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Thread: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Well, if I were his family, I’d feel terrible about it. I suppose they must feel the same way, even 21 years after they lost him. Of course, we’ll never know the complete full story of what happened. But in the past few years, I’ve been in contact with his maternal uncle; with two people who were at both the Franklin House (in Palmer’s Green) and City of London schools with him; the archivist at the City of London school; with his record producer at EMI, the late Eric Woolfson; with a former EMI employee who was there when Darren was fired and a colleague who worked with him when he was a tape operator at the Roundhouse recording studios in London. So I think I’ve built up a fairly accurate picture of what happened. Eric Woolfson had this to say: "Darren was a delightful; charming and talented young man who showed tremendous promise at a very early age".

    His story and the way he was exploited by EMI brings to mind something that the late child star Bobby Driscoll, who also died in tragic circumstances aged 30, had to say about Hollywood: "I was carried along on a satin cushion and then dropped in the garbage can". It's the kind of remark that Darren could have made.


  2. #12
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    its not just the fact they dropped him its more the way they did it.
    they emi could have at least let him down gently.
    they could have said we no longer need you and give him a FEW QUID and say thanks for working with us.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    I agree. That insensitive executive must have got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning. By the way, Darren's debut single did sell enough copies for it to reach number 60 in the charts. Thousands of them were pressed, in anticipation of big sales that never happened. So there must be a lot of them still around. That's why it often turns up on eBay. Initial pressings were in a picture sleeve and I still have the picture sleeve pressing in my collection.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    An interesting magazine article about Darren (one of many at the time) from nearly forty years ago.

    It’s Here! And Now! Magazine, Saturday, September 1st, 1973.

    DARREN’S GOTTEN HOLD OF OUR HEARTS

    By Billie

    Darren Burn, whose first record, Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, is zooming up into the charts, looks certain to become a fully paid-up superstar before he’s very much older. Not only is he a really gorgeous looking guy, but he has a really beautiful voice and loads of other talents, as Billie found out when she went to his home in North London to talk to him.


    Chatting to Darren Burn at home can be quite a chaotic experience…at times the house resembles a small-scale menagerie with animals dashing about all the time. At the last count there were Dandy MacTavish (nicknamed Piglet ‘because of the funny noises he makes), who’s a West Highland Terrier; Spooky who’s Darren’s cat and the other cat, Casper, who belongs to Darren’s sister, Debbie. When I was there, a neighbour’s dog was adding to the general confusion. Also in the pet parade, but safely in his cage, was Gilbert the guinea pig. So, as you can see, it’s not a place to go if you want some peace and quiet. But it certainly was an interesting afternoon. By the way, while we’re on the subject of pets, Darren sometimes looks after another guinea pig called Snowy who belongs to Martin Chivers, the famous Spurs and England footballer. As you can imagine, all of Darren’s friends at school (The City of London School) are really envious that Darren knows a famous footballer and can get into matches for nothing – and meet all the stars. The only problem is that Darren doesn’t like football! He doesn’t like playing or watching it – he once went to see a match and was bored stiff. The only sports he’s interested in are cricket and baseball and, best of all, table tennis. Darren has a table tennis table in the back garden and though he says he isn’t very good, he beats his father when he plays with him! But his main interest in life, as you might guess, is music. And it always has been. "I started singing in the church choir when I was six", Darren told me. "Then when I was eleven I was made Senior Chorister, which I believe is very young to be made one. I’m grateful to my choirmaster – he’s taught me a great deal. As well as training my voice, he also taught me to read music which has been a great help to me. Unfortunately, I’ve had to unlearn a lot of the things I learned from him because choir singing and pop singing are two completely different styles and use totally different techniques." In his spare time, Darren likes listen to his amazing collection of LP’s. His favourite group is The Moody Blues and favourite record is Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moodies.

    Apart from music, there’s very little else that really interests him. The most exciting moment in his life was when he went into a recording studio for the first time to record his single. And he reckons that out of all the things he’s done, he enjoys recording most and is really looking forward to going into the studios again to cut several tracks from which his new single will be chosen. But there is one thing that Darren reckons is much more important than music. Mind you, it’s the only thing – and it’s been with Darren for years and years now. "My great ambition is to become a heart surgeon. I’ve wanted to be one now for five or six years. It’s always been a subject that interests me from what I’ve read and from talking to people that I know. I mean, I want to be a pop star, obviously, but it’s not something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m quite happy to be a pop star for as long as it lasts, but I won’t be heart-broken when it all ends. No matter how big a success I became I would still give it all up eventually. I’m very serious about it – I’m even going to go to Canada to complete my education because I can get a better medical training there."

