The Dee Dee Translations

October 14, 2009


Love Is Always.

I debated whether these songs merited an entry, and since Bowie did record demos of them (which I’ve not heard, sadly) they make the cut. Plus, we’re talking about “Pancho” here. Never shirking, always fighting!

Both tunes were written by the Belgian singer Andrée “Dee Dee” Giroud and the composer/pianist Willy Albimoor. Bowie, who was still sitting around waiting for his LP to come out, was asked by his publisher Essex Music to come up with some English lyrics. Bowie’s “Pancho” is a motorbike-riding, law-breaking charismatic thug with a “face lit from inside” (like a jack o’lantern?).

Giroud seemed to vanish soon after this single, but Albimoor would have a long career (he died in 2004). Starting out as a pianist in jazz bands, backing the likes of Josephine Baker, Albimoor by the ’50s was composing for seemingly anyone in Belgium, including the homegrown studio “Hawaiian” band The Waikikis. His camp masterpiece (even beyond “Pancho”) was “Jungle Fever,” which he arranged for Belgium’s The Chakachas in 1970.

Bowie’s demos were likely recorded in April-May 1967, and the Dee Dee single was released (by “Dee Dee and Her Panchos”) on 10 June 1967 as Palette PB 25.479.

Top: Simon Dee, 1967.