My haven: Singer, Kiki Dee, best known for her 1976 hit Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, unwinds in her Hertfordshire cottage
21:30 GMT, 4 May 2012
Kiki surrounded by some of her favourite things including her 70s boots, a silver disc for the soundtrack album to the musical Blood Brothers and a photo of her during her Motown days
1 PROUD PARENTS
My dad, Fred, worked in a textile factory while my mother, Mary, looked after me and my two older siblings, who still live in Bradford. Dad always encouraged my singing, so when Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was a hit in the States, I flew my parents to New York first-class to see me, put them up at the Waldorf Astoria, then they sailed home on the QE2. Dad died at 75, Mum at 87, but I still have this bowl, a gift at their wedding in 1937.
2 MY MATE ELTON
After our big hit I toured with Elton a couple of times. I was at a show in Madison Square Garden when John Lennon showed up! Even if we don’t see each other for years, we always remember each other’s birthdays in March – we both just turned 65. Every year Elton sends me a white orchid and two bottles of champagne. He also gave me this Yorkshire Terrier by Lalique. I’m hoping I’ll get to meet his baby Zachary soon.
3 SILVER VOICE
This silver disc is for the soundtrack album to the musical Blood Brothers. I toured in the show in 1988 before it went into London’s West End. I found acting tough, it takes a lot out of you if you have no technique. A lot of actresses cry at the show’s emotional ending. I didn’t, but when we played in front of my family in Bradford – at the theatre where I won a talent contest at 12 – I got so emotional I had to stop.
4 BIG BOOTS
My silver platform boots are the type glam rockers used to wear in the 70s. I got them in the King’s Road in London in 1974. The heels are so high they make your legs look like a model’s. Coming off stage in America once, I tripped over a cable in them, sprained my ankle and ended up in a wheelchair. Young people who see them now are flabbergasted. They make very good doorstops though!
5 MY MOTOWN DAYS
I was the first white British artist signed by Motown, and this photo of me with The Four Tops was taken at a Motown birthday party in 1969. My Motown album, Great Expectations, wasn’t a big hit, but I’m very proud of it. The label’s UK manager was John Reid, and he introduced me to the young Elton John. It was a Sliding Doors moment; had I not met him, my life would have taken another direction.
6 WHAT A TRAGEDY
Julie Ward was a 28-year-old wildlife photographer who was murdered in 1988 while on safari in Kenya. The case got a lot of publicity, and her father is still seeking justice today. When she was about 16 she was a close friend of my producer, Carmelo Luggeri. To honour her, he put on an exhibition of her pictures and this is a book about her life. She had such a sweet personality it’s called Gentle Nature.
Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri will be touring the UK in the autumn – for details see www.kikiandcarmelo.com