EXACTLY 60 years ago, Newport-born Craig Douglas was the most famous pop star in Britain.

On September 12, 1959, his top rank single of Only Sixteen went to number one in the nation’s pop charts.

Suddenly, he was outselling world famous stars like Cliff Richard, Paul Anka, Connie Francis, the Everly Brothers, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

It stayed there for more than a month, and he was seen on all the major television shows and it went on to sell more than a million copies.

There was no streaming of songs in those days, just queues at record shops throughout Britain to buy the latest number one single.

Everyone knew who was top of the charts, and in Craig’s hometown of Newport, both Murdochs and Teagues ­— our two leading record stores of the period ­— had a job to meet the demand.

Only Sixteen was originally recorded by American singer, Sam Cooke.

Around that time, many American songs were covered by British artists.

Craig’s previous top 20 hit, A Teenager In Love, had been originally recorded by Dion and the Belmonts.

Marty Wilde, Dickie Valentine and Craig made British cover versions of the song.

In the case of Only Sixteen, Sam Cooke’s original didn’t make the charts and neither did a rival British version by Al Saxon.

Following his success on the hit television series, Six-Five Special, when his fan mail rivalled that of Tommy Steele, Craig had steadily built up quite a following.

After two unsuccessful records on Decca, he was signed by the new Top Rank label, where Come Softly To Me was his first release for them and almost made the charts.

A Teenager In Love made number 13 in the top 20 and then Only Sixteen changed his life for ever.

Amazingly, back in the ‘50s, the late movie star and director, Richard Attenborough, was a record reviewer for the News of the World Sunday newspaper.

Just prior to the release of Only Sixteen, he reviewed it in his column, and wrote: “Only 17, Douglas is Britain’s best bet for stardom in 1959.

“This record should prove a milestone in his career.”

How right he was.

That same year, Craig was voted the Top New Singer of the Year ­— the equivalent of today’s Brit Awards.

Craig told me on one occasion: “It was just a dream come true.

“Here was I, a kid from the IW, at number one in the hit parade.

“I would walk by building sites in London and hear guys singing or whistling Only Sixteen.

“I had to get used to being recognised in the street and mobbed by fans.”

Suddenly, he was headlining pop tours all over Britain and being signed up for television commercials, like Fairy Snow, and his face was seen on millions of packets of breakfast cereals.

The Roxy girls magazine adopted him as their very own pop star.

They were certainly heady days for our own Terry Perkins ­— one of eight children, including three sets of twins, born to William and Mildred Perkins.

His first job, after leaving Priory Boys school, was working at Bill Strickland’s farm in Calbourne.

When he arrived home one day from his milk round, he found a letter addressed to him ­— he’d never had one before.

It was to tell him the date of his appearance at a local talent contest at Newport’s Medina Cinema.

He was shocked as he knew nothing about it.

His mother did admit she had entered him for it.

Mildred was rather shrewd and in November, 1957, he won the grand final.

He was spotted by a top London agent and overnight, Terry Perkins became Craig Douglas.

The plan was not for instant success ­— he was meticulously groomed for possible stardom.

Craig was quickly awarded a silver disc for Only Sixteen, and with the record being a hit in several countries, the eventual sales were well over a million.

Just a few weeks before Only Sixteen went to number one, he’d come home to the Island for two sell-out Sunday concerts at the Commodore Cinema, Ryde.

The next time he came back to perform on the Island, he was mobbed at the entrance to Ryde Pier, which stopped the traffic.

Craig’s manager and agent, Bunny Lewis, did upset thousands of his fans following his number one hit.

Craig was offered a spot on Britain’s top television show, Sunday Night At The London Palladium.

Bunny turned it down because he was only offered two songs and he insisted on him singing three ­— one of the two major errors his management ever made, the other being a poor follow up record choice following his chart topper.

There were certainly more successes after Only Sixteen, and Craig went on to enjoy another ten hit records, three movies, starring in summer shows, musicals and plays, compering radio and TV shows and cabaret performances all around the world.

Sadly, he was forced to retire from showbusiness in 2010 due to ill health.

There are hopes that he will soon come back home to the Island to be near his family and friends.

Ironically, he’s lived in London since he was only 16.