Pam Nestor on the cover of her single "Hiding and Seeking (No More)" 1979
|Birth name||Pamela Nestor|
28 April 1948 |
|Occupations||singer & lyricist|
|Labels||Cube Records, Sun Star Records, Tempus Records|
Pam Nestor (born 28 April 1948) is a singer and lyricist who was active in the entertainment industry in the 1960s and 1970s.
Early days 
Pam Nestor was born in Berbice, Guyana, on 28 April 1948. While at school in Guyana, she began to write poetry and eventually won a poetry competition. She came to England in 1961 and at the age of 14 lived in Muswell Hill with her mother and younger sister. Described as ‘pretty’ and ‘petite’ with an ‘infectious, bubbling personality’ and ‘irrepressibly outspoken’  she was a free spirit, in her own words: ‘crazy, tough, intense, idealistic’  By the time she was 16 she had fronted several semi-pro soul bands around London, and by 1967 and at the age of 19, she was a single mother with two children.
Hair and partnership with Joan Armatrading 
In 1968 she successfully auditioned for the touring production of the musical Hair, landing a part in it. She is said to have loved being in Hair, 'revelling in the ... hippy philosophy'  and the experience informed her lyric writing. The singer and musician Joan Armatrading also obtained a part in the musical, and the two became friends. One day while Joan was playing piano in lodgings they were sharing while on tour, Pam showed her some of her poems and Joan set them to music, and so their writing partnership was born. They spent a year on the road writing songs together. Pam was a prolific writer and it wasn’t long before they had quite a collection. They later recorded some demo tapes on a tape recorder in a bedroom, and it was Pam who took charge of trying to get the tapes accepted by a publishing company. The original intention the duo had was to secure a contract as songwriters rather than performers. Pam was reportedly a hustler, full of energy, and did all the groundwork and all the talking  arranging meetings with agents and music publishers, and taking the tapes and Joan with her to see people, until her efforts were rewarded when the tapes were eventually accepted by Essex Music. After this the duo were taken on by the Sherry Copeland talent agency, and signed with London's indie Cube label in 1972.
Whatever’s For Us 
Although Nestor and Armatrading were originally hoping to be songwriters, this was not what the production company behind Cube intended. The company was Tuesday Productions, owned by Gus Dudgeon, and Cube was their in-house label. They decided to record an album of songs written by the duo. Pam was described as 'not the most confident singer' and Joan as 'cripplingly shy'  but nevertheless Cube, in the person of Gus Dudgeon, wanted to promote Joan as a performer and wanted, as it later turned out, to dispense with Pam Nestor. The songs for the debut album were his choice and the sidelining of Pam Nestor was his decision.
The duo were asked to record the album, which became titled Whatever's for Us and represented their first recorded work. It was produced by Gus Dudgeon and recorded at Château d'Hérouville studios (then called Strawberry studios), in the Oise valley, near Paris; Trident Studios London; and Marquee Studios London; and released in 1972 by Cube Records (HIFLY 12). Dudgeon and Tuesday Productions had wanted to call the album 'Joan Armatrading', but Nestor fought against that, saying it was 'absolutely not right' to do so, given the work she had done over three years. The album consisted of fourteen songs, eleven of which had lyrics written by Pam Nestor. The duo had written over a hundred songs, with both Pam and Joan taking turns to lead the singing and with Pam also playing piano. At that time Pam Nestor was living in Notting Hill, then a run down area, while Joan was living in a room in West Hampstead, the two writers travelling between each other's homes to spend time writing together. The later publicity shots for the album were taken in and around Pam’s flat, which was then in St Luke’s Road.
Tuesday Productions wanted to focus their efforts on Armatrading and decided they were going to market her as a solo artist, despite the collaboration with Pam Nestor. From the many songs submitted for the album, Gus Dudgeon chose only those featuring Joan singing. Pam later commented ‘I got edged out that way’. The album was released in November 1972 as a ‘Joan Armatrading’ record, and the front cover credited it to her alone. This caused tensions between the two writers, and this, together with the later promotional gigs organized by Sherry Copeland and Tuesday Productions/Cube that excluded Pam Nestor entirely, caused the breakup of the duo. These decisions were also responsible for causing a rift between Armatrading and Tuesday Productions/Cube Records, with Armatrading later devoting some time to extricating herself from the contract with them. Armatrading did not use Gus Dudgeon as a producer again.
According to the Mayes biography, it was Pam Nestor who eventually walked away from the partnership, feeling that she ‘had had enough’, though Armatrading tried to keep the friendship and partnership together. The break up and the way she had been treated by music industry people had a marked effect on Pam Nestor – she was later described as being ‘edgy’, ‘jittery’ and ‘suspicious’. It took her a while to get over things, since, as she commented, she and Joan had become very close: ‘we were partners for three years’. The experience seems to have seared her and damaged her self-confidence. She commented: ‘I got really hysterical about it’ and ‘I was disposable as far as they were concerned’.
The album drew critical acclaim but didn’t sell many copies - mainly because of poor promotion and distribution – selling ‘only about 2,000 copies’, and despite all the praise it received in the music press, it was not a commercial success. However, it had been Pam Nestor who, in the words of the biographer Sean Mayes: 'gave Joan the courage to do the impossible'  and without her it is likely the album would not have been made.
