Kiki Dee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kiki Dee
Dee in 2013.
Dee in 2013.
Background information
Birth namePauline Matthews
Born (1947-03-06) 6 March 1947 (age 77)
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Years active1960–present

Pauline Matthews (born 6 March 1947)[1] better known by her stage name Kiki Dee, is an English pop singer. Known for her blue-eyed soul vocals, she was the first female singer from the UK to sign with Motown's Tamla Records.[2][3][4]

Dee is best known for the hit singles "Amoureuse" (1973), "I've Got the Music in Me" (1974) and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart",[5] her 1976 duet with Elton John, which reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her 1981 single "Star" became the theme song for the talent show Opportunity Knocks when it was revived by the BBC in 1987.[6] In 1993, she performed another duet with John for his Duets album, a cover version of Cole Porter's "True Love",[5] which reached number 2 in the UK. During her career, she has released 40 singles, three EPs and 12 albums.

Early life[edit]

Dee was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.[1] At the age of 10 she won a local talent contest, and at 16 she had her first paid job in show business. "I realised when I sang at family parties and Christmases I'd suddenly get everyone's attention and, being the youngest of three, I thought what a brilliant attention-seeking ploy it was," stated Dee in a 2013 interview. She added: "My older brother had a lot of Elvis on vinyl and really that was my first introduction to music during the Fifties."[7]

Aged 16, Dee worked at Boots in Bradford during the day, whilst in the evenings she sang songs with a dance band in Leeds. A record scout liked her singing and invited her to London to do an audition. There, in 1963, she signed as a solo artist to Fontana Records.[7]



After singing with a local band in Bradford in the early 1960s, Dee began her recording career as a session singer. She sang backing vocals for Dusty Springfield, among others, but did not achieve solo success in the UK for many years. In 1963, Dee released her first single, "Early Night",[1] the first of eleven singles on Fontana, none of which reached the charts. Her 1966 release "Why Don't I Run Away From You" (a cover of Tami Lynn's "I'm Gonna Run Away From You")[1] was a big hit on Radio London and Radio Caroline, and she sang the B-side "Small Town" in her appearance in Dateline Diamonds the same year. Also in 1966, she achieved wider coverage by singing "Take a Look at Me" in the hit comedy, Doctor in Clover. She brought out an EP, Kiki In Clover – which included "Take a Look at Me" – at the same time as the film's release.[8][better source needed] She was one of the backing vocalists on the Love Affair’s 1968 UK number one single Everlasting Love[9]

Dee in 1974.

She recorded her debut album, I'm Kiki Dee, in 1968 which included a series of Phil Spector-style tracks and covers.[3] Her 1968 release "On a Magic Carpet Ride", which was originally a B-side, has remained popular on the Northern soul circuit. Much of her early recorded work for Fontana Records, was released on 24 January 2011, on the CD compilation I'm Kiki Dee.

Songwriter Mitch Murray created her stage name, and penned her first single, "Early Night".[10] In the United States she became the first white British artist to be signed by Motown,[4][5] releasing her first Motown single in 1970.

In the days before BBC Radio 1, Dee was a regular performer of cover versions on BBC Radio, and she starred with a group of session singers in the BBC Two singalong series, One More Time. She also appeared in an early episode of The Benny Hill Show in January 1971, performing the Blood, Sweat and Tears hit, "You've Made Me So Very Happy". Nevertheless, it was only after she signed with Elton John's label, The Rocket Record Company, that she became a household name in the UK.[1] Her first major solo hits were "Amoureuse"[1] (written by Véronique Sanson, with English lyrics by Gary Osborne) (1973) and "I've Got the Music in Me"[1] (written by Tobias Stephen Boshell), the latter credited to the Kiki Dee Band (1974).[5] In addition to her burgeoning career as a lead vocalist, she could sometimes be heard singing backing vocals on various John recordings, such as "All the Girls Love Alice" from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and various tracks on Rock of the Westies.

