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■ persona
Almost famous:
Dolly Mixture
Take three teenage girls in polka dot dresses, stripy tights and hobnails, a
large slice of musical talent, one 60s compilation album and what do you
get? Post punk pop pixies, dolly mixture.
irl bands are not a new concept; but not Rehearsing in Hester’s living room covering
all of them reach the dizzy heights of tracks from the 60s compilation album they all
Spice Girls or Girls Aloud fame. Rachel loved, they developed a sound similar to The
Lovell (nee Bor) lives in Hassocks with her family. Undertones and Buzzcocks and got their first break
She was just 15 years old when, in 1978, two supporting Rachel’s brother’s band, The Users, at
friends, Debsey Wykes and Hester Smith, persuaded a John Peel Roadshow. He loved their exhilarating
her to join their Cambridge-based band – and Dolly live performance and invited Dolly Mixture to do
words by
Mixture was born, with Rachel on guitar, Hester a John Peel Session.
lisa de silva on drums and Debsey on vocals. From here the gigs came thick and fast and the
girls moved to London, from where they embarked
on a constant round of touring, with their loyal
driver, an old van and many nights spent in dodgy
B&Bs sleeping between nylon sheets.
During this time, the girls got to tour with The
Jam, Bad Manners, Fun Boy Three and their heroes,
The Undertones. “That’s definitely one of my best
memories,” recalls Rachel.
“too ahead of their time?”
Impressed by the trio, Paul Weller signed them to
his Respond label in 1980, but it was singing backing
vocals for one of their producers, Captain Sensible,
that the girls scored their greatest success. When
Happy Talk went to No.1 in July 1982, Dolly Mixture
got to perform with Captain on Top Of The Pops.
“That was great fun. We met Shalimar and
Bananarama and got to visit the BBC bar which was
really cheap,” laughs Rachel. On a personal note,
she later married Captain, real name Raymond
Burns, and they went on to raise three children in
During their short career, Dolly Mixture put out
four singles in four different years, among them
Been Teen (1981) and Everything and More (1982).
“We were constantly sending out demos trying
to get a deal and, in the end, we decided to put all
soutH downs liVing
april 2009
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