'Scotland's first pop star', Leith-born Jackie Dennis dies aged 77

Leith-born performer Jackie Dennis, widely credited as Scotland’s first pop star, has died at the age of 77.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 10:48 pm
Updated Monday, 28th September 2020, 11:23 pm
Jackie Dennis became a teenage singing sensation in 1958.
Jackie Dennis became a teenage singing sensation in 1958.

Jackie was discovered at the tender age of 15 and very briefly took the world by storm with his unique brand of tartan-infused pop.

His big break occurred in 1958, after impressing comic duo Mike and Bernie Winters with his vocal talents during a performance at Prestwick military base.

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He enjoyed success with debut record La Dee Dah, which peaked at number 4 in the UK hit parade, making Jackie bigger than Elvis for a week as the Scot’s single nudged ahead of Jailhouse Rock.

Jackie Dennis has died at the age of 77.

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Interview: Jackie Dennis, Scotland's first pop star

Within a matter of weeks of signing his record contract with Decca, Jackie was performing all over Britain and was quickly added to the cast of music show the 6-5 Special, alongside the likes of Petula Clark and Lonnie Donegan.

The youngster, who was pulling in around £1,000 a week, made history on the Perry Como show in New York, becoming the first British artist to appear on American television.

Forever proud of his Scots heritage, Jackie almost always wore a kilt or tartan trews on stage, earning him the moniker, ‘the kilt with the lilt’.

Among his numerous musical achievements was a four-week residence at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, where he became well-acquainted with Sammy Davis Jnr and met Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Following a decade or so of touring and performing on stage, Jackie retired from showbiz completely in the late 1970s and spent his later years settling down and working as a carer in Edinburgh.

Despite his pop achievements, Jackie would later describe his time working in care homes as the happiest of his life.

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