Top 10 David Essex Songs

David Essex Songs

Our Top 10 David Essex Songs list presents the best David Essex Songs like “Rock On,” “Gonna Make You a Star,” “Hold Me Close” and many more. Born David Albert Cook on July 23, 1947, the English actor, singer, and songwriter is better known by his fans as David Essex. This is the same man that earned international success as a recording artist that began winning over a flurry of fans in the 1970s. Long before becoming David Essex, the young man grew up in the East London area with the hope of becoming a professional soccer player one day. For a while, he was part of the West Ham United Juniors’ football team. What North Americans refer to as soccer is what the rest of the world refers to as football.

Becoming David Essex

In addition to his interest in playing his favorite sport, he also became a fan of music. He played drums for a local band before he chose to become a singer. When he was a teenager, he moved out before making his first record in 1965. Because of where he was born and where he resided, which was Essex, he adopted this as part of his professional name. It was as David Essex and the Mood Indigo he embarked on a two-year tour that saw seven additional singles released during this time.

Adding to Essex’s resume as an entertainer, he also took up acting in 1971. First, it was a small role in Assault as well as in All Coppers Are…” This led to a starring role in the stage musical, Godspell. After this, he starred in 1973’s That’ll Be the Day. It would be while part of this film he recorded his big international single, “Rock On.”

Essentially Essex

The 1970s saw David Essex at the height of his career. After “Rock On,” he released a few more hit singles, including UK’s chart-topping “Gonna Make You a Star” and “Hold Me Close.” These, combined with additional movie roles between 1974’s Stardust and the 1978 Jeff Wayne musical The War of the Worlds, kept the man at the top as a shining superstar.

It also didn’t hurt Essex to have a pop idol appearance that could woo the female fans like butter. This was a status that stuck with him for a decade, especially among the British fan base that was just as hysterical about him as they were about The Beatles. This came in handy in 1978 when Essex played the lead character in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita musical.

For Essex, his reign of success wasn’t simply limited to the 1970s. In 1981, he continued to act and sing for a variety of productions. This included the stage performance of Childe Byron in 1981, as well as the film production of Mutiny! in 1985. Then, starting in 1988, he starred in a British sitcom called The River.

David Essex Legacy

In 1999, David Essex was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He still continues to tour in the U.K. each year. As popular as he has become in his home nation, the North American audience isn’t quite as familiar with his work as a world-class actor, singer, and songwriter. As an independent recording artist, David Essex used to release his music through his own label, Lamplight. He has since changed the name to Joseph Webster Ltd. This is the name of his first grandchild.

As devoted as Essex has been as a performer, he hasn’t left behind his love of football (soccer), either. In the West Ham United Football Club’s museum, there is a model of David Essex, along with a recording that explains why he supports the team with the level of devotion he has.

David Essex is also a family man of five children. As of September 20, 2010, he’s been married to his third wife, Susan Hallam-Wright. Interestingly enough, she was born the same year his hit single, “Rock On” came out. The two first met in 2008 while she was at an audition for All the Fun of the Fair, a musical of his own creation he took on the road until 2009.

So far, Essex has a total of twenty-seven studio albums, nineteen compilation albums, and five live albums to his credit. While mainstream music in the United States may consider David Essex a one-hit wonder, he has been anything but that. His music has been featured in six different soundtracks, as well as eight cast recording albums.

Top 10 David Essex Songs

#10 – Yesterday

In 1976, David Essex covered The Beatles’ classic “Yesterday” for the musical documentary All This and World War II. Although the 1965 classic from Help! remains as an impossible Paul McCartney vocal performance to beat, Essex made a pretty decent performance with his version. It was perfect as a slow number to share the history of the second world war and what had since become of Britain since then. For music fans that also happen to be history buffs, this version of “Yesterday” is worth it.

#9 – Everlasting Love

David Essex’s cover of “Everlasting Love” in 1993 became a number three hit on the UK Singles Chart, which came from the album, Cover Shot. This incredible love song first became a hit for Robert Knight in 1967. It remains one of the most beloved love songs of all time. So many artists have covered this song which has turned it into chart-topping hits. For Essex, his performance of “Everlasting Love” was a synth-heavy gem that certainly did Knight’s original justice.

#8 – Silver Dream Machine

In 1980, David Essex starred in the motorcycle racing movie, Silver Dream Racer. Its soundtrack featured “Silver Dream Machine,” which became a number four hit on the UK Singles Chart, as well as a number three hit on the Irish Singles Chart. For Essex, this was a great experience as he was already a motorcyclist. As a reward for his participation in the film, he was given what was a brand new 1980 Triumph Bonneville. This electric start motorcycle was used as part of a contract to advertise on behalf of Triumph’s motorcycle workers’ cooperative. Where the movie itself failed to deliver, “Silver Dream Machine” made up for it as a commercial success.

