Friday, January 09, 2009

Popobit: Dave Dee

Dave Dee, who was the first-named in Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, has died after being ill with cancer for two years.

Dee - under his original name Dave Harman - had originally been planning a career in the police, which had lead to him being one of the first people on the scene when Eddie Cochran died in a car crash. Shortly afterwards, though, he abandoned plans to uphold the law and instead concentrated on his band, Dave Dee and The Bostons. The group followed the well-worn path of heavy gigging, including a spell at the Star Club in Hamburg, before nearly getting to work with Joe Meek. Only nearly, though, as Dee recalled:

" He wanted us to play the song at half speed and then he would speed it up and put all these little tricks on it. We said we couldn't do it that way. He exploded, threw coffee all over the studio and stormed up to his room. His assistant came in and said, "Mr Meek will not be doing any more recording today." That was it. We lugged all our gear out and went back home.

Under the less outre production wing of songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, the band did finally get to record some music, changing their name to the eye-catching Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch. The new name was simply a melding of the nicknames of the Bostons, although it's still unclear if Dee himself was too dull for a nickname of his own, or too grand to be subsumed into the wackiness.

Their biggest hit was the whip-crack punctuated The Legend of Xanadu, a UK and Australian number one, but they enjoyed pretty solid success in the middle of the 60s. By 1969, though, the musical tastes of the nation were moving on, and so did Dave. He quit for a solo career - which wasn't really a success - leaving the others to change their name to the Scrabble hand of DBM&T. They didn't exactly thrive, either, calling it a day in 1972.

There was a Dee-less reunion in the 1980s - although he did turn up to record a single, Stay With It, in 1983 - and then a full-on, Dee-lead version of band which made a living on the nostalgia circuit. Indeed, a best of compilation managed to make the top 30 shortly before Christmas last year, one of their best album performances since their debut album back in 1966.

Dee was a founder member of the Nordorf-Robbins Music Therapy charity, and, in recent years, had returned to the law, taking a role as a magistrate in Cheshire.

[UPDATE: Promocopy's So Many Records, So Little Time has got a more personal reminiscence about Dave Dee.
And, yes, as anonymous correctly pointed out, Eddie Cochran died in a car crash, not a plane crash.]


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