06 October 2014

Eurovision 1977: Lynsey de Paul Remembered

Rock Bottom / Lynsey De Paul / Mike Moran / Eurovision UK 1977
Rock Bottom: Lynsey & Mike in 1977
We never did see Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran perform Rock Bottom at the UK Eurovision national final of 1977.

It was a time when strikes were all too common and BBC cameramen had decided to walk out, leaving many outside broadcasts to suffer as a consequence.

Although the competition went ahead on radio, it seems that the BBC was not too enthusiastic about The Eurovision Song Contest in 1977 anyway - and even less so about promoting that year's entry. It was all a matter of cost.

Having won Eurovision in 1976 with Brotherhood of Man's Save Your Kisses For Me, it fell to the United Kingdom to host the competition in 1977. It's not a cheap thing to do, particularly when you are already one of the biggest financial contributors to the competition. In fact, because of budget constraints and striking cameramen, the Contest that year very nearly didn't happen at all.

Thank goodness it did. Otherwise, we would ironically have missed the delightful Lynsey de Paul singing about the political problems plaguing the country at the time.

Mike Moran was there too, of course. However, Lynsey's profile was higher and as one of Britain's most accomplished singer/songwriters of the time, expectations (by the public, at least) of another UK win were hopeful. The song was bright and catchy, even if there were some jokey political undertones, and a fourth triumph looked as if it was on the cards. 

Lynsey De Paul
Lynsey de Paul
Apparently, the BBC was not so enthusiastic. A second win in a row would have meant that the UK would have had to stage the event in 1978. More expense for the Corporation. And in any case, those in powerful places at the BBC were less than complimentary about Eurovision: calling it "vulgar" and "unbearable".

As it turned out, they need not have worried. While the voting was close, the final performance of the evening came from France and it was Marie Myriam who took the Eurovision title with L'oiseau et l'enfant. In the end, Rock Bottom secured the UK's tenth runner-up position in just over twenty years of the competition.

At the time of her 1977 performance, Lynsey de Paul was 26-years-old. Thirty seven years later, it came as quite a shock to learn that at the age of 64 this beautiful woman had suddenly passed away.

Of course, Eurovision was just a small part of her career, even if the newspapers labelled her in headlines as simply a "Eurovision singer". She was already a gifted songwriter with two Ivor Novello awards to her name, as well as a string of UK and European chart hits. Probably the best remembered amongst these are her own 1972 Top 10 song Sugar Me and The Fortunes' Storm in a Teacup.

However, Rock Bottom became her final UK Top 20 hit, peaking at Number 19. That position was bettered around Europe, with the song hitting the top of the charts in Switzerland and very nearly repeating the feat in Austria.

While it would have been nice to see the song do better in the UK, as far as Eurovision fans are concerned, all that really matters is that Lynsey de Paul is fondly remembered for that quirky (postponed) performance with Mike Moran at the Wembley Conference Centre in London on the night of May 7, 1977.

Image above: AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki - Gallerie: Toppop 1974) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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