#7 – Tahiti

In 1985, David Essex was part of the Mutiny! cast when “Tahiti” was recorded and released as a single. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number eight. On the Irish Singles Chart, it was a number five hit. In the Netherlands, it peaked as high as number forty-seven.

#6 – Stardust

Written in 1974 by David Essex, “Stardust” was a song that became a number seven hit on the UK Singles Chart after it was released as a single. This was the theme song behind That’ll Be the Day‘s sequel movie, Stardust, in which Essex starred in. In the movie, “Stardust” was not performed the same way as it was in the album. It was faster and grittier than what the album featured but also left out the heartbeat that was heard in the soundtrack. Both versions of this song have a fan following but it was the album’s version that earned greater recognition.

For Essex, playing the character of Jim Maclaine as a successful star who crashes due to adulation and excess was an experience of a lifetime to remember. This was a follow-up to That’ll Be the Day, which also had a title track of its own that became a big hit. According to Essex, the timing of “Stardust” and the movie, as well as “That’ll Be the Day” was really close to home. Like his character, Essex was at the height of his career as a star that had it all. He also knew it could fade to dust at a moment’s notice when bad life choices are made that lead to unfortunate circumstances.

#5 – Oh What a Circus

In 1976, Evita was a musical production that came from Andrew Lloyd Webber. “Oh What a Circus” was a song that came from that production that featured David Essex as the singer talented enough to release it as a single in 1978 via Mercury Records. The song was performed from the point of view of Che, the character Essex played in this original London production. According to Che, the title character of the movie, Eva Peron, was living her life as a fraudster. This was a song that shared itself with the infamous “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

On the UK Singles Chart, “Oh What a Circus” became a number three hit for Essex. Since then, it has been recorded many times over by an impressive roster of recording artists such as Antonio Banderas and Ricky Martin. For Essex, “Oh What a Circus” also peaked at number eight on the Irish Singles Chart. In the Netherlands, this became a number twenty hit. It peaked as high as number twenty-six in Belgium and was a number seventy-two hit in Australia.

#4 – A Winter’s Tale

In 1983, “A Winter’s Tale” was a song that came from the album, The Whisper. This gem of a tune peaked as high as number two on the UK Singles Chart, at number three on the Irish Singles Chart, and at number four in the Netherlands. It was also a number thirty-three hit in Australia. This was a song that was requested by Essex that was written by Mike Batt and Tim Rice near the end of 1982. According to the songwriters, Essex was looking for a Christmas hit. With not much time to work with, Batt looked to develop a musical that had Aztec influence in it. So, as he teamed with Rice, the two came up with “A Winter’s Tale,” which received mixed reviews from the critics but favorable ones from the fans.

#3 – Lamplight

1973’s “Lamplight” peaked at number seven on the UK Singles Chart after it was released as a single. On the Irish Singles Chart, it peaked at number twenty. In Australia, it was a number fifty-three hit. On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Lamplight” peaked as high as number seventy-one. This was a follow-up single after the immensely successful “Rock On.” Although it didn’t make the same impact among the fan base outside David Essex’s home turf, it’s still among the best songs coming from the man’s incredible talent.

#3 – Hold Me Close

After “Hold Me Close” was released as a single in 1975, it became a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart, as well as a number two hit on Australia’s Kent Music Report. This love song won over more than just a fan following who loved Essex’s music. Essex was earning a name for himself as an idol that would lodge arrows into the hearts of the ladies who also adored the man from head to toe.

#2 – Gonna Make You a Star

“Gonna Make You a Star” became the first song from David Essex to become a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart. It was released in 1974 as a synthesizer-heavy song that became a jukebox favorite among dance clubs. The popularity of this song peaked even higher after Lee Mead performed this in 2007, then again on BBC America in 2009. This led to Mead starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat as the lead character.

Written by Essex, “Gonna Make You a Star” has also become a favorite feature in his jukebox musical, All the Fun of the Fair.

#1 – Rock On

In 1973, “Rock On” became more than just a big hit for David Essex. This became a cult classic that’s been covered many times over by an impressive list of recording artists. On the US Cash Box chart and Canada’s Top Singles chart, “Rock On” peaked at number one. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number five hit and became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. It was a number three hit on the U.K. Singles Chart, as well as a number eight hit in Australia. In Ireland, it peaked as high as number fifteen.

There is a 1988 rerecorded version of this song that was later remixed by Shep Pettibone. That version became a number ninety-three hit on the same UK Singles Chart. As impressive as that recording was, Michael Damien’s 1989 version turned “Rock On” into a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as again on the US Cash Box and Canada Top Singles chart.

“Rock On” was more than just an immortalized song for the ages. This has also become a favorite catchphrase, both as everyday dialogue and in other songs recorded by other artists.

Feature Photo: Margaret Morley, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 David Essex Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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