Why does a fiftysomething computer lecturer make an album? As a testimony to God's grace, that's why. Peter Bate checks out DAVE DEEKS.
A million miles from CCM "stars" who shift millions of units and adorn posters on teenagers' walls stands fiftysomething, father and computer lecturer Dave Deeks. Three albums in 15 years, a sprinkling of concerts and self-confessed modest musical ability aren't the ingredients for a glittering career. But read between the lines and you'll find a life story worthy of a soap opera, packed with "coincidences" attributable only to the Holy Spirit himself.
Newcastle-based Dave's inspirational tale of recovery from crippling illness and his prophetic music ministry are based on simple obedience rather then glossy picture spreads. His call to music came after he put his back out and was laid up in bed in 1982. Dave recalls, "After three days of having to lie still I asked my wife to bring me a Bible. It wasn't a spiritual event - it came last. I started reading passages and found words were turning into songs in my mind. As I was lying there I could hear the tunes and words forming into prose."
Unable to sing, able to play the piano in D flat only and suffering from mild dyslexia, Dave nevertheless committed the tracks to tape and, after promptings from friends, eventually performed at a Christmas service. Meanwhile: "At work I felt the Lord giving me songs for particular people. I would put a song on tape and hand it to someone and say, 'I'm a Christian and God's given me this for you.' It was electrifying. People began to change. There were words of knowledge in the songs."
By the time Dave had "received" around 100 songs, one of his tapes fell into the hands of Christian producer Bob Cranham who wanted to make a full-blown album with top session musicians. But there was a catch - it would cost £2,000. "Bob said, 'Tell your church you need money for an album but don't tell them how much,'" Dave remembers. "In three days I received £2,030 and the petrol to get to the studio cost £29 so God wanted it made!"
'Let Go, Let God' was released in 1985, selling around 800 copies and prompting dozens of letters to Dave from moved listeners. One of the backing singers used by Bob was the still-to-be-saved Helen Shapiro. "There was a song called 'Let God' and the first three verses were about the Old Testament after which Helen said, 'This is my stuff!'
"I said, 'The next stuff won't be. It's about Jesus being our Saviour!' and she had a good laugh about it. We ended up having a good chat in the studio and she was interested in what i was singing. Over the next couple of years she began to talk to Bob and his wife Pennie and was baptised. I'd like to think I played a part - maybe sowed a seed."
After more nudging from Bob and others, The Dave Deeks Band was birthed, making its bow as a support act in front of 800. "Lots of things happened, too many to mention," says Dave humbly. "I did one concert where I felt the Lord wanted me to share a song I'd never performed before that was speaking to someone who had been sexually abused as a child. The reaction was amazing. A lot of people were in tears and I prayed for them. I had five or six letters over a period of years from people saying they had been touched by that concert.
"I had another situation where a vicar came to me after a concert and recommitted himself. This was all in the context of me not looking on myself as being especially spiritual." It was another spell in bed - this time in much graver circumstances - that prompted Dave's next LP, 'Solid Ground'. He says he was spiritually "unravelled and put together again" by Guillain-Barre Syndrome - a rare condition that results in paralysis. "I lay there like a cardboard cut out. I couldn't move my mouth and face. It hadn't affected my heart and lungs but was about to. The estimation of my recovery was that I'd probably never walk or play the keyboard again and may not be able to use a computer. They suggested I might walk to the door of my room within four to five weeks, But eight days later I walked out the car park and only five or six weeks later I played the song 'Solid Ground'. It was an experience that always reminds me I'm special to God."
The '90s saw Dave make regular visits to Frankland high security prison where 'Solid Ground', according to the prison chaplain, became the most bootlegged tape on site. His third and latest recording, 'Walk With The One', was released in September last year. Fortunately, Dave's inspiration this time wasn't sickness but the talents of his 23-year-old son Mark who played on and produced the crisp-sounding LP in his student digs. "I bought him an eight track digital recorder to use in the last year of his degree as part of a deal that he would record my album," the sharp father reveals. "I wanted complex drumming and good keyboard work. I wanted it to sound really professional but it was done on a low budget in student accommodation in Wakefield. He did it based on what I had in my head. He would play it over the phone and say, What do you think of this dad?' I would make suggestions and he would make adjustments."
And so the steady activity of the divine in the everyday continues as this computer programmer seeks to follow his Father's call. "I have never done an album for commercial gain.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.