Manchester 26.2.45

Urmston Grammar School for Girls

Life up to 1968:
Horse-riding instructor, assistant in bookstore, hairdresser, worked in the offices of the 'Education and Training Department' for the Co-operative Wholesale Society and finally as secretary for the MSG artiste booking agency before turning professional as a singer in 1968.

And after that.......
After three years of playing amateur and semi-professional gigs on the folk scene, I turned fully professional in December 1968, which coincided with the recording of my first album "Queen of Hearts". Six months later I teamed up with south London guitarist Bob Axford, performing mainly original material. We released "Second Season Came" on the legendary Trailer label in 1970, which included my most popular and covered song 'Lady for Today'. This was followed by "Firebird" in 1971, also on the Trailer label.

In 1971 Rob Ixer and I were married on April 17th, the wedding was attended by a lot of friends off the music scene and Toni Arthur (who at the time was singing with husband Dave on the folk scene - but later became well-known on children's TV) was my Matron of Honour. For our informal reception in the evening we wanted to use the Manchester Sports Guild where I had been a compere and guest artist. However they had already booked the guest artist for that night and so decided to combine the two occasions - which is how Barbara Dickson found herself singing at our wedding reception!

In the early/mid 70's I toured with singer/songwriter Andy Caven as my road manager/sounds engineer - we recorded a version of my 'Fiddler Man' together before Andy went his own way to a very successful career on the folk scene. In 1974, I played the Cambridge Folk Festival and in 1975 I released my next album, "Jerseyburger" and also a cassette of a live recording - "For My Part". In 1978, I signed to the Plant Life label, with whom I made three albums (see Discography). The backing musicians on these recordings included Dave Cousins, Maddy Prior, Nigel Pegrum, Rick Kemp, Brian Willoughby, Jon Gillaspie, Mike Silver and B.J. Cole.

Wally buzzes the audience at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre

In 1977 I did a series of gigs with Bristol-based guitarist Steve Payne and then from 1979, I toured briefly with a band which comprised Nigel Pegrum (drums), Jon Gillaspie (Keyboards), Pat Tate (guitar/vocals) and Rick Kemp (bass). This tour was notable for the fact that, in a unique finale, one of two trained, live eagles called Wally and Pegasus (see picture ), was flown over the heads of the audience to land on my arm! (See picture on right - Kendal Arts Centre concert). Unfortunately, Wally (see Wally's Song/Story ) had a penchant for beer and was known to detour on occasions to land on the table of an unsuspecting member of the audience..... and what do you say to an eagle with a six-foot wingspan and very large talons when it sticks it's head into your beer?..... would you like a chaser?......

Jon Gillaspie and I went on to perform together regularly as a duo over the next few years and Jon's empathy with my own views on how my music should sound led to our happy collaborations on my albums as well as gigs. Jon went on to great things in the classical music field and we are still great friends today, although we live 120 miles apart, exchanging emails regularly.

In 1981 I recorded The Man From Brooklyn and Just One Time, two songs about Barry Manilow, for whom I ran the Birmingham branch of the British Fan Club. My support for Manilow's music caused a lot of controversy in folk clubs but I was, and remain to this day, unshakable - both in support of the man and his music and in my assertion that he was a major influence on my music.

To add more fuel to the fire I took over running the Whitesnake Fan Club for the heavy rock band of that name in 1984 - a fact which surprised both the folk community and the Manilow fans! (This connection eventually led to my teaming up with the lead guitarist of the band, Mel Galley, for a series of gigs in 1985-86).

In 1985, I co-wrote the theme music for the children's television programme Talk, Write and Read. The programme went on to win the Royal Television Society award for the best primary school television programme of 1986/87. Around that time I also joined up with Isaac Guillory for a number of concerts in which we each performed solo sets and then a set together - occasions which will always remain a highlight in my musical career as far as I am concerned.

Owing to the smoking in many of the venues I played, and the lack of sound systems, I suffered a lot of throat problems during the mid-80's, resulting in a long course of hospital treatment. A number of clubs were prepared to make their nights non-smoking for my visits but unfortunately those that did not left me ill and unable to sing for several days. This was the main cause for my retirement in 1991 - though I did play two one-off farewell gigs in Germany and Jersey the following year.

I learned to swim in 1986 and, finding I had a knack for teaching nervous adult beginners, took the Preliminary and Full Teachers' Examinations with the Amateur Swimming Association in 1988. I taught part-time from that date but following my retirement in 1992 this became my full-time occupation. (My proudest teaching achievements in that field include teaching a blind lady to swim and having a 29 year old stroke victim win a prestigious award from the A.S.A.).

In 1997 my career took another sudden turn when I got into computers in a BIG way.......

What happens next is anybody's guess!........

The main loves of my life now are my husband and dog, my computer and Kenya..... but its still not a good idea to talk to me about censorship, religion, procrastination, politics and prudes.......