Thursday, May 18, 2017

Who the Heck is Kiki Dee


Last month, during the April AtoZ Blogging Challenge, I featured a duet by Elton John and Kiki Dee.  In the comments, someone had asked what had become of Kiki Dee.  So, I did a little bit of research.


Who the Heck is Kiki Dee?

I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads asking yourself this burning question.

Quite simply, Kiki Dee was the first white British Artist to sign with Motown’s Tamla Records.

Kiki Dee is not her Government Name. Kiki Dee was born Pauline Matthews. She is the youngest of three children. Her musical influences came from her older brother in the 50’s who played a lot of Elvis Presley records.

In the early 60’s, she started a musical career as a session musician doing backup vocals for many musicians, including Dusty Springfield. In 1963, a record scout heard her and invited her to London to audition. There, she signed her first record deal with Fontana Records.

Her first album contained a series of Phil Spector style tracks and covers from Fontana Records. In 1966, she did a cover of ‘Why Don’t I Run Away From You’, which was quite successful for her.  In 1968, she released ‘On a Magic Carpet Ride’, which was also quite popular on London Radio.

In 1970, she released her first single for Motown’s Tamla Records ‘The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday’.  Kiki Dee continued to work as a session backup singer.

Despite her early success, it wasn’t until 1973, when she signed with Elton John's label named The Rocket Record Company that she became a household name in the UK.

Her first major solo hits were ‘Amoureuse’ and ‘I've Got the Music in Me’. And yes, she continued singing backup vocals, and could be heard on various Elton John recordings, such as ‘All the Girls Love Alice’ on ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and various tracks on Rock of the Westies.

Her biggest hit came in 1976 when she replaced an ailing Dusty Springfield for the recording of a duet with John, ‘Don't Go Breaking My Heart’

Things quieted down after that for Kiki Dee for a few years. In 1981, she launched a comeback with ‘Star’. This later became the theme music to the BBC1 program Opportunity Knocks between 1987 and 1990. Also in 1981, Dee joined forces again with Elton John, recording a cover of the Four Tops' song "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever". Through the 80’s and into the 90’s she continued to contribute backup vocals for Elton John.


Dee has also appeared in musical theatre, notably in the lead role in Willy Russell's West End musical Blood Brothers, in which she took on the role originally played by Barbara Dickson for the 1988 production and recording. She received an Olivier Award nomination in 1989 in the Best Actress in a Musical category.

Dee had previously starred in Pump Boys and Dinettes in London's West End, at the Piccadilly Theatre, from 20 September 1984 to 8 June 1985.

Kiki Dee has never married. She lived in California with Davey Johnstone, a guitarist in Elton John's band at the age of 28. In her late thirties, she was diagnosed with an early stage of uterine cancer. In 2013, her single ‘Sidesteppin' with a Soul Man,’ was her 40th single release. She is currently 70 years old.

Below are a few of her recordings. 

Why Don’t I Run Away From You




On a Magic Carpet Ride




The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday




I've Got the Music in Me




Amoureuse




You can find a larger playlist HERE.






13 comments:

  1. I like her because she hasn't got the usual type of singing voice you get to hear. She sounds more like the "normal" next person with talent

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    1. She does seem to have a 'girl next door' feel about her.

      Thanks for stopping in!

      ~Mary

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  2. Bless her. I hope she's going strong. Too bad we can't say the same for Chris Cornell. Losing him at 52 is so unjust when we should have gotten at least twenty more years of great music. The possibility of suicide only makes it that much worse. ~sigh~ I'd love if you would write a bio of him now that I think of it. Be well.

    Thank you for sharing this great music to brighten my day.

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    1. Thanks Darla.

      Woke up to that news this morning. I do have a spot open for next week that I plan to use.

      ~Mary

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  3. The only song of hers that I've heard of is the one she dueted on with Elton John. :(

    With Love,
    Mandy

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    1. Hi Mandy

      I was in your boat when I first started my venture to find out more about her. I almost feel as though I missed out on a lot of her music.

      ~Mary

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  4. I guess those in the UK probably know her name more than most Americans. For me I'll always associate her with the work she did with Elton John.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I tend to agree with you. I didn't know much about her other than the work she did with Elton John until I started doing my research.

      ~Mary

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  5. Nice to know! I enjoyed her work with John. Don't know that I ever heard her singles before. Glad she enjoyed some success of her own and beat the cancer.
    Faith: #TheWordonWords at Life & Faith in Caneyhead.

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    1. I think the only single that I had heard before was 'I've Got the Music In Me' - but I did not know that was her. I learn so much doing these posts.

      ~Mary

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  6. Because I am originally from England I knew her as a singer. I also knew she was signed to Motown's Tamla Records. But I didn't know about her backing vocals on Elton John's other songs!

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    1. Hi Jacqueline!

      That was new information for me as well. I loved the story of how she came to do the duet with Elton John. Thanks for stopping in!

      ~Mary

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  7. Great post and thanks for sharing.

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