Vicki Wickham started her music business tenure in the 60's as a
fresh-faced producer onReady Steady Go!one of the UK's first
rock/pop music TV programmes, and has gone on to become a producer
and talent manager for acts such as Dusty Springfield, Morrissey
and girl group Labelle. She co-wrote Dusty's only British #1
hit 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me', championed black music
whilst Civil Rights protests were raging, and has contributed to
both music and television, behind the scenes, for decades. Wickham
is currently at work preparing for a one-off stage resurrection of
Ready Steady Go! with good friend Ray Davies's Meltdown
festival at Southbank.
How's the show shaping up?
You can't really do a television show on stage, so what we're
doing is a stage show with lots of TV references. It's
What's a typical working week like for you?
I produce a lot of shows with Sue Clarke for BBC Radio 2. We do
a lot of music based radio based programmes. We did one recently on
Nina Simone; her daughter Lisa introduced it. That keeps me busy.
I'm still doing a lot of production, from TV to videos to show.
We're doing a book based on Ready, Steady, Go!, and I'm involved in
a Dusty Springfield musical which ran in Australia and did really
well. We're hoping to have it running by spring 2012.
How did you end up going from producing TV shows to
By default! AfterReady Steady Go! finished I worked for
Track Records in NYC. We signed Patti LaBelle and The Bluebells,
and I transformed them into Labelle, who were space age divas and
very feminist. I managed them, which was certainly a learning
experience. (In the late 1980s) I talked Dusty, who I'd known since
the 60's, into doing a record with the Pet Shop Boys. She was
nervous about it so I went with her and about six months after that
I said "I think I'm managing you", and she said "Yes, I think you
Have you always been happy in your behind-the-scenes
role, or was there ever a time where you wanted to try out the
Never! I can't sing a note and I can't dance. I love being
behind the scenes. The only downside is that I have very few photos
What kind of music do you listen to
I very seldom go back to the old music but I do miss the soul.
Beyonce is wonderful, but even at her best, its not soulful - it's
just really good. I'd rather have Mavis Staples, or Nona (Hendryx).
There's such a difference between the old school performers and the
Ready Steady Go! was trailblazing TV in the sense
that you profiled black artists equally alongside white ones,
something you got a lot of stick for at times. How did you cope
We ignored it, and just got on with it. Its like any type of
prejudice - people come round. I suppose you have to take an
actor's stance, because if you start believing your reviews you'd
never go on stage.
It seems frustrating to think about how much Dusty's
sexuality threatened her place in the music world and how this is
still an issue 30 years on.
I can't believe people are still so hung up on it, its crazy,
But at the same time, I don't know if I would advise any one to
come out unless they wanted to play to a very specific audience. I
think K.D Lang has that problem. You can't beat KD. What songs!
What performances! But I think being out can limit the way you are
You've been with Labelle member/soul singer Nona Hendryx
for almost 40 years now. That kind of commitment is very
I cannot believe it! I'm really lucky. It's brilliant.
What are the key things to making a long-term
You have to let people have their freedom and not stifle them.
I'm lucky because Nona is always busy, always working on something
new. She has a career and I do too. It means when we have dinner
together we have lots to talk about. You go through lots of changes
and you go through them with the other person. Sometimes it's hard,
but change is good. We change together.
MORE MELTDOWN INFO
Ready Steady Go!
Royal Festival Hall / Saturday 11 June
A re-creation of 1960s British TV pop show Ready Steady Go!, the
pioneering music programme that featured legendary performances
from The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding
and Dusty Springfield, as well as many appearances by The
This Meltdown edition features original stars from the era
alongside contemporary artists specially chosen by Ready Steady
Go!'s original editor, legendary TV producer and Dusty's manager,
Vicki Wickham. Special guests include The Animals' Eric Burdon,
Paloma Faith, Nona Hendryx of Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles
& Labelle, The Manfreds, Sandie Shaw, The Ronettes' lead singer
Ronnie Spector and more to be announced soon.
Produced by Southbank Centre and Vicki Wickham and set design by