Dame Shirley Bassey

Dame Shirley Bassey became the first solo female music artist to be honoured with a dedicated British stamp issue, as Royal Mail celebrated her 70 years in show business on September 21.

A set of eight gummed counter-sheet stamps feature photographs of her performing at different stages of her career, while a four-stamp self-adhesive miniature sheet captures more private moments during rehearsal and recording sessions.

Bassey is one of Britain’s best-loved performers, and the only female vocalist to have albums charting in the UK top 40 in seven consecutive decades.

Born in 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, she started performing in clubs and touring revues in 1953 before signing her first recording deal in 1956.

Her first release, Burn My Candle, was banned by the BBC in 1956 because the lyrics were deemed too suggestive, but she had a No1 hit with the dramatic orchestral ballad As I Love You in 1959.

She cultivated a sensual cabaret act, performing in high-profile venues such as Las Vegas and Hollywood in the USA, and by the 1960s, she was an international star with numerous hit albums, spanning contemporary pop songs, show tunes and film soundtracks. During the 1970s, she also her own BBC television show.

Collaborating with talented composers and lyricists, her signature songs include the theme tunes for the James Bond movies Goldfinger in 1965, Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 and Moonraker in 1979.

In the 1980s, Bassey explored different musical styles from blues to electronic, connecting with a new, younger audience. I Am What I Am, recorded in 1984, even made her an LGBTQ+ icon.

By the 1990s she had become a muse for countless musicians and composers, and she wowed more new audiences when she performed the official song for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, with Bryn Terfel, and attended the Glastonbury Festival in 2007 wearing diamante wellington boots.

In 2009 she released The Performance, an album of tracks written especially for her by artists including Gary Barlow, Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys and Rufus Wainwright.

She marked her 70 years in show business with a new album, I Owe It All To You, in 2020.

Bassey has always had a gift for sustaining key notes and lyrics, sometimes exaggerating pauses in a most distinctive manner, and for building a personal rapport with an audience. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1999 for services to entertainment.

The stamps were designed by Royal Mail Group, and printed in litho by Cartor Security Printers. The counter sheet stamps are available in horizontally se-tenant strips of four.

1st class 1965
Dame Shirley Bassey performing at the Pigalle nightclub in London in 1965.

1st class 1974
Bassey performing on stage in Bournemouth in 1974.

1st class 2009
Bassey performing at the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse in London in 2009.

1st class 2002
Bassey performing at the Picnic in the Park concert at Hyde Park in London in 2002.

£2.00 1988
Bassey performing on stage in Brighton in 1988.

£2.00 1963
Bassey performing on television in 1963.

£2.00 1999
Bassey performing during the opening ceremony for the Rugby World Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 1999.

£2.00 2013
Bassey performing during the Oscars awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, in 2013.


1st class 1978
Bassey rehearsing before a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, to celebrate her first 25 years in show business, in 1978.

1st class 1962
Bassey during rehearsals for her season at the Talk of the Town theatre in London in 1962.

£2.00 1961
Bassey in the recording studio in 1961.

£2.00 2009
Bassey at Grouse Lodge recording studios in Ireland in 2009.

The presentation pack, written by Lucy O’Brien, features quotes and stories spanning Dame Shirley’s 70 year career.

First day covers, coin covers and stamp cards are available, along with a limited-edition press sheet of 18 uncut miniature sheets.

Set of 8 stamps £12.40
Miniature sheet £6.20
Presentation pack £19.50
First day cover (stamps) £15.55
First day cover (mini sheet) £8.10
Press sheet £111.60
Stamp cards £5.40

Dame Shirley’s career has been extraordinary and she is internationally renowned

There is too little variety in presenting 12 head-and-shoulders photographs of the same person

How many of these images would catch the eye of anyone receiving them in the post?