Born as Pauline Matthews in Bradford, England (UK) on 6 March 1947. At age 10 she won a talent contest. Six years later, she was working at Boots in Bradford during the day and singing songs with a dance band in Leeds during the evenings. After being spotted by a record company scout in 1963, Kiki was signed as a solo artist to Fontana Records.
In 1963 Kiki released her first single ‘Early Night’, and recorded her debut album ‘I’m Kiki Dee’, which included a series of Phil Spector style tracks and covers including ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, Nancy Wilson’s ‘How Glad I Am’ and her 1965 release ‘Why Don’t I Run Away From You’, which became an airplay hit on both Radio London and Radio Caroline. Kiki’s 1968 single ‘On a Magic Carpet Ride’ has remained a much sought-after classic on the Northern Soul circuit. During these early years Kiki gained a respectable reputation as a backing session singer, working with many artists such as Dusty Springfield and performing on two of Dusty’s early hits, ‘Little By Little’ and the Carole King song ‘Some Of Your Loving’.
In 1970 Kiki became the first white British artist to be signed by Tamla Motown, releasing an album on the label in the same year. She worked with legendary producer Frank Wilson on tracks including ‘The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday’ and ‘For Once In My Life’, recording in the original Motown studio in Detroit, which is now a museum.
After signing to Elton John’s Rocket Records label in the early 1970s, Kiki scored her first UK Top 20 hit in 1973 with her version of the Véronique Sanson song ‘Amoureuse’. An English lyric by Gary Osborne lead to a lifelong friendship with the lyricist, who also penned the lyrics for ‘The War Of The Worlds’ musical. In the same year, Kiki could be heard singing backing vocals on Elton John’s global smash album ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. During this period Kiki recorded two albums produced by Elton and started song writing for the first time. 1974 saw Kiki riding high on both the UK and US charts with ‘I’ve Got the Music in Me’, which was written by Bias Boshell, Kiki’s keyboardist.
Continuing her friendship with Elton, their duet ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ topped the UK chart for six weeks in mid 1976. It also enjoyed a 4-week run at no. 1 on the US charts as well as reaching no. 1 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Italy. The song was intended as an affectionate pastiche of the Tamla Motown style, notably the various duets recorded by Marvin Gaye and singers such as Tammi Terrell and Kim Weston. In 1981 ‘Star’ from the album ‘Perfect Timing’ gave Kiki another Top 20 hit.
1984 saw her first venture into musical theatre with an American show called ‘Pumpboys and Dinettes’ which starred Paul Jones, Brian Protheroe, Carlene Carter (daughter of June), Gary Holton and Julian Littman.
In 1985, Kiki performed at Live Aid, reprising ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ with Elton and performing backing vocals on the other songs in his set.
In 1987 she took the lead in Willy Russell’s musical ‘Blood Brothers’, in which she took on the role originally played by Barbara Dickson. She toured the UK for several months before Bill Kenwright brought the show into London’s West End in 1988. Appearing in the show for over two years, Kiki received an Olivier Award nomination in 1989 in the Best Actress in a Musical category for her performance.
In 1993 Kiki once again found herself in the charts with Elton John when their version of the Cole Porter song ‘True Love’ reached No.2 on the UK chart.
In the early 1990’s Kiki had joined forces with songwriter, producer and guitarist Carmelo Luggeri, who produced some bonus tracks for ‘The Very Best of Kiki Dee” album, and, having hit it off musically, they took on a new musical direction together, playing acoustic concerts, starting with an appearance at The Royal Albert Hall for World AIDS Day in 1994 and their musical collaboration which led to their debut acoustic album ‘Almost Naked’ (1995) and UK tours. In 1998, they released their first album together: ‘Where Rivers Meet’.
In 2008, they followed this up with ‘The Walk Of Faith’, an album of original compositions and one cover version: Running Up That Hill. Their most recent release was 2013’s ‘A Place Where I Can Be’.