Wilde was born in Blackheath, London. He was performing under the name Reg Patterson at London's Condor Club in 1957, when he was spotted by impresario Larry Parnes. Parnes gave his protégés stage names like Billy Fury, Duffy Power and Dickie Pride, hence the change to Wilde. The 'Marty' came from the commended 1955 film, Marty
. Wilde was signed to the British recording arm of Philips Records, with US releases appearing on the Epic label via Philips' reciprocal licensing agreement with Columbia Records Stateside. (Philips had yet to acquire the Mercury group as its US division.)From mid-1958 to the end of 1959, Wilde was one of the leading British rock and roll singers, along with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard. Wilde's backing group was called the Wildcats. At various times they featured Big Jim Sullivan on lead guitar; Tony Belcher on rhythm guitar; Bobbie Clarke on drums; plus Brian Locking on bass guitar and Brian Bennett on drums who both later joined The Shadows.He appeared regularly on the BBC Television show 6.5 Special
and was the main regular artiste on the Saturday ITV popular music shows Oh Boy!
and Boy Meets Girls
. There he met and married Joyce Baker, one of The Vernons Girls who were also show regulars. The courtship was highly public but, after the marriage, Wilde's popularity as a teen idol declined.He moved partly into all-round entertainment, appearing in musicals such as Conrad Birdie in the original West End production of Bye Bye Birdie
and several films.He enjoyed success as a songwriter in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With Ronnie Scott, he co-wrote the one-hit wonders The Casuals' "Jesamine" under the pseudonyms of Frere Manston and Jack Gellar. The pair also wrote Lulu's "I'm a Tiger" and the early Status Quo hit, "Ice in the Sun".In the early 1970s, Wilde changed his music style to glam rock and became 'Zappo'. He released only a few singles which never charted and reverted to Marty Wilde shortly after.Later on, as songwriter and/or record producer, he masterminded a string of 1980s hits for his daughter Kim Wilde.Like many of his contemporaries, Wilde continued to perform in nostalgia tours in the UK and beyond. In 2007, he celebrated 50 years in the business with another UK tour which featured his youngest daughter Roxanne Wilde, and the issue of a compilation album, Born To Rock And Roll - The Greatest Hits
. It included a duet with Kim Wilde of Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", which was released as a promotional only single. The tour culminated in a concert recorded at the London Palladium, and was most notable for reuniting all the remaining Shadows; Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Jet Harris, Brian Locking and Brian Bennett.
He and his wife Joyce have four children, Kim (born 1960), Ricky (born 1961), Roxanne (born 1979) and the youngest, Marty Jr. (born 1983), who was a contestant on The Golf Channel's The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe
in 2005. Kim, Ricky and Roxanne have worked in the music industry, like their parents.