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Barbara Dickson

Currently Available

In Good Company
2CD - £10.99

Live in Concert 1976/77
DVD - £10.99

7 Ages of Woman
CD - £9.99

Barbara Dickson in Blood Brothers
CD - £9.99

John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert
CD - £9.99

More Brecht Than Broadway
4CD Boxset - £49.99

Answer Me
CD - £7.99

CD - £9.99

Che Faro
DVD - £10.99

B4 74 - The Folkclub Tapes
2CD - £10.99

Full Circle
CD - £7.99

Into The Light
DVD - £10.99

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Jon talks to Barbara Dickson

Jon meets Barbara Dickson

I have been a rock and roll journalist, man and boy for over three decades now, and have been privileged enough to interview many luminaries from John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin to Dave Brubeck, an...

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Barbara Dickson Biography

As a multi-million selling recording artist with an equally impressive Olivier-Award-winning acting career, Barbara Dickson OBE has firmly established herself as one of the most enduring and popular entertainers in Britain today.

Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Barbara showed an early interest in music. By the tender age of five she had already started studying piano and by twelve had also taken up the guitar. She developed a love of folk music whilst at school, and began to perform at her local folk club. At seventeen she moved to Edinburgh, combining a job in the civil service with evening spots performing in local pubs and clubs. 

In 1968 Barbara was offered a three-week engagement at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, and when she was refused leave from her job she resigned, deciding that it was ‘now or never’ to try her luck as a professional singer.

The late ‘60s and early ‘70s saw her gradually ‘paying her dues’ on the Scottish folk scene, building a reputation and working with the likes of Archie Fisher, Billy Connolly, Gerry Rafferty and Rab Noakes. Her first album, The Fate o’ Charlie, a collection of Jacobite songs recorded with Archie and John McKinnon, was released on Bill Leader’s Trailer Records label in 1969. She then went on to record three well-received folk albums for Decca Records in the early ‘70s.

On the advice of Scottish performing legend Hamish Imlach, Barbara next began to look for opportunities south of the border in the booming folk scene of the north of England and she was soon well-established there.

It was in Liverpool that she became re-acquainted with musician and playwright Willy Russell. Their friendship led to Barbara being offered the singing role in his 1974 musical John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert, staged at the Everyman Theatre. Barbara was on stage throughout the entire performance, singing the songs of the Beatles at the piano. The show became a huge critical success and went on to enjoy a long run at the Lyric Theatre in London.

In the West End,the show was co-produced by Robert Stigwood, who signed Barbara to his small stable of artistes at RSO Records, which also included The Bee Gees and Cream. 

In 1976 she had her first hit single with Answer Me, produced by fellow Scot, Junior Campbell, and later that year she appeared on The Two Ronnies having been spotted in the theatre by Terry Hughes, their then producer at the BBC. This led to a guest residency on the show, which was drawing in regular Saturday night audiences in excess of 15 million viewers.

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber had also been impressed by Barbara’s performance in John, Paul, George, Ringo…and Bert, and invited her to sing Another Suitcase in Another Hall on the original cast recording of their new musical Evita. Released as a single, the song went on to become her second hit single in 1977.

In 1980 Caravan Song from the film Caravans was released. Although it was to prove much less of a chart success than her other hit singles, it is still Barbara’s most requested song wherever she plays.

January, February, released the same year, provided another Top 20 recording, with the accompanying LP, The Barbara Dickson Album, produced by Alan Tarney, giving Barbara her first gold album.

In 1982 All for a Song, her first compilation album, shot into the UK charts at No.9, based on sales in Scotland alone. It was her first platinum-selling album and went on to spend 38 weeks in the charts.

Barbara then accepted the leading role of Mrs Johnstone in Willy Russell’s new musical Blood Brothers, which opened in Liverpool at the Playhouse Theatre in January 1983. The show, which marked her debut as an actress, transferred to London’s Lyric Theatre and she was named ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ at the 1984 Society of West End Theatre Awards.

In tandem with her stage work, Barbara was also building a considerable reputation as a concert artiste, with lengthy sold-out tours that took her to every major town and city in the UK, culminating in shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

In 1985 the duet I Know Him So Well was released. This was recorded with Elaine Paige and taken from the new musical Chess, written by Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice. It went on to become a Top Ten hit around the world and sold over 900,000 copies. Barbara’s subsequent Gold album, released later that year, was certified Platinum.

Further hits followed but in the 1990s Barbara began to move away from the pop scene and back towards acoustic and folk music. This resulted in the 1992 album Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, a selection of the songs of Bob Dylan and 1994’s Parcel of Rogues, featuring folk music from the British Isles.  1995 saw the release of Dark End of the Street, which combined traditional music with tracks by favourite songwriters including Randy Newman, Sandy Denny and Jackson Browne.

