Five minutes with… David Gest

Published: Monday 14th March 2016 by Tom Drinkall

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American producer and UK television star David Gest brings his soul music show to Hull this summer. The David Gest Is Not Dead But Alive With Soul Tour! takes to the Hull City Hall stage on Monday, July 4.

It features Dina Carroll, famous for much-loved hits such as The Perfect Year, Escaping, Don’t Be a Stranger, Ain’t No Man, It’s Too Late and Express, and a plethora of other legendary soul singers.

David chats to HEY Today about the show, his recent stint on Celebrity Big Brother and his unwavering love for Yorkshire and hog roast.

Your show swings into Hull on July 4. Why should people come to see it?

You get to see 10 American legends and one English legend, which is Dina Carroll. It’s her return – she retired in 2002 and I’ve been trying to get her to go on tour for six years and she said, ‘no, no, no’. Finally, she said ‘yes’ and I’m a huge fan of hers – The Perfect Year is, to me, one of the greatest songs ever made. I love her voice. She had eight top-10 hits.

I’ve got Russell Thompkins Jr, who’s the lead singer of The Stylistics, so you get to hear all their hits – not by a group that calls themselves The Stylistics – but by the man who sang every lead vocal on every song. As well, there’s (Me and Mrs Jones singer) Billy Paul, Freda Payne, Melba Moore, Anita Ward (Ring My Bell), Fern Kinney (Together We Are Beautiful), Peabo Bryson, who sang Beauty and the Beast. The list goes on of all these great talents.

All these great artists on one show. Where are you ever going to get another opportunity to see 11 soul legends all at the same time? Nobody else does it.

Why did Dina Carroll accept your offer to return to the stage this time, having refused on multiple occasions previously?

I think it was just the right timing. I’d been wanting to meet her and we went to Manchester together and did an interview with Smooth (Radio) and she was lovely. We took the train up with a good friend of mine, former EastEnders actor Dean Gaffney, who did I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! with me.

She’s just a lovely, talented woman and I’m thrilled to be working with her. And the fun of it is you get 11 artists together – (including special guests) Gwen Dickey, Rose Royce – and everybody has a great time. We all bond and they’re old friends. Dina’s the new member to the club and I’m thrilled she’s on the tour.

This isn’t your first show in Hull. What are your memories of previous visits to the city?

I love Hull. I’ve always loved the city. There’s a great feeling when you walk down the street here – the people are wonderful, they’re so nice. Hull is changing – they’re building it up and renovating. It’s the City of Culture.

You have a home in York. What is it about Yorkshire that you like so much?

My favourite thing is the hog roast. There’s a place (in York) called The Hog Roast and a placed called Russells. I think I live in the two of them. I just love a good turkey dinner with Yorkshire puddings and roasted potatoes and vegetables.

I love down-to-earth cooking and I love the people there. It’s like the way things used to be – the old brick buildings, the cobblestone streets – where do you see that?

It’s not like you’re in a huge city – you can walk everywhere and everybody goes, ‘hello’ and I go, ‘hello’ with my bad Dick Van Dyke Cockney accent. They’re wonderful to me, they’ve taken me in as a member of their family and I love that feeling.

Your 2014 UK tour was so popular you added 30 more dates. In your opinion, what makes soul music so popular with the British public?

I think it’s the feel you get when you hear a song like Car Wash or Me And Mrs Jones or The Perfect Year, you feel moved. Many songs you just want to get up and dance to, many songs bring back romantic memories. It’s the singers – they have this great feel and there’s nothing like soul music. I grew up on it and I’ve been into it ever since I was 12 years old and just loved it.

You had to leave Celebrity Big Brother early due to illness. Are you feeling better?

I am feeling a lot better. I was very ill. It was the coldest part of winter here and there was an air conditioning vent near where I slept and Danniella (Westbrook) slept, because she was sick the whole time. We tried to get them to make it hotter in that area but it never was and I just got sicker and sicker and then I’d walk out into the cold and have a cigarette, which you shouldn’t do.

I got so sick that I had a 102 (Fahrenheit) fever and my blood pressure was up and I finally had to be bedridden for about three weeks after that.

Was it a tough decision to leave when you did? 

It was a really tough decision because I wanted to stay because I thought I was the peacemaker of the group. I think because of my age I could look at the situation realistically as to how people should try to get along with one another. There were many volatile situations there between Tiffany (Pollard), Stephanie (Davis), Gemma (Collins) and many of the others.

I liked all of them because a number of them were friends of mine from before that – I’d known Stephanie from before that, I’d known Gemma because we did a show together in Ireland years before that.

I think one of the people who got a bad rap who should not have was John Partridge. He’s really a nice guy. What people did not understand, which they (the producers) never showed, was that he was doing the show because his mother has Alzheimer’s and he did it to pay for her healthcare. I really respected that but they never showed that part saying why he was doing it. I think people would’ve had a lot more empathy for him and they would’ve respected him more.

Would you appear on another Celebrity Big Brother series if you were asked?

If they asked me again I would definitely do it. I’ve never, ever left anything I’ve ever done but I was so, so ill. If they asked me again I’d do it in a minute but I’d probably want to do it in the summer, not in the winter.

The David Gest Is Not Dead But Alive With Soul Tour! takes place at Hull City Hall on Monday, July 4. For tickets, call 01482 300 300.

Read more localnational and international news on HEY Today


Published: Monday 14th March 2016 by Tom Drinkall

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