Lynsey de Paul (1948-2014)

VennerRoad By VennerRoad, 9th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Celebrities>Music

Singer-songwriter Lynsey de Paul has died suddenly.

Lynsey de Paul (1948-2014)

Having stayed on-line well into the small hours - as is my wont - I didn’t get up until fairly late October 2, and logged onto a joke site. One of the first jokes I read was about Lynsey de Paul being at rock bottom - a pun on her 1977 hit. I thought it was an old joke, but ran her name through Google News in any case, and was shocked at what I found.

Although I hadn’t followed every detail of her career and life, I knew she was a vegetarian, and not a fan of either drugs or fast living. Where do I begin? I first both heard of and heard Lynsey de Paul when she released Sugar Me, in 1972. At that time I was very much into Elton John and was just beginning to get into heavy metal/melodic rock/progressive, which has been my mainstay ever since, but how could I or anyone resist a talented songwriter like she was obviously to become? Not only that, she was drop dead gorgeous, and only a few years older than me. Shortly, Kate Bush would burst onto the scene, and she was two years younger than me, but I was wise enough to realise even then that these were females kids like me could only dream about rather than aspire to.

Lynsey was actually two years older than believed. Her date of birth is usually given as June 11, 1950, but shortly after her death an earlier birth date appeared. On October 9 I checked the official microfiche of births, and hers is registered at Southwark in the September quarter of 1948, so she was presumably born June 11, 1948. She is though hardly the first musician to lie about her age. Chuck Berry claimed to be younger than he is, as did Phil Lynott, who also lied about his place of birth. And let’s not get into women lying about their ages!

Whatever, I saw Lynsey perform in a TV special a year or two later, and she was the stuff of dreams. Tiny, standing less than five feet tall, ultra-feminine voice, long hair, the mole on her face - which would not have suited most women - was more like a beauty spot, and whether or not she was wearing a big hat, long dress or jeans, she was every red-blooded male’s dream. She became the first female songwriter to win an Ivor Novello with her classic Won’t Somebody Dance With Me, a song that was, incredibly, autobiographical, as she explained to Caroline Coon in a 1975 Melody Maker interview.

What does a girl do after she has won an Ivor Novello award? Lynsey’s answer was to win a second Ivor in short order, for No Honestly. Then a few years later she was runner up in the Eurovision Song Contest with Rock Bottom, a song she wrote and performed with Mike Moran. And let’s not forget that before her songwriting career took off she was already a successful commercial artist.

Shortly, Lynsey relocated to the West Coast of the United States, probably hoping to make it big in Hollywood. She did write a song called Hollywood Romance, and had one too, with James Coburn, who was twenty years her senior. Sadly though, Hollywood did not appreciate her talents as much as the UK, and she returned home where with a slight change of career she went into composing music for television, and also writing for other performers, the latter being something she had done before. She also made many TV appearances including as a presenter in her own right.

Probably her most off-beat production though was a short TV series about self-defence for women called Eve Strikes Back. It is difficult to imagine anyone hitting Lynsey, but that appears to have been the reason she broke up with Coburn. Last year she told the Jewish Chronicle that her father had been abusive, towards her mother; he was also abusive towards her. On one occasion he hit her so hard she suffered concussion. In spite of her size, she was no pushover, she left home as soon as she could; Don Arden made some unflattering comments about Lynsey in his autobiography Mr Big. She didn’t exactly love him either.

Apart from James Coburn, Lynsey had some high powered lovers including Roy Wood, for whom she wrote Martian Man, and Ringo Star. In 1975 she released a dreamy song called My Man And Me, which with the wisdom of four decades of hindsight was about the ideal man she was fated never to find.

Lynsey died childless and indeed never married, which is a crying shame on both counts. Her death was sudden; she is believed to have suffered a brain haemorrhage after complaining about headaches. She was buried October 7, and as might have been expected, there was a big turn out for her funeral including Suzi Quatro, Esther Rantzen and the actor Tom Conti. Rantzen called her a renaissance woman, as indeed she was. She was always an angel to me, now she is a real one.


Ivor Novello Awards, Lynsey De Paul, Singer-Songwriter

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author avatar VennerRoad
Independent researcher based in South East London.

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