Friday, March 19, 2010

Today is Lesley Duncan's Funeral

Lesley's funeral is today (March 19th). She died on March 12th at the age of 66 after struggling with cerebrovascular disease.

Sometimes called "the British Carole King," she was one of the few female singer/songwriters from England back in the 70's. It was tough for her getting started, because when she began she didn't fit the mold of a Petula Clark or Cilla Black: "“You had to be glamorous and pretty and I just couldn't play that role, I found it absolutely impossible. You'd be the token pretty girl and I just couldn't be that. I didn't even try; I'd have just felt a total phony. But I've been at odds with the business all along, starting very early. I always felt uncomfortable with lots of aspects of show business. I think they found people like me a little hard to handle, 'cos I was rebelling already - whereas I think they were very sure of what to do with the more compliant ones, like the Susan Maughans, who were happy to play the game, to play the glamorous dolly-bird, do the TV shows and the cabaret.”

“And also, because there weren't that many girl singer/songwriters around at the time, there was nowhere to put me comfortably. Lots of girl artists, but not many who were writers too and so it was a bit uncomfortable for me because I had no-one helping me out, as it were. It has come a long way, but I think I was one of the forerunners….I was one of the early ones blazing a trail, if you like."

She sang back-up with Dusty Springfield, got a big break via her Elton John duet on "Love Song," but also appeared on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and sang "If I Could Change Your Mind" on the Alan Parson album "Eve." She had a string of solo albums in the mid-70's ("Everything Changes," "Moonbathing" and "Maybe It's Lost") that have some gems on them, and your download below is "Walk in the Sea," a track previously discussed on the blog in October of 2007.

One of her last recordings was a version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" circa 1982. Her disappearance from the music scene was a combination of family interests and physical problems. She said some years ago, "I've been fairly quiet musically for various reasons. One is that I can't seem to think straight with two teenage sons around me!

"I've built up a little stockpile of tracks again, though. It's a bit like a repeat of the 60s, where I've had a lull, and I'm gradually compiling a little dossier again. I've got about three or four recorded now...I'm beginning to recover energy and thinking maybe I'd like to do that. But it's hard, because as I've told you, I don't really care much for the business and I don't want to go out and sing, so I suppose it's unfair to expect a record company to invest a lot of money letting you make an album if you're not prepared to go out and promote it - which I'm not, that life is just not for me."

For more information on the sweetheart from Stockton-on-Tees, you can visit her website:

Walk in the Sea: Lesley Duncan


XPat said...

So good (under such sad circumstances) to see a thoughtful tribute rather than a rehash of anodised Wikipedia sourced material.
What was the original source of the interview comments?
"Walk in the Sea" sat at the other extreme to "Lullaby" of the emotional journey that Lesley used to lead me on, sadly has not been available for some time, it encourages me to look out the vinyl again. Thanks

Anonymous said...

XPat - you are absolutely spot on. That is partly what makes THIS blog unique and interesting - all the tributes here are not wiki rehashings but intelligently written resumes that reveals the blog authors' familiarity and curiosity about their work, often reminding us of the perils and pitfalls of the industry in which they existed.

Was a shock to come here today to learn of Lesley's passing... first I heard of it.

Ill Folks said...

Thanks, XPat. And thanks Anon...nice to know the original writing and research is noted by some readers.

The Lesley interview quotes are from a 1987 interview that you can find at I put in a plug for the site, but I couldn't put in a direct hot link to that page because it's one of those sites where the URL doesn't change. Every page seems masked as

A quick check of eBay shows "Maybe Its Lost" at 4.99 near mint, and "Moonbathing" sealed at 9.99. is pretty similar. I sometimes put whole albums on the blog, but I try to respect the person who needs to sell off their vinyl due to hard times...

...or the store owner who likewise helps people by buying their unwanted material or being there when someone has to move or an estate needs to be settled. They take risks and play a waiting game, just to have that item when a fan wants it. Since the market dictates the price in most cases, what they charge is usually pretty fair.

Patti Dahlstrom, profiled on this blog some time ago, has just gotten a "Best of" deal for a CD. In some cases I also think that supply comes with demand. That's how the re-issue market stays healthy and the bonus is usually literal bonus tracks, and savvy album notes.

"Earth Mother" is on CD...hope that more will follow!

quran said...

Lasely Duncan is the most pretty and glamorous singer even in from my experience.I have a great weakness for her and her weakness.She has really the extra dazzling quality of singing.