The mention of the name David Essex -- at least to Americans -- usually invokes a wave of '70s nostalgia, not just of his own monster hit "Rock On" and the movie That'll Be the Day, but also of such British pop/rock exports of the period such as Godspell, Rock Follies, color episodes of Doctor Who, and Rula Lenska. For most of that decade, Essex was a pop culture institution in England, and he produced the music and entertainment in enough different media to fulfill the role admirably. Born David Cook in London in 1947, he grew up in Canning Town, and loved playing soccer (what the English call football), and was a member of the West Ham Juniors for a time. He reached his teens just as British rock & roll's first wave was approaching its crest, and came of age as Merseybeat gave way to the more diverse sounds of folk-rock and psychedelic rock. Essex's attraction to performing and entertaining, however, had its roots outside of music -- as a boy in his early teens, before he'd ever thought of making music for a living, he spent his holidays working at what the British call a fun fair (a carnival to Americans); in his memoir A Charmed Life, he remembered being drawn to the mix of amusements and violence juxtaposed with one another; that might account for some of the ease with which he mixed music and theater in his own career during subsequent decades. Initially, however, he did try for a career in music, working by day in a factory in his teens, and playing drums in a band called the Everons during the mid-'60s. He later left the group, switched to singing, and took on the name David Essex, and recorded for England's Decca Records, among other labels. Essex went through ten flop singles, and decided to try acting instead; by then, he was juggling appearances in small productions and the responsibilities of a marriage (and a pregnant wife), and earning his living driving trucks and cleaning windows.