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Thread: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

  1. #1
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    Default Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Anybody remember him? He was a cute and charismatic lad who used to do ads for baked beans and sing in a choir back in the early 70's, before EMI Records spotted him, signed him up for an exorbitant amount of money to try and compete him with Jimmy Osmond and Ricki Wilde and overhyped his debut single "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" which virtually went nowhere (as did his subsequent singles) and then dropped him in mid 1974. He was initially promoted as a ballad singer and when that didn't work they tried to turn him into a glam rock icon.

    Throughout his high school years he was teased and bullied by his classmates who nicknamed him "Top of the Flops". He never got over the failure of his music career despite scoring some success as an EMI Records sound engineer in the 80's. After years of battling drugs and depression, he committed suicide in 1991 a couple of months after his 30th birthday.

    Here are his singles:

    Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygx5w8wjMRg

    True Love Ways (b-side) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ2f01SQXK4

    Concrete & Clay - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjxGfRZfobU

    Teenage Lover - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMEIDIlq7RQ

    Summertime Time - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JqfppVY-uk

    Quick Joey Small (b-side of Summertime Time) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bofIaTufoeg

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    I'm surprised nobody has replied to this. I'm too young to remember him myself but it seems like a really sad tale. I expect he was marketed to the hilt but I suppose if he never became popular then most people won't remember him. Just goes to show that having a dad who is a chief executive in the music business can't turn you into an overnight success!
    1976 Vintage

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Quote Originally Posted by Trickyvee View Post
    I'm surprised nobody has replied to this. I'm too young to remember him myself but it seems like a really sad tale. I expect he was marketed to the hilt but I suppose if he never became popular then most people won't remember him. Just goes to show that having a dad who is a chief executive in the music business can't turn you into an overnight success!
    I certainly remember eleven years old ex-Christ Church, Southgate, senior chorister Darren Burn being launched on the record buying public in July, 1973 and I thought he was wonderful and that he could sing like an angel. He was never off the radio and television at the time and was in all the newspapers and music magazines. His father was an executive at EMI and, while they believed the boy could make a lot of money for them, the company treated him like royalty, attending posh receptions in chauffer driven limousines; having his first single played on Radio One by Tony Blackburn as his Record of the Week and even featuring in a BBC Television colour documentary in the Man Alive film series entitled Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, a fascinating programme that covered the launch of Darren’s debut single in July, 1973 and his personal appearance live on stage at the now long gone Sundown in Edmonton. Darren came across as a very intelligent; impeccably mannered; well spoken and charismatic young boy who wouldn’t have looked out of place having tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle. At the time, I really believed the hype in the papers that Darren was going to be the next British superstar of pop.

    But amazingly, his record career just never took off. The top brass at EMI were not pleased and, after his fourth single failed to make any impression on the charts, the by then 13 year old was called into the office of a senior executive in August, 1974 and told quite bluntly that his career was over and that he wasn’t wanted anymore. This led to a blazing row between Darren and the executive in which Darren was practically thrown out of the executive’s office. Darren, realising by now that these people at EMI had never been his friends and had callously used him and exploited him, began to go off the rails from there on, even to the extent of coming home from school drunk…yes, at his age!

    Looking at the Man Alive film now, nearly forty years later, it’s obvious that EMI are exploiting the boy and equally obvious that he can’t see what’s really going on. What happened to him was a terrible tragedy. In a 1988 television interview, Darren, then aged 26, blamed his parents, especially his mother, for the 1973 / 1974 disaster at EMI and his last words on camera were "I certainly wouldn’t allow one of my children to do that, should I ever have any." He died all alone, unmarried and with no children, three years later. Following his tragic suicide in 1991, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered at the base of a group of oak trees in Grovelands Park, Southgate, at the rear of his childhood home at 17, Queen Elizabeth’s Drive. This was done by his family because he had spent many happy hours in the park as a child and because he loved big trees. As an eleven year old in 1973, he can be seen riding his Chopper bike in the park in the Man Alive film.

