News extra - from SHEENAnews

Sunday Mail 23/01/00

This article appeared in the Scottish 'Sunday Mail' newspaper on Sunday 23rd January 2000.


Star plans to record her new album in Scotland

Exclusive from David MacDonad in Los Angeles

She was a young woman on the verge of superstardom and the bright lights of Beverly Hills were beckoning.
   Sheena Easton said goodbye to Scotland when she moved to California almost 20 years ago, but now she is planning an emotional return.
   The singing star, who grew up on a Bellshill council estate, is returning to her homeland later this year to record a new album.
   She will make a series of visits, which could give her two adopted, and very American, children the chance to see their mum's birthplace.
   Sheena revealed: "I'll be going back more often because of the album and then promoting it, which I think will be interesting".
   Clearly, she is excited by the prospect of seeing her mum and her five older brothers and sisters again.
   But before then, Sheena will be starring on stage in Las Vegas with another former pop heart-throb, David Cassidy.
   In a remarkably frank interview given during a rehearsal break, Sheena, now 40, spoke about her disastrous lovelife and the heartache she has endured.
   Three-times deivorced, she grimaced: "I've been through three horrible marriages.

   The first, to Scots singer Sandi Easton, took place in December 1978 when Sheena was 19.  They broke up soon after she found fame in 1980.

