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An Entertainer Who Recorded With Elton And Was Encouraged by David Bowie

Written by Chief Editor.

Dana Gillespie is a performer who has worked with Elton and David Bowie, and whose circle of friends includes Angie Bowie, Kiki Dee, and Jimmy Page. Her autobiography (a review appeared earlier on this website) has been published, and she has now shared her thoughts with EJW.

 
EJW: Weren't Born a Man includes a blurb from Elton. You both met in the sixties. One of the songs you did backing vocals for was the Archies' Sugar Sugar. Do you recall if Elton was part of this recording--or what specific sessions he was on?
 
DG: We did quite a lot of songs together for Alan Caddy and yes, Sugar Sugar was one of them. I can't remember the names of the others unless I look at the albums. The company was called Avenue Recordings and came out under the name 'Top Of The Pops,' but that had nothing to do with the TV programme, and it always had a bird in a bikini or similar outfit on the cover. It's always a good thing to find these old LPs in charity shops, usually going for about 50p but they'll be worth more in the future. I think Elton and I, plus David Byron (Uriah Heep's lead singer) also did the song Melting Pot. There were many others but as I said, I'd need to look at the LP covers to jog my memory. 
 
EJW: David Bowie was a friend and mentor. Both of you spent a good deal of time at the Giaconda Cafe in Denmark Street, which you've said was the place to be if someone required a musician or vocalist. Do you know if anyone was discovered here? 
 
DG: I don't know if people were directly discovered from sitting in the Gioconda but Bowie and I both had publishing deals with companies from Tin Pan Alley and the cafe was a great place to hang out, plus the demo studios were underneath all the publishing companies, in the basements. So the cafe had many people in it who later became famous. 
 
EJW: Like Elton, you were cast in Tommy. But you were in the stage version. How did you wind up with two roles, that of Tommy's mother and the Acid Queen?
 
DG: The Tommy I was in was the first version of the 'live' stage musical and I did both roles as they saved money that way! It meant a very quick clothes change. . . .
 
EJW: Have you and the former Reg Dwight ever performed at the same event? Perhaps on August 1, 1986? That's when MTV Europe was launched with a live event at Amsterdam's RoXY dance club. You've written that you were both in attendance, and that the piano player was interviewed. 
 
DG: Sadly, Elton and I have never performed together. But I wouldn't say no!
 
EJW: More recently, you spoke with Tim Rice, on your podcast called Globetrotting With Gillespie. You both reminisced about Jesus Christ Superstar, in which you played Mary Magdalene. What other topics came up?
 
DG: I can't remember what we talked about, except as mentioned record labels and Lionel Bart. People should watch the episode themselves!
 
EJW: Are you looking forward to The Chelsea Cowboy? It's a biopic {filming to start in October} about John Bindon, an actor with a chequered past, who appears in your book. There also happens to be a character named 'Dana Gillespie.' . . .
 
DG: At first I was horrified that I would be portrayed by someone not English, as I speak the Queen's English, and Lovi Poe is a Filipina actress. I accepted it, plus she made a couple of albums so she sings, and has millions of followers on Instagram! I've already offered some suggestions to the script writer/producer, and he seems pretty happy with my suggestions. I hope she does the part well. I'm sure she will. Much more difficult will be the person who portrays Bindon himself, as he was a very funny man and an extremely complex character. I wish them all luck!
 
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