Tributes paid to Northern Soul legend Dean Parrish

A soul singer hailed as “probably one of the best”, who made his name thanks to Wigan’s Northern soul scene, has died.
Dean Parrish and Russ WinstanleyDean Parrish and Russ Winstanley
Dean Parrish and Russ Winstanley

Dean Parrish was best known for his song I’m On My Way, which was the last track played every night at Wigan Casino.

The song reached the UK charts and DJ Russ Winstanley later invited him to perform in Wigan and around the UK.

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Northern soul fans have been left stunned by his death on June 8, aged 79, in his home city of New York, USA.

Russ, who DJs worldwide, said: “It was just such a shock. We didn’t know it was going to happen.

“The best thing was he was an absolute gentleman, as well as being probably one of the best soul singers you could ever know. He was a lovely man.

“He came and stayed with me. He used to absolutely love coming over here.”

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Mr Parrish, whose real name was Phil Anastasi, began performing as a singer in the 1960s and released a number of songs in the USA, including I’m On My Way, Skate and Determination.

About I’m On My Way, Russ said: “It hadn’t done very much. I started playing it at Wigan Rugby Club, before the casino. I was always looking for a certain record to finish off every night and it got so very, very popular at the rugby club.

“When I started the Casino, I used it as the finishing record. I used it for every night really, except the very last night, where it was played a number of times and then another was played.”

The song was re-released in 1975 and reached number 38 in the UK charts, thanks to its popularity among Northern soul lovers, and was later part of an EP entitled Three Before Eight released by Wigan Casino’s record label Casino Classics. While it sold 250,000 copies, it did not chart.

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Russ later tried to find Mr Parrish, struggling initially as he had reverted to using his real name.

He said: “I did end up finding him and brought him over to Wigan eventually, after the casino had shut. I became very friendly with him. I must have brought him over about 20 times.

“He had such a soulful voice that everyone loved him. When he came across he was just as good, probably one of the best ever live acts.”

Mr Parrish performed in Wigan several times, including at a Wigan Casino reunion at the DW Stadium, as well as at other shows organised by Russ around the country.

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He also worked as an actor and appeared in TV series The Sopranos as a wedding singer.

He was close to the heart of so many Northern soul fans that this year’s event to mark the 48th anniversary of Wigan Casino will be held as a tribute to him.

Due to take place from September 24 to 26 at Charles Dickens Hotel in Wigan, it will feature Russ, Tommy Hunt, Paul Stuart Davies, Johnny Boy,Brian Rigby, Alan Cain and others.

Tickets cost £10 for the weekend and will be on sale at the venue from 5pm on July 24. All proceeds will go to local charities in memory of Mr Parrish.

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