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CAREER

Actor - Director

 Daniel Abineri was born on October 24, 1958, to actor  John Abineri  and his wife, actress Hilary Bamford. The younger brother of actor Sebastian Abineri born in 1954, known for Sherlock Holmes (2009), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Fable III (2010), a life in the theatre was inevitable.

"When I was 12, I went down and joined a rep company in Folkestone, and then later Bexhill, where I played The Winslow Boy and a couple of other child roles. I was pretty hopeless at school so the headmaster was more than happy for me to take a few weeks off. It was very formative and I enjoyed it. I had my own little bedsit with a gas ring to cook on, and earned £6 a week! It was a horrible shock having to go back to school again. One minute I'd been getting applause and halves of shandy bought for me by pretty actress's,  and the next I was back to being that dunce Abineri."

" I started out in what was called weekly rep. Doesn't exist now, but it was the perfect training ground for a budding performer as you had to rehearse for only a week, then play at nights while you rehearsed the next play. It was an actress in rep who first told me about this new rock show that was a spoof on horror and sci-fi movies, and as soon as I could I hot tailed to London and caught 'Rocky'." "A year later I went to work backstage at Bexhill rep. An actress there (who also incidentally loaned me the Lou Reed and Dory Previn albums that influenced me so much) had a good friend she introduced me to called Anne Louise Wakefield who was by then playing Janet down the Kings Road.  As soon as Anne learned I was a fan she arranged some free tickets for the next time I was in London. And having the 'in', I got to meet Chris Malcolm and Perry Bedden at the Cadogan Pub opposite the Essoldo cinema where the show was now playing down the Kings road. They all tolerated me as (one of the first) obsessive fans of the show. This was of course long before the film cult began, so I guess I was what they would now call an 'early adopter'."

 For twenty four years (74 - 98) he was an actor.

1976 - appeared on TV in Spring and Autumn

1977 - played the role of Lacey, in two episodes of King Cinder 

1978 - gave Tatum O'Neal her first onscrenn kiss in International Velvet 

first kiss

1978 also brought appearances in Secret Army  and Scene .

 Daniel was then cast in the lead as the Catholic priest Father Neil, opposite the comic legend Arthur Lowe of Dad's Army fame, in the hit series Bless Me Father (ITV 78' – 81').

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 From priest to transvestite, in 1979 he was cast by Richard O'Brien in the role of Dr Frank’N’Furter in the original UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show. He went on to star in the West End production at Comedy Theatre in 1980. he subsequently played the role over three thousand times in various tours of Australia and New Zealand throughout the 1980's in productions that he also directed.

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"My involvement (with Rocky Horror) happened because I was a fan I suppose. I used to go to parties, get a bit tiddly then sit down at a piano and do my impersonation of Curry's Frank. A wardrobe girl at Canterbury rep witnessed this. In 79' she took a temp job in the offices of a young producer called Cameron Mackintosh who had been given the job of mounting the very first national tour of Rocky for the London producer Michael White. At the time I'd broken into telly and was playing a very young cherubic curate opposite Dad's Army star Arthur Lowe in a comedy series called Bless Me Father. She suggested to Cameron that they should see me for the role of Frank. They were apparently a little sceptical that this chubby lad playing the innocent priest could possibly play the outrageous Frank, so I think they got me in as a bit of a laugh.  What they didn't know was that I had every line, every gesture and every song down pat. They offered me the role two hours after the audition and I opened on my 21st birthday. What a fantastic birthday present that was!"

"Richard O'Brien, was the reason I was offered the role in Australia. He only granted the rights on the understanding I was to play the part. He witnessed my first performance ever at the Leicester Haymarket theatre, saw me several times in London, and saw me in Australia a few times. In fact, in 1987 we brought him out to Sydney for one night only to reprise his Riff Raff for a special midnight performance in aid of Amnesty International. For me this was theatrical heaven. To actually get to play Frank to Richard's Riff was probably the pinnacle of my time in the show. I'll never forget hearing him sing Riffs first entrance in the show , “the darkness must flow...” It was like hearing the real instrument playing the song as it should be played. His high tenor voice sent shivers down my spine, in fact it does now just thinking about it.