Her biggest hit came in 1976, when she replaced an ailing Dusty Springfield for the recording of a duet with John, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (pseudonymously written by John and lyricist Bernie Taupin).[1] The single reached number 1 in both the UK and US, remaining at the top for six weeks in the UK.[11] At the end of the summer, she played as support act to Queen at their Hyde Park concert in front of a crowd of 150,000 people. Prior to the concert, in an interview for Record Mirror, she stated, "My confidence is at an all-time high."[12]

After a quiet period in the late 1970s, Dee launched a comeback in 1981, releasing one of her biggest hits, "Star",[1] written by Doreen Chanter of the Chanter Sisters. This later became the theme music to the BBC1 programme Opportunity Knocks between 1987 and 1990. Dee joined forces again with John in 1981, recording a cover of the Four Tops' song "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" which was written by Ivy Jo Hunter and Stevie Wonder. Both of these were included on her album Perfect Timing,[13] which became a modest hit on the album chart, and she supplied backing vocals for John's 1983 album Too Low for Zero.[citation needed] Dee also sang the song "What Can't Speak Can't Lie" (1983), composed and recorded by the Japanese jazz fusion group Casiopea, and with lyrics by Gary Osborne.[14][15]

Dee (right), performing with Luggeri, at London's Royal Albert Hall, October 2009, in aid of the PRS for Music

She performed at Live Aid in 1985, reprising "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with John, and performing backing vocals on the other songs in his set. After signing to Columbia, Dee released the album Angel Eyes in 1987. She contributed backing vocals to Elton John's 1992 album The One, and a year later recorded "True Love" with John for his 1993 album Duets.

Dee released the live album Almost Naked, a joint effort with Carmelo Luggeri in 1995, followed by the studio albums Where Rivers Meet (1998) and The Walk Of Faith (2005) with Luggeri. In September 2013, Dee and Luggeri released their third studio album, A Place Where I Can Go, on Spellbound Records. They have been touring together ever since[16][17] and have played alongside Roger Taylor, Jack Bruce, Fish, Paul Young, Tom Robinson, Graham Gouldman and Madeline Bell.[18]

In October 2009 she performed, with Luggeri, at London's Royal Albert Hall, in aid of the PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Right Society) for Music Members' Benevolent Fund.

Dee's single "Sidesteppin' with a Soul Man," released in October 2013, was her 40th single release.[19]

Dee and Leggeri's album Long Ride Home was released in April 2022.[20]

Musical theatre[edit]

Dee has also appeared in musical theatre, including a leading role in Willy Russell's West End musical Blood Brothers,[5] in which she took on the role originally played by Barbara Dickson for the 1988 production and recording. She received an Olivier Award nomination in 1989 in the Best Actress in a Musical category.[4] In 1990, she contributed to the last recording studio collaboration between Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, on the album Freudiana, performing "You're On Your Own" and part of "No One Can Love You Better Than Me".

In 2008, Dee's first DVD was released. Under The Night Sky was a collaboration with guitarist Carmelo Luggeri, filmed live at the Bray Studios in London; the music was produced by Ted Carfrae. That same year, several albums from her earlier 1970s–1980s Rocket catalogue were re-released by EMI Records, including an expanded edition of Almost Naked with extra tracks, such as a cover of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" and a new take on "Sugar on the Floor". The same year, Demon Records (UK) issued a remastered edition of Perfect Timing, with several bonus tracks, including an alternate mix of "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever."

Dee had previously starred in Pump Boys and Dinettes in London's West End, at the Piccadilly Theatre, from 20 September 1984 to 8 June 1985.[21]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2019, Dee was portrayed by actress Rachel Muldoon in the Elton John biopic Rocketman.[17]

Personal life[edit]

In her 40s, Dee was diagnosed with uterine cancer.[22]


Kiki Dee has released 40 singles, three EPs and 22 albums.


Release date Title UK
1968 I'm Kiki Dee Fontana
1970 Great Expectations Tamla Motown
1973 Loving & Free 38 Rocket
1974 I've Got the Music in Me
Patterns Philips
Kiki Dee MFP/Sound Superb
1977 Kiki Dee 24 Rocket
1978 Stay With Me
1980 Greatest Hits Warwick
1981 Perfect Timing 47 Ariola
1987 Angel Eyes Columbia (UK)
1991 Spotlight On Kiki Dee – Greatest Hits Rocket
1994 The Very Best of Kiki Dee 62
1995 Almost Naked Tickety-boo
1998 Where Rivers Meet
2005 Love Makes the World Go Round – The Motown Years Universal
The Walk of Faith Spellbound
2008 Cage the Songbird EMI
2009 The Best of Kiki Dee
2013 A Place Where I Can Go Spellbound
2019 Gold 44 Crimson
2022 Long Ride Home Spellbound Recordings



