It was 1967 and 20-year-old singer PP Arnold had just about everything a young recording artist could want.
A contract with pop's most exciting new record label. A hit single flying up the charts and a group of friends that included Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart and Steve Marriott from the Small Faces.
But in a story as old as pop music itself, PP (Pat) Arnold would see her career go from sky-high to rock bottom. Along the way she would glimpse stardom, suffer betrayal by those closest to her and lose her chance at the big time, not once but three times.
Talking with her from London as she starts what could be described as the world's most belated comeback tour, I wanted to know how she'd sum up her career.
"I would say 'blessed'! Yes, blessed, music has been such a positive force in my life."
I can barely believe her response.
"Well I'm a believer, faith has brought me a long way ... and I'm hard headed too," she says, laughing heartily.
The tide turns
She's not kidding. Now 50 years after her career first fell off a cliff, she is set to release not one but two albums and a memoir of her remarkable life.
The first record, released today, is called The Turning Tide. It brings together 13 tracks that she recorded between 1968 and 1970 with two of the era's greatest stars, Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton.
Not surprisingly for those that recall PP Arnold singing her earliest hit, The First Cut is the Deepest, the songs are a powerful combination of rock and soul music.
What's more remarkable about the songs she chooses to cover is that they spookily chronicle her future life. In the song titled Brand New Day she sings, "I've been lost and double crossed, with my hands tied behind my back."
Asked about this she laughs again, saying simply — "I always chose songs that mean something to me, where I can relate to the feeling."
'My life was hell'
As her story unfolds it becomes clear Arnold is someone who's been making comebacks from near disaster all her life.
Growing up in the suburb of Watts in Los Angeles, at 15 she fell pregnant, married and found herself the victim of domestic abuse.
"My life was hell," she says.
"I said a prayer one Sunday morning and asked God to show me a way out of the hell I was in."
Help came in the form of a phone call asking her to audition for Ike and Tina Turner as a backing singer.
With her mother looking after her children, she took a crash course in life on the road — and soon found herself in London.
She couldn't believe what she found.
"Coming from the States, where everything was segregated ... we had come out of the civil rights revolution to the rock and roll revolution."
Riding the revolution
Befriended by Mick Jagger and offered a recording contract with Immediate Records, she quickly became part of that revolution. Her earliest release, The First Cut is the Deepest, flew up the charts. So did her follow ups, but then disaster struck.
The record company went bankrupt leaving her without a contract and broke.
Others with less spirit might have packed up and gone back to LA but not Arnold.
Enter Barry Gibb, who'd fled the Bee Gees looking for a new career as a songwriter and record producer. Over 12 months they put together what should have been a major musical statement.
What she didn't count on was a brutal intervention by Gibb's manager, Robert Stigwood.
"Robert was not happy with me working with Barry at all ... he wanted Barry to focus on getting back with the brothers, I was like a thorn in Robert's side."
With pressure applied, Gibb abandoned her, only to be replaced as producer by Eric Clapton. Clapton loved working with Arnold and the band he'd put together. In fact he liked the group so much he stole them away and made his own album, the rock classic Layla.
The lost decade
For all that, with the hard work done, the album could and should have been a big seller. Instead, for five decades it's been left gathering dust. The question is 'why?'
As Arnold tells it there was no single reason.
"Politics", is her only explanation along with an admission.
"I didn't know how to hustle, I didn't know how to connect."
For Arnold, the '70s would be a difficult time. She calls it her "lost decade". Turning her attention to rock musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar she divorced, remarried and lost one of her children in a terrible car accident.
Each decade since has seen both highs and lows. The '80s saw her deliver a hit with Respect Yourself. In the '90s former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters took her on the road.
'It's never too late'
The real turning of the tide though came when she met Steve Cradock. Guitarist for Paul Weller and the band Ocean Colour Scene, Cradock had always loved her singing on sixties hits like the Small Faces' Itchycoo Park. He and his wife Sally made it their mission to help her gain the recognition that had always eluded her.
Working together, Cradock, Arnold and producer Charles Rees began thinking about a new album. Then they heard the songs she'd done 50 years back.
With much delight she tells me, "they were blown away by them". Better than that they set about preserving and remixing the tapes and creating what is now The Turning Tide.
Talking to her as she prepares to hit the road for her first solo tour to support the album I have one final question.
What, after all this time, and all she has been through, has she learnt from her life in music?
She doesn't hesitate and her answer is succinct.
"Keep on believing, hold on to your dreams. It's never too late. It's never too late."
PP Arnold's album The Turning Tide is released by Kundalini Music on October 6.