Bon anniversaire, Anny!

Coming hot on the heels of the birthday of the Hungarian Disco Queen is that, today, of Anny Chancel, AKA Sheila (B. Devotion), the French Disco Queen. As well as being the ‘French Connection’ between Middle Of The Road’s ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’ and Hana Zagorová’s ‘Pan Tydlitýt a pan Tydlitát’, in the shape of her ‘French Sound of 1971’, ‘Les Rois Mages’, this is a good opportunity to point out that it could be argued that Sheila B. Devotion’s career as a Disco star in the late 1970s and early 1980s represented a third career, since it has been mentioned that ‘Les Rois Mages’ was a comeback after a few low years for the star of the 1960s.

It was, admittedly, quite a long time before even I fully realised that the Sheila B. Devotion best known to the UK audience was the self-same artist as the Sheila who had been a star for markedly over a decade beforehand, so I am fairly sure that, likewise,  few UK readers of GOTGE would be aware that Sheila’s career went as far back as 1962. When she’d have made her first appearances on UK TV as S.B.D. in 1977 the general impression would have been that she must have ‘come down in the last shower of rain’. This was far from the case, as one can see!

Since Carene Cheryl, now as Isabelle Morizet, is now a presenter on the French radio station, Europe 1, I have taken to the habit of listening to the station to keep up my French (this can be done on a regular analogue radio…on Long Wave). Some months ago an advertisement appeared publicising a various artists ‘nostalgia’ album under the brand of the French youth culture magazine and Europe No. 1 (Europe 1’s previous name) music show, ‘Salut les copains’…complete with short bursts of the tracks featured. My ears pricked up when a voice that sounded very much like Sheila’s came on singing a version of the Manfred Mann/Exciters classic, ‘Do Wah Diddy (Diddy)’. This turned out to be ‘Vous les copains’, released, like Manfred Mann’s disc, in 1964 (much the earliest GOTGE embedding outside of historical background videos!)

Since the song was composed by the great  Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich duo that would be a connection to Valérie Čižmárová’s ‘Důkaz mi dej’, the music of which, under its original title, ‘Who’s Your Baby’ (by The Archies), was composed by Jeff Barry….along with Andy Kim.

Either way, this is just a little different from ‘Spacer’, so one can see how it’s very difficult to identify Sheila B. Devotion with the artist who would have released something like this…way back in 1964!




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