Down these mean streets a pop star must occasionally go. Though they may not be mean themselves, they are sometimes trained in martial arts like Elvis Presley who was a black belt able to disarm a whole plateful of cheeseburgers at fifteen paces. Or, Stevie Nicks who could fuck you up with her four-inch platform heels. Or, the late seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul who was so adept at kicking butt in self-defense she made her very own video to let others in on her secret ninja skills.
Lynsey de Paul may not be as well-known today as Presley or Nicks but at the peak of her career in the 1970s, she was a chart-topping star on both sides of the Atlantic. The first woman to win an Ivor Novello Award for her song “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me” in 1974 (she won a second the following year with “No, Honestly”—the theme tune to a hit TV series), de Paul scored a string of hits before her career imploded after a fall-out with her manager Don Arden—aka Sharon Osbourne’s dad. Osbourne described de Paul as “a miserable old cow” and allegedly, during one acrimonious tour, urinated in a suitcase full of the singer’s clothes.
Lynsey de Paul was born Lynsey Monckton Rubin on June 11th, 1948, in north London. Her father was a bad-tempered old git, a property-developer who regularly beat de Paul and her brother. He also spent a lot of time demeaning and undermining his daughter who he claimed would never amount to anything. At the age of eleven, de Paul vowed to get her ass out of the family home ASAP and make enough dough to live an independent life far away from her old man. It was another ten years before de Paul managed to get out, but once gone she never looked back.
My motivation was negative because I was trying to get away from something. I turned it into something positive, so that I wasn’t walking away from home but towards something better.
De Paul studied at art college and had a brief career as a graphic designer before turning her talents towards songwriting in the late 1960s. She wrote a batch of singles for Oliver! star Jack Wild before writing a song called “Sugar Me” for Peter Noone. It was only when her then boyfriend Dudley Moore suggested she should record this single herself instead of Noone that a star was born. “Sugar Me” was de Paul’s first major hit in both the UK and the US. It was the kind of song that once you started singing the opening line, it was difficult not to follow on to the next.
One for you and one for me
But one and one and one,
Pardon me, comes to three.
A simple rhythm, a clever hook and then:
Honey sweet and all the while,
Hid behind the smile was saccharine
I’m a go-between.
I must have sung those lines more times than a few headshrinkers would think healthy. The first time I heard them, I was caught, filleted, and served up ready to eat. Not just for the beauty of the singer but the cleverness of the song. Those old enough to remember “Sugar Me” will know what I mean.
Watch Lynsey de Paul’s self-defense video ‘Taking Control,’ after the jump…