The first pop star I ever met was Sandie Shaw, in Bradford in 1968 when I was a reporter on the city’s evening newspaper, the Telegraph & Argus. Sandie and her then husband, the clothes designer Jeff Banks, had produced a fashion line for Grattons, a big mail order company whose warehouse was in Bradford, and when Sandie visited to promote the clothes I was sent along to do a story. I’d recently talked my way into becoming the T&A’s ‘pop’ correspondent, so I was the natural choice for this assignment, though in reality the interview was trivial and more about clothes than music. Sandie had her photograph taken with some of the local girls who worked in the warehouse and told me how pleased she was to have her own fashion label, and that was that really. She was very tall and slim with legs that went on forever and her hair was cut in that famous fringe, and unlike when she sang she wore shoes. I thought she was a very exotic creature indeed, like a gazelle or big cat. I suppose if I’d asked I could have had my photo taken with her but I wasn’t quite so brazen in those days.
By the time I reached MM Sandie’s singing career was on the back burner and I can’t recall us ever featuring her in the paper. I was pleased when I read she’d teamed up with The Smiths as The Smiths were cool and so was she. The next time I saw her was in the early 90s, at a Waterstones book store in Kensington High Street where she was signing copies of her autobiography The World At My Feet. I joined the queue, paid my money and she signed my book. I told her I’d met her in 1968 but, surprise surprise, she couldn’t remember.
What prompted this post was seeing a Sandie Shaw hits album on the supermarket shelves yesterday. I bought it for £3, and heard for the first time her lovely re-recording of ‘Puppet On A String’, now retitled ‘Puppet (No Strings)’, a wistful, dreamlike version which she made in early 2007 in honour of her 60th birthday, and which is far superior to the original that won Eurovision in 1967 and which she always hated.