Hundreds flock to say they loved her

Mary Braid
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:59

NEIL TENNANT, of the Pet Shop Boys, reached into another era yesterday for the adjective which summed up precisely what made Dusty Springfield special. "Dusty was special," he said, "because Dusty was fab". Laughter rippled through St Mary's Church in Henley-on- Thames at the funeral of the finest female soul singer Britain ever produced who, with her beehive hair and panda eyes, personified "fabness".

The Pet Shop Boys are credited with resurrecting Dusty's career by recording with her in the late 1980s, years after she had dropped out of the charts, and the nation's consciousness. But yesterday Mr Tennant, in a moving and very funny tribute, made clear that the privilege had been all theirs.

When they decided to ask Dusty to record with them, the duo was warned that the singer who had battled against drugs and booze was "difficult".

There were gloomy predictions that she might not even turn up at the recording studio. But when the day came, there was Dusty, all in black leather, a very punctual, "mid-Eighties diva".

The icon, he said, had turned out to be shy, "sweet and kind and a bit nutty". But, Mr Tennant said, when Dusty sang he knew he was "in the presence of greatness".

The funeral was an oddly intimate, of-the-people sort of affair. A crowd of 500 people gathered outside to listen to the funeral service relayed on speakers murmured agreement when Mr Tennant said Dusty would have been moved to know what she had meant to people.

Dusty, who loved studio technology, would have approved of the state of the art PA system which belted out her hits across Henley's ancient town centre.

Apart from the Pet Shop Boys and Elvis Costello, the celebrities in attendance were mainly from the era when Dusty was a regular fixture at the top of the charts: Lulu in dark sunglasses, Madeline Bell of Blue Mink, Kiki Dee.

The coffin had arrived to the strains of "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" in a glass covered horse-drawn carriage upon which the singer's name was carved out in flowers.

Trudy Mitchell, 42, from south-east London wept uncontrollably as the service drew to a close. She said she had been a fan of Dusty's since she was five years old.

A neighbour, Gib Hancock, who became Dusty's friend in Henley while she fought the cancer that ended her life, said: "She was without doubt one of the bravest people that I knew."

When the coffin emerged from the church, en route to the crematorium, the crowd broke into applause as another Springfield song played.

Among the family bouquets, to Mary O'Brien - Dusty's real name - was one from Sir Paul McCartney. He was, said the card, glad to have had the chance a few weeks earlier to tell Dusty "what a classic" she was.

Elvis Costello told the congregation how Dusty used to sing in "a voice so unique and precious". He passed on a tribute from American producer Burt Bacharach who said: "You could hear just three notes and you knew it was Dusty."

t Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were among mourners to pay their final respects to film director Stanley Kubrick yesterday.

The husband and wife actors, who played the lead roles in Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, were driven into his Hertfordshire estate close behind director Steven Spielberg.

In keeping with the director's secretive lifestyle, there were no details of any funeral service. It was understood Kubrick will be buried in the grounds of the estate, Childwickbury Manor near St Albans.

His death at the age of 70 came less than a week after Eyes Wide Shut was completed.

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