Friday, 11 March 2011

David Alexander - Wales' Other Tom Jones

I happened to be surfing youtube recently and fell upon videos for David Alexander.

David who you may ask? Well if you don't know him, he's the Welsh Tom Jones that we would've heard a lot more of had Tom Jones himself not beaten him to it.

He was born in Blackwood in south Wales and made his name on the social club circuit and worked as an entertainer in Pontins. He was of the same age as Tom Jones and though he made his name in the 1970s, he never managed the same level of success as his more famous Welsh compatriot and never quite broke out of the cabaret scene.

He died of a heart attack in 1995 at the age of just 56.

How do I know of him? Because as a child, he was one of the voices I listened to endlessly due to my father's taste in music. We'd always have a cassette playing on our many journeys and it more often that not was the strong Welsh sound of David Alexander that I would hear. It wasn't long before the music that my father enjoyed listening too become the music that I enjoyed listening too as well. We had a few David Alexander tapes and though most of the songs on those tapes were famous covers of songs sang by others, they were all for me, 'David Alexander's music'. I know so many of his songs word perfect all these years later. Mind you, it does help that I kept those old tapes of Dad's after he died and will every so often have a fond reminscent listen to them.

His most famous song was 'If I Could See The Rhonnda One More Time' - it's a moving song which I have always adored. I suppose it's a Welsh thing. His voice has that Tom Jones quality but yet it's distinctively David for me.

But as I say, he covered others.

Here's one of my favourites which I'd blasted out on many a car journey across the UK as a child.

It may have been sang by Del Shannon originally but for me 'The Answer to Everything' will forever be a song sang by David Alexander...

Here's another. Again, it isn't a Bette Midler song for me, but a hit from the unsung legend that was David Alexander. 'The Wind Beneath My Wings'...

But his lyrics which most moved me as a Welsh child were 'I never again will go down underground' from Rita MacNeil's evocative and moving 'Working Man'.

Because he died so young, and because he never struck the big-time in the conventional sense, there isn't as much of a back-catalogue of his for us to watch.

But what a voice.

I rememer my father telling me at the time of his death that he had died suddenly. I think I recall seeing it on the TV. It was a surprise because he was so young and because I was a fan. I was 12 or 13 at the time and I can recall being saddened at the news.

So this is my little tribute to David for all those happy childhood travelling memories and to my also departed and missed Dad for introducing me to his music in the first place.

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