As it’s the 60th birthday of Danielle Dax (yes, really), I thought that I would take the opportunity to have another look at her interesting career. Think of this piece as a sort-of deluxe extended version of the one that I did on here about a year ago, as I have found out some more things. Although it won’t ever be 100% comprehensive, I have tried to put together some more information that is worth sharing about Danielle’s TV appearances and magazine interviews in the 80s and early-90s.
pre-1983: Danielle started her music career in a group called The Lemon Kittens who made three albums, “Spoonfed And Writhing” (1979), “We Buy A Hammer For Daddy” (1980), and “The Big Dentist” (1982). The earliest magazine interview that I have found with Danielle is from Sounds as early as January 1981. She then decided to launch a solo career…
1983: Around this time Danielle performed regularly at the Batcave club in London, and in June she was featured in an article in No. 1 magazine checking out the current goth scene.
In October Danielle appeared on BBC2’s Riverside‘s Halloween special in what I presume is her first TV appearance to perform “Pariah”. When I found this on YouTube I was very surprised by her striking look of heavy make-up and bright red waist-length hair. It was a remarkable moment, and it is definitely one of my favourite songs by her. When I searched for Danielle on the BBC Genome, this was her earliest mention. I thought that it was good for her to get a namecheck in Radio Times.
I then found the page on a Twitter account that uploads old Radio Times pages, and I was very surprised to discover that there was also a picture of Danielle. Radio Times was Britain’s biggest-selling magazine at this time, I never expected her to feature. I even went so far as to buy this Radio Times online, and then I scanned the picture to feature in my first piece. I still get pleased when I see it appear in an online image search for Danielle, hopefully seeing the picture has brought more people wanting to find out about her career to my site. Also in this year Danielle’s first solo album “Pop-Eyes” was released.
1984: Danielle appeared in horror film The Company Of Wolves (shown on BBC2 in December 1993 and November 1997, and BBC1 in September 1996), it was a shame that she wasn’t in more films, as it was a memorable performance. In November Danielle had what I’m fairly sure is her one and only reference in Smash Hits. There is a video on YouTube of Danielle performing “Bed Caves” in Holland, I’m not sure what year it’s from but it seems to be from around this time. In December Danielle performed “Hammerheads” on Channel 4’s The Tube. Also in this year her second solo album “Jesus Egg That Wept” was released.
1985: Some more of Danielle’s TV appearances have turned up on YouTube since my last piece. Firstly, a performance of “Evil Honky Stomp” on TV in Norway…
…and a performance of “Yummer Yummer Man” on TV in France. She definitely travelled around the world a lot. Danielle was also interviewed in NME, although I’m fairly sure that she never appeared on the cover of a music magazine in the UK, but she did also feature in a few fanzines.
1986: There is a video on YouTube of Danielle’s concert at a small club in Switzerland, featuring performances of “Evil Honky Stomp”, “Hammerheads”, and “Pariah”. The compilation album “Up Amongst The Golden Spires” was also released in this year.
In November Danielle was interviewed in No. 1 magazine talking about her spooky observations on life. So there was a picture of Danielle in No. 1 but not Smash Hits? Maybe No. 1 wasn’t such a bad magazine after all.
1987: I thought that I would try and find out the exact date of when Danielle’s concert at the Camden Palace in September 1985 was shown on TV (as part of the Live From London series). It seems that it was planned to be shown on LWT in May at 1am just before closedown, but then it was postponed (I’m not sure why), and it was eventually shown in June (only in the LWT region I think). It has been released on DVD. There is also an hour-long concert of Danielle in Tokyo that was shown on Japanese TV online. Another compilation album “The Chemical Wedding” was released.
Danielle never appeared on BBC1’s Top Of The Pops, but in July her video for “Big Hollow Man” was shown on The Chart Show on Channel 4, along with some facts that insisted that Danielle was huge in Japan. The video was also featured on the Indie Chart but it wasn’t played. She also performed this on TV in Germany. Also in this year Danielle’s third solo album “Inky Bloaters” was released.
In December Danielle appeared on ITV’s Night Network to review the latest singles along with snooker star Steve Davis. I found an interview online where Danielle was asked what it was like to meet Steve, and she said that he was great, and he also phoned her granddad to say hello which made his day. Well my life was definitely enhanced for learning that piece of information.
1988: In April the video for “Cathouse” was featured on The Chart Show‘s Indie Chart and Chart File Update (it was also Single Of The Week in Sounds). This led to more interviews in various magazines including Record Mirror and NME (with a picture in colour!). “Cathouse” is also Danielle’s most viewed video on YouTube with about 356,000 views. Another compilation album “Dark Adapted Eye” was also released.
1989: It seems that around this time Danielle was beginning to be pushed in the American market a little more, and she signed to a major label. An article appeared about her in Billboard magazine where she was described as “one woman with the imaginative bravery to break loose”.
In April the video to “White Knuckle Ride” was played on The ITV Chart Show‘s Indie Chart. This video was the first time that I came across Danielle’s music while I was watching some old clips of The ITV Chart Show on YouTube, and I presumed that as much as I liked the song she was just some random here today/gone tomorrow indie woman trying to have a go, but it turned out that I was totally wrong about that.
