Published On: Sun, Oct 15th, 2023
Music | By MDN

David Stewart: Still living with those Sweet Dreams | Music | Entertainment

David Stewart: Still living with those Sweet Dreams | Music | Entertainment
David Stewart: Still living with those Sweet Dreams | Music | Entertainment

RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE: Dave and Annie in trademark tartan on stage in Tokyo, 1984 (Image: Getty)

“It went down a storm so I thought I’d take it on the road,” Dave tells me, with an echo of his native Sunderland in his gruff voice. “Then Covid hit. But after Annie and I were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, I thought **** it, it’s now or never!”

Stewart, 71, and his Eurythmics co-star Annie Lennox performed the still stupendous Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) at the Los Angeles induction ceremony last November, but she isn’t involved in the tour.

“We’ve been asked to play together for 25years. We’ve been offered everything, as you can imagine, but Annie doesn’t like touring. She found it gruelling.”

Instead, he’ll perform with an all-woman group of virtuoso musicians and three singers “who are also brilliant,” he enthuses. “It’s just like seeing the Eurythmics. You’ll hear all of your favourite songs live for the first time since 1999.”

The duo’s magical alchemy spawned a string of unforgettable 80s hits – Who’s That Girl, Here Comes The Rain Again, There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)…

Their recipe of gospel, Krautrock and psychedelia, enhanced by Annie’s haunting vocals, sold more than 100million albums.

Stewart has ‘Stardust’, tattooed across his knuckles, symbolising dreams becoming reality. But if young Dave’s boyhood ambitions had come true, he’d have found a very different kind of fame – playing in the red and white striped strip of Sunderland Athletic FC.

“I grew up dreaming of playing for Sunderland. I played football for my school team, I played in three different teams, I played on our cobbled street every night. From six years old to 13, football was my obsession. My dad used to take me to Roker Park – the roar of the crowd, the small of the peanuts…every match was an occasion. Then I broke my left knee.

“I remember the doctor saying ‘You’ll be able to play football in a year’. I was devastated.”

SWEET MEMORIES: Sunday Express writer Garry Bushell with Annie and Dave after that ‘party bout’ (Image: Getty)

His cousin sent presents from Memphis, including Robert Johnson’s album, King Of The Delta Blues Singers. “I put it on and went into a trance, it affected me so much.”

Using his older brother’s Spanish guitar, Dave found it surprisingly easy to pick out melody lines. When his mother left his accountant father, Stewart escaped into pop – “I couldn’t think of anything else. I told the careers officer I wanted to work in music. He handed me an offer to work at the Pyrex factory.”

At 16 he dropped out of Bede Grammar School and joined a prog-folk combo called Amazing Blondel, by hiding in the back of their van and leaping out, guitar in hand, when they reached Scunthorpe.

Moving to London, Dave spent most of the 70s playing with forgotten folk-rockers Longdancer, frittering away money on recreational drugs.

He met Aberdeen-born Lennox in 1977. She was working as a waitress in a Hampstead restaurant – almost a Human League song – after dropping out of the Royal Academy Of Music. It was love
at first sight. They were a couple for five years, living in a squat and performing in Peet Coombes’s The Tourists who had two
Top Ten hits, including a cover of I Only Wanna Be With You, before folding, owing the record company £35,000.

Stress over debt split them up, but Dave and Annie still shared a squat and she even helped him quit his drug addiction.

Dave finally got clean at 28, after a car crash punctured a lung.

During the long recovery period he threw himself into writing songs that became the Eurythmics’ life-changing 1983 album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).

When the duo arrived in America there was already a huge buzz about them.

“A DJ in Cleveland had got hold of a white label of Sweet Dreams and was playing it. Eventually the record company realised it was us.” They got a US manager and played Forest Hills Stadium, NY, with the B-52s.

“Rolling Stone magazine wanted to put us on their cover. Our eureka moment came in San Francisco. We got a phone call saying, ‘You’re number one’. Annie and I jumped up and down on the bed, then sat down and thought, what does it mean?”

It meant queues around the block from that night on. They packed out arenas all over the globe. “We played the Reichstag in Berlin in 1987 and there were riots – East Berliners were fighting the police, trying to get over the wall.

“It was the night Bowie played and it was all going off on the other side…”

Pop can be a hot and sticky business, never more so than when Dave ordered clam chowder in a fancy New York hotel at the height of the Eurythmics’ fame. “I was in the shower when it arrived, so I wrapped a towel around me and put the bowl on the leaf of the table while I loosened the towel.

“The leaf collapsed and the clam chowder spilled where you don’t want it to go. It was boiling hot and sticky. I had second-degree burns. It’s one of most painful memories in my life. I couldn’t eat soup for years.”

Dave was partly responsible for one of my most painful memories – when I ended up boxing world welterweight champ Lloyd Honeyghan at the Eurythmics’ end of tour party in December, 1986.

“That was the Revenge tour,” he recalls. “It wasn’t meant to happen. It got out of hand.”

FLYING START: Annie, centre, and Dave, right performing with The Tourists, London, 1977 (Image: Getty)

He apologises unnecessarily, because I enjoyed every moment. Once the pain subsided. Futuristic Eurythmics’ hits came with videos full of then exotic gender-fluid imagery, like Annie’s business suit in Sweet Dreams and her multiple costume changes in Love Is A Stranger.

“As we started writing songs together, I learnt how to record and produce. I also wrote the video scripts, three and a half minute surreal films, that were quite strange compared to other people’s videos.

“Sweet Dreams is a massive anthem. You still hear it everywhere – string quartets, EDM festivals…”

urythmics’ albums were in the UK charts for nine years. “We had hits in pretty much every country, including South Korea, India and Malaysia. But different songs topped the chart in different territories.

“Poland went for The Miracle Of Love, Australia preferred Would I Lie To You.”

Dave recalls an ill-fated show in New Zealand. “A cyclone came across the football stadium and fans were getting blown away. That also happened in Virginia.”

Jack Nicholson, a fan who became a friend, taught them how to get maximum effect from minimal effort.

“He told us when you go back on stage, stand together holding hands and stare at the audience.

“We did, and they went crazier than I’ve ever seen them go before.”

Dave and Annie are still friends and talk often, he says. “We’ve had disagreements but never a row.”

Three-times-married Dave has two sons with second wife Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama and Shakespeare’s Sister; and two daughters with his Dutch wife, photographer Anoushka Fisz.

Author, film-maker, hotelier, charity fundraiser…multi-award-winning Dave was nicknamed “the wasp” as a child because he was always buzzing with energy.

He wrote the songs for The Time Traveller’s Wife musical, which has just opened at London’s Apollo Theatre, with
Joss Stone. (Before that came Barbarella and Ghost: The Musical).

Stewart claims he aims to “collapse and chill out” after this tour, but he’s already planning gigs for next year.

“I want to keep playing live, I’ve always loved playing guitar. The world is my stage.”

● Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook Tour plays Sunderland Empire Nov 10 and London Palladium Nov 17. Tickets at livenation.co.uk

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