Obituary: Lynsey de Paul, singer songwriter

Lynsey de Paul: Vocalist and songwriter who was a lifelong animal rights campaigner. Picture: Getty
Lynsey de Paul: Vocalist and songwriter who was a lifelong animal rights campaigner. Picture: Getty
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Born: 11 June, 1950, in Cricklewood, London. Died: 1 October, 2014, in London, aged 64

In 1977 Lynsey de Paul, who had already enjoyed success in the charts as a vocalist and songwriter, had a number one hit with Rock Bottom. De Paul wrote and performed the number with Mike Moran and sang it as the UK’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest that year. It came second but her biggest hit, Sugar Me, had reached number five in the singles chart in 1972.

De Paul, with her long blond hair, winning smile and bright personality, was ideal for television and she became a pop icon of the era.

Lynsey de Paul (born Lynsey Monckton Rubin) was born into a north London Jewish household, the daughter of Herbert Rubin, a property developer with a violent streak towards both his children. She attended South Hampstead High School where she studied the piano and then read art and design at Hornsey College. She first worked as a commercial artist, designing album sleeves.

In 1971 she signed a contract with the music publisher ATV Kirshner and wrote Bring Yourself Back to Me for Jack Wild, who had starred as the Artful Dodger in the movie Oliver! De Paul also wrote a hit, Storm in a Teacup, for The Fortunes.

De Paul then signed with the agents MAM and recorded Sugar Me – on which she sang the high-pitched vocals and played piano. After being a hit in the UK it was covered by Nancy Sinatra in the States. That was followed by Won’t Somebody Dance With Me? which won her an Ivor Novello award. In 1974 she wrote the music for the sitcom No Honestly starring John Alderton and Pauline Collins.

Throughout these years De Paul was much seen on pop shows, especially Top of the Pops.

By the Eighties she had reduced her performances and concentrated on songwriting.

Her songs were recorded by many top vocalists including Shirley Bassey, Ricky Martin, Heatwave and the Real Thing. In addition to No Honestly! De Paul’s work was heard on TV shows such as the remake of The Rag Trade and Hi! Summer.

She occasionally returned to appearing on TV as, for example, a judge on New Faces and also joined Stephen Fry in Kingdom.

De Paul was a lifelong vegetarian, who neither smoke nor drank. Once, in Los Angeles she recalled “being in a restaurant where the whole table was taking coke, and I just said ‘no thanks’ and passed it on”.

She returned to Britain in 1982 and appeared in the British version of the US musical Pump Boys and Dinettes in the West End with co-stars Paul Jones and Clodagh Rogers. Her foray into film included The Starlight Ballroom.

More recently, De Paul was seen on celebrity shows such as Come Dine With Me and Cash in the Attic and hosted Lynsey’s Love Songs, which was devoted to her own music on Sky.

She was always the darling of the gossip columns – her looks and slinky figure made her ideal fodder for the paparazzi. She also dated some high-profile men. She was seen on the arm of such stars as Ringo Starr and Sean Connery, who apparently read her poems by Rabbie Burns over the telephone.

Her celebrity boyfriends included George Best, Dodi Fayed, Dudley Moore, Don Arden, the father of Sharon Osbourne, who managed De Paul’s career in the 1970s, and James Coburn.

The abuse she had experienced from her father was continued in her relationship with Arden and Coburn. Those experiences left her deeply wounded and she worked tirelessly on behalf of homes for battered wives and children.

One of her less happy experiences was at as matinee gala organised in support of Margaret Thatcher. It was held during the 1983 general election and De Paul sang a rather bland and banal song she had written for the occasion (“Vote Tory, Tory, Tory for election glory/ We don’t want U-turns so we’ll vote for Maggie T”). That was capped by the antics of Kenny Everett’s solo spot that memorably included the line: “Let’s kick Michael Foot’s stick away!”

De Paul lived in a substantial house in Mill Hill, north London, and was a long-time campaigner for animal rights.

She shared the house with a three-legged cat called Tripod and nightly fed the urban foxes.

Latterly, De Paul distanced herself from the world of music and showbusiness and enjoyed her anonymity and gardening.

In 1976 she received the Woman of the Year Award For Music from the Variety Club of Great Britain. The British jeans industry named her Rear of the Year in 1985, an award she accepted with her tongue firmly in her cheek. She thanked the organisers “from the heart of my bottom”.

Lynsey de Paul never married.