The only way is Essex
The I’ll Be Missing You Tour takes in the whole country and the title was chosen deliberately.
“It’s called I’ll Be Missing You because I will miss everybody. You see, it’s my final tour so it will be very emotional.
“I have a great band, the same musicians that have been with me for years. There’ll be four of them plus me. They are all writers and producers and we’ve been together for many years and I’ll miss them too; we’ve had lots of adventures.”
David erupted onto the scene in 1973 when his first hit Rock On stormed to number three in the charts. And looking back on the whole of his career, he tells me that this is one of the highlights.
“Yes, just around the end of Godspell (where David played Jesus), I’d just recorded Rock On and filmed That’ll Be The Day with David Puttnam.”
He continues: “I was out there in three different mediums at the same time – I don’t think anyone else has done that.”
David followed That’ll Be the Day with a sequel, Stardust.
“Stardust was a lot heavier as a film, but we had a lot of fun.”
The hits meanwhile continued with the likes of Lamplight, Hold Me Close and Gonna Make You A Star (which at the time was CBS’s biggest selling single).
David, now 69, tells me that he doesn’t have a favourite.
“No, not really, because I wrote them all I care for all of them. Of course some of them bring back ‘sense’ memories when I remember things that happened when they were recorded. But they are all important.”
He became a heart-throb and his good looks, twinkling eyes and cheerful demeanour have never left him. But behind the David Essex we all ‘knew’, there was a clever, multi-talented artist.
He acts, sings and writes but cannot make up his mind which he prefers.
“I enjoy it all and have had so many wonderful times, acting on TV, stage and film, writing books and singing. I’ve had a charmed life (the title of his autobiography).
“But, There’s something about being in front of a live audience.”
So why stop touring? “I really do want to spend more time with my family and be there for them, but I’m not retiring. I have a couple of film projects that I’m looking at, and the publishers are anxious for another book – plus I may do the occasional show.”
David has just published a novel Faded Glory, which came out in October.
“It’s about an old boxer and starts in the East End of London and covers the period 1953 to 1967 and I’m really happy with it.”
In 1978, he played The Artilleryman on Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of the Worlds, and recently he returned to the concept in the West End.
“Yes, it was very interesting,” h says smiling. “Jeff (Wayne) asked me to be The Voice Of Humanity (a role originally portrayed by Chris Thompson).
But there were problems. “That’s right, we ended up going through three different Artillerymen as they couldn’t cut it. Jeff asked me if I fancied doing that role again, but I had to say no.”
But he has great memories of doing the show.
“It’s a very technical show – a fusion of theatre and rock concert, but it was great to be with Chris Spedding again, as he had been on the original album and many of my records.”
As part of his role as The Voice of Humanit’, David had to sing the track Thunderchild, at the end of which there is a sustained, very high note.
“Yes, I managed it,” he says, then added with a laugh, “Although bits fell out of my ears.”
For the tour, David is planning an overall view of his whole career.
“It’s a mixture of songs, and we have a video wall behind us showing excerpts from my career.
“I’ll do all the big hits and people have been tweeting suggestions and I’m taking those on board. There’ll be a few surprises and a few songs that people may not have heard unless they have all my albums.”
The fact that David has had a multi-faceted career is a source of pride to him.
“Change is a stimulant,” he tells me. “And I’m proud that people have been interested in what I’ve been doing for so long. I don’t take it for granted.”
And what is he most looking forward to?
“I’m looking forward to saying ‘thank you’ to all the people that have followed my career. I’m so proud to have been a part of people’s psyche for so long.”
David Essex will be bringing his I’ll Be Missing You tour to Sheffield’s City Hall on Sunday November 6.
Tickets are available from the box office and all the usual agencies.