   Last year, Sandi Easton was found dead in his dingy council flat in Stenhousemuir, but by then Sheena had failed in the marriage game twice more, having lasted 13 months with Hollywood agent Rob Light and splitting from cameraman Tim Delarm in 1998 after just 11 months.
   When we pressed Sheena for details as to what spelled the end for this most recent marriage, she pulled a face, wiggled her nose from left to right and only echoed the question: "What happened? Hmmm."
   Her facial expressions suggested, however, that each of her marriages was worse than the one before and that, if she had to do it all again, she would remain single.
   There are two decisions, though, that Sheena does not regret - the adoptions of her five-year old-son, Jake, and four-year-old daughter, Skylar.
   She revealed: "I promised myself at age 30 that if I didn't meet the right kind of man to father my children, that at age 35 I would adopt.
   "That's what I did and I'm very happy about it.  My life is now focused on Jake and Skyler more than anything else."
   The three are currently staying at a rented home on the outskirts of Las Vegas, which is also shared by two golden retrievers and a nanny to watch over the dad-free family while Sheena is out working at nights.
   At present, Sheena is working hard, since the new stage show alongside David Cassidy has already has a short preview run and will open officially on February 3.
   She's delighted with her part, playing a rough-diamond nightclub singer, and says: "I finally get to be Scottish.  This is the first character I've ever played on stage where I don't need to worry about my accent."
  Despite her reputation for having a powerfully difficult backstage manner, Sheena reckons she will get along just fine with David Cassidy, now 49.
   She said: "I think we have a lot in common because we were both young pop stars who survived losses and went on to Broadway and then casino showrooms."
   Sheena's career, which began with her hits '9 To 5' and 'Modern Girl', has lacked successful singles of late.  Her last one was the 1985 song, 'Sugar Walls', which was penned by The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
   Instead, she has become a Las Vegas regular when not performing on TV, on Broadway in Man of La Mancha or on screen as a film and TV actress.
   But reports of problematic backstage behaviour persist.  Vegas-based comic John Padon, who was Sheena's opening act in Nevada last year said:
   "She was an absolute bitch to be around.  She acts like she's a miniature Barbra Streisand.  And she issued orders that nobody on the hotel staff could talk to her or even look at her.
   "She spent most of the time backstage eating piles of chicken wings and drinking Chrystal champagne, as long as it was bottled in 1990 (or earlier) which makes them worth around 600 bucks each.
   "Sometimes she would stay on stage milking the audience for an encore, although there were only a couple of people clapping."
   Sheena, of course, denies the charges but Cassidy, who enlisted her to join their new production, admits he heard the same grim reports about his new co-star.
   He revealed: "I sat her down and asked her about it.  I said: "I hear you are very difficult to work with.  Why is that?"
   "But I also told her I'd have an open mind about it because people at the MGM Grand Hotel (where Cassidy replaced Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford to show-saving effect) are the starting to spread the same kind of rumours about me, that I'm difficult.
   "Sheena told me: "Maybe I do have that kind of reputation because I know what I want and I'm a professional so I expect other people to be that way."
   Cassidy added: "She's really tough.  She's got that Scottish in her.  The part of her that people don't know is how funny she can be and how she can be one of the boys but is still beautiful and sexy."
   Cassidy also believes that Sheena's hard-headedness is the result of being a teen idol who "was taken advantage of" financially by management until she learned enough about show business to to stand up for herself.
   "If being difficult means you tell people: 'No, I'm not doing it anymore' then I have no problem with it", he stresses.
   Sources working alongside the duo in their entertainment home at the Rio Suite Hotel, just off the glitz-laden Strip, have already reported a couple of nasty if brief confrontations between Cassidy and Sheena.
   The complete truth may not be known until the pair have logged some time playing eight shows a week in a posh, circular showroom that seats 720 fans.  Show tickets are priced at $58 each.
   But however tough she may be, Sheena still clearly has a soft spot for Scotland, where she grew up as the youngest of six kids.
   As a child, she dreamed of stardom - and it came rapidly for her.
   She said: "I was 19 when I recorded 'Morning Train' ('9 To 5'), 20 when it became a hit in Britain and 21, when I came over here.  I was an adult, just, when everything came together for me."
   Sheena has rarely returned to Scotland to perform or record, but she believes her countrymen will realise that her absence is nothing personal: "You have to realise that Scotland is a very small country and so is the record business", she says.
   "If you do a tour of all the big cities in Britain, you could be finished in a few months.  Then what are you going to do?  Take another year and go back out there again?"
   Instead, Sheena was lured to sunny Southern California where the moguls of the American recording industry maintain their influential grip as to who is hot and who is not.
   As such, she believes that there's little if any resentment over her leaving the country.
   "They realise that if you want to be a worldwide star, then you have to go worldwide," she proclaims.  "That was something I learned from day one because I was fortunate that my first single was a hit all over.
   "So I was flying on planes to Japan, to Australia, to the United States and to Europe from the beginning, and that helped me realise what I needed to do."
   Sheena says no live performances are in the pipeline at present, but now that she is coming back to Scotland to record her album, which is geared at rekindling interest in the UK, she will have the chance to catch up with her family.
   Only one of her five brothers and sisters still stays in Scotland, and her mother lives in Southend, Essex.
   She said: "I have a brother in Scotland who installs British Telecom phones in offices and buildings.  The rest are scattered about in the north of England near Manchester and Leeds, so I have a lot of places to visit."
   Sheena Easton 2000 would no doubt surprise many of the folks who remember her only as a cute little teen who made it as a pop star, then disappeared with hardly a trace.
  The adult has filled out physically, and then some, while her pop-infected soprano has matured into a rich and vibrant instrument that can handle everything that comes its way.
   Sheena joins Cassidy on a pair of upper-range duets, including River Deep, Mountain High, and handles American standards or revamped versions of her half-dozen or so hits with an easy yet emotive grace.
   "She really has the chops" insists Cassidy, "and I think people sometimes forget about how good she is as a singer."
   Indeed, it appears that Sheena's image as an ageing teen star and controversial adult often gain precedence over her quality vocal skills. 
   Yet she maintains that no one in Scotland will hold her career choices against her nor give her grief for the American accent that has found it's way into her daily speech.
   She said: "I'm okay with that because I've lived most of my adult life in this country.
   "All the years that really moulded me as a grown-up have been influenced by living in California and having kids that are Californians.
   "And once you have kids, that's kind of it...all bets are off.  That's where I am and who I am."
   But she does seems a bit excited over her impending return to Scotland, despite the drawbacks she remembers from childhood.
   She said with a smile: "When I grew up, things were closed at five in the afternoon and nothing was open on Sundays.
   "I remember that it was a real cultural shock coming to the US.  It sounds a bit silly now, but I remember walking around in awe that you could go to the grocery store at three in the morning.  Everything was there!"
   Had she remained in Bellshill without a record contract, Sheena thinks she would have become a teacher who walked, not played, her homeland's famed golf courses for recreation and relaxation.
   She said: "I did qualify to be a teacher and I still have the papers.  So I guess if this career doesn't work out, I still have a day job waiting for me.