"No one in my family was particularly musical, and then suddenly there I was, the youngest of seven children, with this big voice. So maybe it's as simple as that, maybe it was just meant to be."
"I was only about fourteen ..., but my voice used to come out more Billy Eckstine than Sarah Vaughan."
"I wanted to be a model; I wanted to be a nurse; I wanted to be so many things, almost anything but being part of show business. It never entered my head. Honestly!"
"One day a man who'd heard me singing at a friend's party asked me to sing at his concert party. I can't sing in public, I told him. But he convinced me, and suddenly there I was. I remember the first song I sang - Jezebel!"
"I decided to retire from show business at the age of 17, because I didn't like it a bit."
"I never had singing lessons, I can't read music, so by all accounts I shouldn't be here. I wanted to be a nurse, but when I saw blood, that was the end of my nursing career. I wanted to be a stewardess, but I couldn't speak any languages. Then, I wanted to be a model, but I wasn't tall enough."
"I certainly don't listen to myself. I once did and I reached for the bottle. It depressed me so much because I could feel the pain that's behind some of my music. When I see people crying in my concerts I have to look away. It moves me, and I'm frightened it could set me off. I'll listen to anyone else though."
"... of course, when I sing, I don't merely whisper, I give it everything I got!"
"I don't really know if I'm a diva, though. I still associate divas with opera, you know? Callas is a diva. Joan Sutherland is a diva. Now, suddenly, I'm a diva."
About being compared with Judy garland and Edith Piaf: "I don't mind (those comparisons) at all because they were the best ... and to be compared with the best can only be good. They were such tragedians, and there is that instinct in me ... when you go out there and sing, there has to be a little sadness somewhere. I have to have a 'feel' for a song, otherwise I just cannot sing it."
"I'd like to think I represent glamour on stage. To me, that's what this business is all about."
"My two secrets are drinking lots of water and working out every day
before the show. I go to the gym, I do the treadmill and I lift tiny weights.
I exercise my voice, and I watch what I eat. And it's not a chore for me
because I like the results. Of course, it also helps if you have the right
genes. My mother, when she was 80, still didn't look a day over 60."
"I think the real secret may be that I'm doing exactly what I want to do. I've never acted, never really wanted to be an actress, never wanted to do anything but sing. And that desire just came out of nowhere."
"I hate it when people come up to me when I'm eating."
"I don't mix much with showbiz people. I hate parties because someone always traps me in a corner and asks me how I became a singer."
Shirley Bassey about living in Monte Carlo: "It's the only place you can walk around with jewels on."
"One side of me is the glamorous, romantic side. The other is still that little girl that left home at sixteen. I didn't go though my teenage years like any other teenager, with lots of boys coming round to pick you up and take you to the local dance. I missed all that. The girl offstage, Shirley Bassey offstage, sort of dreams about that, I suppose. I've always been a dreamer, and that's what helps me to do what I do on stage."
"I must have been strong as a child. I didn't realise how strong until I think of all these things that have happended to me."
Shirley Bassey, asked if she wants to give up singing altogether: "No, I wouldn't be able to do that. I never fell in love with show business, but I did with singing."
"I can't stop singing. It is either singing or a bit of romance, and I don't get the romance so I will continue singing."
"Maybe when I'm 70 I'll think, I've done it all. Now what? That's when I'll go explore the pyramids and all the places I've wanted to visit but haven't had the time to. I'm a gypsy, you see. I love a good adventure."
"Once I am away from the stage I want to immediately go back to being myself."
"I've always attacked a song. But in the beginning everybody said I was a 'belter', which used to upset me a little. 'Bassey belts the best.' Nobody could see that it was a little classical, that I was doing classical pop. But they didn't label me 'classical pop', because they couldn't think in those terms. They just called me either a pop singer or a belter."
"... my songs do represent chunks of my life, of my own personal history. But the difference is that they're past history - I can't take the present on stage. I sing certain songs in a particular way because I've experienced what I'm singing about."
"I tell my life story in songs, the joys, pain, guilt, they all go into my performance. It's my autobiography up there for my audience to listen to."
"I love what I do because I get a feedback."