"I played the last night of it's London run at the Comedy. Quite an evening. I'll never forget Steve Strange in full Fade To Grey costume and make-up gazing down at me from the royal box, and Johnny Rotten with a snarling grin in the front row. And Australia was like being in the Beatles. They'd had productions in Sydney and Melbourne in the 70's, but that was before the movie cult. By the time I arrived in 81' the movie was huge. And of course because my Frank was so 'Curry like' I became an instant mega-star. My original contract for the Australian tour was for six months. But due to it's huge success this swiftly turned into 18 months of touring twice round Australia, including outback desert towns. My intention was to come back to England at the end of the tour as I was due to do another series of Bless Me Father. Tragically Arthur Lowe died before that could happen, and by this time I was being offered a lot of other work in Australia. As my wife was coincidently Australian I had no trouble with visas. Also she and I had two kids by now and it seemed the height of cruelty to drag them back to grim grey London after the golden beaches of Australia. So we stayed. In all I was out there for eleven years."

"By 1984 I was knackered from having played the role pretty much non-stop for five years , so my producer suggested we get the original Australian 70's Frank back - Reg Livermore. I really enjoyed directing Reg in the show, particularly as his approach to the role was so very different from mine. He based his Frank on Bette Davis, and he was very camp. It worked really well."

 Whilst in Australia, he also played the Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, the lead in the West End hit Crystal Clear, Gary Lejuene in Noises Off directed by Michael Blakemore and Arnold Beckoff in Torch Song Trilogy . He is probably best known around the world for playing super villain Jake Sanders in the Australian high gloss tv drama Return To Eden.

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 In 1986 he wrote the book, music and lyrics for his musical Bad Boy Johnny and The Prophets Of Doom. This rock’n’roll extravaganza about an altar boy who becomes the worlds first rock Pope, premiered in Melbourne in 1989 and featured a young Russell Crowe in the title role, and the author himself as the evil Father Maclean. Daniel had discovered Russell some years earlier when he had given him his first professional acting role in a New Zealand tour of ‘Rocky Horror’. ‘Bad Boy Johnny’ enjoyed a six month run in Melbourne and Sydney, won two International Pater Awards for best libretto and score, and spawned a cast album on WEA Records (which Daniel also produced) and a top ten single, performed by new 'Johnny' Troy Newman.

Returning to the UK in ‘93 Daniel mounted a showcase production of Bad Boy Johnny at The Union Chapel  in Islington - the show became a 'cause celebre' and made national headline news when a collection of irate nuns, the London arm of Opus Dei, The Daily Telegraph and the Church Council of Great Britain complained that it was 'offensive and blasphemous' to stage the piece in an actual church. Following protests,  the production was closed after just nine performances.

"Unfortunately my first marriage hit rocks while I was playing Arnold Beckoff in a production of Torch Song Trilogy in Melbourne.

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Part of the tension in the marriage had been down to the fact that I was keen to get back to the UK, and my wife wanted to stay put down-under. I'd got to know Chris Malcolm well when he had come out to produce the Australian production of Steaming with my Rocky producer. And although I had said that I had played Frank for the last time at the end of 1988 tour, when Chris offered me the UK tour it offered me the opportunity to come back home (and pay some bills.) It was a shock for me having to play the part on a different set, but Chris looked after me and although we occasionally disagreed on the shows creative direction,  we had a good laugh.It was weird coming full circle and finding myself on the road round Britain with Rocky some thirteen years after I'd first done it. Especially finding myself on a different set with a bigger cast and radio mikes and flying moons. For me the new production had lost something of the raw energy and anarchy of the original. And somehow having a more literal set and things like a real motor car for brad and Janet just turned it into a more traditional theatre musical. Little details like not having cable mikes so I couldn't tie Rocky up or strangle Eddie. And the girls wearing those ghastly orange stage tights underneath their stockings and suspenders took away the dangerous sexual aspect. In my productions I kept it as bare flesh, and if a few discreet pubes were revealed poking out of the knickers then all the better! It just didn't feel like rock'n'roll any more. Brian Thompsons original cinema set was such a great setting and by being very minimalist it highlighted the costumes which are so much a part of the thing.

