My first encounter with Dusty Springfield
was in 1964 after her concert at the Odeon Cinema, Renfield Street,
Glasgow. Fired by the power of the music and the enthusiasm of
the audience I waited by the stage door and chased her taxi cab
through the streets, catching up each time they stopped at a
red light. When she reached the North British Hotel I did not
hesitate and ran into the hotel after her. My evening was completed
with Dusty signing my wrist (why it wasnt the programme
I cant remember!).
with her personality & my love of her music never left me
and I bought every single, E.P., and album on release day from
I had always know I could sing; it was a prerequisite at family
gatherings, and it was really no surprise to anyone when I started
singing in local bands in the evenings. The material was always
largely Motown covers and the occasional ballad (sounds familiar,
inside me I always knew where I was going. Once, in the late
sixties, I heard that Madeline Bell would be appearing at a casino/club
in Glasgow where it would be impossible for me to go. I skipped
school in the afternoon and went to the club hoping to catch
a glimpse of her. I must have been fearless in those days, as
I got into the club and found her band (Dustys Echoes)
rehearsing. Madeline herself was coming later in the day and
they had to run through her latest single "Climb Every Mountain".
There was a look of surprise when I volunteered to sing it in
her place. I already had the record and knew it well. I did not
meet Madeline that day.
some years later that I was sharing a flat in London with a bunch
of musicians, one of whom was renting his sound system to Doris
Troy. I begged to go along to her show, and spoke to her afterwards
about my singing. Through that meeting I started doing sessions
with Doris and came to work with Madeline and all the other singers
I had admired from afar. Dusty was, by this time, living in the
in 1978, after a show with Madeline at Caesars Palace in
Luton, we arrived back at her house to a message from Dusty saying
she needed singers to back her on Top Of The Pops. She was promoting
her next single "A Love Like Yours(dont come knocking
every day)". Talk about being in the right place at the
her for the first time professionally in the Philips studio where
she had recorded her greatest hits; the very hits that had inspired
me to become a singer. I recall that early in the rehearsals
that night I pointed out that something we were singing was not
exactly as it was on the record. She checked, and I was right.
From that moment we had a trust about her music that was to overlap
into all areas of our lives.
on to record with her when she was in London, and to appear on
stage at her concert performances. My knowledge of her songs
was useful when I would stand in for Dusty at sound checks, complete
with hand movements!
When her work became infrequent, we still saw each other regularly,
on shopping trips and visits to her favourite Fish & Chip
restaurants. She also liked a day at the races.
easy for me to smile as I recall those days. What followed, on
the diagnoses of her illness, I wont be going into, but
I was happy that she trusted me to be with her through it.
remember anything much of my performance of "The Wind Beneath
My Wings" at Dustys funeral. I think I was on some
kind of "auto pilot".
I do know that I miss her every day, and my heart stops every
time I hear one of those wonderful classics.