About this Archive
Hazell Dean’s musical career began while she was still at school: her first band was called The Vandals and she played rhythm guitar. She was also an accomplished drummer and keyboard player, and was soon being noticed for her great voice. She left Essex to take up her first professional residency with a dance band in Stoke-on-Trent, appearing with some of the best-known dance bands of the 1970s including The Andy Ross Band, with whom she performed regularly at London’s Lyceum Theatre.
Her manager Victor Billings had also worked with Dusty Springfield and Kiki Dee – he recognised Hazell’s star quality when he saw her perform at the Royal Albert Hall in 1976 in her ‘Song For Europe’ bid to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Hazell supported the New Seekers on a UK tour, taking to the stage for the first time as a solo artist. By this time, she had started to write and record, and it was whilst signed to DECCA Records that she had her first success on the Northern Soul scene and was spotted by Ian Anthony Stevens, writer of Hi-NRG anthem ‘Searchin’ (I gotta find a man)’. The single stormed the club charts across Europe, America and (eventually) the UK, becoming a gay club mega anthem along the way. After making her debut at Heaven in 1984, Hazell’s career-long love affair with the LGBTQ+ club scene and community began in earnest.
The success of ‘Searchin’ led Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman to pen the follow-up ‘Whatever I Do’, which became SAW’s first top 5 hit. More followed and Hazell continued performing at clubs throughout the world and quickly becoming a favourite on the evolving Pride circuit. Between 1984 and her final Pride appearance in September 2021 Hazell performed to millions of rainbow flag-waving revellers in the UK and around the world.
Screenwriter Russell T Davies (It’s a Sin) paid this tribute in acknowledgement of Hazell’s stalwart support for those affected by the HIV virus, particularly in the 1980s when fear and prejudice were at their worst: I wanted those women in there – the Kelly Maries and the Hazell Deans – because when the AIDS crisis came along, they kept coming to the gay clubs. They would turn up and perform at 2 a.m. and that was their life for decades. They never abandoned their gay fan base, they never turned away. They hugged people when you were being told not to. Those women are soldiers.
Although she retired from live performance in September 2021, leaving the festival stage with the audience chanting her name, the Queen of Hi-NRG continues to record and release music at a leisurely pace, loving the connection she has with her global fan base. Her continued dedication to LGBTQ+ rights is without question, and as recently as 2020 she was included in the ‘Pride Power List’ – the definitive guide to those working for LGBTQI equality and inclusion. She is proud to be Patron of Pride in Surrey, where she remains a very visible advocate and vocal ally to the Trans community.
It is with great pleasure that Hazell has entrusted her own memorabilia collection into the loving care of Bishopsgate Institute, because history and representation matter.
Scope and Content
Archive of singer and musician Hazell Dean, including publicity materials for music releases, events and gigs, photographs, posters, postcards, administrative documents, press cuttings from various magazines and newspapers, and t-shirts, 1976-2020.