No.1 in the UK Singles Chart in the autumn of 1964, and also charted in the United States at No.52 on the Billboard Hot 100 early the following year."I’d Be Far Better Off Without You" was issued as the follow-up, but DJs preferred its B-side, "Girl Don’t Come", also written by Andrews, and the sides were switched. "Girl Don’t Come" reached No.3 in the UK and became her biggest US hit, reaching No.42. It was followed by further hits in the UK including "I’ll Stop at Nothing", "Long Live Love", her second UK No.1 in 1965, and "Message Understood". The singles were produced by Taylor, Andrews and Shaw herself (though she was never credited), with help from Pye Records arranger Ken Woodman.
Sandie Shaw was a regular on popular British TV programmes of the time such as Top of the Pops, Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars. She was seen as epitomising the "swinging Sixties", and her trademark barefoot performances endeared her to the public at large. She also recorded most of her hit singles in Italian, French, German and Spanish boosting her popularity in Europe. She was popular across South America, performed behind the Iron Curtain, and sang at concerts in pre-revolutionary Iran. Shaw also released several original albums in the 1960s: Sandie; Me; Love Me, Please Love Me; The Sandie Shaw Supplement and Reviewing the Situation. These albums generally consisted of Andrews-penned songs mixed with cover versions of songs made popular by other musicians.
By 1967 Shaw’s record sales were declining and her manager decided on more of a cabaret appeal. She was invited by the BBC to represent the UK in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna. She had reservations as she felt it would destroy her credibility, but performed five songs on The Rolf Harris Show, with the public voting that the one that should represent the country was the Bill Martin/Phil Coulter composition "Puppet on a String". Although she disliked the song and thought it was unrepresentative of her material, the song won the contest by a near-record margin of votes, and made Shaw the first person to win the contest for the UK. It gave her a third UK No.1 single, a record for a female at the time. "Puppet on a String" also became a worldwide hit (though not in the US) and the largest-selling single of the year in Germany, qualifying for a gold disc for one million plus sales in the UK and Europe. Her Eurovision success almost did not happen; the BBC wanted to drop her because she had been the ’other woman’ in a divorce case.
Fashion had become another of Shaw’s trademarks, and in 1968 she began the Sandie Shaw fashion label, selling her own brand of clothing and shoes. In the same year she hosted her own TV show, The Sandie Shaw Supplement, and issued an LP of the same title. Her last UK Top 10 hit (her eighth in total) came in the form of 1969’s "Monsieur Dupont," originally a German-language song. At the end of 1969, the single "Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now" was released, which would become the inspiration for a hit by The Smiths 15 years later. Shaw also produced her own album, Reviewing the Situation, which contained versions of songs by more alternative artists such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones and made Shaw the first known artist to cover a Led Zeppelin song. Shaw ended 1969 by appearing on the BBC’s highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing There’s Always Something There To Remind Me and the German version of Puppet On A String, Wiedehopf Im Mai, live on the show broadcast on BBC1, 31 December 1969.
Although she began writing songs, her contract with Pye expired in 1972. She retired from life as a pop singer and began working on other ventures, including co-writing a full-length rock musical, songwriting, acting in stage productions (she played Ophelia in Hamlet and Joan of Arc in Saint Joan) and writing children’s books. In 1977 she released two singles on the CBS label, and the following year began a lifelong commitment to Sōka Gakkai Buddhism.
