Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Lesley Duncan

Last week we lost another musical unsung hero, hopefully this post will spread the word.

Lesley Duncan (12 August 1943 – 12 March 2010) was an English singer-songwriter, best known for her work during the 1970s. She received a lot of airplay on British radio stations such as BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2, but never achieved great commercial success.

Duncan was born in Stockton-on-Tees. Her songs included “Everything Changes” and “Sing Children Sing”. Elton John duetted with her in a version of “Love Song” similar to his own, on his album Tumbleweed Connection.

“Love Song” – Elton John

She appeared onstage with John in a 1974 concert at the Royal Festival Hall to perform the duet once again.

The live recording of “Love Song” was included on John’s Here and There album. The version on Tumbleweed Connection remains one of the few songs composed solely by someone other than John and Bernie Taupin or one of their regular collaborators, to appear on a formal Elton John studio album.

Duncan contributed backing vocals to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album as well as singing lead on the song “If I Could Change Your Mind” on the Alan Parsons Project album Eve. As well as writing and singing her own material, Duncan was a backing vocalist in the mid to late 1960s, most notably for Dusty Springfield and the The Walker Brothers. She co-wrote three songs with Scott Walker for the Walker Brothers.

After Elton John recorded “Love Song” this landed Lesley Duncan a recording contract with CBS / Columbia Records. Producer Jimmy Horowitz gathered some of the top studio musicians in England to record on Lesley’s albums including Chris Spedding and Peter Frampton. Her first album “Sing Children Sing” included Elton John on Piano.  “Sing Children Sing”, “Love Song” and “Help Me Jesus” would all be released as singles in the US. Top tracks from this album were “Mr. Rubin”, “Love Song” and “Lullaby”. These songs would all be covered by other artist like Olivia Newton-John and Long John Baldry.

In 1972 her second album “Earth Mother” was released. Unlike the first this was not available in the US. Top tracks from this album include “Time”, “Fortieth Floor” and the title track “Earth Mother”.

Her next album was “Everything Changes”. Highlighting the album are the tracks “My Soul” , “The Serf”, “Love Melts Away” and the title track “Everything Changes”. This lead to her signing with MCA records in the US in 1976

MCA released her next two albums “Moon Bathing” (Lesley’s favourite album), which again included the help of Elton John, and in 1977 “Maybe It’s Lost”.

After low sales of these albums Lesley Duncan was back to a singles artist releasing singles in the UK which was where she started, here is an old Northern Soul track of her’s from 1965 which was the B-Side of the “Just For The Boy” single.

“See That Guy” – Lesley Duncan

The last album Lesley Duncan appeared on was the 1979 release by Alan Parsons Project called “Eve” where she sang the track “If I Could Change Your Mind”.

“Sing Children Sing” was also re-recorded as a single in 1979 with an all star cast including Kate Bush, Pete Townshend and Phil Lynott.

In 2000 her albums started to be released on CD in the UK. “Sing Children Sing” was released in 2000 followed by “Earth Mother” in 2001. 

It is often when the rest of her albums will be released on CD the original master for those albums were lost in a fire. But, copies of the master have been found and hopefully they will see CD releases.

Lesley Cox (Duncan) died in March 2010 on the Scottish Island of Mull where she lived.

A special message from Lesley’s husband…..
March 12, 2010
“This afternoon I drove to the hospital at about 2pm and on the way I got a call that Lesley’s condition had deteriorated alarmingly. When I arrived at her bedside, the nurse had put on the Sing Children Sing album playing softly in the background. I held Lesley’s hand and after about ten minutes Love Song started to play. During the song I felt one or two tremors pass through Lesley’s body and, as her lovely song ended, she passed away. It was as peaceful, I think, as death can be and a relief after her years of struggle.”
Tony Cox

Click HERE to a link to a relevant article in ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper of 20 March 2010:

To buy the music of Lesley Duncan click HERE

To buy the music of Elton John click HERE

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March 21, 2010 - Posted by | New News, Old Music, Video | , ,

10 Comments »

  1. Thanks for this excellent and informative tribute

    Comment by almax | March 21, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for dropping in.

      It is just a shame that most of her material is presently unavailable though now hyped up in price in the second hand record market.

      Time is right for someone to sort out a re-issue programme.

      HD

      Comment by thehelplessdancer | March 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. We’re hoping that Lesley’s last three albums may one day be rereleased on CD, perhaps even with some bonus tracks.
    See the website http://www.lesleyduncan.net/, the page http://www.myspace.com/lesleyduncan, or join her Yahoo group http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/lesleyduncan4scorner/ for further information when it’s available.

    Comment by David V Barrett | March 29, 2010 | Reply

    • A rerelease programme would be great and I am sure it would be well received.

      Thanks for dropping in.

      HD

      Comment by thehelplessdancer | March 30, 2010 | Reply

  3. Excellent work on the discography and biography. I’ve been working on updating the individual artist’s page on rateyourmusic.com Any help would be greatly appreciated. Best regards.

    Comment by WyomingGrizFan | July 12, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for dropping in.

      Get in touch with David Barrett at http://www.lesleyduncan.net as I’m sure he will be able to provide you with everything you need.

      HD

      Comment by thehelplessdancer | July 12, 2010 | Reply

      • Hi, WyomingGrizFan.
        The website http://www.lesleyduncan.net/ is actually run by Sam Vetovich, not by me; I moderate the Lesley Duncan Yahoo group. But as HD says, I’m sure Sam will be glad to help out with info. There’s also masses of info on the Albums and Singles pages on his site.
        Thanks for all your work!
        David

        Comment by David V Barrett | July 16, 2010

  4. I was saddened to learn of Leslie’s passing earlier this year. I am a big fan of Alan Parsons which she did a song with (If I Could Change Your Mind). She was one of the very few female voices ever heard on an APP album. God’s blessings to her family. She will be missed.

    Comment by parsons_fan | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • She will certainly be missed.

      Thanks for dropping in.

      HD

      Comment by thehelplessdancer | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] To view my previous post on Lesley Duncan click HERE […]

    Pingback by 2010 Top 30 New and Old #16 « Helpless Dancer | December 15, 2010 | Reply


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