During the 90s, Barbara also began to diversify more and more into acting, with major roles on TV including Taggart, Kay Mellor’s award-winning Band of Gold and The Missing Postman, directed by Alan Dossor.

For many years, Barbara and Blood Brothers director Chris Bond had talked of working together again for the theatre and finally in 1996 this culminated in The Seven Ages of Woman, a musical walk through the life of ‘everywoman.’ The show toured the UK twice, in the process earning Barbara some of the best reviews of her career as well as the 1997 Liverpool Echo ‘Best Actress in Theatre’ Award.

In 1999 Barbara was delighted to return to the theatre again in the new musical Spend, Spend, Spend, based on the life of the infamous 1960s pools winner, Viv Nicholson. Her role as Viv won her the ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ at the 2000 Laurence Olivier Awards in London.

In 2004 she released her first studio album for eight years, Full Circle. Produced by Troy Donockley, it was widely acclaimed as a long-awaited return to her musical roots with The Daily Telegraph noting: 'it is no exaggeration to describe Barbara as a great singer. She stood out a mile among the Scottish folk singers of her generation, and she has consistently shown her class when performing for a wider public. This is Dickson at her most engaging.'

Her follow-up CD, Nothing’s Gonna Change My World, released by Universal in the autumn of 2006, took its title from Across the Universe, the Beatles classic included amongst a specially commissioned selection of the songs Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. The album was arranged by Troy and produced by Chris Hughes.

In 2007 Barbara was invited to guest on Channel 4’s long-running quiz show Countdown and she returned to television again the following year with a leading guest role in the BBC drama series Doctors.

2008 was to prove a busy year for Barbara. Her latest CD, Time and Tide, was released, featuring the new direction that has become a feature of her music, blending together old and new songs with a distinctive atmosphere prevailing throughout. The varied song choice included Lady Franklin’s Lament, Goin’ Back and Palm Sunday, which marked her first writing collaboration with Troy, who again produced the album.

Into the Light, Barbara’s first ever live DVD was also released to coincide with Time and Tide, and featured some of her best-loved hits, tracks from the new album and other favourites she has made her own through the years.

Barbara was then invited to perform The Sky Above the Roof for O Thou Transcendent, award-winning film director Tony Palmer’s film about the life of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, described by The Observer as ‘a mesmerising masterpiece’.

On BBC’s Songs of Praise in April 2008 Barbara performed a new arrangement of the beautiful hymn My Song is Love Unknown.

In the summer of 2008 she played live at the Stonehaven Folk Festival, her first festival appearance since 1973 and an experience she enjoyed immensely. In August that year she and Troy performed Smile in front of an audience of 9000 people at the Liverpool Unites concert at the city’s Echo Arena, helping to raise funds for the charity set up by the parents of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones.

In September 2008 Barbara performed live in Ireland. Her sell-out concert in front of a capacity crowd at Dublin’s National Concert Hall marked her first concert in the city for 21 years and following the warm welcome she and her band received, plans are being drawn up for a return to Ireland for further dates in the near future.

In December 2008 Barbara was invited to record her first Christmas special for BBC Radio Scotland, produced by her old friend Rab Noakes.

A lengthy UK tour at the start of 2009 was followed by invitations to perform at the prestigious International Eisteddfod Festival in Llangollen, as well as the Brampton Live and the Linlithgow Folk Festivals.

Barbara’s long-awaited autobiography, A Shirt Box Full of Songs, was published by Hachette Scotland in October 2009. To tie in with its release Barbara undertook a major promotional tour with appearances on TV and radio, and at book festivals across the UK to talk about her life and career.

Following a 26-date national concert tour between February and March 2010, Barbara began work on her new studio album, The Magical West, for the Greentrax label, which will follow on from her recent musical collaboration with Troy Donockley, including some newly-written tracks of her own and songs from her ‘shirt box’ which she has always wanted to record. The album is due for release in late 2010.

Barbara has also recently presented a new series called Scotland on Song with Barbara Dickson for BBC Radio Scotland, featuring music from the acoustic/roots/ folk scene in Scotland with guests performing live in the studio each week. A new series is planned for later this year.

Married with three sons, Barbara lives in Lincolnshire. She has been made an Honorary Doctor of Music by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen as well as a Fellow of Liverpool’s John Moores University and a Companion of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts bestowed by Sir Paul McCartney. In 2002 HM the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Year, Barbara was conferred with an O.B.E. for her services to music and drama.

Now in her 42nd year in the music business, Barbara continues to do what she loves best - performing live for her loyal audience. 'Singing live is really the kernel of what I do,' she explains, 'Finally, after all these years I'm now in a position where I'm entirely responsible for what I sing - and I'm happier than ever!'


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