Dene Michael – Mr Agadoo!

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Blimey…where do we start with Dene Michael?

Former Black Lace guitarist, songwriter,  reality TV star, video producer, he’s had a fun packed career and anyone over forty might forgive him for Agadoo when they find out his first acting role was in classic Aussie TV show Skippy!

“I was about thirteen at the time. My Dad was a trumpet player so entertainment was in my DNA, we’d moved to Oz as part of the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ – English people who took advantage of cheap fares to get to Australia. By chance I sat next to Gary Pankhurst (Skippy star) at school and tagged along with him during filming, eventually getting small parts in the show.   We returned to England after about three years, due to my Grandads ill health. My Dad worked at Barnbow and we were back living in and around Scholes and Barwick.”

Dene played in various bands, his first ‘The Clandestine Root,’  featured some of his Dads workmates from Barnbow and for a short time had Black Lace’s Alan Barton on vocals.  Although before that Dene had appeared on Junior Showtime alongside Billy Pearce, Bruce Jones and Bonnie Langford among others and  also appeared on some classic 70’s TV programs including The Golden Shot, 321, Pebble Mill and Saturday Superstore. He continued to work for years in light entertainment,  whether it was the  club scene or holiday camp summer seasons.
“We used to do what we called ‘Ten Day Runs‘ which basically we’d go down South or up North and stay there for ten days, doing a different gig every night. I used to love the summer seasons where we’d stay for weeks on end at places such as Butlins but nobody seems to have the money to do it anymore and it’s all one off gigs these days.”

He joined Black Lace in 1984 replacing Colin Gibb who had left unexpectedly after ‘a bit of a scandal’ when Agadoo was flying high at number two in the charts.
“I’d drummed with them a few years earlier so I knew the songs and routine. I’d been shopping in Leeds and when I got home my Mum told me Alan Barton had phoned and wanted to speak to me urgently.  I called him back and he asked me to help him out, lots of gigs were planned and he couldn’t back out with Agadoo doing so well, so I stepped in at short notice and after a very quick rehearsal, I was on at Wakefield Theatre the next day and became a fixture in the band for years. ”
As well as touring the country Dene appeared on Wogan, Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Tiswas, in fact just about any show you can think of from the 80’s. And who can forget the legendary ‘We’re Having a Gang Bang’ appearance on the Alan Clarke late 80’s film, Rita, Sue and Bob too.’

Dene then lived in Benidorm for fifteen years, where he owned a bar with Bruce Jones (Les Battersby from Corrie) which surprisingly was called the Rovers Return and a couple of night clubs called ‘Agadoo.’
“We used to bring acts over from England and were able to pay them, put them up in a nice hotel and still all make a few quid out of it. When Spain changed from the peseta to the Euro it just about killed everything, all the prices went up and it was no longer viable. We sold up and got out, in hindsight it was the right thing to do.”

Dene’s been back home for three years now. Last year he married Karen who he met in Benidorm.
“We got married at Leeds Town Hall, we were both entering our second marriages so we decided to mark the occasion differently. I owe the song Agadoo a lot so we had an ‘Agadoo Wedding,’  everyone wore Hawaiian shirts and we danced round the aisle to Agadoo. We all did the Conga out of the Town Hall, there were loads of TV cameras and press about but I couldn’t believe it when we showed up at the Black Swan in Barwick and YTV’s Calendar were broadcasting live.”

Dene and Karen have just completed a reality TV show called Twin Towns where they swapped lives with another family in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It was a real mystery tour, we had no idea where we were going or what we would be doing. Louisville is twinned with Leeds and we also took my daughter and grandson. When we arrived in the middle of the night, there was a welcoming committee waiting for us and  we had to put Leeds United shirts and scarves on. We swapped jobs, friends, lifestyles, I had to work as a financial advisor and Karen swapped the doctors reception for a job as a zoo keeper. I’m looking forward to seeing the footage of the poor man who came here and played a gig at Scholes Village Hall, I’m sure he fared better than I did as a financial advisor!”
As it turned out, Dene couldn’t quite leave Agadoo in Leeds as much as he might have expected.
“It was Kentucky Derby week, which is a massive occasion and we were invited to a champagne reception which was a really posh garden party with all the local dignitaries there. We were asked to teach them ‘Agadoo’ and I thought it would fall flat on it’s face but they went for it and all these senators and what have you were doing the dance and singing along. At the end of filming they lined up a surprise for us when we were awarded the ‘Keys to the City’ which was amazing and meant so much, I mean Elton John didn’t even get one when he appeared there.”
Twin Towns should air this autumn, although it’s not the first reality TV they’ve done. “We did a ‘Super Scrimpers Xmas Special’ last year which was strange as we’d filmed it in August. The production team had to give the outside of the church the christmas treatment and we got some strange looks from passers by. We’ve also done ‘May the Best House Win,’ which was on ITV recently and there’s a ‘Celebrity Come Dine With Me’ due to hit our screens later this year.”

And before we see all that, Dene’s just started with CBeebies doing Mr. Agadoo and he’s also busy with his latest venture ‘Mr.Agadoo Films’ making video and promo’s, which has recently included EasyJet and Trainline (choo-choo-choo) adverts.

And all these years later, he still is, the music man.
“I’ve just released a new single called ‘Standing in the Dole Queue.’ It’s an update of a song I wrote a few years ago and I originally penned it for the pilot of a new TV show called The Job Centre.  I roped in a couple of old friends John Bell and Michael Reynolds and we’ve released it under the guise of ‘Triple Dip,’ we thought the name was apt for the times.”

Like all Dene’s music it’s supposed to be a bit of fun but if it had been recorded by someone such as Billy Bragg it might be perceived in a different way. So have Black Lace become Red Lace?
“No we’ve never been about politics although years ago we were asked a similar question and we said Agadoo was a political song about cruelty to fruit.
Despite his dalliances with Spain and America, Dene’s heart belongs in Barwick. He recently did a gig at a ‘cheese and wine’ do to raise money for Barwick Church.     “It was fantastic, I roped in a Doris Day tribute act and we all ended up doing the conga round the church aisle. It sold out and I’m happy to do something every year now.”
If ‘We’re Having a Gang Bang’  was Thatchers Britain with it’s knickers down, then ‘Standing in the Dole Queue’ is Cameron and Clegg found in a pool of sick with their trousers round their ankles after a night out on cheap cider. 

 

See Video from Bramley Carnival:  DeneMichaelvideo

 

Available from Amazon, ITunes, all the usual

http://www.denemichael.co.uk/

 

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4 Comments

  1. Rita, Sue and Bob too. Great film and Black Lace’s only decent song performed live in it.

  2. Mick Fawcett says:

    Hated Black Lace but fair play, Dene seems like a nice guy. Good article.

  3. Dean Actually Dean joined Black Lace in 1986, two years after the success of Agadoo and stayed with the band for 5 years, (1 year with Alan Barton and 4 years with Colin Gibb) It’s also interesting to note that, Dean has never appeared on Top of the Pops (Black Lace’s last appearance on the show was 1985) nor the Old gray whistle test or Wogan.

  4. Nice read but most of it is untrue

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