Sandie Shaw

The Dagenham diva, in her own words and by her own hand.

Sandie Shaw Self Portrait

I’d describe myself as… consistently inconsistent, that’s what my driving instructor from many years ago said, and it about sums me up. I had loads of driving lessons and his biggest aim in life was to make me pass my test, which I did first time and I did it bare foot.

Music changed me… It’s enabled me to channel my emotions in a more imaginative way, and to become skilled at expressing them. I wanted to get out of Dagenham, I wanted a different kind of life to that. I was supposed to go to art college but music was everything to me. I loved Bobby Vee, the Brill Building stuff, the girl groups, and I started to sing. I loved The Beatles, the Stones, The Kinks, but I was always thinking, Why is it always boys in bands? I went into music with that in mind.

When I’m not making music… I run the Arts Clinic, which is a psychiatric consultancy service for all the creative industries, which ranges from mentoring when you just need a bit of creative oomfph, to helping look after someone who is seriously ill. I’m also the co-chair along with Nick Mason and Ed O’Brien of the Featured Artists Coalition, and we are advocates for artists’ rights.

Sandie Shaw's debut (Pye, 1965)
Sandie Shaw’s debut (Pye, 1965)

My biggest vice… I always say what I think, and sometimes I should exercise caution. But I see things that are so obvious, like the king has got no clothes on. I’ve learned people aren’t always ready to hear the obvious, so I try to shut my mouth up and be a bit grown up.

The last time I cried… I cried a couple of weeks ago. I’m really soppy. It was to some music, I’m not divulging what, but it’s not just what music, but the circumstances I heard it in, and the memories associated with it, and the context.

The last time I was embarrassed… Embarrassment comes from being self-conscious, and I’m very self-conscious, so I’m continuingly embarrassing myself. But I’m good at covering it up and I’m so over it, I don’t care.

LP, CD or MP3… LP every time, because it is so versatile, it looks good, it sounds good, it tastes good…

My most treasured possession is… my Buddhist object of worship is the only possession I’d grab out of a fire. I’ve been a Buddhist for 36 years.

The best book I’ve ever read… is probably the biography of Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It made me understand how all our different troubles had started from there, and it makes you think, Why do people say how bad it is now? Because it was really terrible then.

“I was always thinking, why is it always boys in bands? I went into music with that in mind.” SANDIE SHAW

My formal qualifications are… a Professor of Music at the Royal Academy of Music, a trained psychotherapist and accredited counsellor. I’ve also got a three-octave range, and have really, really long legs.

Is the glass half empty or half full… I’m really only interested in the date on the bottle.

My biggest regret is… I’m not very good at regrets. I don’t do guilt either.

What happens when we die… How long have you got? In brief, every cell in my body is dying all the time, so what do you mean by dying? But as a Buddhist, I think of our lives as part of the ocean, and we are a wave that comes up and manifests out of the ocean, and when we die we just go back into the ocean and we are no longer that wave but part of the ocean again.

I would like to be remembered… I don’t give a shit. Say what you have to say about me now, it does no good after I’ve died as I can’t hear you then. I want people to remember me now!

As told to Lois Wilson

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