SIXTIES star Dave Berry will perform at Sheffield City Hall as part of 50-years in showbiz - to celebrate we have a FREE song download, writes digital editor Graham Walker
The Crying Game was his biggest chart hit but he has revealed how it was actually the stripping game which helped him to become a Sixties superstar.
The 70-year-old Sheffield pop icon, also influenced by Elvis and Gene Vincent, now admits his provocative and mysterious live act owes a lot to the routines of club land strippers who shared the bill with him in the early days.
And in an exclusive video chat about his career - press the play button to watch it in - he also tells how he almost didn’t record his famous signature hit, because The Crying Game wasn’t the type of Joe Cocker-style blues song he was after.
It took Led Zeppelin stars Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and legendary session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan - his studio crew at the time - to convince him, nine months after the song was offered up by Donovan manager and writer Geoff Stephens.
The song became a top five hit and the rest is history.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Get a free MP3 of Berry’s Cajun Moon, which topped the Radio London chart, from his recent album Memphis In The Meantime - simply right click on the External Link in the column on the right, then “save target as” to your computer.
Still in big demand, he will perform at the Royal Albert Hall next month alongside Boy George, Hazel O’Connor, Rick Astley and others at a concert in memory of his old friend Dusty Springfield.
He stars in The Solid Silver 60s, with Chris Farlowe, Wayne Fontana, Terry Sylvester, formerly of The Hollies, Vanity Fare and The Merseybeats, at Sheffield City Hall on Friday April 29.
Berry, living in Dronfield, started with his backing band, The Cruisers, who at one time included Sheffield guitar legend Frank White. Other hits included BJ Thomas’s sentimental Mama and Bobby Goldsboro cover Little Things, which featured on a recent TV ad for Andrex toilet rolls. This Strange Effect, written for him by The Kinks frontman Ray Davies, remains the best selling pop single of all time in the Netherlands, where Berry still enjoys superstar status.
The Sex Pistols later acknowledged him as an inspiration and they covered his hit, Don’t Gimme No Lip Child.
Yet it was his enigmatic and unconventional live act - often with him performing opening tracks off stage and out of sight - that helped to make him a major star.
“When I first started out with my band, the original Cruisers, I was very much doing a similar show to Gene Vincent. He was anti-pop - so strange, in his black leathers and looking straight into the camera, with the microphone stand straight out,’’ explained Berry.
“But then, as my act developed, I left the microphone stand behind - and I became like more of a male stripper
“In the early Sixties I worked quite a lot at a rock venue in Blackpool called the Picador Club and at that time we were working with a lot with strippers. They fascinated me whereby they would tease the audience you know, with the sort of undoing the bra and very slowly bringing the bra in front of their eyes and things like that.
“I was very, very influenced by them.”
He laughed: “In fact I think if my pop career finishes I might become a male stripper.”
Berry also explained how he shunned The Crying Game for months only for it to become his best known hit.
“I wanted to record blues and R&B, which was my roots really. So I didn’t want to be going down the route of recording that ballad. I wasn’t keen - in fact it was about eight or nine months I had the song.
“But my session crew at the time was Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page on lead guitar and John Paul Jones who went on to be Led Zeppelin. They were really well respected session musicians, who didn’t have any problems of recording one minute with The Kinks, the next with Rolf Harris, then me, then Herman’s Hermits. So they were very open to all types of music. They came up to me one day and said, ‘The Crying Game - why are you sort of dismissing it?’
“I gave them the same reason, that I was more into blues. I was from the same era as Joe Cocker so we were playing the same sort of music. I suppose with talking to me, they persuaded me or made me have a rethink about whether I should record it. That’s how it came about.
“It’s certainly not been a burden and anyone who says that having a chart song is a burden to them, I don’t believe them. It’s what every musician would die for, to have chart success.
“I’ve not got the best voice in the world. I tend to slide up to notes, but it’s pop music. It’s not opera. You don’t have to have the best voice in the world to be a pop singer.
“If I was 18-years old now and I was starting a band, obviously I wouldn’t be playing sixties music. But I would be playing in an indie band and playing our own stuff.
“I’ve no plans to stop. I was in the recording studio a couple of weeks ago. I would like to do another blues album, an R&B album. There’s talk of me doing something with Adam Ant, the punk guy.
“And I’d like to think I’d be remembered that I did it professionally - yes, that I was a professional at it.”
* Solid Silver 60s tickets are £21.50, subject to booking fees, from Sheffield City Hall, 0114 2789 789 or www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk
OFFICIAL SITE: Visit Dave Berry’s official web site for latest news, tour dates, CDs and other merchandise at www.cryinggame.co.uk - click on the External Link in the column on the right.
THE STAR OPINION:
Dave’s a true icon
TODAY’S contenders for instant fame on TV talent shows could learn a lot from Sheffield’s very own sixties superstar Dave Berry.
For the man who made his name in the swinging sixties is still belting out his hits five decades later... and showing no sign of slowing down.
And it is all down to both talent and a deep connection with his fans, something not enough of today’s instant fame-seeking pop stars know enough about. Dave is a great ambassador for pop music’s golden age and enjoys the genuine X Factor which makes him an icon to thousands.
As he passes two milestones - his 70th birthday and 50 years in the music business - readers will to join us in wishing him all the best for the future.