Her second husband, Nik Powell, introduced her to B.E.F. She recorded a version of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" for their Music of Quality And Distinction album on the Virgin label, which brought her back into the public eye. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders invited Shaw to perform a duet rendition of "Girl Don’t Come" at a Pretenders performance, and the two women began a long-term friendship. The following year Shaw wrote and recorded an album, Choose Life, to publicise the World Peace Exposition in London in March 1983. Later in the year, a new phase in her career began after she received a letter from "two incurable Sandie Shaw fans" - singer Morrissey and lead guitarist Johnny Marr of The Smiths - telling her that "The Sandie Shaw legend cannot be over yet — there is more to be done." Shaw’s husband was a friend of Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records, the label to which The Smiths were signed, and she agreed to record some of their songs. In April 1984, her version of "Hand in Glove" (their first single) was released and peaked just inside the UK Top 30. She recorded a new version of her first hit "(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me" for the film Letter to Brezhnev, and then released two covers of Lloyd Cole songs as singles on the Polydor label. 1986 saw her embark on her first university tour in almost 20 years, followed in 1988 by the album Hello Angel, the name inspired by a postcard from Morrissey. Shaw embarked on two more successful university tours, and made appearances at Gay Pride and Peace festivals.
The 1990s saw the release of many compilation albums of Shaw’s material on various minor labels, as well as reissues of some of her original albums. Shaw’s autobiography, The World at My Feet, was published in 1991, and the following year she began studying at Oxford and the University of London and qualified as a psychotherapist in 1994. During that time, she recorded new versions of some of her 1960s songs for the album Nothing Less Than Brilliant, released in 1994. It was also around this time that Shaw divorced Powell and met her third husband, Tony Bedford. Concentrating on a new career as a psychotherapist, Shaw opened The Arts Clinic in 1997 with her husband, to provide psychological healthcare and creative development to those in the creative industries. The clinic is now styled Barefoot Therapy: The Arts Clinic and continues to provide psychological support for those in the fields of entertainment, media and sports. In 1998 she was invited to join the Royal Society of Musicians as an Honorary Professor of Music.
Shaw also embarked on a successful legal battle to establish ownership of her entire recording catalogue, and began working with contemporary acts and producers, reworking much of her 1960s and 1980s material. In 2003, Shaw licensed her recording catalogue worldwide to EMI, continued to develop her Arts Clinic, and began executive coaching and mentoring. Meanwhile, EMI released compilations of her French and Italian recordings, and the following year released similar compilations in Spanish and German. Newly-remastered versions of Reviewing the Situation and Hello Angel also were issued with bonus tracks, and toward the end of the year a 4-CD box set entitled Nothing Comes Easy was released. Also in 2003, actress Ashley Williams portrayed Shaw on an episode of the American television series American Dreams, performing "(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me" on American Bandstand.
During this decade, she reneged on previous declarations of hatred for the Eurovision Song Contest and announced that she was proud of her Eurovision past on the BBC show Making Your Mind Up. She also briefly sat in for Brian Matthew on his long-running BBC Radio 2 Saturday morning show Sounds of the 60s in December 2006. On 26 February 2007, in honour of her 60th birthday, Shaw released a new version of "Puppet on a String" on her website. The re-tooled version, called "Puppet’s Got A Brand New String," had a complete overhaul in sound and vocals under the supervision of her friend Howard Jones and mixer Andy Gray. The schlager style of the song was replaced with a calmer melody.
In April 2010, Shaw appeared on the UK ITV television programme Loose Women, and revealed that she was returning to recording and would be singing the theme song to the British film, Made in Dagenham. She also took the opportunity to criticise the Eurovision Song Contest, saying that it was bad when she did it, but has now got even worse.
In August 2010, she appeared at Vintage, an upmarket festival on the Goodwood estate in West Sussex, as a special guest of Wayne Hemingway (Red or Dead) who organised the event. As well as hosting her own main stage set with numerous female guest singers, she also performed cameos on other stages, including singing "Downtown" with composer Tony Hatch and an orchestra in the cabaret tent.
On Boxing Day 2010, she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
She was Jools Holland’s special guest on his 2011 Tour. On New Year’s Eve in 2011 Shaw performed on BBC Two’s Hootenanny backed by Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.
In 2012 she signed a longterm deal with UK independent record company Union Square Music to represent her recording catalogue. A number of expanded original albums and a best of compilation are planned for release in 2013.
Sandie released a single with Neil Davidge called ‘Riot Picture’ in October 2014. You can listen to it here