the early eighties. The days when you would punch someone for fiddling
with your Rubiks Cube, your parents probably still forced you
to watch Terry and June and the supercool sounds of the
soulful funk of Imagination would blare lazily from the nations
airwaves. The bands sparkly gold loincloth wearing frontman Leee
John has been no slacker since the success of tracks the massive hit
singles Just An Illusion, Thank You My Love
and Body Talk. Five years ago, a dance single entitled The
Mighty Power of Love reached number 9 on the USA Billboard Dance
Chart, and was also a big club hit in the UK. Further to this, Leee
has toured extensively worldwide, had various other single successes,
been a roving reporter for VH1, had his own chat show on LWT and performed
in musicals. You may heve recently seen him in the BBC Choice show Diners.
And believe it or not, thats just scratching the tip of the iceberg!
Thankfully the man found 5 minutes in his schedule to talk to the Atomicduster.
AD: Where are you and what are you doing right now?
LJ: Im at home eating my breakfast.
AD: How does being a successful dance artist compare with the heady
old days of international superstardom and plentiful chart action in
LJ: Im not actually a dance artist, though I do sing all types
of music. Dance is just a format I do on and off Im also
doing a jazz set next year.
AD: You appeared in a stage adaptation of a Gilbert & Sullivan
musical called The Hot Mikado last year. How did that come
about and what was the reaction like?
LJ: That was a great experience. It was really good fun learning
how to tap dance, and working with all the young kids in the cast. Not
to mention performing with the legendary Rusty Lee!
AD: What are your fondest memories of the early days with Imagination?
LJ: Having really good times on Top Of The Pops, wearing
those crazy clothes, mad travel adventures and the wonderful fans.
AD: You have met an impressive array of celebrities most notably
Diana Ross and Arthur Baker in your various guises as singer
songwriter, actor, chat show host and reporter over the years. Which
one sticks in your mind the most? Any favourite moments?
LJ: That would have to be having dinner cooked for us in the 90s
by Winnie Mandela! I loved the people in South Africa they were
really warm and although they have lived in a turbulent environment
they were so humble.
AD: What made you decide to perform in Tahiti and how come you got
to meet the president?
LJ: I get asked to perform many times by different heads of states
as they love the music and shows, and for me it is a great exchange
AD: How did you get your first big break in the music industry?
LJ: I have had many opportunities. One of the earliest and most
notable was at the Rainbow Theatre as a kid behind gospel singer Doris
AD: Which current artist(s) would you most like to work with and
LJ: There are so many! Prince as hes just amazing, Stevie
Wonder as he would stretch me beyond musically, and Id love to
do a duet with Maxwell or Erykah Badu.
AD: Looking at the exhaustive schedule on your biography, I think
Id be about knackered by now if I were you! What or who is it
that keeps you going?
LJ: I am very much into spiritual energy. I try to stay positive
and deal with today and tomorrow, while using the past as a reference.
My family, manager and fans have kept me young, sexy and alive!
AD: Is there anything else youd like to mention (new releases,
forthcoming events etc)?
LJ: Ive got a new album coming out with loads of new songs
on it, lots of television work, a film called Flamingo Blue,
and I am starting to write a book. All happening next year and I intend
to let each moment count!
I rest my case. It wears me out just thinking about doing all that
stuff, let alone achieving it! Maybe the passion stems from his upbringing
after all, his mother herself won an MBE some time ago and has
been Secretary of the St.Lucian Society of London since 1968, so the
pedigree in Leees family is rather an impressive one Im
sure youll agree. For the moment, you can catch Imagination featuring
Leee John Escape & Stars Nightclub, Corby, Northants on December
20th or if you fancy a trip to Eurpoe, the show goes to Lyon, France
on 20th and 22nd December and Campinoyo, Italy for one date inbetween.
Interview and transcript by Tone E