    Here is a link to his second single, Is It Love, which was released in November, 1973, and which I consider was his best.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_buBHwABlY
    Last edited by DavidRayner; 01-07-2012 at 11:56.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    remember those baked beans ads he was in.
    did not reply til now because i did not recognise the name.





    those songs sound good to me.

    terrible how his so called classmates teased him.
    kids can be so cruel.

    its no wonder with what he went through in school and being dropped that he sadly killed himself.

    id say it was more because of what he went through in school hat led to his suicide.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Yes, it all left him with a feeling of failure. He was a very proud boy and his pride was hurt terribly by it all. What he needed was people to reassure him, not put him down…to give him a hug or a pat on the back and be made to believe he still was somebody in spite of his failure at EMI.

    Darren was a very intelligent boy who, at the age of ten, passed with flying colours an entrance exam to the prestigious City of London School in Blackfriars and started there aged eleven in September, 1972. He could have stayed there until he was eighteen and then gone on to university, but all the trouble over what happened to him at EMI must have severely disheartened him and he just lost interest in his academic aspirations. He put on a brave face and stayed there as long as he could, but on a Friday afternoon in September, 1977, two weeks into his second year in the sixth form, he went home for the weekend as usual, but never returned to the school…in effect, abandoning his education and giving the school no reason as to why he did it. Perhaps he’d just had enough. It had all been very different four years earlier, when he told a reporter that his great ambition in life was to go through medical college and become a heart surgeon. "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." Alas, none of that ever came to pass.

    It’s interesting to ponder how things would have turned out for him if he had become a superstar. Would things have been very different or would he have been unable to cope with all the pressure? One thing that comes across in the 1973 Man Alive film is that his father Colin had a very responsible job; worked very hard and worked very long hours and had a tired look in his eyes and appeared to be living on his nerves. Perhaps because of all this, he hadn’t got much time for Darren as a father should have had except for being involved in promoting him at EMI. Certainly, he doesn’t appear to have even had the time to take his young son to one side and explain to him gently that EMI were dropping him now, instead of delegating that job to a very curt and insensitive fellow executive who hurt the boy terribly.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    I wonder david rayner did his dad live to hear he committed suicide.
    how did he feel about it if he was alive then.
    what about his mum where was she.

    it really was a waste of a life which was not darrens fault.
    he never asked for that all to happen to him.

    he seemed he had no one to confide in which is sad.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Yes, his dad was still alive in 1991 and had by then become the general manager of EMI's music division...a sort of Vice President of the company...so he knew about it, although I don't know what he thought of it. Likewise his mother. Apparently, they had a bad time with Darren in his adult years due to his drug addiction and it can't have helped his relationship with his family when he practically did a demolition job on his mother during an interview on national television in July, 1988. At the time and at the time of his death, he was living alone in flat 7, at 146 to 156, Grosvenor Terrace, Southwark, south London. He wrote a suicide note and took a deliberate overdose of his anti-depressant tablets. He must have been desperately depressed and unhappy to do a terrible thing like that, poor lad. The tablets made him very sick and he choked on his own vomit. His body was discovered on the floor of his bathroom on October 30th, 1991, but he may actually have been there for a while. A person in his state of mind should have had someone with them at all times. But he died all alone. His father died in October, 2009, but his mother and sister are still alive as far as I know and living in Dorset. His mother Johanna would be around 76 by now and his sister Deborah would by 49.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    I remember the song 'Somethings Gotten Hold Of My Heart' ............a very sad story, a real shame.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    Yes, as soon as I heard Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart on the radio, I went into town and bought it from my local record store. I recall that they were actually playing the record in the shop as I went in and they had a big poster of Darren exclaiming "Introducing Darren Burn". EMI initially spent 150,000 on promotion for Darren, which at today's prices, taking inflation into account, would be millions. For me, his was the face and the voice of 1973. Even Ricky Wilde was envious of him at the time, saying that he thought Darren had a fantastic voice.

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    Default Re: Darren Burn - Bubblegum kid of tragedy

    thats very sad what he did to his mum in the interview you mention.

    but it seems his mum was not there for him when he needed her.
    if his mum and dad had been perhaps he would not haveturned to drugs etc.

    i just wonder what his sister and mum think of it all now.

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