Friday, 13 April 2018

Twenty Years On, Remembering Dorothy Squires, A Great And Much-Missed Friend.

In my opinion, Dot was the greatest female singer Britain has ever had. She was what the French call a chanteuse-réaliste, in the tradition of Piaf, Damia and Barbara. She sang about the triumphs and tragedies of life because she had been there. Piaf admired her so much that wrote a special arrangement of "If You Love Me, Really Love Me" for her. Barbara admired her, and gave me permission to adapt "La solitude" into English for her. 

Dot had lovers, but only one man really counted in her life: the actor Roger Moore, who used her as a stepping-stone for his film and television career, and then walked out on her. Every sad song that Dot sang, every pastiche of loss and unhappiness, was about him. She refused to allow him a divorce for several years, always hoping that he would come back to her. He never did, though he never left her also. Though they never met again after the eventual divorce, they stayed in touch by telephone. I never once heard either say a bad word about the other. When Dot had her final illness, when she was almost destitute and living at a friend's house in Wales, Roger paid the hospital bills. He is also said to have paid for the funeral, in Streatham.

We first met Dot in Sheffield, in September 1972, three weeks before our wedding. We turned up at the Fiesta along with all the other fans, and got talking to a little lady called Doris Gaard, who turned out to be the head of Dot's fan-club. 

"Go through that door there," she said.

No sooner had we got through the door than a security man grabbed me by the collar...and no sooner had he done this than this voice boomed out, "Get your fucking hands off him!"

Dot, not in one of her fabulous Douglas Darnell gowns, but in a brown twin-set. She asked us into her dressing-room, and gave us a drink. We told her we were going to see her the following week, and she said, "Make a point of looking for Doris, and he'll have a little natter!"

The "little natter" led to much bigger things. I was singing in the clubs back then. For another 18 years, until she retired, we travelled up and down the country with Dot. We met Marian Montgomery, who also became a close friend...through Marian we met Casey Donovan! Dot asked Jeanne to take pictures of her on stage, and we were given the job of running the memorabilia stalls.

Later on, Dot wrote her memoirs, Rain, Rain Go Away! Because she had been "blacklisted" by the establishment, no publisher would touch it. Therefore she asked me to ghost-write it for her, and still no one would touch it. Dot had upset too many people. And do you know why? Because, when the theatres started to show reticence to book her, she booked them herself, starting with the London Palladium. This was a triumph. The double-LP sold over a million copies in record time, and then the theatre managers decided that they might want to book Dot after all. She told them to get lost...well, something like that!

Dot's book never saw the light of day. She blamed a certain newspaper mogul, accusing him of setting her up in the so-called "Payola" scandal, where she was accused of paying to have her records played on the radio. She was acquitted. The O'Neill Report makes for interesting reading. Many of those appearing in court in the wake of the Scandal were accused of sexual crimes. Janie Jones went to jail. A girl committed suicide after accusing a DJ of sexually abusing her. Dot knew everyone involved...names which still have to be kept under wraps because these men are still alive. Each time the Report is edited and re-published, anyone who has died, whose name was blanked out, now has their name revealed. It does not take a genius as the list is whittled down to work out who the others were.

I wrote three songs for Dot. One was "I Sing My Life", as part of a collaboration with Gérard Berliner. Dot recorded them at the same time as she recorded 10 songs for her May You Always album. They are still in the archives.

Twenty years on, and nothing has been released to commemorate the as much as nothing was done last year to honour the 40th anniversaries of Elvis Presley and Maria Callas.

Dot may be gone, and ignored by the "establishment" she despised. For those of us who loved her, she will eternally remain within our hearts.

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