There aren’t many people in the music industry with a contacts book as impressive or jam-packed with stars as impressario David Gest’s.
So should come as no surprise that the soul tribute night he is currently touring the country with is nothing short of star-studded.
He has put together a bill including Temptations main man Dennis Edwards, Candi Staton, Percy Sledge and Shelia Ferguson.
But David, who brings his show to the St Helens Theatre Royal for a two-night stint tomorrow and Friday, is far from jaded by the presence of big names.
“I’m so excited about this show,” he told the St Helens Reporter. “We love doing St Helens because we went there last year and the audiences are so enthusiastic and they love soul.”
As well as bring an ardent lover of soul music, Californian David is a confirmed Anglophile. He’s lived in the UK for the past six years but recalls how his last visit to St Helens caused something of a stir among local shoppers.
He says: “I was in St Helens recently because I had to go over to the theatre and I went into the shopping mall and there people in a queue in a coffee shop and they had these lovely little cakes and I was like ‘I’m going off my diet’.
“I went in for a coffee and the people were just stopping and talking to me, and they were saying ‘We can’t believe you’re here’. I said why and they said ‘We don’t get that many celebrities in this mall. I said, ‘well, I’m here so let’s all come in and have tea and cakes.
“We’ll be there for two nights and it will be our second time playing St Helens. We had a great time last time. Chantelle is such a great host and she runs such a beautiful family theatre.
“You know, I think that theatre is one of the best kept secrets in the UK. St Helens should be very proud of that theatre, it’s got a great history and the audience really get into the music. They stand up, they sing, they dance and I tell stories during the show about my life. And I try to make them laugh and have a good time.”
David’s love of soul began as a young lad and developed when he landed a job managing music legend Al Green. After many years as a behind the scenes guru, he was thrust firmly in the limelight by his brief and tempestuous marriage to Liza Minnelli. He then went on to win legions of new admirers after appearing on I’m A Celebrity.
But it is soul music that has always been his first love.
“I think people love it because it’s so upbeat and people feel it and really get excited,” he enthuses.
With the gusto of a natural salesman and with a zeal for the forthcoming shows, he waxes lyrical about his current line-up.
“This show is 10 legendary artists,” he says. “You’re getting the lead singer of the Temptations, the real thing. He’s the voice on Pappa Was a Rolling Stone. And you’re getting Shelia Ferguson, who was the voice and the lead singer of the Three Degrees. You’re getting Candi Staton, who’s had tonnes of chart hits, including You Got the Love. And it goes on and on.
“It’s a great show because you get 10 legends all in one night, and it’s a very hip band. It’s not an old people’s band, with British and American members.
“I grew up listening to soul music. It has always been a huge part of my life and it always will be.”
g David Gest’s Legends of Soul is at the St Helens Theatre Royal on Thursday and Friday night. For tickets, starting at £26, call the box office on 01744 756000.