Leee John is a man who found fame singing lascivious pop soul whilst wearing tiny golden thongs. Whilst the greying living rooms of 80s England shifted uncomfortably to Leee's swagger and grind, fans of the unique realised John had it all going on, and fell in love with Imagination, the band he effortlessly fronted. After a string of hits that conquered the underground soul and pop scenes alike, Imagination imploded, leaving but a memory of slinky grooves and glittery make up. Now John is back, with Imagination once more, speaking to us ahead of the special Dalston party where he'll be performing a rare live show on his old stomping ground.
Brace yourself for the lowdown on his 80’s heyday, working with Tiger and Woods, being invited to Nelson Mandela’s party and his love of Jazz..
Firstly thanks for doing this interview Leee, how are you keeping?
I’m extremely well, very busy – producing, directing and writing our film documentary FLASHBACK the history of the UK black years which I have been working on for the last 4 years. Check out flashbackprojectuk.com
for the trailer.
We heard you're busy producing Flashback, could you give us an insight?
Yes, as I said above we cover from before the turn of the century and show a touch of today but really end in the mid 90s as the industry dynamic for UK black artists and artists doing that style changed due to boy and girl bands and reality shows.
We heard about a big U.S tour with some of the biggest bands from the 80’s, what's the story?
Yes we are in discussion and pray it all comes through as it’s a lot of planning involved.
Imagination had hits in over 28 countries which is pretty remarkable, what was the secret to your success?
HARD WORK, you don’t get there by just luck, you got to put the dedication, perseverance and professionalism in to reach your goals.
Looking back you really have achieved a lot, what makes you most proud?
There are so many wonderful moments. Being invited to Nelson Mandela's house by his daughter Zindsi and being cooked for and served by Winnie, singing in the Russian Kremlin, meeting Princess Diana for the Prince's Trust, being part of SOS Children’s Village – a charity for which I am a patron which helps orphans around the world – through my music it has brought and introduced me to so much, even recording my Jazz cd/dvd Feel My Soul
which I am very very proud of.
Imagination were pretty flamboyant, can you recall any fun moments with the band from back in the day?
There are soooooo many, dressing as the 3 musketeers for GMTV was fun. But too many to mention.
You’re a big lover of Jazz too, have you done much production?
As I mentioned above, my Feel My Soul CD was a giant step for me as I had ace musicians on it including my musical director Dr John Watson who has worked with me since the late 1980s. It was an organic experience of the town of Rochfort, where they build Cutty Sark ships. We filmed the whole experience, my journey from London to Rochfort. I won jazz newcomer of the year in France and a live DVD Live at the New Morning is now available on my website
. This gives me an eclectic realm over my musical diversity as I also have a new dance track out soon with top Belgium DJ Elecktrokid called Turn It Up, mixed by the mixer of Daft Punk and Pharrell. Also I am part of the UK Collective which involves Don-E, Jr Giscombe, Omar, Carl from Loose Ends, Noel Mccoy, Paul Johnson etc. It’s the first time that we have all contributed to a UK male r'n'b album together, various different tracks. It's been cool! Also, I have another track on their album called Twilight, with Italian DJs Tiger and Woods (they are huge in the States). In late September I intend to release my album THE TRUTH – which will be adult contemporary soul, dance and features duets with Mike Lindup of level 42, Neville Staples of The Specials and collaboration with Bill Sharp of Shakatak. So as you can see, along with the tours my schedule is very funky and busy!
You’re playing in Dalston on the 3rd May – it looks a really cool party – what will the setup be? Any surprises planned for the Show?
Wait and see! I am a live artist, always have been, my band are HOT! We have been together a long time, it’s about the audience and giving them the best.
One last question is it true you appeared in an episode of Doctor Who?
Yes – called ENLIGHTENMENT – Google it!