Pet Shop Boys’ discovery Dave Cicero is set to get back behind the keyboards in Livingston next month
HE was discovered by Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe and for a period in the Nineties no one was cooler than Cicero.
His face adorned the covers of magazines the world over and no music show was complete without a guest appearance by the 21-year-old raised in Gorgie.
Now 48, the father of one may have filled out a bit, but is still instantly recognisable as the singer who became the King of the Scottish dance scene with hits like Love Is Everywhere.
Next month, at the Howden Park Centre, Livingston, Dave Cicero will give his first live performance in 28 years.
It’s a fund-raising gig for Macmillan Cancer Support and when we meet in Edinburgh he reveals his long-awaited return to the stage is going to be an emotional one.
“It had always been on my mind to do another live gig,” he explains.
“I started putting this one together a couple of years ago as a thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years.
“While organising it, we got the devastating news my mum had cancer.
“I was going to cancel but my mum said ‘After all that planning, you are not calling it off, you’ll do it for me’.
“That was all I had to hear. I thought, ‘Why am I doing this just for me? I should be doing this for a reason.’ So I contacted Macmillan who have been so good with mum.”
After a break of nearly three decades it’s a nerve-wracking prospect nonetheless, he concedes.
“I’m crapping myself,” he laughs, “but am excited too. The last live gig I did was supporting the Pet Shop Boys at London’s Heaven nightclub in 1991.
“It was such a fantastic feeling going on before them.”
It’s fitting that appearance should have been his last live outing, as without the Pet Shop Boys Cicero may well have remained undiscovered.
It was on Monday 17 July, 1989, when Tennant and Lowe played the SECC, that Dave’s life changed.
He recalls, “Everywhere I went I carried a demo, back then it was a cassette tape.
“We’d been playing it in the car on the way to the gig and when we got there, my pal Alastair bumped into Peter Andreas, the Pet Shop Boys’ personal assistant at the time.
“He told him, ‘We love the Pet Shop Boys. Our music is similar, would they like to hear it?’”
Andreas invited Cicero and his party backstage after the gig to meet The Boys.
“I thought it was a wind up. When Alastair told me, I didn’t believe him and it was so surreal... Steve Strange from Visage and some of the guys from Depeche Mode were there.”
Cicero remembers handing over his demo: “They said ‘Yeah, we’ll get around to listening to it’ and I thought, ‘I’ll never hear from them again’, but several week’s later Peter called to say, ‘Neil and Chris have listened to your demo and want to work on an album with you’.
“I just thought ‘Wow!’”
Cicero became the first signing to the Pet Shop Boys’ record label Spaghetti Records at the age of 20.
Born in Greenport, Long Island, in the United States, the singer moved to Edinburgh with his mum when he was just three after his parents divorced.
He discovered his love of music while attending Craiglockhart Primary and Tynecastle High.
“I went to visit my dad in the States and worked over there cutting grass and stuff.
“When I came back I’d saved enough money to buy my first keyboard.
“I remember playing it in my bedroom and mum shouting through, ‘What’s that song you’re playing?’
“It was just basic chords but she loved it and that inspired me to start writing my own music.”
Playing Van Halen’s Jump with school band Pneumatic Beat at Tynecastle’s Battle of the Bands - they came third - also encouraged him to pursue a music career.
However, it was shortly after moving to Livingston at 17 that Dave became an overnight heart-throb for a generation after his second single, Love Is Everywhere, hit the Top 20 with a video filmed around the West Lothian town.
He recalls, “The night before, I went to my local nightclub and asked friends if they wanted to be in a video I was making with the Pet Shop Boys, they didn’t believe me and only a few turned up for the shoot the next morning.”
Although he loved the attention fame brought, Cicero insists, “It’s a great buzz but my friends always treated me as ‘just Dave’ so I never saw myself as some sort of big shot.”
It wasn’t always as glamorous either, he adds.
“We filmed the video for Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me on Blackpool beach in November.
“Chris Lowe, who was directing, wanted to make it a summer’s evening.
“I was dancing on a beach at night with next to nothing on, in the freezing cold, doing about a million takes.
“It was a nightmare.”
Laughing, he admits, “I cringe when I look back on those videos. It seems like a dream and I think, ‘Did I really do that?’ but it wasn’t really me... Cicero was a bit more hyper, and a lot wilder, than Dave.”
When the fame “calmed down” Cicero branched out, producing ambient music as The Event and scoring independent films.
It was the Oscar-winning movie The Crying Game, which featured his fifth single Live For Today, that sparked his interest in film scores.
He recalls, “I’d been writing a couple of tracks when we were doing my Future Boy album when Neil and Chris said, ‘Why don’t we put those two tracks together and see how they sound?’ I wasn’t convinced but that’s how we created Live For Today.”
That’s one of the tracks he’ll be playing next month with his new band featuring local Livingston talent Amy Maeve Ballie, George Wood, Trav Panesar and Ruben Nicol.
“The set sounds so good, all the hits will be there as well as a couple of surprises and possibly a Pet Shop Boys song,” he says, continuing, “You know, I’m proud of what I did, and although it didn’t quite work out, I wouldn’t change a thing... except the costumes. I’d definitely change the costumes...”
Laughing, he adds, “...and maybe the haircuts.”
Cicero, Howden Park Centre, 22 June, 7.30pm, £17, www.howdenparkcentre.co.uk/article/36806/Cicero
THE music of future boy CICERO
1991: Debut single Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me
1992: January - Love Is Everywhere, reaches No 19 in the charts
1992: April - That Loving Feeling is released
1992: Debut album Future Boy released
1992: Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me is remixed and re-released with video directed by Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe
1992: November -Fifth single, Live For Today, from the soundtrack of The Crying Game, is released, featuring Sylvia Mason-James
1996: Cicero signs to Clubscene Records and supports Take That
2019: Cicero is back with a live gig in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support