Thursday, 11 August 2022

Hi-NRG disco queen’s still Searchin’

“I DIDN’T start out with the intention of being a disco diva, no!” laughs Hazell Dean.

“I DIDN’T start out with the intention of being a disco diva, no!” laughs Hazell Dean.

“But life takes its twists and turns and I ended up having a huge hit with a disco classic.”

The Essex-born singer is talking ahead of her appearance at the Rewind Festival on Temple Island Meadows tomorrow (Saturday).

The disco classic of which she speaks is of course Searchin’ (I Gotta Find a Man). Originally released in 1983, it initially peaked at 76 in the UK singles chart before going on to hit number 6 the following year.

What made the difference in between times, as Hazell explains, was the vibrancy of the club scene — both in the UK and abroad — which acted as a kind of test bed for the mainstream chart.

“When I first recorded Searchin’ it was a massive club hit — also a huge hit in the clubs in the United States. I was number one on the dance chart there for five weeks in 1983.

“It took quite a long time to actually take off as a huge international hit, but it was a massive club hit long before it sort of hit the mainstream chart. I mean, the build-up came from the clubs, you know?”

Having released a lot of singles over the course of her career, did Hazell know when she had a hit on her hands?

“Well, I knew Searchin’ was because when I played that track and that song I knew that one was very special. And that was down to me saying yes or no and I liked it, because there were one or two people at the time who maybe didn’t like that song and I just thought it was so fresh and different from anything else that I’d actually heard. So yes, I really liked that one.”

Hazell’s success with Searchin’ — the 1984 re-release eventually reached number six in the UK singles chart — paved the way for her to work with producers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman.

The trio were still a year away from having their first number one with Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), so had not yet earned their “hit factory” moniker. In fact, it was Hazell who gave them their first top 10 hit with Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go), which reached number four in July 1984, spending 11 weeks in the chart.

Recalling that time, Hazell remains positive about the experience of life in the hit factory.

“In the early days, obviously, I had the hit before they did but their first hit single was with me. I loved all that stuff and I enjoyed the album we made [ Heart First] that that’s on.

“I think further down the line, when things got really sort of hectic, there are certain songs I would have chosen over other songs.

“In the ’88 period, the Always album, the first single Who’s Leaving Who was phenomenal — it was fantastic. The second single Maybe (We Should Call it a Day) wasn’t my favourite — personally I would have chosen the third single, Turn It Into Love, I would have that as the second single, but that’s the way it goes.

“I was part of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman team and if you’re going to be part of it then you’ve got to go along with it.”

Today Hazell, 63, who has a 12-year-old daughter with her long-term partner, says: “I have a good balance now of family life and singing and recording. My career isn’t at the number one spot any more — it’s number two now. But I still enjoy it — I still get out there and I sing. It’s a fine balance but it seems to work.”

Hazell Dean plays Rewind South tomorrow (Saturday, August 20).

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