Lesley Duncan

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Lesley Duncan
Also known asLesley Cox
Born(1943-08-12)12 August 1943
Stockton-on-Tees, England
Died12 March 2010(2010-03-12) (aged 66)
Isle of Mull, Scotland
LabelsEMI, Columbia
Associated actsDusty Springfield, Alan Parsons, Pink Floyd

Lesley Duncan (married name Lesley Cox; 12 August 1943 – 12 March 2010) was an English singer-songwriter, best known for her work during the 1970s. She received much airplay on British radio stations such as BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2, but never achieved great commercial success, in part because of her unwillingness to chase stardom, as well as crippling stage fright.[1]

Early life[edit]

Duncan was born in Stockton-on-Tees on 12 August 1943, and left school while only 14 years old. At 19, while working in a London coffee bar, she and her brother were placed on weekly retainers by a music publisher. Within a year Duncan had signed her first recording contract, with EMI, and appeared in the film What a Crazy World.[2]

"Love Song"[edit]

Considered one of Britain's first female singer-songwriters,[1] her songs included "Everything Changes" and "Sing Children Sing", and the song for which she is best known, "Love Song". Elton John recorded a duet with Duncan of the song, similar to her solo version, for his album Tumbleweed Connection. She appeared onstage with John in a 1974 concert at the Royal Festival Hall to perform the duet once again,[3] and the live recording of "Love Song" was included on John's Here and There album. John described "Love Song" as "one of the very few" songs he did not co-author but included on an album earlier in his career.[4] Duncan's "Love Song" went on to be covered by more than 150 other artists, including David Bowie[5][6][circular reference]. This success notwithstanding, and despite their receiving critical acclaim, Duncan's multiple solo albums failed to achieve commercial success.[2]

Backing vocalist[edit]

In addition to writing and singing her own material, Duncan was in wide demand as a session singer in the mid to late 1960s, most notably working with Dusty Springfield from 1964 to 1972, a favour Springfield returned by performing backing vocals for several Duncan recordings.[2] Duncan can be seen on many of the performances featured in the BBC DVD Dusty at the BBC.

Duncan again joined Elton John at his request to provide vocals for his 1971 album Madman Across the Water, and in exchange John played piano on her first solo album Sing Children Sing.[4] She also co-wrote three songs with Scott Walker for The Walker Brothers in addition to providing backing vocals for them. She can also be heard on the studio recording of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Duncan famously contributed backing vocals to one of the top selling albums of all time,[7] Pink Floyd's 1973 release The Dark Side of the Moon, which was engineered by Alan Parsons. Later, in 1979, she again worked with Parsons, singing lead vocals on the song "If I Could Change Your Mind" for the Alan Parsons Project album Eve, in her final album appearance.[1]

Later life[edit]

In 1978 Duncan married the record producer Tony Cox and they moved to the Isle of Mull, Scotland, in 1996, where most residents came to know her as a cheerful gardener and knew nothing of her previous life in the music industry.[4] By all accounts content to lead a more private, family-oriented life in her later years, she died on 12 March 2010 of cerebrovascular disease,[1] following an extended illness.[8]

UK singles[edit]

  • "I Want a Steady Guy" (as 'Lesley Duncan and the Jokers') b/w "Moving Away" – 1963 – Parlophone R5034
  • "You Kissed Me Boy" b/w "Tell Me" – 1963 – Parlophone R5106
  • "When My Baby Cries" b/w "Did It Hurt" – 1963 – Mercury MF830
  • "Just for the Boy" b/w "See That Guy" – 1965 – Mercury MF847
  • "Run to Love" b/w "Only the Lonely and Me" – 1965 – Mercury MF876
  • "Hey Boy" b/w "I Go to Sleep" – 1966 – Mercury MF939
  • "Lullaby" b/w "I Love You, I Love You" – 1968 – RCA 1746
  • "A Road to Nowhere" b/w "Love Song" – 1969 – RCA 1783
  • "Sing Children Sing" b/w "Exactly Who You Are" – 1969 – CBS 4585
  • "Love Song" b/w "Exactly Who You Are" – 1970 – Columbia 4-45354
  • "Sing Children Sing" – 1971 – CBS/64202 and Edsel/EDCD696
  • "Sing Children Sing" b/w "Emma" – 1971 – CBS/S7493
  • "Earth Mother" – 1972 – CBS/64807 and Edel/EDCD712
  • "Earth Mother" b/w "Love Will Never Lose You" – 1972 – CBS/S8362
  • "Watch the Tears" b/w "Sam" – 1974 – GM GMS 016
  • "Everything Changes" b/w "Love Melts Away" – 1974 – GM GMS 022
  • "I Can See Where I'm Going" b/w "Heaven Knows" – 1975 – GM GMS 036
  • "Could've Been a Winner" b/w "Moonbathing" – 1975 – GM GMS 9040
  • "Maybe It's Lost" b/w "Another Rainy Day" – 1977 – GM GMS 9046
  • "The Sky's on Fire" b/w "Don't Worry 'Bout It" – 1977 – GM GMS 9048
  • "The Magic's Fine" b/w "Paper Highways" – 1978 – GM GMS 9049
  • "Sing Children Sing" b/w "Rainbow Games" – 1979 – CBS S8061 (Charity 45)
  • "Masters of War" b/w "Another Light Goes Out" – 1982 – Korova KOW 22
  • "Tomorrow" b/w "Paper Highway" – 1986 – R4 FOR 4

UK albums[edit]

  • 1971: Sing Children Sing
  • 1972: Earth Mother
  • 1973: Reading Festival '73
  • 1974: Everything Changes
  • 1975: Moon Bathing
  • 1977: Maybe It's Lost
  • 1980: Only You (from the album Exiled)


  1. ^ a b c d "Lesley Duncan: singer and songwriter". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Barrett, David (23 March 2010). "Lesley Duncan obituary". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  3. ^ Rocket man: Elton John from A-Z, Claude Bernardin, Tom Stanton, Greenwood, ISBN 978-0-275-95698-1
  4. ^ a b c "Elton and Bowie mourn Mull's secret pop star". The Scotsman. 20 March 2010.
  5. ^ Stanley, Richard (12 April 2010). "Lesley Duncan: Singer and songwriter who worked with Elton John and Pink Floyd". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  6. ^ The ‘Mercury’ Demos
  7. ^ Beech, Mark (27 September 2011). "Pink Floyd Money Machine Leads Elvis, Nirvana, U2 in CD Battle". London: www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Famous musicians pay tribute to singer". BBC News online. 20 March 2010.

External links[edit]