Lucy O'Brien, author of the new Dusty Springfield biography, Dusty,

documents the courageous anti-apartheid stand taken by Britain's premier

female soul voice in the sixties.

''BRITAIN is a state of long-haired, third-rate entertainers with

Dusty Springfield as Queen of the Mods.''

So wrote one irate Capetown resident after blonde bouffant sixties

star Dusty Springfield was deported from South Africa in 1964 for

refusing to play to segregated audiences. Her action then was seen as

cranky and dangerously subversive. Pop entertainers in the sixties

weren't meant to have a public conscience, and it is only comparatively

recently that anti-apartheid pop protest has gained credibility.

South Africa has been one of pop's biggest political debates of the

eighties, with the spectacular Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute last

year at Wembley. Beamed by satellite to more than 63countries, the

11-hour marathon featured stars including Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder

and Dire Straits, with Simple Minds' Jim Kerr acting as an ambassador

and prime mover behind the concert in Britain.

With a clear anti-apartheid message calling for the release of Nelson

Mandela, the show sent its proceeds to British anti-apartheid and

various South African aid groups. To Jerry Dammers, leader of the

British musicians pressure group Artists Against Apartheid, this show

was a key victory in a decade of vigorous pop campaigning.

South Africa, however, was not hip and high up on pop's agenda

throughout the sixties and seventies, and little has been recorded about

mainstream pop performers who took an isolated stand, often to the

detriment of their careers. Apart from Biko by Peter Gabriel and Gil

Scott-Heron's Johannesburg, there were few songs directly condemning

apartheid, and artists played Sun City with impunity.

This changed in December, 1980, when the UN passed its Resolution

35/206 supporting an official cultural boycott. When fierce controversy

broke out six years later over Paul Simon's naive decision to record his

Graceland LP in South Africa, his concerts were picketed and consensus

went against artists breaking the boycott. There has not always been

such widespread support. The history of the boycott ironically has its

beginnings in the action of an insecure white convent girl from


Dusty Springfield was the first British artist to include a ''no

apartheid'' clause in a South African contract. Until then performers

had regularly appeared before segregated audiences, with the Musicians

Union a solitary voice in opposition. Long before any other trade union

had taken a similar action, the MU organised a strike in 1957 at

Wolverhampton's Scala Ballroom against a colour bar imposed by the

management. The strike found its way into union history with a legal row

as to whether musicians could take such collective action.

In 1964 the idea of a Western cultural boycott was in its infancy, and

Dusty became a test case for this policy. Her decision to include a

''black'' clause in her contract stemmed from her love and respect of

black music, and friendships with prominent US singers like Martha

Reeves, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder, all of whom deplored the

worsening situation in South Africa.

Before her visit, Dusty spoke publicly about her decision to play only

to non-segregated audiences: ''It's my little bit to help the coloured

people there. I think I'm the first British artist to do this. If they

force me into anything, I'll be on the first plane home.'' It was the

last line that was to cause her so much trouble.

''The guy promoting the tour, Dennis Wainer, was a Jewish lawyer who

ran legal aid for coloured people, so the South African Government

weren't terribly enamoured with him,'' recalls Dusty's sixties manager

Vic Billings. ''Also it emerged afterwards that in 1965 they were going

to strengthen the Bantu laws. We were on a sticky wicket before we went.

We didn't know what was going on, apart from the fact we were caught up

in the middle of it.''

Dusty's first two shows in Johannesburg were a non-segregated success,

but by the time she arrived in Capetown, ministry officials caught up

with her and served her a deportation order for ''blatantly flouting

apartheid laws.'' Her pre-tour statements had been interpreted by the

authorities as ''a red rag to the Government.'' On December 17, 1964,

after three miserable days holed up by the police in a hotel with her

band and manager, Dusty was deported.

Back in Britain the tabloids had a field day, with headlines like POP


support, Dusty was attacked by those anxious to protect showbusiness

profit and privilege, with entertainers of the calibre of Max Bygraves

and Derek Nimmo accusing her of being ''publicity seeking'' and

''foolishly irresponsible.''

This sparked furious debate in the Equity and Variety Artists'

Federation unions over whether to vote for a cultural boycott and bring

their policy into line with the MU ban. On December 19 the debate

escalated to the House of Commons when 15 MPs signed a motion applauding

Dusty's action in standing ''against the obnoxious doctrine of apartheid

in South Africa.''

Bewildered and battered by the storm she had created, Dusty said:

''Whatever your personal political feelings are, if you become involved

in them publicly, you're bound to come out the loser.'' She gave away

her #2000 fee for the South African tour to black South African

charities, saying ''I'm disgusted at the way I've been treated, I don't

want a penny of my salary.''

Whatever Dusty's misgivings, her point of principle created a

precedent. A month after her deportation Adam Faith was also sent home

from South Africa for appearing before multi-racial audiences. As

international pressure grew against apartheid, more and more artists

realised the implications of playing in South Africa, and a cultural

boycott was eventually implemented. It wasn't until 1988 that hundreds

brought that into global focus at Wembley. In 1964 Dusty was out on her

own. It always takes one to blaze the trail.