Monday, 9 October 2017
Don't You Know Yockomo/Reet Petite/Do The Blue Beat/Who Stole The Sugar/The Nitty Gritty/Hey Chickie Baby/I'll Forgive You, Then Forget You/What Did He Say/What Kind Of Love Is This/ Is It True/Hot Spot/Pushing A Good Thing Too Far/That's It, I Quit/I Can't Believe What You Say/Let Me In/Johnny/Don't You Just Know It/He Don't Want Your Love/The Right Time/Not In This Whole World/ Summertime/He's Sure The Boy I Love/New Orleans/98.6/Too Many People/ I Keep Forgettin'
Diane Marie Jacobs (born 19 August 1943, Waimate), known as Dinah Lee, is a New Zealand-born singer who performed 1960s pop and then adult contemporary music. Her debut single from early 1964, "Don't You Know Yockomo?", achieved No. 1 chart success in New Zealand and in the Australian cities, Brisbane and Melbourne. It was followed in September by her cover version of Jackie Wilson's, "Reet Petite", which also reached No. 1 in New Zealand and peaked at No. 6 in Melbourne. The Australian release was a double A-sided single with "Do the Blue Beat". On her early singles she was backed by fellow New Zealanders, Max Merritt & His Meteors. Lee appeared regularly on both New Zealand and Australian TV variety programs, including Sing, Sing, Sing and Bandstand. She toured supporting Johnny O'Keefe, Ray Columbus & the Invaders and P.J. Proby. According to Australian rock music journalist, Ed Nimmervoll, in the 1960s, "Lee was the most successful female singer of in both her New Zealand homeland and Australia ... on stage and on record Dinah had all the adventure and exuberance for the time the boys had".
Lee adopted the latest Mod fashions following advice from boutique owner, Jackie Holme – a page boy haircut, white make-up, op-art clothes and white boots. After being recommended by Merritt, she joined the Startime Spectacular Tour of North Island which was headlined by Bill & Boyd and Max Merritt & His Meteors – Merritt's band backed her during her set. Her performances were more animated and energetic than typically demure female pop artists. Lee was heckled at some regional venues and her mother was unable to recognise her when catching up at an airport. Tour organiser, James Haddleton, became her manager and she was signed with Viking Records, an independent label based in Wellington and she was promoted as 'Queen of the Mods'.
Lee's second single, "Reet Petite" was a cover of Jackie Wilson's hit and had also been recorded with Merritt's band, when released in September it reached No. 1 in New Zealand. Her third single, Ray Rivera's "Do the Blue Beat", followed in October in New Zealand. "Reet Petitie" and "Do the Blue Beat" were issued as a double A-sided single in Australia and reached No. 3 in Adelaide and No. 6 in Melbourne. Lee toured New Zealand and Australia on Starlift '64, promoted by Harry M. Miller, with a bill headed by The Searchers, Peter and Gordon and Del Shannon. Backing Lee at some gigs were Ray Columbus & the Invaders and, in Sydney, a newly formed group – The Easybeats. With "Reet Petite" charting in Australia, rock'n'roller Johnny O'Keefe invited Lee to appear on his television series, Sing, Sing, Sing and join his Sydney club shows.
In early 1965, Lee appeared on Australian TV shows, Bandstand and Saturday Date. One of her Bandstand performances was at Myer Music Bowl with headlining Jamaican Blue beat singer Millie Small. Lee travelled to the United States to appear on Shindig! – she sang with Glen Campbell – and on other TV shows. Lee then went to the United Kingdom where she released, "I'll Forgive You Then Forget You" on Island Records' label Aladdin. In August–September, Lee toured New Zealand and Australia with US pop sensation, P.J. Proby – noted for splitting his pants on stage in the UK in February – who had been banned by the BBC. In Australia, HMV released "Let Me In" to coincide with the tour. Lee won 'Entertainer of the Year' at New Zealand's inaugural NEBOA Awards in late September – soon after she decided to base herself in Australia. Late in the year, Viking released a string of singles, "He Can't Do the Blue Beat", "Nitty Gritty" and "That's it I Quit", in New Zealand. In November, they released her second studio album, The Sound of Dinah Lee.
Lee spent most of the late 1960s on the night club circuit with occasional variety TV appearances. Lee successfully sued her former manager, Haddleton, for money owed and re-took control of her financial interests. According to Australia rock music journalist, Ed Nimmervoll, in the 1960s, "Lee was the most successful female singer of in both her New Zealand homeland and Australia ... on stage and on record Dinah had all the adventure and exuberance for the time the boys had." Lee entertained troops in Vietnam in the late 1960s on Australian Broadcasting Commission-sponsored tours (under her birth name, Diane Jacobs) and was awarded the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal.
In 1982, a compilation, Best of Dinah Lee was issued on Music World. By 1984, she had become involved in body building winning the 'Australian Female Body Builder of the Year' in the over 35s category. In the 1990s and 2000s, Lee continued performing on the club circuit and became a motivational speaker.
ABC-TV series, Long Way to the Top, was broadcast in August 2001. Lee featured on "Episode 2: Ten Pound Rocker 1963–1968" where she discussed the mod look and her appeal to rebellious teens, "I had this image and it wasn't cute and pretty". The TV series inspired the Long Way to the Top national concert tour during August–September 2002, which featured a host of the best Australian acts of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Lee's performances of "Yokomo" and "Reet Petite" at the final Sydney concert, as well as an interview with promoter, Michael Chugg, feature on the associated DVD, Long Way to the Top: Live in Concert released in 2002.