Release date Single title UK AUS
US Label
1963 "Early Night" Fontana
"I Was Only Kidding"
1964 "Miracles"
"(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am"
1965 "Runnin' Out of Fools"
1966 "Why Don't I Run Away from You"
1967 "I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)"
"Excuse Me"
1968 "Can't Take My Eyes off You"
"Now the Flowers Cry"
1970 "The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday" Tamla Motown
1971 "Love Makes the World Go Round" 87 Rare Earth (Motown)
1973 "Lonnie and Josie" Rocket
"Amoureuse" 13 12
1974 "Hard Luck Story"
"I've Got the Music in Me" 19 52 12
1975 "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am" 33 74
"Once a Fool" 82
1976 "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"
(with Elton John)
1 1 1
"Loving and Free" / "Amoureuse" (Kiki Dee EP) 13
1977 "First Thing in the Morning" 32
"Night Hours"
"Chicago" 28
1978 "Stay With Me Baby"
1979 "One Jump Ahead of the Storm"
1981 "Star" 13 64 Ariola
"Perfect Timing" 66
"Midnight Flyer"
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever"
(with Elton John)
1983 "The Loser Gets to Win" 105[26] 99 EMI
1984 "Amoureuse" 77 Rocket
1986 "Another Day Comes (Another Day Goes)" 117[27] Columbia (US)
1987 "I Fall in Love Too Easily"
"Stay Close to You"
"Angel Eyes"
1993 "True Love"
(with Elton John)
2 56 Rocket



  • 2008 – Under the Night Sky Live (with Carmelo Luggeri) – New Wave Pictures (produced by Ted Carfrae)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 663/4. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ Paphides, Pete (28 January 2011). "There's more to Kiki Dee than Don't Go Breaking My Heart". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Nicholas, Sadie (17 September 2013). "Kiki Dee: I've had music in me for 50 years". The Daily Express. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2003). British Hit Singles & Albums (16th ed.). London, England: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-85112-190-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e Ruhlmann, William (6 March 1947). "Kiki Dee – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  6. ^ "When Will I Be Famous?". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b Nicholas, Sadie (17 September 2013). "Kiki Dee: I've had music in me for 50 years". The Daily Express.
  8. ^ "Kiki Dee – Kiki In Clover (1966, Vinyl)". March 1966. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  9. ^ "The One Hit Wonder File Everlasting Love". 17 February 2022. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Kiki Dee". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Kiki Dee Discography". The Kiki Dee Information Bureau. Archived from the original on 1 July 2002.
  12. ^ Iles, Jan (25 September 1976). "Heart and chart breaker" (PDF). Record Mirror & Disc: 9.
  13. ^ "Perfect Timing". Record Collector Magazine. 31 May 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  14. ^ "Lyrics to 'What Can't Speak Can't Lie'". Archived from the original on 19 October 2004.
  15. ^ "Casiopea – Jive Jive (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs. 8 October 1983. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  16. ^ Savage, Wayne (14 April 2018). ""I've no regrets" says popstar Kiki Dee ahead of Bury St Edmunds show tonight". East Anglian Daily Times.
  17. ^ a b Moran, Jonathon (18 July 2019). "Seventies pop star Kiki Dee: 'I saw it all, I just wouldn't have been able to cope with it'". Daily Telegraph.
  18. ^ "Carmelo Luggeri". Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  19. ^ "Kiki Dee celebrates singing for 50 years by side steppin with a soulman". 20 September 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  20. ^ Crewe, Nicky. "Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri - The Long Ride Home".
  21. ^ "Pump Boys and Dinettes in London starring Joe Brown and Lynsey de Paul". Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  22. ^ Savage, Wayne (14 April 2018). ""I've no regrets" says popstar Kiki Dee ahead of Bury St Edmunds show tonight".
  23. ^ "Kiki Dee | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  24. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 85. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  25. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 146–47. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  26. ^ "Gallup Top 200 Singles". Gallup. 22 October 1983. Retrieved 2 December 2022 – via
  27. ^ "Gallup Top 200 Singles". Gallup. 15 February 1986. Retrieved 30 November 2022 – via

External links[edit]