Hold Tight! a tribute to Dave Dee

Dave Dee (1941-2009) was perhaps best known as the lead singer of 60s pop band ‘Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’ who take the crown for the silliest of all band names from the era. He was not just one of our best live performers but also a record industry manager, a former policeman, and a respected magistrate in Cheshire and London.

Born David John Harman on 17th December 1941 in Salisbury, the police cadet turned budding musician attended at Eddie Cochran’s fatal accident in 1960, and taught himself to play guitar on Cochran’s Gretsch while it was impunded at the local station. By 1962 he had started his first group, Dave Dee and the Bostons, who were a comedy-music act. By 1966 this had evolved into the chart-topping quintet who produced such hits as Bend It, Hold Tight, Zabadak, Don Juan, and The Legend of Xanadu, which lasted until Dee left to go solo in 1969.

As an A&R man at WEA Records, Dave Dee can be credited as part discover of such acts as AC/DC, the Heavy Metal Kids, and Boney M. By 1985 the revival circuit beckoned and his taste for perfoming has returned – with the Heroes and Villains concert in London set up with many of the Dozies’ peers on the bill to raise money for the charity Nordoff-Robbins, which Dee co-founded. Watching this concert on video (also featuring Mud, The Merseybeats, The Equals, Chris Farlowe, The Tremeloes, Tommy Bruce, The Nashville Teens, and many more) it crackles with the energy with Dee and other groups and performers of the time would bring to the Solid Silver 60s circuit through the next couple of decades.

Was Dave Dee a great singer? I think he was – in the 90s he recorded a cover of Oasis’ song ‘Look Back in Anger’ which almost exceeded the original. Even in his last few months he recorded songs including a medley of Everly Brothers songs and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven teamed with The Who’s Pinball Wizard and sounded perhaps better than he had in his prime during the 1960s. As a live performer he was a class act who combined a sense of fun with true professionalism. I will always keep happy memories of singing those silly songs like Zabadak live with their creators!

The Dozies were fashion icons and appeared on all the great music shows of the time – including Top of the Pops and the German equivalents Beat Beat Beat, and Beat Club (which Dee co-presented for a while, and also fronted compilations of in the 1990s for British television). When they returned, perhaps the fashions were a bit more conservative, and Beaky and Mick changed personnel over the years, but there is no other Justice of the Peace who spent his mature years wielding a whip on stage singing about the black barren land of Xanadu!

Dave Dee passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer in January 2009, not that long after yet another successful nostalgia tour. There’s been quite a hole in the revival circuit ever since.

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Concert review: Solid Silver 60s (High Wycombe)

Now in its 27th year, the Solid Silver 60s nostalgia tour sticks firmly to its formula of presenting four or five acts who were million sellers back in the days of Biba, Mary Quant, and Carnaby Street. It tends to appeal to a range of ages and this was reflected in the Wycombe audience last night.

Opening the show (and backing all the special guests throughout) were Vanity Fare,’, ‘Ere best known for the hits ‘Hitchin’ a Ride’, ‘Early in the Morning’ and ‘I Live for the Sun’. They are extremely hard workers, especially singer/guitarist Eddie Wheeler who impressed with his solos, and they warmed the crowd up with a well-judged selection of numbers.

Then it was on to the first special guest of the night, Brian Poole from East London, who, with the Tremeloes, is best remembered now for ‘Do You Love Me?’. He entertained the crowd with the ballad ‘Someone, Someone’ (‘a song given to us by Buddy Holly and the Crickets’) and rocked the place with a selection of Chuck Berry numbers and ‘Twist and Shout’. The Candyman himself still has what it takes to do a good set, and at 70+ was clearly enjoying his resurgence of popularity on the nostalgia circuit.

Next up was California’s Chris Montez, who shared his hits ‘The More I See You’, ‘Let’s Dance’, and ‘Call Me’, as well as a couple of number nodding back to his childhood influence and fellow Latino, Ritchie Valens (‘La Bamba’ and ‘Donna’). He also plays guitar very well and effortlessly charmed the crowd with tales of his life growing up as one of eighteen children in a Spanish speaking home before finding fame in his mid-teens with a record contract.

After the interval Vanity Fare returned, with an a capella version of ‘For the Longest Time’, before leading into a rock and roll filled set from Brian Hyland, another Californian best remembered for his early 60s hits ‘Sealed with a Kiss’ and ‘An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’. We heard those, but also great versions of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ and ‘All Along the Watchtower’. He’s accompanied by his partner Rosemari on vocals and percussion and son Boti on the drums.

Top of this tour’s bill is former Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone, originally from Manchester, who found fame as the band’s frontman aged fifteen with hits such as ‘Hush’, ‘Sleepy Joe’, ‘Silhouettes’, ‘Sentimental Friend’ and ‘Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’. Good singalong fare to close this enjoyable show which nudged just over three hours.

I should mention as well that this was a present for my mum on Mother’s Day, who was delighted to meet both Poole and Montez and get their autographs. A happy night for all, and this tour remains highly recommended for those who love the songs and artists of the era.