Roger Deacon 1937 - 1988
deacon & dean Roger Dee Rafistol
A Brother's Memoir
by David Deacon
Roger Deacon, later known as Roger Dee, was an entertainer once seen and heard, never forgotten.
His larger-than-life stage personality, powerful singing voice, stylish presentation and delight in anarchic fun crossed the footlights and cabaret floor with impact, from the mid 1950s to the late 1970s.
His youthful vitality marked him out as one of the last of the variety artistes. He worked a little in radio and TV, but the vigour of his persona, his use of voice and the expansive quality of his performance were too large for those media. He was at his most effective with a live audience, who invariably found him mesmerizing and with whom he could share his sense of sheer joy in singing, the physicality of movement and in creating nonsense.
deacon and dean , the duo he and Duggie Dean formed in the 'sixties, were the only double act to have been booked for two consecutive seasons at the Windmill Theatre in the West End.
In his early forties, he bought and co-managed an hotel on the English south coast and, amid controversy, opened it for gay clientele - as far as I am aware, the first in the country.
Later, Roger surprised the business by selling up, spending time travelling and then leading a simple life on his own plot of land in the forest in Provence "with the butterflies". He made time to reflect, draw, paint, compose songs and play host. For ten years when ever he needed cash, he went busking. As Rafistol , in his bright green and yellow tights, tailcoat and top hat, he was a striking presence in the street or at a fete, his provocative songs attracting fascinated crowds, generating joy and outrage.
Roger was also my elder brother. To me he was an inspiration in his talent, creativity and dedication. He was huge fun. More, he and I could be stimulating and exasperating company for each other, for he was a seeker, an individualist, libertarian and freethinker.
As I see it, in the last years of his short life, he strived to be his authentic self, bringing together his artistry and his passions.
I wish I knew more about Roger's life and work as a performer, and I wish I had some film and more audio recordings and memorabilia than have survived him. He was away working most of the time, sometimes for years, and I was unable to keep up to date.
On the occasions when we two did meet, we laughed, sang and argued long into the night and I heard bits of show biz gossip and a few nice stories. I would like to share something of that experience with you. In the words of his jaunty Salvation Army pastiche, 'Come and join us' .
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