Thursday, March 22, 2012


If your brain isn't too water logged, you'll remember we ran part one of this interview with the glam daddy known as Laurice a few weeks back. Well here's part two of the tale and we do mean 'tale'...Read on... 

200LBU: Tell us some more about Best of Laurice Volume 1.
LAURICE: The rock tracks Born to Serve and Rock Hard were really influenced by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. Heavily sexual, S&M, controversial, and the two gay-themed tracks Wild Sugar and He’s My Guy were way ahead of their time. I know I took a chance recording gay sex rock, but it was the 70’s and I wanted to experiment. I didn’t believe in closets – then and now!

200LBU: When were you turned onto the Velvet Underground?
LAURICE: I was introduced to them in the late sixties when I was at University. Simon Godd loved all the West Coast artists as well as The Who, etc. I listened to them, of course, but I was into Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield. It was only after I left college that I began to study them and realized that I liked a lot of it.
200LBU: Dusty Springfield…now there’s someone that must have made a huge impact on you. I just imagine she would be like a female answer to Elvis as far as the UK goes in that time.
LAURICE: Dusty was no Elvis - nor did she want to be. Besides, she really was the generation below Elvis, who really dominated the late fifties and very early sixties.  Even though she did do a duet with Jimi Hendrix her record company would not allow it to be shown on her famous BBC weekly shows. The image they wanted of Dusty was of a pop singer. Nothing more.

But Dusty was a lot more. She had a very distinctive voice and, like me, she liked to challenge herself. Barring opera, she just about recorded every other type of music genre, folk, soul, pop, traditional ballads, dance, jazz etc. Europe never has put itself into the straight-jacket music compartmentalization mentality that America did starting in the 1980s. That is why so many British bands did so well in the US in the 1980s with New Wave. They just were allowed a lot more mainstream flexibility in their artistic expression.

Dusty had a very distinctive look that many girls followed: the panda eye make-up, the bouffant hair, and that voice. She was the whole package and there was simply nothing like her. She was Britain’s number one female artist throughout the sixties. Eventually, after the Dusty in Memphis album she settled on soul music for a while, although, quite frankly, her best was the ballads she recorded on her Dusty in London and Where Am I Going albums, many of which have become classics. I met the lady twice – one at the height of her fame and then in 1980 before her 1980s European comeback. I feel she is a great loss to the music world.

It was Dusty, by the way, that almost single-handedly brought Motown to England via her BBC TV show. I copied all of them, and when I was older, I put together a cabaret act imitating many of them.

200LBU: Who did you do best?
LAURICE: Well, I was pretty good at all of the ones I did. But I loved doing Dusty, and not just Diana Ross but all of the Supremes. Elvis, of course, Louis Armstrong, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand -

200LBU: You did Barbra Streisand?
LAURICE: Yes. I would do Barbra singing The Way We Were. I had a big ballad voice, even though I didn't use it on record to any great extent. I had quite a range. I literally could sing anything. Billie Holliday, you name it. However, there was one artist I could imitate but just couldn't get into, even though I could imitate her extremely well.

200LBU: And that was?
LAURICE:   Ella Fitzgerald.
200LBU: No kidding.
LAURICE: It's true. Now, I admire her very much, but it wasn't until I was well in my twenties that I began to really appreciate Ella's unique style. Even though I could do a killer Ella rendition of Every Time We Say Goodbye.

200LBU: Let’s get back on track here. What else is on the album that you’d like to comment on?
LAURICE: That’s Nice is one of my favorites. It has a real rock-bluesy feel to it enhanced by a really dirty sounding lead guitar riff. Really great. Shy Baby I think catches the innocence of adolescent longing in a really trippy 1960’s rock kind of way, even though it was recorded in the early 70’s. It’s the closest thing to the big palais sound of that 50’s to 70’s period that was very, very English.

200LBU: Now why did you leave for America in 1975?
LAURICE: Well I went to Canada first. There were many reasons. The main one was probably Greener pastures. Wanted to spread my wings.

200LBU: You became a disco diva?
LAURICE: Yeah, I actually did. I had a few hits, worldwide and domestic, before going to the U.S. I did okay there, but I missed Canada and I’m back there now.

200LBU: Tell us about your time as a disco diva.
LAURICE: Well, it was a bit of a change from the rock scene. But glamour, sex, drugs and rock and roll were in, so to speak.