"I love concerts best of all."
"... seeing people stand up - which is the greatest thing in the world. It's better than sex, because it lasts so lon after I've come off stage, and it can even last until the next day. It gets me on such a high. It's what every singer, every entertainer, dreams about - a standing ovation. It's a tremendous feeling, because it means you've pulled it off, you've done the job so well that these people are standing and telling you so."
"I'm very superstitious. I never tell what I'm going to sing; I never say what I'm going to wear."
"I am constantly amazed when I look into the audience and see young people"
"I love it when young people come to my concerts and I see them jumping up and down and they want to shake my hand at the end of a show."
"I love to go right into the audience: touch people, shake hands with them, take theit gifts, theit flowers. They like that. There are security men who ask me not to do it, because there was one woman who, when I shook hands with her, was so strong that she nearly pulled me right into the audience. But I still like to do it."
"In a sense, being on stage is a way of dealing with pain, with confusion and vulnerability."
"You have your down moments. Call them my vulnerable days, because you never know if people around you want you for yourself or because you are famous. I can count my real friends on one hand. Anyway at this stage in my life I've no time for new friends. They become acquaintances because friendship takes time to build, you need years for that. I don't want to be around phony people so I find myself more alone than ever before."
"I've collected more grief in the few short years I've been in show business than most people in a lifetime."
"I have old-fashioned notions about love. That's why I've been hurt so often ... marriage isn't easy - not for someone like me."
"I used to go for older men because I wanted a father figure."
"I've also tried younger men but I wouldn't recommend it because they haven't grown up and they very quickly become rather boring and uninteresting. They just look good."
"I cry if a man promises to call and doesn't."
Shirley Bassey about Mel Gibson in Cinema in "Conspiracy Theory": "I dozed off, to tell you the truth, because Mel's character was very wet and you don't go to the movies to see Mel being wet, do you? You go to see him being whooar! I hate wet men. Hate men who dither. Hate wimps. Rhett Butler. Now he's my kind of man."
"The problem is I'm always shouting. That's the way I keep my voice. But all that shouting is probably why I can't find myself a man for keeps. I don't suppose you have an elder brother for me, do you?" (in conversation with a journalist)
"It's true that I probably create situations to end relationships without realising it. Maybe I'm more comfortable with not getting too close. I tell myself that I just want romance. But perhaps the truth is I'm frightened of being let down and hurt by a man, so it's easier to find a way of ending things before that happens."
"The first six months of a relationship are wonderful. I love that intensity, the passion, the 'can't keep away from each other', then it all starts to taper off. They don't want to stay home and watch television, they want to go out. They don't want to listen to what I say, they start putting me down and I won't take that."
"I've always been the breadwinner and men don't like that. They turn on you. They bite the hand that feeds them. Eventually, too, they become very jealous of the love one has with an audience."
"I think men are afraid to be with a successful woman, because we are terribly strong, we know what we want and we are not fragile enough."
"It's hard for a man to live with a successful woman - they seem to resent you so much. Very few men are generous enough to accept success in their women."
"Men want me to be this party animal but I'm not like that all of the time. I prefer to stay home, cook them a meal and watch television. But they want to go out. They don't listen to what I say - they only hear what they want to. And when we do go out, they discover that having been attracted by the glamour, they can't cope with it. They resent the fact that I'm the centre of attention and not them. They don't want a woman being that way. So they start being rude and putting me down and I won't take that."
"I know from experience that it is not possible to combine family life with show business. If you are successful in my profession, there's no way you'll succeed in any other area. Nevertheless, I hope my fairy-tale will still have a happy ending, and that I have yet to find the True Love I have sung about for so long."
"I'm very comfortable in my own company. I don't mind not having a man in my life. It means that I can please myself and do the things that I want. I'm very happy going to bed on my own at 8pm, making a nest out of a great pile of pillows, watching TV and playing backgammon."
"I don't want to be nursed and looked after by a man. I don't want someone being a martyr."
"I can't see myself getting married again, I can't find a man that can satisfy me."
"No wedding bells for me anymore. I've been happily married to my profession for years."
For more quotes have a look at the Interviews.