Friday, January 9, 2009

Dave Dee, 1943—2009

British pop star Dave Dee, born David Harman—who holds the distinction of having one of best whip cracks on record in pop music history—died early this morning at the age of 65 following a long battle with cancer, the BBC has reported. Originally a police officer before entering the music business (legend has it that he was one of the officers at the scene of the car accident that killed Eddie Cochran and injured Gene Vincent in April 1960, although he would have been a mere seventeen years old at the time), Dave Dee was the lead singer of the inimitable Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, a group named after the members’ nicknames. Incorrectly perceived as a bubblegum act, the music of DDDBMT (as the band is referred to in its acronym form), actually employed a number of musical styles, and while they didn’t shy away from the fuzzy, distorted guitar of early psychedelia, they might best be characterized as “power pop,” although that term didn’t gain currency until the early 70s, by which time DDDBMT had disbanded. The band learned its chops in the same Beat clubs in Hamburg in which the Beatles played, and during their career the group had a run of eight Top 10 hits in the UK, including a #1 single in early 1968, The Legend of Xanadu (click on the link for the video), in which Dave Dee, famously, cracks a whip, a la Zorro. Other hit singles included “Bend It!,” “Save Me,” “Zabadak”—and of course “Hold Tight!” (1966; check out the video), the song on the radio in Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE (2007) feature, Death Proof, during the brutal car crash scene.

According to the BBC report, in the 1970s Dave Dee “was a founding committee member of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy charity and was actively involved in fundraising and increasing the profile of the organisation for more than 30 years. He later worked as a magistrate in Cheshire,” although DDDBMT continued on as oldies act; they’d in fact recently performed dates in the UK and in Germany. No doubt, due in large part to Quentin Tarantino, a younger generation has discovered the music of DDDBMT, and that is a good thing. The band’s first album (1966) has been released on CD with a number of singles-only tracks, B-sides, and other rarities, and is well worth tracking down. Gotta love that whip!

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