    So you see, Darren knows exactly what he wants to do. He’s also very definite about what he likes and dislikes. He doesn’t like wearing shoes – and he hates wasps. (One came flying in when I was speaking to him – our conversation ended very quickly indeed!) He likes plain food: "I don’t like fancy things that take hours to make. I’d rather have something simple like beef. To drink, I like shandy and cider. And I drink gallons of milk, though it’s not my favourite drink." What about girls? "I thought it would have been reasonably obvious what I like in girls. But I do like them with long legs and I prefer brunettes." So you see, Darren is a guy who knows what he likes and what he wants – and you can be sure he’s going to get it and be a success, whether he becomes a pop star or a heart surgeon – or both!

    THE FACTS OF DARREN

    Full Name: Darren Colin Burn.

    Birthdate: August 28th, 1961.
    Birthplace: Victoria Nursing Home, Barnet, London.
    Height: 5 feet, 3 inches.
    Weight: 98 pounds.
    Eyes: Hazel.
    Hair: Light Brown.

    Favourites:

    Colour: Purple.
    Food: Steak.
    Drink: Cider.
    School Subjects: Physics, Latin.
    Place: Majorca.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Another interesting magazine interview from nearly forty years ago.

    Record Mirror centre page spread, Saturday, August 25th, 1973.

    DARREN – SUPERKID.
    By Sue James.

    Could Britain have at last found the answer to America’s Donny in the latest young singer to appear on the pop scene – twelve year old Darren Burn? His first record is Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, the song that was a big hit for Gene Pitney a few years back. I went along to EMI records to have a chat with Darren to find out if he sees himself as another Donny and why that particular song was chosen to launch him into the pop world. Not very far away from where he gave the interview were Darren’s mother and father. His father works at EMI. Apparently, Darren wasn’t feeling too good and apologised if he might appear a bit slow as he didn’t get to bed until three thirty the morning before and woke up again at seven. Such are the hazards of the pop business.


    On the day of the interview, Darren was dressed casually in a pair of maroon trousers and a green T-shirt and for someone who is not yet into his teens and a relative newcomer I found him very much in control of things and displaying a shrewdness beyond his twelve years. Was it a sudden decision for him to break into the pop business and how did it all happen? "I’ve wanted to make a record for some time. I was offered the opportunity about four years ago, but at that time I didn’t want to, so I turned it down." Darren used to sing for his church choir which he has just left and he has had some previous recording experience of doing backing on a couple of records. He’s no newcomer to television, either. You might remember him as one of the boys on those famous baked beans adverts.

    Why was Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart chosen as his first single? Although it’s a very likeable song, it’s not one that is instantly commercial. "Well, I was going to record something like Venus In Blue Jeans, but my producer decided on something a bit more sophisticated. We recorded about four songs altogether in the studio, but Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart was the one that was chosen." One of the songs done in the studio was I Got You Babe, which he sang with his young sister, Deborah. I wondered how he felt about people looking on him as the British version of Donny Osmond. "Well, I’d rather be thought of as Darren Burn rather than another Donny Osmond, though it’s inevitable that I will be compared with him." Michael Jackson is the singer that Darren admires most, and he numbers Blue Mink, The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest among his other favourites. "and of course, The Beatles. I don’t like progressive music."


    Does he find that the making of a pop record and all that goes with it, interfere with his school and personal life? "No, the record was planned to coincide with my summer holidays so that I would be free to promote it." Darren recorded his second single last week…this time, an upbeat dancing number and he may be doing an LP. So it looks like we’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the future, but he said: "I’d like to carry on as long as it lasts, but I wouldn’t like to take up singing as a living. I’d like to become a heart surgeon." Then he joked: "that’s why the record’s called Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart."
    Last edited by DavidRayner; 04-07-2012 at 16:47.

  6. #16
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    Exclamation Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    They say "what goes around comes around" and "karma is a b.itch". A few weeks ago, EMI Records finally bit the dust itself. It has now been bought up by Universal Music, except for the Parlophone label which got taken by Warner Music.

    EMI Records was once dubbed "The Greatest Recording Organisation In The World" in the 1960s, and indeed for the next couple of decades it was at the top of the chain of the major labels.

    After the Britpop bandwagon crashed in the late 90's, EMI started to gradually flounder. Its offices at Manchester Square were relocated, and it sold its prized company trademark HMV to become a standalone retail chain. The HMV logo used to be synonymous with EMI being its main flagship rock, pop and classical label until 1968 when EMI closed it off to contemporary acts before Morrissey briefly revived it for his solo work from 1988 - 1993.

