Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart on his start in music, meeting Annie Lennox and supporting Elton John

Virgin Radio

11 Aug 2022, 15:17

Dave Stewart performing

Credit: Getty

This Sunday’s Virgin Radio Classic Artist special will focus on legendary producer and one half of iconic pop duo Eurythmics, Dave Stewart.

On Sunday (14th August), Eddy Temple-Morris will sit down with Dave to chat about all things Eurythmics, The Tourists, his solo work and producing some of the world's greatest musicians, including Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks.

The talented songwriter rose from humble beginnings in Sunderland, and kicked off his introduction to music with his neighbour, who happened to be a former Japanese prisoner of war.

Dave explained: “Once I had the guitar in my hand, I was getting very frustrated because I was like, I want to learn how to play this.

“I was just playing on a couple of strings. And then I realised the next door neighbour, Len Gibson,  bought one, he learned the guitar.”

In a truly extraordinary turn of events, Dave’s next door neighbour turned out to be a prisoner of war who fought in World War 2, and that was where he honed his craft.

“He built this guitar out of bits of floorboard and wire and played it to try and cheer up his mates,” Dave continued. 

“He would show me some stuff, but of course, he had tuned it differently to a guitar. Because he knew a little bit about how to play a banjo, but he also had to learn Japanese songs so that he wouldn't get it taken off him. So it was a very real introduction.

“At least he got my guitar tuned, but it wasn't the right tuning, but by then I could actually make up my own chords on that tuning. It wasn't till about a year later when my brother had a friend who played the guitar and he came round and picked it up and said, ‘oh, this is all tuned wrong.’”

It was in school where things started to pick up for Dave, and where he met future bandmate Brian Harrison. 

The pair started to play music together outside of school, and soon formed a duo called Stuart and Harrison. The folk band did end up putting a record together, but when joined by Steve Sproxton and Kai Olsson, they soon became a fully fledged band, called Longdancer. 

Another tape was made, and before they knew it, their tracks made their way to the newly formed Rocket Records, Elton John’s own record company. Despite not reaching massive commercial success, the foursome were still asked to support Elton on the road.

Despite the support and backing of the Rocketman singer, the Longdancer ended up going their separate ways, describing the invite to Elton’s tour as “way too much too soon.”

With the band fracturing under the weight of different expectations, Dave decided to leave Longdancer for a more electric sound, but also to explore all that music had to offer. 

He added: “I wanted to sort of get inside of music, and not just learn one thing. I wanted to understand all of the different worlds.”

After taking his deep dive into the world of music, Dave needed some cash, and decided to open up a music stall in London’s famous Camden market. It was that decision that led him to meeting the one-and-only, Annie Lennox. 

Dave elaborated: “I opened up a stall in Camden Market. All I did was, I had vinyl Jamaican records, and I would just blast them. And that's what I was buying and selling, second hand vinyl Jamaican records, because I was at that point, really into reggae music and ska music. 

“I met this guy, and he opened another store and he was selling records. And he was the guy that introduced me to Annie.”

After teaming up with fellow Sunderland musician Peter Coombes, Dave and Annie started releasing music under The Catch, before developing into The Tourists. 

Their eventual break-up led to what we now know as the Eurythmics, and became one of the most successful pop acts of the 1980s, selling 75 million records worldwide. 

To find out more about Dave's incredible rise to fame, tune in to Virgin Radio’s Classic Artist: Dave Stewart special on Sunday (14th August) at 7pm.