200LBU: Oh please tell us more
LAURICE: It was an absolute blast. Sex, drugs, rock and roll - and disco ruled the roost. Poppers, Quaaludes, LSD - you name it, you could get it. It was just incredible. There was so much sex and drugs on offer that you felt it could go on forever, and you wished it could go on forever. Glamour was in, and people looked really good. Labelle, Donna Summer, Dan Hartman, KC And The Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor - the list went on and on. You could party all night. Sex orgies were the rage. Drug overdoses were, unfortunately, quite common- and they still are. I lost a few good friends that way.

200LBU: You didn’t indulge?
LAURICE: I won’t give away too many secrets. I did have a blast. But I had to get up for work. I took my career very seriously. I had to look my best. I was guest of honour at the Montreal DJ Pool’s Annual White Party, which was an incredible experience. We were all dressed in white, dancing on this huge dance floor in a Montreal Club, while waiters appeared, all dressed in white, carrying five gallon magnums of champagne right onto the dance floor, pouring champagne into our wine glasses. It was astonishing and a complete riot. I appeared on TV singing my latest hits.  I signed albums in record stores. The whole shebang. It was, as I say, a huge blast.

200LBU: But disco had its downside…
LAURICE: Did it ever. Promoting my disco music, which I felt about most passionately, was always an uphill battle.

200LBU: Why was that?
LAURICE: It was so different than today. There was a really wicked resistance to dance music - disco and disco artists. Look how Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, had to struggle to get herself heard by the public. Many radio DJs just hated disco. It wasn’t rock, and they thought it was too black and too gay.

200LBU: How did it affect you professionally?
LAURICE: My track We Will Make Love was banned in America at first. The radio establishment actually said it was too black and too gay.  Eventually it became a worldwide hit. So was The Disco Spaceship. One of the most remarkable things that has ever happened to me is that I have both Canadian and America DJs sometimes come up to me (the older ones, of course) and tell me that I was one of their biggest inspirations. They tell me that Disco Spaceship actually inspired them to become DJs. I feel so proud of that.

200LBU: Any chance of obtaining those songs today?
LAURICE: Yes, you can find that track and all my hits plus unreleased material on my Dance Dance Dance album released through CD Baby. It includes The Hotline which was banned by radio stations in LA as being too sexy – do you believe? The controversial cover is now a collector’s item. You can see it on my web site.

200LBU: So what made you decide to do smooth jazz?
LAURICE: When new age music started to fade in the late eighties, the new smooth jazz formats started to appear, and I just loved it, both the instrumental and the vocal versions. It made me want to record some of it, but I wanted to put my own stamp on the genre. I became very ill, and for part of my recovery I started putting down some instrumental tracks and composing again. A friend of mine advised me to be courageous and do a whole new album. I balked at first, but I decided to go ahead and do it. It was the best therapy I could have devised.  I dedicated it to my partner of over fifteen years, Larry D. Norton, who is a flautist in his own right. He had a lot to do with my recovery. His love and support carried me through.

200LBU: That's wonderful, Laurice. He must have been quite an inspiration to you.
LAURICE: Yes he was - and still is. He really likes a lot of my smooth jazz material.

200LBU: And what about the Echoes CD?
LAURICE: I eventually released Echoes, which really was a mixture of smooth jazz and adult contemporary vocals, and even some New Age instrumentals too. My feeling with including instrumentals on the album was that no artist can sustain a voice forever on an album. There has to be variety, and sometimes you need to give the audience a rest from your vocals. So I did. 

200LBU: Did Echoes do well?
LAURICE: Financially no. But I put a lot of effort into promoting it and Echoes is planned as the first in a cycle of proposed new CDs, combining smooth jazz/adult contemporary vocals and New Age instrumental compositions that stress my versatility without compromising a love of rhythm oriented material. That was and still is the plan. Tracks such as Don’t Run From The Heartache, Fly Away, Heart Like Yours, I Really, Really Love You, Rage and Echoes, the title song, have already met with smooth jazz radio, NAC, adult contemporary radio and lounge music success in Europe, Russia and the Far East.  Even some of the instrumental tracks, such as Moonlight Jade and Theme From The Haunted Rain Forest have become staples at smooth jazz and adult album alternative contemporary music stations in those countries.  

200LBU: So what's next for Laurice?
LAURICE:    Promoting Best of Laurice Vol 1, and hopefully gearing up for Volume 2. It really is difficult choosing a music genre, because I embraced so many and I am really proud of my achievements in all those music fields. I believe in quality and I think my music holds up with the best of them. 

If you're up for buying, check out Laurice's website and get the Best of Laurice Volume One here.

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