Later work 
Following the break up with Joan Armatrading, Pam Nestor went to East London, and in 1973 was involved with the Basement Film Project’s making of ‘Tunde’s Film’ - described as ‘a gritty neo-realist drama’, directed by and starring Tunde Ikoli, who went on to enjoy later success as a playwright. She supplied the lyrics to the song ‘Dinah’s Café’ and sang it in the film’s title sequence. She appeared on an edition of BBC’s Open Door in August 1973 to promote the film and was interviewed by the NMEs Austin John Marshall. Marshall described Pam Nestor as ‘radiant’, and her voice as ‘raw and true, vibrant with scary latent power.’ ‘Tunde’s Film’ still crops up in festivals and was shown in July 2012 as part of the East End Film Festival.
Cube released a second single by Armatrading and Nestor in late summer 1973, this time with two songs not from the album: "Lonely Lady" and "Together In Words And Music". (Cube Records, 7" single, BUG-31). Both tracks were produced by Gus Dudgeon and were later added to the Whatever's For Us album as bonus tracks on the 2001 Metro remaster. Pam Nestor is also credited with co-writing two songs from Armatrading’s 1975 album Back to the Night, the songs "Dry Land" and "Come When You Need Me", both of which have since featured on many compilations of Armatrading's songs.
She is also thought to be co-writer of one or more of thirteen songs by the Neville Brothers, quoted  as being written by: Timothy Garagan, Pam Nestor, Arthur Neville, Robert Quinn and Robert Richmond. ("Bad Scene", "Confraction", "Crazy Wandering Fool", "Don't Tell Lies", "Heartbreak Woman", "Hometown Girl", "I'm Left Alone", "Instrumental," "Love Needs A Keeper", "Out Of Your Life", "Piece Of Mind", "Shine Light Shine" and "Walk In The Sunshine".)
After 1973 Pam Nestor reverted to her earlier attempts to launch a singing career, recording some material with Henry Spinetti, who had played on the Whatever’s for Us album, and with Ken Cumberpatch producing. In 1977, she was associated with the reggae band Merger, at the time fronted by the reggae artist Barry Ford. Merger recorded a reggae album Exiles Ina Babylon on the Sun Star Label, which was released in 1977, and played the title track, "Exiles Ina Babylon" on an edition of The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977, and Pam Nestor appeared with them as a backing singer. She is credited on the album notes as providing backing vocals and percussion. Both Nestor and Ford left the band after this album. Exiles Ina Babylon was re-released as a CD in 2009 by Makasound, the independent French reggae label, with the album notes again crediting Pam Nestor.
She also continued with some solo singing engagements, for example, appearing at the Witcombe Lodge in Cheltenham on August 25, 1979, supported by Madness. Also in 1979, Pam Nestor released a single: "Hiding & Seeking (No More)". After leaving the band Merger, Barry Ford went to Jamaica, where he teamed up with Dennis Bovell to produce "Hiding & Seeking (No More)" for Nestor. The single was released on the Tempus Records label (TEMD 21) with ‘Man On The Run’ as its ‘B’ side. The single has acquired a following among devotees of the Lover's Rock sub genre of reggae. Little is known of Pam Nestor from that date. She has kept a low profile and seems to have left the music business entirely.
Most recent 
In July 2011, Pam Nestor made a guest appearance at Queen's College, an independent school in Harley Street, London. She was invited to take part in singing for a BBC Radio 4 drama about the suffragettes, to be broadcast in autumn 2012. She took part in singing 'My Family', a song to which she wrote the lyrics, and which headlined the Whatever's for Us album.
- Mayes 1990, pp. 9-10.
- Mayes 1990, p. 30.
- Mayes 1990, p. 11.
- Mayes 1990, p. 14.
- Mayes 1990, pp. 9, 19-20.
- Mayes 1990, p. 20, paragraph 8.
- Mayes 1990, pp. 24-25, 30.
- Mayes 1990, pp. 24-25.
- Mayes 1990, p. 20.
- Mayes 1990, p. 29.
- Mayes 1990, p. 27.
- Mayes 1990, pp. 26-27.
- Mayes 1990, p. 165.
- Mayes 1990, p. 9.
- http://www.genesiscinema.co.uk/film-info.php?film=172, retrieved 15.11.11
- http://www.answers.com/topic/tunde-s-film retrieved 15.11.11
- http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/55506 retrieved 28.3.11
- http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsI/ikoli-tunde.html retrieved 28.3.12
- http://www.eastendfilmfestival.com/index.php?/Programme_2011/read_more/programme_2011_2_may_movie_mayday_bricklane/, retrieved 15.11.11
- http://domcarlospear.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html, retrieved 15.11.11
- http://blog.madness.co.uk/1979_part_02.html retrieved 15.11.11.
- http://www.music.us/biography/artist/29982/merger.html, retrieved 15.11.11
- http://www.retrobloke.com/more/on/details/11619, retrieved 15.11.11
- http://www.loversrockradio.com/Lovers-Rock-History-and-Videos.html retrieved 20.3.12
- "The Black Gaze". Institute of English Studies, University of London. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- http://www.qcl.org.uk/queens_college_latest_news_detail.php?Queen-s-College-girls-sing-in-BBC-suffragette-drama-163 retrieved 20.3.12
- Sleeve notes: Whatever’s For Us (1972) Cube Records, HIFLY12.
- Hardy, Phil, Laing, Dave, Barnard, Stephen, & Perretta, Don (1988) Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer. ISBN 0-02-919562-4
- Larkin, Colin (ed.) (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin. ISBN 0-7535-0242-9.
- Mayes, Sean (1990). Joan Armatrading – A Biography (unauthorised). Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81058-8.