Dean thanks his lucky stars

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Mar 2018 Dean thanks his lucky stars

At the height of the Punk Rock explosion in the late seventies, a song by a relatively unknown American singer-songwriter drifted into the charts. Dean Friedman’s Lucky Stars followed his first chart entry, Woman Of Mine, which got to No.52 in the early summer of 1978. In September, Lucky Stars climbed to No.3 and has since become a bit of a cult favourite.

Lydia completed the trio of UK hits for Dean, and Ariel was also very nearly a hit for him, and was played numerous times on the radio. The album that spawned Lucky Stars was ‘Well, Well, said the Rocking Chair’, which spent just over three months in the UK album charts.

Dean has since become well-known as a songwriter par excellence and has also provided TV music, most notably for ‘Boon’, the TV series starring Michael Elphick. Dean has made a point of touring Britain every year, and this year will also see his 15th appearance at the Edinburgh Festival, a feat he is proud of, he told me from his home in Peaksville, in the foot­hills of the Catskill Mountains.

“Edinburgh is a great place to be in August. The town is besieged by performer of all kinds, and to be surrounded by such creative people is very inspiring,” he said.

This years’ tour is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ‘Rocking Chair’ album, and as well as appearing in Edinburgh, there are more than 40 dates on the tour. “I love coming to Britain. It’s always worthwhile to get on stage in front of an appreciative audience.” Yet there is a downside. “Well, the commute is a little long, but it’s worth it. I’m gonna try and get them all to come over here so I don’t have to travel as much.” The strange fact is that Dean has had more hits in this country than anywhere else in the world.

“I put that down to boring business and politics. If the songs receive airplay, they will have success, it’s just a matter of getting on the playlists. “The thing is, I’ve been an independent for most of the last four decades, so it’s difficult to compete. But my songs are suc­cessful in spite of that. “I wrote a song called McDonald’s Girl which was banned, and I lost my record deal. That was then, but later on McDonalds used it in an adver­tising campaign and Barenaked Ladies had a hit with it.” The reason for this years’ cele­bration is simple, according to Dean.

“I acknowledged the 40th anniversary of Ariel in the States last year (Ariel was Dean’s only hit in his homeland), so I thought I’d do the same for ‘Rocking Chair’ in the UK. In Britain, it’s considered a bit of a classic, so it seemed appropriate.

“For me personally, it’s a chance to revisit the songs and my plan is to perform the whole album solo and unplugged. In fact, there are some songs I haven’t performed live before.”

Lucky Stars is a ballad for two, with a couple talking about their relationship, and the song featured uncredited vocals by Denise Marsa; however, she won’t be joining Dean on the tour. “No, it’s not really possible logistically. I’m still in touch with her – she’s a talented song­writer in her own right and I always support her efforts.

“I love singing the song – it’s a fun song to do – especially when the audience sings the girl parts. It’s great seeing these big, burly men singing along.”

And Dean has a treat for fans this time, as there is a competi­tion on his website where a lucky fan gets to sing the girl part at a show of their choice. “I’m always getting offers from talented singers to sing it on stage with me and I usually say ‘no’ because I like the audi­ence to join in. But I thought it would be a fun idea to do this time around.” And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman.

“No, I have specifically put on my website that the competition is open to ‘all citizens of the planet earth’.”

Go to www.deanfriedman.com/luckystarscontest for more details. “I have sung it with others in the past, though; check out You­tube for the rendition with The Scottish Sock Puppets.” And the album itself is being reissued in time for the tour.

“Yes, it’s just the album, intact, but I’ve re-mastered it ever so slightly. It sounds great.”

 

So, how did Dean get involved with writing the music for ‘Boon’?

“Well, Jim Diamond actually wrote the theme song, but for five seasons I did the incidental music.” “The producers called me up and said they wanted the music to be in a Country and Western style – they  must have thought that, with me being an American song-writer, I was a Country and Western singer – as they likened the title character to a  bit like a cowboy.

“As it turned out,  I grew up playing  a lot of Country  and Western music.  I had a great time  doing it – it was a real treat.”  For the future,  Dean is going to be  kept busy.  “I do videos, books  and albums and I hope to continue doing all of  the above.

And he has a special  project up his sleeve.“Just before I go up to Scot­land, I am doing a micro festival in Rutland. It’s been on my mind for years and now I’ve finally gotten around to doing it. I’ve invited some of my favour­ite songwriters, included Tracey Curtis, who used to be a punk rocker, and Boothby Graffoe, who has worked with The Bare­naked Ladies, and we’ll be at the Barnside Hall Hotel near Oakham in Rutland, on the weekend of July 28 and 29.  “It’s to celebrate songs and songwriters and I’m really look­ing forward to it.”

Dean Friedman will be cele­brating the 40th anniversary of the ‘Well, Well, Said The Rock­ing Chair’ album around the UK from April 15 to August 19.

Martin Hutchinson