‘Making my mind up’ with ‘The Stage’ newspaper. Many a young entertainer will remember looking through this paper every Thursday. My mum had kindly skimmed through it on one particularly rainy morning. “We are going to London, next week”, she said. She had spotted an advert in the famous paper wanting two girls to join to new line up of Bucksfizz.
This paper was where all the ‘Spice Girls’ spotted their audition for the most famous girl band ever. For me, I was to become one of the small blondes that ‘Mike Nolan’ (from the original Bucksfizz) and ‘David Van Day’ (from Dollar) performed alongside. David stated there were 3,000 girls who attended the audition and two were chosen. A little different to the Spice Girls may I add, yes said with a tongue in my cheek, but non the less I learnt a lot on the road, travelling Europe with the group for 4 years.
I sang my heart out and was chosen by Mike Nolan, starting our rehearsals for the show in Southampton in the house of Barry Upton. I remember vividly Barry playing the hit song to us that he had wrote for an up and coming group whom he had been working on for a while. The song was ‘5,6,7,8’ and the group….yes you’ve guessed it was ‘STEPS’.
We recorded the shows in the spare toilet up stairs, where we stood singing over the well draped toilet with a Union Jack flag…no joke. It had great acoustics apparently.
Our first show was the ‘Generation Game’ with Jim Davidson at the BBC studios in London, I loved it, although a little nervous, it was such a great buzz. Here is a clip from that brilliant night and Jim Davidson ends up ripping my skirt off.
We toured all over performing in some of the most amazing venues and TV shows. Belgium arena with ‘The Sweet’ and ‘Mungo Jerry’, ‘George McCrae’ and ‘Peter and Robin Sarstedt’. We were always booked on gigs with ‘Katrina and The Waves’, ‘Brother Hood Of Man’, ‘Gina G, plus other 70’s and 80’s stars. Although I was virtually still in nappies at the time they won in 1981, my knowledge soon become ‘Woganised’ into the world of Eurovision…well, it would have been rude not to.
About a year into touring with the group it was decided that we would go back into the studio and re-record the infamous song ‘Making Your Mind Up’. Our new version was to sound up beat, fast and very eurotrash…lol. New routine was popped into place in Brighton and I hunted the streets of London for different costumes. That is when I came up with the idea of ripping our tops off (bras underneath of course) instead of the skirts and to be dressed in PVC. There is a clip below when we performed on GMTV…get ready for the cheesiest cheese ever.
Performing on every TV show you could think of at the time, G.A.Y and great stage shows to 100,000 people with the likes of Kylie, Five, Steps, being interviewed by the fabulous Graham Norton, it really was an amazing time. There would be something happening every day in the papers or magazines and they even stopped part of Oxford St for us when we did a signing day at the HMV.
However, it wasn’t all fabulous, there were a lot of late nights and early mornings, hotel after hotel, train after train, sleeping in the back of the tour bus. Plus not forgetting some of the horrendous venues we performed in all for bread and butter. Getting changed in toilets and out the back doors when we left a venue into the smelly back streets with the garbage.
I became particularly close with Mike Nolan as we shared a very similar sense of humour. We were just like brother and sister on the road and had such a great laugh. Everyone asks me what David Van Day was like, the answer being a fab guy to party with and a very quick and funny sense of humour, however, a darker side and difficult to work with. This was the reason along with Mike Nolan that I had to leave the band after 4 years.
‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’, that’s how I feel this year with our entry into the Eurovision. So many people roll their eyes about the song competition, but secretly we all love it.
Tonight is the night and all around the Europe there will be special parties, from fancy dress to your very own voting system.
Am I a big fan of Eurovision? Yes. Not really thinking about it at all whilst growing up. I would watch the odd one, but nothing serious, until it was drummed into me whilst singing with the band.
Molly Smitten-Downes….AMAZING! The 59th Eurovision in Copenhagen.
This has been one of the strongest entries I believe we have ever had. Molly was called up by the BBC in January of this year to ask if she would represent and write her own material. It has been a total whirlwind for her. Within the performing circles most artists are told not to touch it with a barge pole, it is the end of your career, just like an OK wedding shoot is the end of your marriage.
With Molly, I really hope she wins, however, with all the ridiculous politics the answer is probably a NO. But I truly think she will go on and do bigger and better things unlike many other Eurovision stars.
So as I am at a friends Eurovision party tonight eating curry and drinking the odd glass of red. I will raise my glass to the brilliant song and performer Molly for the UK.
I will also be shouting to Graham Norton through the TV set ‘YOU’VE GOT TO SPEED IT UP’, when they arrive at the boring part, the judging. SORRY, it had to be done.