    I could see the writing on the wall for EMI for some time. The Beatles sued the label over unpaid royalties and Paul and Ringo subsequently leaving the label to sign with Universal's labels Hear Music and Hip-O respectively. Eventually long-time best selling artists like Kate Bush, Queen, and Radiohead left the label to sign elsewhere. Ironically, the current No.1 single in the UK charts is on EMI's Positiva/Virgin label maybe as a last hoorah for the company.

    It goes to show that no matter how big your company is, if you don't take care of what you've got or treat your artists or clients like human beings instead of just a number then you will eventually take a mighty fall. Not trying to be preachy here but the Bible warns "Love of money is the root of all evil" and "Greed is a form of idolatry".

    If only those words were inscribed on every businessperson's heart, and if only EMI had adopted those policies back in the 60's and 70's it would still be in the league of the majors. Now we only have three left: Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music. Wonder which one will be next to go?

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    The main problem with EMI, especially in the early 1970s, was that it was a very big company with its fingers in many pies, including film production; the manufacture of televisions; radios and other electrical equipment and many other things besides records. I feel sure that you are right in what you say, they just didn't respect their recording artistes as they should have done and certainly had no idea how to handle and promote Darren Burn properly. In fact, I don't think that there were many people high up in the company who loved music and records as much as they should have done and the company has certainly been going down hill for some years now, mainly for the reasons you state. Mind you, the way they treated Darren, I'm glad to to hear of their deserved demise. The fact that Darren's father Colin was a top executive of the company at that time only makes the tragedy of Darren worse.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Darren Burn fans will be interested to know that the colour short film "The Insomniac", in which he featured when he was nine years old in 1970 and which has not been seen since its original cinema release, will be released by the BFI on both Blu-Ray and DVD on September 23rd, 2013 as an extra with the film "Sleepwalker". Both Blu-Ray and DVD discs will be in the same case and also available from amazon uk. It will be very interesting for me to see how he looked at a different age to how he appeared in the BBC Television 'Man Alive' film from 1973 and also at an age when he was famous as the 'Heinz Baked Beans Boy' in the nationally shown ITV film commercials.

  9. #19

    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    I have come across this thread by accident, luck, or what have you. I was Darren's Uncle as younger brother of his mother, and there was only 13 years difference between our ages so became a friend as well until I moved up to the Midlands, he came and visited a couple of times with his long term girlfriend but he was a different man to the teenager and child I knew.

    I am more than a little upset with the posts here insulting my sister and my brother in law by some strange almost paedophile fan boy, who has become infatuated with him and his memory, so sees no wrong. I am afraid Darren was a deeply flawed character that showed as a "know it all" as a kid to being insufferable and impossible to reason with in later life, and take my word for it everyone in the family tried.

    In one way I am pleased he failed as he would have become even more arrogant and insufferable to deal with had he become a star. I say this to balance the hero worship, he had fine sides to his personality as well but later hard drug use and the thought that everyone owed him a living ruined it. How would any of you react if you felt you had to ban a relative from visiting you as every time he did things disappeared - stolen. I have held and cuddled my mother (his grandmother) who loved him dearly as she cried not knowing how to react when most of her jewellery was stolen to feed his drug habit. It is sad to say it but he became unwelcome in most of our houses within the family. Not for want of trying to get help for him, but his arrogant personality meant that he always knew best and would never listen to anyone.

    To blame everyone else for his life was the way that Darren was, it was never his fault. OK he had a rum deal from EMI but so did most people back then even his father, who left EMI very soon after his sons problem with them to take up the job as business manager of the Rolling Stones. Colin (his father) had no control over what happened, EMI initiated everything, all Jo and Collin did was to ask Darren at every stage if he wanted to do it and he was told clearly there was no guarantee of success, it is just life, and life is not always good to you.

    At his death he was not alone he had a very loving and caring girlfriend who would have devoted her life to him, but he was too busy feeling sorry for himself to give the care she deserved in return. He had employment doing freelance work for pyrotechnics company with firework displays and building the display fireworks. he had thing he could have taken forward in his life but chose not to.

    OK we have a tragic life, but at least he had a chance, he wasn't a Bangladeshi kid with a good voice who was used as forced labour in a clothing factory, or many many other lives far worse and with far worse opportunities than his.

    Yes I miss him, he was blood brother and I went through similar thing with drugs but I came out of them and didn't use them as an excuse to hurt my family. Let him rest in peace, this infatuation with the boy / man helps no one and is slightly disturbing from my point of view.

    This will be my only and last post in this matter.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Is there the 1988 interview with him available online anywhere?

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