In Australia I'd managed to keep the audience participation under control. Mainly by terrifying the audience into submission. Back in the UK the crowd was way out of control and I sometimes wondered why we didn't just all retire to the pub and put the movie on for them instead. The final indignity was my very final performance in Ipswich of all places! My mother had never seen the show and was in the audience.Come showtime the drummer had missed his train from London so we had to hold the curtain and wait for him. Well we waited and waited and in the end I was told I must perform. I absolutely refused point blank to do Rocky without a drummer. It would be unfair on the cast and very unfair on the audience. Howard Panter got on the phone from London and tried to persuade me but I wouldn't budge. It was as I was handing my costume over to my understudy who had been ordered on in my place, that the drummer at last arrived and the show went on. So there we were, one grumpy cast and a very grumpy audience who knew they had probably missed their last bus home. When I explained to my mother after the show why there had been the delay, she said that actually she thought the show was way too noisy and she would have preferred it without drums! So after all the triumphs over the years I finished on a low note on a rainy winters evening in Ipswich. That's showbiz... "

 He then appeared in Mike Hodge's film Mid-Atlantic, guest starred in The Bill, took the lead role of Bruce Delemitri in Ben Elton's West End smash hit Popcorn, and appearing with Rick Mayall in the film Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis.

At the end of the 90's Daniel decided to retire from performing to concentrate on his writing and composing. In 1997 he produced, directed and narrated his first documentary, One Hit Wonders for the BBC . He followed this in 1999 with a study of androgyny and theatricallity in pop music called Walk On The Wildside (ITV Network), which featured interviews withLindsay Kemp, Ray Davies, Dave Stewart, Mick Rock and others.

 

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Portrait

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priest

Father Neil Boyd

 

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FRANK 'N' FURTER

 

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1992 Final outing as Frank

 

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The information on this page, was supplied by Daniel Abineri, the quotes by Daniel are from his interview with Kev McEwen
(for  the April 2014 Timewarp newsletter.)

 
Daniel's most recent song, pays homage to his years on stage!

 

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

Musician

"What I love about music (and with me it is a deep love) is that there really aren't any rules. Sometimes a song will start with a melody hook, sometimes with an opening line or chorus lyric. It's a constant journey of discovery. There have been several books lately that have shown, from a scientific perspective, how the brain reacts to and creates music. It's all based on what you have heard in your childhood and teens. I'm lucky to have lived through the golden era of popular music (I missed Elvis and most of the fifties but experienced all the rest from the Beatles and Kinks to Motown, early reggae, hippy, country, glam, punk, new wave etc) so I have plenty of musical memories to call on. Also, when I was four, my Dad gave me a second hand gramophone for Christmas, and a huge pile of the most eclectic mix of old 78 records. (Eartha Kitt, Hoagy Carmichael, Inkspots Pat Boone etc) so I have all that to draw on as well. I can't say writing songs for musicals is harder than stand alone songs, it's just a different challenge. With musical songs you have a pretty clear idea of what is required and can't stray too far off piste. With regular songs you can go anywhere. Both have their advantages. Bowie was a huge influence on me. Especially the early stuff in the late 60's and 70's. I almost wore out his album Hunky Dory. He was so weird and yet his songs were so catchy. I think the fact that he was an actor appealed to me as well. He suggested all sorts of possibilities to me. Then of course there was the whole Ziggy androgyny thing which proceeded Rocky Horror by only a year. My other big musical influences from that era where Lou Reed (who I discovered through Bowie) and the cult singer Dory Previn. She not only produced six fantastic albums she was, in my opinion, the finest lyricist that ever walked this earth. She is the bench mark that I aspire to when doing my words,  but I can only dream of getting anywhere even close to her lyrical perfection."

