In 1973/74 when I was 14 going on 15 one of my schoolgirl crushes was David Essex. With his lovely hair and bright blue eyes he was a pop idol. At this time he had two best-selling singles – Rock On and Lamplight. My best friend Cathie joined his fan club and this is what she received.
Biography (an excerpt)
David Essex, the C.B.S. recording artist, who has reached Number 1 in the New Musical Express chart with his self-penned songs “Rock On” and “On and On” (produced by Jeff Wayne) was born in Plaistow in the East End of London on July 23rd 1947; son of a docker, and his mother is the great-niece of the famous fortune-teller, the late Gypsy Rose Lee – (not the American Stripper).
David admits to having had a tough childhood. His father was struck down by illness when he was a child, and David and his mother were cared for by the London County Council for 18 months, until his father had recovered enough to return to work.
His real name is David Cook, but he had to change it in order to avoid conflicting with another actor of the same name, so his manager, Derek Bowman, chose the name Essex, because this is the County where David was living (and still does) when Derek discovered him in an East End pub, singing rhythm and blues, and playing the drums.
“When I was about 12, I used to work after school, and on Saturdays on barrows in an open market in the East End”, David recalls. “I wore snazzy waistcoats and cravats, and sometimes an earring, and sold fruit from a stall. I used to shout out things like – ‘Apples shillin’ a pahnd, tanner ‘arf, they’re luverlee,’ and chat up all the old dears into buying from me. I wore a little cheesecutter cap, smoked cigarettes and thought I was really the cats whiskers. My lunch consisted of a packet of five cigarettes, six penn ‘orth of chips and a pickled onion – that was the life. It was always an anti-climax to go back to school”.
“I was in a tough sort of crowd, caused havoc at school and nearly got myself expelled a couple of times. I also worked on the dodgems at the fun-fair that used to come round locally. I was a bit of a tearaway; I suppose I was always alright with school-work.
“I played football quite well, which made things a bit easier too, and I often played for the West Ham Boys Team – quite something in our area.
“If it hadn’t been for music”, David says, he might have ended up in jail. He particularly liked ‘City Blues’, especially Buddy Guy, a black blues singer but also Rock ‘n Roll idols like Little Richard and Buddy Holly.
It is interesting to note his East End origins, a few years ago in 2011 David Essex joined the cast of the soap opera EastEnders for a while, playing Eddie Moon. You can find more about him here http://www.davidessex.com/
Here is a recent photograph from his website, the hair isn’t quite the same but the blue eyes still sparkle!