Watch some ball-kicking self-defense with seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul
08:12 am
Watch some ball-kicking self-defense with seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul Watch some ball-kicking self-defense with seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul

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.

But de Paul was far smarter than your average pop star. She found writing hit songs easy and part of her wanted to be taken a tad more seriously, and do something far more taxing. Instead, the demands of the music biz meant she turned out one hit single after another, eventually ending up performing a duet with Mike Moran for the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest called “Rock Bottom.” It was the bookies favorite to win, but the song was pipped on the night by some French ditty called “L’oiseau et l’enfant” sung by Marie Myriam. Apart from her own work, De Paul wrote songs for other artists like Blue Mink and Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids and leant her considerable vocal skills to projects like the Lennon/McCartney weird war movie fest All This and World War II as well as supplying backing vocals on Mott the Hoople’s “Roll Away the Stone”—she also christened the band’s guitarist Luther Grosvenor with the name Ariel Bender.

When she left Arden’s management, her pop career slowed, but she was rarely out of the tabloid press as she notched up a string of celebrity lovers including Moore, Ringo Starr, soccer legend George Best, Hollywood actor James Coburn, with whom she had a four-year relationship, and perhaps most (in)famously she allegedly had a tempestuous fling with Sean Connery who was said to have pursued de Paul with “a vigor of which James Bond would have been proud, and a line in flattery which even 007 couldn’t match.”

Moving away from music in the 1990s, de Paul became involved in film and TV and started producing videos promoting her interests in vegetarianism and self-defense for women—most notably Eve Strikes Back for the BBC which scooped a Royal Television Society award in 1992. De Paul was a feisty four-foot-eleven feminist and an early riot grrl long before the Spice Girls—though her politics were often to the right of center. She was described by one friend as “a renaissance woman” who was “immensely talented” and “could do everything.” Which, in retrospect, was all quite true.

In 2006, de Paul wrote, produced, and presented a self-defense documentary called Taking Control—though, tbh it looks far more dated than just over decade or so ago. Anyhow. De Paul believed that “Possibly the single most damaging belief held by women is that they are the weaker sex.” With this video she hoped to encourage women to take control of their lives and not be frightened or intimidated by boorish antagonistic nut job men. For some reason, De Paul’s video has gained something of a cult status amongst those of a certain age and possible inclination—your guess is as good as mine but perhaps because the video contained a lot of ball-kicking, ball-punching, eye-gouging, and impressive techniques for escaping strangle-holds and attacks from behind. All useful stuff and as de Paul explained in the program:

What self-defense does is teach you how to defend your space. It heightens your awareness and prepares you for faster and better responses.

Of course, Ms. de Paul couldn’t guarantee complete safety from any injury but her how-to-defend-yourself video was intended to “lower the risk of becoming a victim.” Natch.

Alas, Lynsey de Paul died suddenly and quite unexpectedly from a brain haemorrhage in 2014, what’s left is a back catalog of great songs and some fine moves to keep trouble at bay.




Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Stevie Nicks will fuck you up
Power of Pussy: Honor Blackman of ‘Goldfinger’ demonstrates ‘defense galore’
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing: Self-defense for dummies

Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:12 am



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