Daniel's band The Atheists produced several songs, including "Mr. President"

"Yes Mr President was a weird one. I'd put up a demo of the song on a site called Amazing Tunes (I kind of early ReverbNation) and the guy who ran the site tracked me down as he loved the song so much. He then paid for the song to be remixed by these pro producers and had a video clip filmed. I think he saw it as a way of publicising his website. The whole Bush thing was high on the agenda as he was up for re-election. For me it was an experiment in writing a topical song, and the Atheist thing was a fake band identity for me to hide behind as at that time I didn't want my acting baggage to affect peoples response to my songs. These days I've left acting so far behind me that I'm happy to use my own name."

 

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I designed the artwork.  I live near Rough Trade records in Portobello Road. They used to have this muso notice board covered in layers of flyers and hand-written ads. As my album is so very Do-It- Yourself,  I thought it might be fun to make my own board and litter it with references to some of the music I have been influenced by. The front cover shot I took in Tasmania when I lived there on an old horse stud in the late 80's. It was a honey farm at the end of the mountain track we lived down. I always thought it would make a great album cover. It reminds me of so many things, especially my kids from my first marriage, so it just seemed the perfect cover. Also, I guess, songs are like 'honey for sale'.  


" I was lucky with Honey For Sale in that my producer for most of the album knew some very good session players who made up the band, including the legendary Paul Robinson who not only played drums on “Video Killed The Radio Star” and the Proclaimers hits, but  was also Nina Simone's drummer for 17 years. I play piano and a little guitar but generally prefer others to take my ideas and run with them. I'm totally untrained musically and play by ear. I did have a piano teacher for about three weeks in the early 70's but she ran for the hills when I refused to play the minuets and polkas the poor woman was trying to teach me and insisted on just playing endless boogie woogie and 12 bar blues. I taught myself pop songs of the era by slowing down 45's to 33rpm and painstakingly copying the notes. I discovered that this made me popular at school although my versions were all in the wrong key! Ironically, I now really enjoy classical piano."

 

"I have all these songs that I've written over the years, in a variety of styles. I've written on many different subjects but not really intentionally about myself. After the 2010 BBJ tour I wanted to keep myself busy with a project and started writing some new songs. I was surprised to find I was actually starting to write about myself, so the idea of an autobiographical album took shape. I then discovered that some of my early songs were in fact unconsciously about  what was going on in my life at the time, so it sort of grew from there. The other motivation for the album was much more practical. I'm very interested in writing songs for other artists to perform,  and establishing myself as a songwriter for hire, so the balancing act was combining the personal stuff with stand alone songs like “Nothing At All (Without You)” and “The Moment I Saw You”, which could be performed by anyone."

 

"The reaction has been (thankfully) very positive from everyone. I tried to be as honest as I possible in the lyrics so nobody felt that I had misrepresented them. In the end you have to write for an audience of one: yourself, and then hope that the emotions and tunes are relevant to others."

ASPERGERS

In 2011, I was diagnosed with AspergersSyndrome. It certainly did make sense of a lot of things that I'd done and that had happened to me. I was particularly interested to discover that us 'Aspies' are very good impersonators. This made a lot of sense to me as the acting parts I'd excelled at always borrowed liberally from other people. Not least Tim Curry's iconic performance as Frank'N'Furter which certainly, to begin with,  was a blatant steal. I like to think that over the many years I played it I made the part my own, but my decision to emulate Curry was deliberate as, for me, his performance was central to the show becoming a cult in the first place. It's the reason I never quite buy all the different actors playing Batman. For me he will always be Adam West!
I guess that finding I was Aspergers relatively late in life means that I don't actually 'feel' any different. But it certainly makes sense of some of my more eccentric behaviour patterns.

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©2017 Mark Jabara Ellison Productions