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FREDDIE’S DEAD

David Kamp writes…
In 2002, I was assigned to do an oral history of the British Invasion for Vanity Fair’s annual music issue. As fun as it was to talk to the people I expected to talk to–Dave Clark, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Noone, various Zombies and Kinks, the associates of the Beatles, Stones, and Who–I most enjoyed talking to the forgotten stars of that era, people I’d never heard of until I set out to report the piece. My absolute favorite was the Manchester-born Freddie Garrity of Freddie and the Dreamers, who, for a brief, glorious moment in 1965-66, was as big a pop star as anyone, albeit an exceedingly silly one; with his thick glasses and spasmodic signature dance (derived, he told me, from watching pig farmers shake the muck off their legs), he was straight out of a Peter Sellers movie.

Freddie died last Friday, May 19, at the age of sixty-nine. When I spent a day with him at his home near Stoke four years ago, he was already in rough shape, weakened by pulmonary disease that had suddenly overtaken him on a plane ride the year previous. (“I’d been leapin’ aroun’ stage until I had the attack,” he said.) Nevertheless, he struggled up from his chair to do “the Freddie,” as his wacky dance was called, and supplied me with a steady drip of music-hall quipperoos. “All of a sudden I had girls coming out of my ears,” he said of his unanticipated U.S. success. “And, you know, I didn’t want to go deaf.”

In the clip above, Freddie performs his 1965 U.S. number-one hit, “I’m Telling You Now,” with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon on Hullabaloo.

May 22, 2006 More Rock Snobbery »

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