Chart singer left penniless

Sandy McKenzie

Sandy McKenzie

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

When Sandy McKenzie saw a track she sang riding high at the top of the charts, she thought life was set to change.

The Blackbird Leys-based singer belted out vocals for the band Goldbug on its 1996 hit Whole Lotta Love - a cover of the Led Zeppelin classic.

Ms McKenzie, who was a well-known blues singer on the Oxford circuit, revelled in the success of the song and hoped it would finally launch her career.

But, 12 years on, the 46-year-old lives a daily nightmare, pondering what might have been.

A complicated record company dispute has meant she has never seen a penny for her part in the success story.

Ms McKenzie remembers the first time she realised how big the song had become.

She said: "I had heard the song in London clubs Bar Rumba and Heaven, all over the place.

"But I really knew when I was in the Dolly, now the Cellar, off Cornmarket Street in Oxford city centre, and was stood at the bar with my friend.

"The song came on, my voice belted out and the place erupted. I wanted to run up and dance with the people on stage and scream 'this is me!' "But I stopped myself and thought 'they'll know soon enough' - but no-one ever did."

Dundee-born Ms McKenzie had answered an advert for a session singer in the now defunct music magazine Melody Maker.

But when Whole Lotta Love took off it was beyond her wildest dreams and filled dancefloors across Europe.

The singer, who lives in Sandy Lane and names soul singer Janis Joplin as a key influence, saw the song chart at number three - ahead of Michael Jackson's Earth Song, released at the same time.

But the royalties failed to come tumbling in and she has been frustrated ever since.

Ms McKenzie said: "There is no question that it is me on the recording. I even sing my name in one part to make it my own which you can clearly hear!

"I was set to go on Top of the Pops with Goldbug. But at the last minute I was pulled from the performance and I was never given a reason why.

"If I had any money of my own I would hire a lawyer to find out what happened, but I don't, so I will never know."

Ms McKenzie claimed to have been heartbroken and driven to near insanity by the frustration of having nearly made it as a singer.

She now lives alone, has been unemployed for the past decade and said she had been ill for a number of years.

The track has been at the centre of a High Court battle over copyright issues between a record label and the track's producers.

It was a dispute Ms McKenzie has never been involved with.

She said: "This may be the reason I was overlooked, but it's no answer. I just want to know where my money is.

"If I worked in a supermarket for a week I'd expect to be paid. They have used my voice, my talent, but I've never seen any money from it."

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