Polly Brown – “Up in a Puff of Smoke”


Introduction to Polly Brown

Polly Brown (sometimes spelled Browne) is a British singer known for her 1975 US Top 20 single “Up In A Puff Of Smoke.” The Birmingham, England born Brown once fronted the UK pop group Pickettywitch who scored a hit single “That Same Old Feeling” in 1970. She was also a member of Sweet Dreams, who had a hit version of the ABBA song “Honey Honey.” While being with Sweet Dreams, Brown launhed a solo career, releasing her first single “Up In A Puff Of Smoke” in August 1974. In the UK it never made it to the Top 40, but in the US the following year “Up In A Puff Of Smoke” became a Top 20 single. It became Brown’s only charting single in the US, causing her to become one of the one-hit wonder artists. Brown has continued to write and record material, including blues.

With Pickettywitch

British singer Polly Brown was born Polly Browne (with an “e”) in Birmingham, England on April 18, 1947.

In her native country, Brown was a familiar voice. In 1969, the aspiring singer joined the bubblegum pop group Pickettywitch where she became its lead vocalist as well as one of the original members. In 1970, the group arrived at their breakthrough hit with “I Still Get the Same Old Feeling” which hit the UK top 10, and also made it to the US Cashbox Top 40 chart as well as a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

With Sweet Dreams

In 1972, she quit the band, and soon after Brown formed her own duo called Sweet Dreams, where she enjoyed another hit via a cover of ABBA’s “Honey Honey,” where the male vocals were sung by singer-songwriter Ron Roker, who also teamed with another songwriter Gerry Shurry as well. Roker and Shurry both admired Brown’s singing voice and compared her as a “cross between Diana Ross and Dianne Warwick.” During Brown’s two-year stint with Sweet Dreams, her regular professional partner in Sweet Dreams, Tony Jackson, later led her to a solo career in 1974.

Brown’s solo career opens with a hit song “Up in a Puff of Smoke”

In August that year Brown released her first solo single “Up in a Puff of Smoke” which was also the inaugural single of the new label GTO. While the track never made it to the UK Top 40 — only peaking at #43 there — in the US, the single fared much better. It reached the Billboard Top 20 at #16 and #3 on the Billboard’s dance chart in 1975. It was also a big hit in Canada as well in Australia and New Zealand.

“Up in a Puff of Smoke”‘s follow-up single “You’re My Number One” peaked at #53 on the UK chart also in 1975. That same year another single “Special Delivery” became her only other charting single in the United States, at #94 on the R&B singles chart and #11 on the dance/disco singles chart.

Later career

In the following decades since “Up in a Puff of Smoke” became a big hit, Brown has continued to sing and perform, mostly blues songs. She has also written some of her own material. A compilation release in 1995, Bewitched: The Polly Brown Story, includes Brown’s work with Pickettywitch and Sweet Dreams as well as her solo songs.

Some Polly Brown trivia

Polly Brown was the original artist behind “Dance Little Lady Dance,” which was later turned into a UK Top 10 hit by Tina Charles. Another single by Brown “Love Bug” was also recorded by Charles, in a medley with another song “Sweets for My Sweet.” That medley became a Top 30 UK hit.

Brown also established her own label called Witches Brew in 1980. The label’s name was made in reference to the name of her old band Pickettywitch.

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