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Body Worcester Mass, Sunday, June 25, 1978
Worcester Sunday Telegram
Arts / Entertainment

A Ton of Talent in 89-Pound Rock Star

Tiny Mite Seeks U. S. Stardom

By Sibyl Farson

Of the Telegram Staff

Lynsey DePaul carries a lot of weight for an 89-pound rock star. In her native England she's performed before half a million people. In Japan she has more fans than a baseball team. In Mexico she's hotter than chili. But in America, hardly anyone has heard of her – yet.

So far, her only exposure here has been reference to her under-wraps romance with actor James Coburn in a recent issue of "People" magazine. But with the recording of her first American-produced album at Long View Farm in North Brookfield, the dainty Miss DePaul could find herself catapulted into the exalted company of Mick Jagger and Elton John as the priciest British import since the Beatles broke up.

Her stay at Long View was arranged by two of the most important men in her life right now. Rupert Holmes, who co-authored one of the songs to be included in her new album, and her manager, Justin DeVilleneuve, who maneuvered the wraith-like "Twiggy" into a command position as the world's highest-paid fashion model.

DeVilleneuve accompanied Lynsey in the private plane that brought her to Worcester Airport several weeks ago. He chatted amiably while she went to freshen up. We said we understood that Miss DePaul had written a number of hit songs.

"Have you heard of 'No Honestly?' Lynsey wrote that …it's one of the top five hits in England. And Julie Andrews sang 'Somebody Dance With Me' on a Muppet show. That's one of Lynsey's songs, too. She's won two Ivan Novella awards, you know. I guess that's the British equivalent of your Granny awards … No, this isn't her first trip to America. She's spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. The name of her new album? 'Hollywood Romance.' Yes, appropriate … Well, Ringo Starr was her first big love, and David Frost was her second. I can't tell you very much about her friendship with Mr. Coburn. She'll have to give you the details."

We asked how he had happened to take charge of her career.

Under a Strain

"I'd known Lynsey socially, you see, then she asked me to manage her. She'd always been produced by herself. Well, that can cause a great deal of anxiety, worrying about budgets, making her own arrangements. The strain was beginning to affect her performance…"

Then Lynsey was back, nearly lost in the chair as she sipped a cup of tea. DeVilleneuve got up and thanked us for waiting – the plane was nearly two hours late – as the diamond earring in his left ear glinted in the waning afternoon light. He departed with an impressive clanking of gold bracelets.

Lynsey smiled shyly over the rim of her teacup as we scribbled down our first impressions.

An exceptionally pretty girl, she would make most women feel positively elephantine. Doll's feet in sandals. Tight jeans and no hips. Huge, china-blue eyes in a heart-shaped face framed by a cloud of naturally blonde hair that hung around her shoulders like a cape. She said she was 27. She looked five years younger. She said she was a size 6. She looked more like size 4. We were frankly envious.

"How do you stay so thin? Do you have to watch what you eat?"

"Oh my, yes. One pound on anyone else is like three pounds on me. I gain weight and I sit on it. Sometimes I fast for three days at a time. Today, all I've had was a bit of toast this morning."

Precise Diction

She recalled the days when she was just getting started in the music business, when she went without meals out of necessity rather than choice. She spoke with the precise diction most American actresses try to imitate when they do Noel Coward plays.

"I studied textile design in college. And played classical piano – Bach, Chopin. But I had this job designing album covers for contemporary music and I had to listen to the records, and I thought when I played them "I can write music as good as that."

Her first attempt, "Storm in a Teacup," wound up No. 7 on the charts. Her commercial facility made her easy prey for a publisher who offered her L20 a week as a full-time composer.

"That was about $40 a week back in 1971. I was living in a little flat and needed the money badly. It looked like a wind-fall to me then."

Actually it was a pittance considering she turned out 11 hits for her employers. She made her first album in 1972. Its instant success spelled independence at last. Among her accomplishments since then are six theme songs she has written for British TV shows.

But she's still embittered over the thousands of dollars in lost royalties. She believes in astrological signs because "all the men who cheated me are Capricorns."

She admitted she didn't know what she was doing then; her naivete had cost her a small fortune.

She explains haltingly her attraction to James Coburn. "I know it sounds corny, but we're soul-mates. We touch the essence of each other. We met at a party in Los Angeles given by mutual friends. But, if you don't mind, I'd prefer not to publicize it. We've kept our relationship very quiet for a year."

DeVilleneuve reappeared, announcing apologetically but firmly that Lynsey hadn't brought proper clothes, that "Moon's" on Highland Street was staying open as a courtesy.

One Last Question

"I don't usually dress like this," she murmured, picking up her flowered straw hat. "I'm awfully sorry to rush off."

One last question. Speaking of dress … what about punk rock in England? Is it taken seriously?

"Oh, no, I don't think so, do you, Justin? Really, it seems to me to be on the way out."

Then we were, too, still trying to assess where the celebrity left off and the woman began. Or was it the other way around?


 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.