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SPOTLIGHT ON DEAN PARRISH


The lovely Dean Parrish passed away on June 8th 2021, aged 78 years’ old. He will be sadly missed by everyone who has ever had the pleasure to work with him and of course, all of you who have listened to his music and have seen him perform. Rest in Peace our lovely Dean – you are on your way!


Dean Parrish was born to Italian and Spanish parents in little Italy, New York, 1942. His real name is actually Phil Anastasi. On the advice of The Ronettes lead singer, Ronnie Spector, he changed his name to Dean Parrish.


He performed regularly at the Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan and the Lighthouse Club on 76th and Broadway alongside Jimi Hendrix. Dean signed to Musicor and recorded the first of his soul tracks, “Bricks, Broken Bottles and Sticks” which became a local radio hit. He then went on to get a contract with Boom Records. “Tell Her” was released in June 1966, which broke the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ at number 97. “Determination” was next followed by the Mod favourite “Skate” by the end of the year. Dean then switched to the Laurie Records and released a song written by Doug Morris and Eliot Greenberg, “I’m On My Way” (B-side Watch Out) in November 1967 which wasn’t successful in the U.S, as such, Dean decided to end his solo career.


Dean reverted back to his birth name and began work as an actor in TV, films and as a session musician with his friend Jimi Hendrix. He also played guitar at Bob Marley’s, Reggae on Broadway. Eventually the session work dried up and Dean became a wedding singer which led him to have a cameo appearance in ‘The Sopranos’.


In the UK, the Northern Soul scene was thriving with rare American Soul music recordings being played. Russ Winstanley discovered Dean’s “I’m On My Way” and began playing it at the Wigan Casino Club, it soon became a favourite with the dancers. The tune was re-released in 1975 on the UK Record label and sold thousands of copies, reaching number 38 in the UK singles chart in February 1975. To this day it’s now gone on to sell over a million copies.


Dean was completely unaware that he was quickly becoming a cult artist in the UK in the Northern Soul scene, Despite selling 250,000 copies of ‘I'm On My Way’ mainly due to Russ Winstanley playing the tune as part of his three before eight. It was not until the early 2000’s when he was finally tracked down did he learn of his cult status in the UK. No one could find him as he had reverted back to his birth name. He made his first visit to the UK and found himself performing again to thousands of soulies at Prestatyn, Wales at the Northern Soul Weekender.


Following this Dean graced us here in the UK many times to the delight of his thousands of Northern Soul Fans.


I have personally sat in his presence while he sang a capella “I’m On My Way”. It was the most spine-tingling experience, pitch perfect and passionate as always. Thank you Dean, I will treasure that memory and you will be sorely missed.

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