Sometimes you struggle to get a decent quote from an interviewee. Not with the astonishing David Gest, as Pete Wise discovers
Stateside producer turned much-loved UK TV personality David Gest has brought a little novel happiness into the lives of many a York-dweller over recent years.
Our city is not without its share of famous sons and daughters, but for someone touched with that special stars and stripes sparkle to tread these streets is rare in the extreme.
Since his first visit to York a few years back, Gest has been doing precisely that, sparking a rash of hastily snapped fan photos whenever he visits the city centre.
Many of us know him best for his charming capers in the sixth season of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! (2006), but at the heart of Gest’s fame lies a hard-earned prowess as a producer and an address book that’s starrier than a clear winter’s sky.
He’s drawn on both to bring musical icons to York Barbican in David Gest’s Legends Of Soul Spectacular.
The event will feature performers including the original and best You’ve Got The Love vocalist Candi Staton, The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, When A Man Loves A Woman singer Percy Sledge and Sheila Ferguson, formerly of the Three Degrees.
We met up with David to talk soul, York and two very different kinds of pork…
So what can we expect from David Gest’s Legends Of Soul Spectacular?
You’re gonna have the time of your life! You’re gonna hear music that will make you move and groove and dance, and I think you’ll appreciate all these great genres of soul from the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. You’ll see the real artists that sang these hits – they’re not imitations, they’re the real thing.
You’re bringing your mates to York!
You’ve got ten legends, from Percy Sledge and Candi Staton to Sheila Ferguson from The Three Degrees – Dennis Edwards, the real lead singer of The Temptations – the one who sang Papa Was A Rolling Stone – it’s his vocal!
It’s interesting for me to introduce them to the people here in York, because this is part of my life – I grew up listening to soul music and going to these concerts. Michael Jackson and I were best friends since we were very young, and this is the music we grew up on.
Will you be on stage too?
I introduce all the acts, and I tell stories about my life, and the music, and the people because I’ve had a very interesting life! Being born in Taiwan, my father was a fisherman, and he only had a right leg. He met my mother, who was going to be a nun, and she only had a left leg.
They put the two legs together and I was conceived. I have two brothers: Hung Lo and Long Dong Lo. I don’t know where they are…
A lot of the people in the audience will have stories that relate to them with each of the songs. You Got The Love, which was a hit so many times – I have a cousin, Mario who lives near Preston. He got married to that song, and his wife’s name is Maria.
They were very in love, and her best friend’s name was Marie. One day years later Maria came home from work, and she heard the record on and thought he was in bed waiting for her. But he was in bed with her best friend Marie – true story!
And she took her gun, and she shot his testicle off. And it hit Marie in the head, knocked her dead and flew out of the window – no bull! They couldn’t arrest Maria for killing her, because it was the testicle that hit Marie, but I’ll tell you he never had a ball after that, he was on a tight rope!
And now they’re very happy.
Wow. And you’re sharing all this with York…
I love York, y’know, I’m moving here full time. I’m buying a home here. People ask me, “Why York?” I get this every single day. I love the city, I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world, there’s nothing like York. The history of it… Everything about it is magic.
I’m a number one client of the York Hog Roast on Stonegate. I have it about three times a week. They know I like extra turkey, the vegetables, crackling, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, love it!
- David Gest’s Legends of Soul Live Concert is at the York Barbican on Friday, February 21 at 7.30pm
- Full details: on the York Barbican website
- More music stories here