The (Failed) ‘British Elvis’. Terry Deane: ‘This Is The Night’
“Dene was born in London, and was discovered by Paul Lincoln at the 2i’s Coffee Bar (the London club that helped launch Tommy Steele, Adam Faith and Cliff Richard) in Soho in the late 1950s. At the time he was regarded as the British Elvis and recognised as one of the best voices of the rock and roll era of pre-Beatles Britain. His first single ”A White Sport Coat” in the first seven weeks sold in excess of 300,000 copies.
Dene was branded as a ‘bad apple’ and the exemplifier of the ‘evil of rock and roll’ by the press after being arrested for public drunkenness and breaking a shop window in 1958, and ripping out a telephone box from the wall whilst claiming his passionate love for Edna Savage. After Dene was conscripted in 1958 into the Army for National service. where he was originally expected to report to Winchester Barracks, he was due to join the King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 7 July 1958, but his call-up was initially deferred until contractual commitments had been completed. When he finally did go in, it was so badly handled by the press (who filmed and publicised his arrival at the barracks) that after two months Dene had to be discharged on medical grounds as he received threats from his fellow conscripts.
Disheartened by the bad publicity in 1964 Dene turned his back on the British pop scene and became an Evangelist crossing over to singing and writing spiritual and gospel music, recording three gospel albums. He travelled abroad as an itinerant preacher playing in churches, prisons and other venues and preached in the Scandinavian Lutheran Church for five years in Sweden.”