The Sun, Scotland

28 April 2006

STRAWBERRY FOOLS FOREVER

Revealed..mad world of new romantic duo

by Russell Blackstock

Raunchy Rose McDowall burst into the charts with an explosion of big hair, skimpy polkadot dresses and multi- coloured bows. As one half of outrageous pop duo Strawberry Switchblade she had the world at her feet.

Their classic single Since Yesterday shot straight into the Top Five and they were on course to become the most successful female act from Scotland in years.

In the mid-80s, the duo's wacky image was copied by a generation of teenage girl wannabes. But the success soon dried up and they split after just one album.

And 22 years on, reclusive Rose isn't fazed a bit about being known as a one hit wonder. She still has the big hair AND the flamboyant clobber. But these days she's a 46-year-old GRANNY who is going through a second divorce.

She's also on the verge of a solo comeback while battling rare disorder bi polar syndrome, a type of manic depression. Last night she said: "Some people would get uncomfortable at being labeled a one-hit wonder - but it doesn't bother me a bit.

"I'm actually proud that Since Yesterday is still regarded as one of the best one-off hits of all time.

Revival

"I know of a few other musicians who have wasted the rest of their lives on bitterness and trying to get back into the charts. In fact, Jill Bryson, who was my partner in Strawberry Switchblade, took it really badly.

"She has hardly spoken to me since I left the band 20 years ago and thinks I ruined her life. But here I am a gran and still out there rocking. And I'm a lot happier than when I was a pop star."

Although she turned her back on mainstream music more than two decades ago, Rose has never given up performing.

In between, the Glasgow-born singer has raised three kids, suffered a couple of failed marriages and now dotes on her two young grandchildren, who live close to her countryside home in Oxfordshire.

Rose will play her first gig on home soil in many years when she hits Edinburgh tonight.

But she insists that despite being offered megabucks to reform Strawberry Switchblade for lucrative 80s revival tours, that day will never come. She explained: "When we first appeared it seemed like we were all about having great fun and being a bit controversial. There was nothing contrived about it all though - that's just the way Jill and I looked anyway.

"But behind the scenes the problems we had were horrendous. We kept it secret from the fans, but Jill actually suffers from agoraphobia and that played havoc with our tour plans. We would get to the airport on the way to gigs in Japan or somewhere and unfortunately she would take a severe panic attack.

"She just wouldn't be able to fly, so I'd have to go all that way myself to do press conferences and the like. We also had to turn down some great work in America because of it. Jill's condition meant we would have had to get there and back on the QE2, so the whole thing just wasn't feasible."

Now Rose is determined not to let her health problems hold her back from working.

She said: "My bi-polar condition suddenly hit me quite badly a few years back and has left me with severe mood swings. I'm also prone to terrible anxiety attacks. But I'm determined not to let it get me down.

"I'm pretty twitchy about playing in Edinburgh for the first time in 20 years. But I'm sure I'll get a decent welcome as I know a lot of fans still have fond memories of Strawberry Switchblade."

Rose McDowall and Friends appear at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar in Edinburgh tonight.

ONE HIT WONDER HALL OF FAME

Strawberry Switchblade's classic hit Since Yesterday is widely regarded as one of the most memorable one-hit wonders of all time. They joined the ranks of some of the best-loved one-off chart-busters.

Here we chart the best and the WORST of the rest down the years, as compiled by music biz experts...

THE BEST

1. Something In The Air - Thunderclap Newman (1969)
2. My Sharona -The Knack (1979)
3. Video Killed The Radio Star - Buggles (1979)
4. Ring My Bell - Anita Ward (1979)
5. Pop Muzik - M (1979)
6. Echo Beach - Martha and the Muffins (1980)
7. Turning Japanese - The Vapors (1980)
8. 99 Red Balloons - Nena (1984)
9. Since Yesterday - Strawberry Switchblade (1984)
10.Crash - The Primitives (1988)

THE WORST

1. Grandad - Clive Dunn (1970)
2. Matchstalk Men - Brian and Michael (1978)
3. Day Trip To Bangor - Fiddler's Dram (1979)
4. Mickey -Toni Basil (1982)
5. Down Under - Men At Work (1983)
6. Solid - Ashford and Simpson (1985)
7. My Toot Toot - Denise Lasalle (1985)
8. Achy Breaky Heart - Billy Ray Cyrus (1992)
9. Breakfast At Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something (1996)
10. Wassuup - Da Muttz (2000).