March 1, 2002 – Doreen Waddell (Soul II Soul) was best known for her 1989 UK chart-topper and U.S. Top 5 hit, “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)”with the R&B-dance group Soul II Soul and also as a member of the British acid house group KLF. Born on July 10, 1965, Waddell became lead vocalist on Feel Free, which reached number one in the dance chart in 1989. She also provided vocals on the tracks Happiness and the club hit Fairplay.
Soul II Soul, a musical collective led by Jazzie B, released five albums between 1989 and 1995, but only the first is considered a classic. Despite her initial success, Waddell slipped out of the limelight and did not recapture her early stardom.
After Feel Free, Soul II Soul’s follow-up singles were the international hits Keep on Movin‘ and Back to Life, both of which featured Caron Wheeler on vocals.
Despite the band’s split, the Soul II Soul record label continues to trade in London.
On March 1, Doreen Waddell, was challenged by staff at the Tesco store in Shoreham, West Sussex for shoplifting. She ran from the shop and was struck by three cars as she tried to cross the A27. Stolen goods, including children’s items, were found strewn across the road. It is understood that she fled from the Tesco store via a rear fire exit. Police said that shop staff were not pursuing her when she climbed an embankment on to a bypass.
The singer had only recently been fined after a previous shoplifting offense at Woolworths in Hove, East Sussex, and yesterday friends and neighbours said she appeared to have financial worries and was living in circumstances far removed from the life she enjoyed at the height of the band’s success.
A spokesman said: “This is very sad news,” but would make no further comment. Waddell had not been recording or performing for some while. It was several days before Sussex Police were able to confirm her identity from fingerprint records.
Neighbours said she was a “charming and friendly” person who did not dwell on her previous success as a singer.
Steve Price said: “She came round when she was hard up and we gave her money but she always paid it back. She had a few late night scenes with her boyfriend outside the house. She was a bit of a wild child. I think she had a tough time.”
Waddell was often heard playing Soul II Soul-style music but never told neighbours she had been in the band.
Annie Ingham, a close friend who lived nearby, said: “This is so, so sad. I can’t believe her life has ended like this. She wasn’t really earning the sort of money that she had done but she didn’t let that get her down. You have to remember she had been a very successful singer who had appeared on television on Top of the Pops and then suddenly it was all gone. She never resented that, but it didn’t mean life was easy. She was a devoted mother who just wanted to do the best for her son.”
Waddell, 36, who had a four-year-old son, died instantly.