Kiki Dee out to mend broken hearts by finally touring Australia

PARTNERSHIP: Carmelo Luggeri and Kiki Dee started performing together in 1995 to bring new life to her catalogue of hits.
PARTNERSHIP: Carmelo Luggeri and Kiki Dee started performing together in 1995 to bring new life to her catalogue of hits.

KIKI Dee politely asks from London: "This interview is for a newspaper isn't it?"

When Weekender confirms that's the case, she replies, "Well, I won't have to use my radio voice then." We never discover what Dee's radio voice sounds like, but despite the midnight hour in the UK the 72-year-old is bright and bubbly.

It might be the fact she's just returned from a two-week holiday spent sunning herself on a Greek island or because she's excited about finally returning to Australia after almost five decades.

"I did actually perform there for a couple of weeks in 1970," she says. "I think it's going to be a very different place to be now."

On that trip to Australia Dee was a relatively unknown singer from Bradford, who had enjoyed modest success with singles like Why Don't I Run Away From You.

However, that all changed with the 1973 easy-listening pop hit Amoureuse, which was co-produced by Elton John. Dee's star continued to rise a year later when the funky glam single I've Got The Music In Me, announced her as one of the most exciting voices in English pop.

The Elton John association continued in 1975 when Dee teamed up with the piano superstar on the duet Don't Go Breaking My Heart. The song became John's first global No.1 and remains one of the most enduring pop songs of the '70s.

Elton John & Kiki Dee - Don't Go Breaking My Heart

Initially John and co-writer Bernie Taupin intended the track to be performed with Dusty Springfield, but when she withdrew with illness, it left the door open for Dee to record her career-defining moment.

"When we recorded it I didn't even know it was going to be a hit," she recalls. "It wasn't going to be a duet originally, I was just going to do some vocals on it.

"It's funny sometimes how something you're not really attached to becomes one of the most well known things you ever do in your life."

The success of the bio-pic Rocketman, about the early years of John's career, has understandably renewed interest in Dee.

I won't be doing a three-year retirement tour, that's hysterical isn't it?

Kiki Dee

Dee appears briefly in the film, portrayed by Rachel Muldoon.

"It's flattering to be in it," she says. "I think there's a lot of people from Elton's life at that time who aren't even mentioned like his band and producer Gus Dudgeon."

Despite the longevity of Dee's career, she remains inescapably linked to that brief moment where she sang in pink overalls next to John. Does being best known for Don't Go Breaking My Heart ever annoy her?

"I did go through a period about 10 years after [1985], around the time of Live Aid," she says. "I thought, 'Oh god, am I ever going to be able to move on from this song?'

"I've learnt to embrace it now. It's so long ago and I've managed to move on and do new things, which is my nature to do."

In the past two decades Dee has forged another successful musical partnership, this time with English guitarist and producer Carmelo Luggeri, who has worked with Bill Wyman, Julian Lennon and Paul Rodgers.

Kiki Dee & Carmelo Luggeri - Don't Go Breaking My Heart (live)

The pair have toured their show around Europe numerous times, performing stripped-back renditions of Dee's hits and covers from Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Frank Sinatra.

"I've done so much before that and I'd always been striving to make it," Dee says. "I got to the point where I wanted to do some music and have a bit of choice in what I do.

"Carmelo produced a couple of tracks for my Best of Kiki album that was coming out and we hit it off musically and starting writing and decided to do this acoustic show."

Last September Elton John kicked off his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, an unprecedented run of more than 300 shows before he retires from music. The tour passes through Pokolbin's Hope Estate on January 11 and 12.

Does Dee have her own plans to draw the curtain on her near 60-year career?

"I won't be doing a three-year retirement tour, that's hysterical isn't it?," she laughs. "It's gonna take him three years to say goodbye to all his fans. That's wonderful really.

"I think I'll bow out quite gently when I stop and say, 'Alright that it. It's been great'."

Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri will perform at .-

  • The Art House, Wyong, on Friday, August 2;
  • Lizotte's Newcastle, on Sunday, on August 4; and
  • Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford, on Sunday, August 18.

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