In July Danielle was interviewed by the computer on Channel 4’s Star Test. Although she was often portrayed as somewhat eccentric and mysterious (as Radio Times memorably put it), many people have commented that on this show she does come across as rather sensible and grounded, offering some interesting answers. I’m not really sure what motivated her to take part (apart from having a single to promote of course), but I’m glad she did.
1990: A video was made for “Tomorrow Never Knows”, a cover of The Beatles song (I don’t know if this one was shown on The ITV Chart Show though). Also in this year Danielle’s fourth and final solo album “Blast The Human Flower” was released, which might have been a final attempt to have some commercial success. However, despite good reviews from critics the album seemed to fall into the Catch-22 of being too unusual to be mainstream, but too mainstream to be unusual.
1991: I couldn’t find much for this year, apart from a few concert pictures, and a magazine article about Danielle visiting a radio station in America where she was described as a “sultry siren”. Unfortunately, this was around the time that Danielle left the music business, despite much praise from critics and fans, her hard work over the past decade and unique approach to music had brought her no hits. There isn’t much known about what she did next, even her official website has little information about her career post-1991, but here’s a few things that I have found out.
post-1991: Danielle’s most high-profile release since “Blast The Human Flower” has been the 1995 best-of “Comatose Non-Reaction”, which was released on her own record label Biter Of Thorpe. Isn’t it about time that all her albums were re-released in a big nice shiny boxset? I’d buy it. Away from music, Danielle has worked as a home and garden designer, and in May 1997 she appeared on BBC2’s Home Front and won their design competition. This edition hasn’t turned up on YouTube, I would very much like to see it, if anyone does upload it I will be your friend.
Also around the late-90s there were various shows about home design on ITV including Des Res and Our House, and it seems that Danielle might have contributed to these too (again I think these were only shown in the Carlton/LWT region), along with various magazine articles about her design work. I have also seen people say that Danielle was on the team of various TV makeover shows including BBC1’s Changing Rooms and ITV1’s 60 Minute Makeover, but again I don’t know if that’s right.
This all leads to when I found an article online about Danielle doing a small-time gig (her first for a very long time) about a year or two ago at a club in Dalston in London, which is only about a mile from where I live, I was very surprised to say the least. The article also featured some pictures of Danielle on stage, the first that I’ve seen of her for about 25 years, and she now seems to have bright blue hair and big red lips, and I couldn’t help but think that she looked like Stormer from 80s cartoon Jem.
I should conclude by saying that I have noticed that many people still seem to have a lot of admiration and fondness for Danielle’s work, and although I only really discovered her myself about a year or two ago, I can clearly see why. And the amount of times that I’ve seen people say “she should’ve been bigger than Madonna” and regret that it didn’t work out for her is remarkable. Thanks for lots of great memories!
6 thoughts on “A Return To The Mysterious World Of Danielle Dax.”
Bravo on another superb Danielle Dax article, thanks!
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Why no mention of her tour with the Sisters of Mercy in 1991? She toured with them in North America. I first discovered her at the Cleveland Agora (Cleveland, Ohio USA) in April 1991. Great show!
Danielle is one of thee most talented artists of our time. It does matter that she isn’t a huge star. But I wonder if she would have wanted that. She might be too sensitive of a human, my favorite kind by the way. Her production and music is second to none. All it takes is an open mind and a stereo 🙂
I see that when she didn’t cake herself with warpaint she was a good-looking girl. As of the current date I have heard her “The Id Parade” on a local university station twice, unannounced, as the station is often automated. I Shazamed it the first time but didn’t seek further info; today, the second time, I found that song is 30 years old. I had no idea she existed before hearing the song the first time, and the station is playing nothing else by her.
Ooh, I’ve had a crush on Ms. Dax since I heard Blast the Human Flower about 30 years ago.
I actually did a mix of her stuff a few years ago, I’ve just uploaded it onto Mixcloud if you fancy giving it a listen:
She did the vocals on a track called ‘Minor Man’ on the Robert Fripp album ‘ The League of Gentlemen’ in 1981. She also drew the artwork for that that album cover & also the cover of the Fripp album ‘Let The Power Fall’
I first heard of her in the the early 80’s when a friend of mine played me the Lemon Kittens album ‘We buy a Hammer for Daddy’. Thought it was terrible TBH, so never checked out her solo albums presuming it would be more of the same.
I don’t recall her solo stuff being plugged extensively on the media at the time. Maybe I was looking the other way at the wrong moments.
It was only when I came across the video ‘Cathouse’ posted on YouTube around 2010 I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I was wrong about her’. Definitely was after listening to ‘ Dark Adapted Eye’.
Danielle is a very creative person. She should have been as big as Kate Bush ( they are the same age). I read her described once as ‘Kate Bush’s deranged sister’ It’s unfortunate that Danielle didn’t manage to get her ‘Wuthering Heights’ or Bowie ‘Starman’ moment on Top of the Pops to make the whole nation stop. Maybe that was it.
Her back catalogue definitely needs to be re-issued with some kind of fanfare so she can be brought in from the cold…like Kathy from the windy moors.