Leee John

Use Your Imagination

Aaah the early eighties. The days when you would punch someone for fiddling with your Rubik’s 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 nation’s airwaves. The band’s 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, that’s 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: I’m 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 Imagination?

LJ: I’m not actually a dance artist, though I do sing all types of music. Dance is just a format I do on and off – I’m 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 ‘90’s 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 of culture.

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 Troy.

AD: Which current artist(s) would you most like to work with and why?

LJ: There are so many! Prince as he’s just amazing, Stevie Wonder as he would stretch me beyond musically, and I’d love to do a duet with Maxwell or Erykah Badu.

AD: Looking at the exhaustive schedule on your biography, I think I’d 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 you’d like to mention (new releases, forthcoming events etc)?

LJ: I’ve 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 Leee’s family is rather an impressive one I’m sure you’ll 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



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