Singer of original hit died in jinxed London apartment
Paloma Faith recorded a great version of the old 1969 hit Make Your Own Kind of Music for a promotional video for Skoda last year.
Hackney-born Faith went back to her old stomping ground (Round Chapel, Clapton) to film the live performance part of the video which also features episodes from her life including the “she can’t sing” put down which, obviously, didn’t stop her chasing her goals and dreams.
Heavy promotion on TV helped the song to reach No 28 in the charts.
Faith also features in the current Skoda video, I Gotta Be Me, alongside four other acts – the Kingdom Choir, The Sherlocks, Lady Leshurr and Alexis Ffrench.
But it was the Own Kind of Music performance that evoked the memories. The song was a hit back in ’60s for a lady called Cass Elliott – Mama Cass from The Mamas and the Papas (California Dreaming, Monday Monday, I Saw Her Again Last Night, Dedicated to the One I Love, Dream a Little Dream of Me among others).
Elliott met an untimely death at the age of just 32 while staying in a Mayfair flat she had rented from fellow pop star Harry Nilsson.
At the time it was reported that she had choked on a ham sandwich. This was later disproved. She died of a heart attack brought on, it is thought, by years of yo-yo dieting weakening her heart. But the ham sandwich story still lingers on web sites. Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good urban myth.
What adds poignancy to the tale – and this is no myth – is that four years later almost to the day another pop icon, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who died in the same jinxed apartment, also aged 32. Moon had taken more than 30 tablets designed to help him cope with his alcohol addiction. He was meant to take three and a potentially fatal dose was thought to be six.
Nilsson was still the flat owner at the time of Moon’s death but, unsurprisingly, he decided to get shot of it and sold it to another member of The Who, Pete Townsend.
Nilsson, himself, died at the age of heart failure at his home in California aged 52 in 1994. He penned and performed several hit songs, among them Without You (a big hit many years later for Maria Carey) and Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me which gained prominence when it was used over the opening credits of the Oscar-winning movie Midnight Cowboy.
A bit of trivia for you. What was unusual about Midnight Cowboy’s Best Picture win? Answer: It was the only X-rated film to ever win the top movie prize. The adult, 16+ rating has since been dropped.
The film starred Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. It was the latter’s major movie break and he has made many appearances on our screens – cinema and TV – ever since.
The Voights are a pretty talented bunch. Of course, there’s daughter Anglina Jolie, but maybe not so many people are aware that Jon also has a talented singer-songwriter brother, Wesley, who writes under the name Chips Taylor.
Taylor wrote Wild Thing which was recorded by the British group The Troggs. It reached No 2 in the UK charts and was later ranked 257th in the Rolling Stone’s top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. He had another UK hit with Angel of the Morning sung by American female vocalist P P Arnold. Later, Arnold would also have a UK hit (reaching No 28 in 1967) with the Cat Stevens’ song, The First Cut is the Deepest. In 1977, Rod Stewart would top the UK charts with his version for four weeks.
Footnote: The flat where both Elliott and Moon died – Flat 12, 9 Curzon Place (later Curzon Square), Shepherd Market – no longer exists in its original form. A developer bought the building and decided to combine it with another apartment to form a luxury penthouse which sold for £1m+.