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Dave's taking chances with superstar Celine!

Former Eurythmics star Dave Stewart co-wrote the record, Taking Chances.

Dave Stewart has come a long way since his days of being bullied because of his passion for folk music and the songs of Bob Dylan.

Jumping on trains to unknown destinations was teenage Dave's way of escaping his unhappiness – using the journeys to dream of a better future.

Today, he doesn't have to dream. After the success of the Eurythmics in the 1980s, he has turned his hand to everything from acting to producing.

And his latest work – co-writing singing superstar Celine Dion's new album Taking Chances – is now winning rave reviews around the world.

"Celine heard a song from an, as yet, unreleased album of mine and flipped out over it," said Dave, who now lives in Los Angeles.

The song, Taking Chances, was originally written for Dave's latest duo, Platinum Weird, which he formed with Kara DioGuardi in 2004.

However, Canadian-born Celine, who scored a worldwide Number One hit with the theme tune to Titanic, was determined to make it her own.

"She and her husband, Renee, said that this was the song to launch her album and world tour as soon as they heard it!" said Dave.

The album, released just last week, is riding high in both the American and British charts – as is the single of Taking Chances.

Also attracting hits by the thousand on the Internet is the song's video, which features an appearance by Dave – in his trademark sunglasses.

"I was driving to my studio about a month or so ago and my phone rang and it was Renee saying Celine wanted to talk to me," he said.

"She asked me if I would be in her video and I said yes. I play a kind of enigmatic 'boss'character from a James Bond movie.

"We shot it in the desert and it was 100 degrees with no shade. I was wearing a black suit, so was rather hot under the collar, as they say."

Celine is not, however, the only major star Dave has been working with this year – Ringo Starr from The Beatles is another big name.

Dave is co-producing Ringo's new studio album, Liverpool 8, which is due out next June – and has also written a song for him, too.

"Ringo approached me to work on his album after he appeared in my Platinum Weird documentary," said Dave.

"The first thing I did was write the first single, called Liverpool.

It's basically the story of his lifecondensed into three minutes.

"It follows him from being a kid in Liverpool, to working at Butlins and playing with the Beatles at the height of their fame.

"I wanted it to be full of nostalgia, so in the production I used a real orchestra and a brass band."

Dave – who plays 1960s Rickenbacker guitars on the single – will perform the song live with Ringo in Liverpool in January, supported by Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Ringo and I are also writing a musical together and we are having a lot of fun doing it. We worked on it in France during the summer, and start again this month after we shoot the video for Liverpool," he said.

Despite all his work for other stars, Dave has still found the time to record another album of his own this year, which will be finished at the end of this month, as well as present his own US TV interview show.

Off the Record, produced for the HBO channel, has so far featured stars such as U2's Bono and The Edge, as well as Ringo and Stevie Nicks.

"With each artist, I get to go through their whole creative process, which is very interesting for me!" he said.

Not a bad life, then, for a boy who was once told that working at Pyrex was the only option open to him after leaving Bede School.

Family album and fond memories of Sunderland

Dave Stewart grew up in Barnard Street – one of the ABC streets of High Barnes – before moving to nearby Ettrick Grove at the age of 10.

"I used to play football in Barnard Street. My dad took some footage of me once with his old cine camera – it's a sweet piece of film," he said.

"It was a cobbled street then, just like Coronation Street, and very safe. There were hardly any cars – literally a car like every hour went past."

Some of Dave's earliest childhood memories revolve around a nearby sweetshop, run by his grandmother in Ettrick Grove.

"My mum worked there and I would sit under the counter. I'd try and look over it at all these old men buying like a quarter-penny's worth of snuff in a triangular-shaped paper," he recalls.

Dave attended Barnes Infants and Junior School before winning a place at Bede, where he developed a passionate interest in music.

But his love of folk songs, as well as the work of singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, soon led to him feeling isolated and rather picked on.

"I remember I used to spend a lot of time on my own when we moved to Ettrick Grove. Even though my dad was struggling to have got that house, we were considered poshies, even though we weren't," said Dave.

"We got tarred with that brush and I had to sort of dodge my way about, through Barnes Park or wherever, sort of trying to lay low.

"That was probably the beginning of my formative period of being on my own and thinking it would be quite good to get out of this situation, but not quite understanding how I would."

As Dave's sense of isolation grew, so he saved up his pocket money each week to spend on train tickets at Sunderland station.

"I suppose it was a mixture of excitement about seeing somewhere else, but also that I was starting to feel a bit odd, different," he recalls.

"I was starting to become not like some of the other kids, so I would get a little bit bullied.

"Going on a train journey was a way of getting away for the day. At first, it was just small places like Durham, then cities like York. Trains were also where I wrote my first songs."

Dave started playing in folk clubs and pubs, including Sunderland's Dun Cow, in about 1968, when he was 16.

But he realised "pretty quickly" that, to achieve any sort of musical success, he would eventually have to leave his home town.

"I remember telling a careers officer that I wanted to write songs, but he just said: 'Get that out your head, there's a job at Pyrex for you.'"

Young Dave, however, decided to spurn Pyrex in favour of a move down to London, where he met a singer named Annie Lennox.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 
 
 

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