David Gest died recently. Here's a short tribute to a larger than life character
David Gest: The Showman Who Became The Show
I first met David Gest at a charity dinner. David a few years ago. He was the host and he had promised the organisers he would bring along some of his friends to entertain us.
To be honest before that night I'd never heard of him. When we sat at our table, I didn't really know what to expect. I took a look at the menu, at the time I was more interested in the food choice, than the entertainment. That was until I saw the list of artist who were billed as David's Friends. Talk about jaw dropping. It was a who's who of some of the greatest soul legends of our time. I couldn't believe it.
And so began one of the most memorable evenings of my life. I couldn't believe It when Candi Statton began busting out Young Hearts Run Free. Or Billy Paul began soulfully serenading us with his classic Me And Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones Mrs Jones we got a thing going on..,,, These where David's friends. They were the gods of Mowtown and Philadelphia and he had brought them all to Liverpool to entertain us. This was no tribute night. These superstars were the real deal. They may not have been spring chickens, but their singing was as sweet and soulful as they'd ever been.
David Gest was an inigma who became a son of Liverpool. Just as he became a favoured son of any city he chose to drop his hat. I have met very few people who you would describe as larger than life, but David Guest was. With his impish sense of humour. He had the skill to make people feel like he was their best friend, and someone they'd known forever.
That evening he allowed us the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience what was a golden age of music. David's Friends had turned up for him to sing their classic repertoire, and I could proudly say I was there to hear Denise Williams sing her classic 'Free' And melodic voice of the Detroit Spinners GC Williams belting out It's a Shame. These were the songs that had been the soundtrack of my life.. Until now they had only been songs I'd heard on the radio. But here I was listening to Dorothy Moore serenading us with her Misty Blue. Then bringing the room to tears with her stirring rendition of a Change Is Gonna Come. So many great acts, filled the night, that in in the end I lost count. I do remember that David topped off the evening by introducing Percy Sledge who reminded us what it's like when a man loves a woman.
It was clear from the way He introduced each star, that David Gest was as much of a music fan a business man . He spoke with love and affection about every one of his friends and listed their musical achievements. But the respect was mutual, and for so many legends to be there, they must have shared that love.
That night David Gest was like a butterfly flitting from table to table, and always with a mischievous glint in his eye. He had what you would best describe as a quirky dress sense. His buttoned to the neck floor length overcoat was a out of place on a warm summer evening. And as for his hair, it is probably best described as being a unique creation.
For a while he may have made Liverpool his home, but his social circle was world away. A who's who of the greatest names in music and celebrity. He was always happy to be the showman. It was only in his final years he became the star of the show. From ex wife Liza Minelli to his connections with Michael and the rest of the Jackson family. David was a man of the world. But he embraced the city and Liverpool became his extended family in the UK.
When I heard that he had died, I felt sad. I'd met him briefly and knew little of him, but sometimes people flit into your life and they make an impression. It was thanks to him I had an unforgettable evening with my musical Hero's. I doubt I will ever have an opportunity like that again.
At the end of the night as we where leaving David was standing outside surprisingly alone. We went over and chatted and thanked him for such a special night. He was very gracious and very friendly. He asked about what we did, he was interested and when my wife Barbara told him she was a hairdresser he said he'd like to come to the salon, and then we could tell everyone we were David Gests hairstylists. Barbara took a look at David's hair and politely said no thanks she'd rather give that credit to somebody else. He thought that was very funny.
We met David several times after that,he would always take the time to have a few words. Then he would fly off to his next new best friend. I'm sure in the world there are lots of big gregarious characters like David Gest. If you ever get the chance to meet one embrace the opportunity it's people like that who make life's great memories. David's gone but the show must go on.