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Obituary: Lynsey de Paul

For a time in the 1970s, hardly a week went by without Lynsey de Paul’s music being heard on radio and television. One of the most popular songwriters in her bubblegum and glam-rock heyday, she wrote 12 Top 20 hits and was the first female to win an Ivor Novello award.

Her first brush with the music industry was as a commercial artist designing sleeves for album covers. Her breakthrough came when former Oliver! star Jack Wild recorded three of her songs in 1971, and a publishing contract with ATV Kirshner duly followed.

De Paul made her first chart appearance the following year when the Fortunes hit the Top 10 with Storm in a Teacup (co-written with Ron Roker) and topped it by releasing her own debut as a singer. Sugar Me took her back into the Top 10 and topped the charts in Europe.

Although her next three singles failed to match the success of Sugar Me, the 1973 ballad Won’t Somebody Dance With Me won her the Ivor Novello award, which she added a second to for her theme tune to the 1974 ITV sitcom No, Honestly. Later TV themes included London Weekend Television’s 1977 revival of The Rag Trade and the BBC’s Esther Rantzen-hosted Hearts of Gold (1988-96).

A prolific songwriter, in the second half of the 1970s she enjoyed international success, while her profile at home was cemented by an appearance as the UK’s entry in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest. Co-written and co-sung with Mike Moran, Rock Bottom was placed second in the competition. But although the pair continued to write and release material, nothing came closing to repeating their first success.

Returning to the UK from California after her three-year relationship with the actor James Coburn ended, she recorded a disc of classical music, composed radio jingles, appeared at the 1983 Conservative Party conference to sing a specially written morale-booster and spent time as a judge on ITV talent show New Faces.

De Paul made her acting debut onstage in Iain Blair’s thriller Shriek! at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, in 1982, and the following year on television in Granada’s The Starlight Ballroom alongside Alvin Stardust. Panto appearances included Aladdin (Shaftesbury Theatre, 1983) and Jack and the Beanstalk (Oxford Playhouse, 1989). She also appeared in Pump Boys and Dinettes (Piccadilly Theatre, 1985).

In 1992, she released a self-defence video for women and presented the Royal Television Society award-winning documentary Eve Fights Back. In 2007, she appeared in the opening episode of Kingdom, the ITV comedy-drama about a Norfolk solicitor played by Stephen Fry, and presented her own programme, Lynsey’s Love Songs, on Sky.

More recently, she was an active member of the Performing Rights Society (now PRS for Music), serving on its board for six years from 2006.

Lynsey de Paul was born Lynsey Monckton Rubin in Southwark, London, on June 11, 1950. She died, following a brain haemorrhage, on October 1, aged 64.

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