It’s a remarkable 51 years since Kiki Dee released her first single in a career which flourishes still.
For the past couple of decades, she’s been musically partnered by Carmelo Luggeri, and it’s with Carmelo that she returns to Chichester – a couple of years after lighting up a Chichester Cathedral concert in which she was Lulu’s surprise guest star.
“Lulu is really more a mate of Elton’s than mine, but she invited me to do a couple of shows. It was great. It was different!”
As for Carmelo, as Kiki says: “He came in to produce a couple of tracks for a best of Kiki Dee album that was coming out in the mid-90s. My manager at the time said ‘You guys should start working together and writing some stuff.’ We went out first of all acoustically which was new to both of us.”
And it worked.
As Kiki says, like everything, it came down to timing: “You just meet someone at the right time! But he is very melodious.
“He is very multi-talented. He is a great guitarist, and he really gets my voice. We just understand each other musically. We argue much more about the satnav when we are travelling to gigs than we ever do about music!”
It will be just the two of them at The Chichester Inn in Chichester’s West Street on Saturday, November 22 at 8.30pm: “But we make quite some noise! It’s very dynamic. I will also play a little bit of keyboards. I think the intimacy we get is hard to achieve with a full band, and I like to think every show is different. There is a different rapport every night... and we usually talk a bit!”
It still amuses Kiki that she has made a life out of it: “Carmelo always says to me that I have only had a proper job once in my life for three months in Boots the chemist when I was 16.”
She likes to think she has succeeded on ability: “There has never been any hype, and the fact that I am not in the limelight nowadays gives me more freedom.
“When I was doing Blood Brothers in the West End, I always used to think you are only as good as your last show, and the same applies to music.”
The 60s were a fabulously-exciting time to break through – provided you were in London: “It didn’t really reach the rest of the country until the 70s! But in the 60s, it was everything, music, fashion, everything altogether.”
Alongside her own singles in the 1960s, Kiki also worked as a backing singer, working with Dusty Springfield among others. But really the turning point for Kiki was working with Elton John and the massive hit that followed, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.
Inevitably the question, all these years later, is whether the song is milestone or millstone. Kiki definitely believes the former: “Robert Plant turned up to one of my gigs a couple of weeks ago, and we were talking about it. He was saying that Stairway to Heaven is his Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. For a lot of people it’s the kind of track which stops them realising you have moved on and you are doing other things.”
But it’s too important a song not to play. Kiki continues to do so, but offering it now with a different tempo: “It’s good. It’s familiar, but allows you to offer something new.”
Tickets on 01243 783185