2008 was a very exciting year for David Gest. In April 2008, he began a new career as a Celebrity DJ performing at clubs and festivals throughout the UK and Europe. His incredible DJ show received rave reviews and audiences reached as much as 10,000 people in a single night. Gest also made his recording debut with guest vocals on the Scottish cult group Attic Lights’ Island Records single “Bring You Down”. He was featured in the hysterical video with the group as well as with the Chinese Girl With Herpes and the Little People Of DavidLand.
Gest’s MTV/VH1 four-hour Christmas 2008 special, “David Gest’s Top 40 Christmas Crackers,” was the highest rated MTV Christmas Special according to Steph Withey, producer of the show. It was seen by millions and ran nearly every day during the month of December on MTV, VH1, VH1Classic and TMF. David Gest also hosted another four hour special for MTV/VH1 that year entitled, “Michael Jackson’s All-Time Top 40 Greatest Videos” which was another ratings winner for the MTV channel and like its predecessor is still shown today.
”David Gest…My Life!” began touring the UK on 10 January 2009 at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Performing live on the show in Liverpool and London at the Inidig02 were ten legendary acts including: Russell Thompkins, Jr. & The New Stylistics (The Original Lead Singer of All The Stylistics Hits) (I Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love), Rock N’ Roll Baby, You Are Everything, You Make Me Feel Brand New and Sing Baby Sing); Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Holding Out For A Hero, It’s A Heartache, A Rockin’ Good Way and Lost In France); Peabo Bryson (Tonight, I Celebrate My Love, If Ever You’re In My Arms Again, A Whole New World (Alladin’s Theme) and Beauty and The Beast); James Ingram (Somewhere Out There, Yah Mo B There, Baby, Come To Me, I Don’t Have The Heart, 100 Ways, Just Once); Billy Paul (Me and Mrs. Jones, Let ‘Em In and Your Song); Freda Payne (Band Of Gold and Bring The Boys Home); Dorothy Moore (Misty Blue, I Believe You and Funny How Time Slips Away); Edwin Hawkins Singers (Oh Happy Day and Lay Down (Candles In The Rain); Legendary Philadelphia Soul Man Eddie Holman ([Hey There] Lonely Girl) and (only on Indigo2 date) Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., The Original Grammy-Winning Lead Singers of The 5th Dimension (You Don’t Have To Be A Star, Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In, Wedding Bell Blues and Up Up And Away).
According to Gest, ‘I was so excited about finally doing this tour. I had to postpone this tour twice, first when I got ill last December with pneumonia and took a few months off to recuperate and the second time right after I performed three quadruple back flips for the BBC1 Breakfast Show. The BBC1 crew had just left as we continued rehearsing and a dancer grabbed the middle of my knee twice instead of the heal of my foot with his long nail and tore out a huge chunk of skin while rehearsing the flips. He actually tore the skin to the bone which I had to have grafted. Even if I had been in a wheelchair this new tour would have taken place. I had a great time producing this show. A couple days before the show, I sang the closing number to Whitney Houston who told me she wasn’t even sure if vocal lessons could help me! I told her she’s just jealous!!!’ Ultimately, David was a hit in the show. According to Gest’s best friend Tito Jackson, ‘Watching David do four quadruple back flips was just amazing!’
The play encompassed the story of Gest’s life with comedy and music. It included over thirty top 5 records, all performed by the original artists. In addition to that, it included characters David made famous in the jungle when he appeared on “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!” Gest sings and dances in numbers with a twelve member dance troupe entitled The Tess Tickle Dancers and the Little People Of DavidLand.
On the heels of packed shows and strong reviews in London and Liverpool, David announced additional UK dates for “David Gest…My Life!”. The first three shows grossed approximately £186,000. Earning high kudos from “Loose Women” co-host Carol McGiffin, the show featured Gest’s own talents (‘a tremendous performer!’ enthused BBC1 radio host, TV personality and journalist Vanessa Feltz) as well as those of Russell Thompkins, Jr. & the New Stylistics, Billy Paul, Peabo Bryson, Freda Payne, Dorothy Moore, James Ingram, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, The Little People of DavidLand and many others.
The first date of his UK tour at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on January 10 completely sold-out more than 1,700 seats, with hundreds unable to buy tickets. Due to popular demand, a matinee was added two days before Christmas, three weeks before the show itself, and also sold-out. At the Indigo2 in London, the show drew a near-capacity crowd. According to Leo Green, senior booker for the Indigo2, it ‘sold exceptionally well for the venue, achieving 90% capacity, which considering a Monday night in January in the middle of economically challenging times, is impressive.’
In April 2009, Gest was also featured on UK TV’s newly rebranded “Home” Channel in a one-hour special entitled “Celebrity Fantasy Homes,” where he went house hunting in Cambridge with Gaby Roslin.
“David Gest…My Life!” ran for 24 more dates throughout October 2009 and along the way broke box office records and made musical history as the biggest and best soul concert ever put on in the UK. In Liverpool, the two scheduled performances both sold-out in less than 24 hours to break box office records (4,000 tickets were sold grossing over £150,000 in a single day). Throughout the tour, the ecstatic and enthusiastic crowds that greeted them blew David and the performers away. From countless standing ovations to some truly memorable sing along moments from the crowd to music fans packing out the aisles of the theatres to dance, each performance left a lasting impression on all that attended.
Beginning at the Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle on 01 October, there followed dates at Blackpool Opera House; Sheffield City Hall; Southport Theatre in Southport; St. George’s Concert Hall in Bradford; Robin Park Sports Centre, Wigan; Liverpool Philharmonic plus the legendary London venue The HMV Hammersmith Apollo to name just a handful. The historic line-up included over 14 legendary stars singing over 30 top ten hits. Legends performing at each venue included: The Temptations Review Featuring Dennis Edwards: the Original Grammy Award-Winning Lead Singer Of Their Classic Hits (Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, I Can’t Get Next To You, Ball of Confusion and Psychedelic Shack) with Guest Performers Pete Doherty & The Rumble Strips joining them on a very special number; Russell Thompkins, Jr. & The New Stylistics, the Original Lead Singer Of All Their Hits (I Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love), Rock N’ Roll Baby, You Make Me Feel Brand New, You Are Everything and Sing Baby Sing); Peabo Bryson (Tonight, I Celebrate My Love, Whole New World (Alladin’s Theme) and Beauty & The Beast); Jimmy Ruffin (What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted and Hold On To My Love); Candi Staton (You Got The Love and Young Hearts Run Free); Billy Paul (Me and Mrs. Jones, Let ‘Em In and Your Song); Deniece Williams (Free, Let’s Hear It For The Boy and That’s What Friends Are For); Freda Payne (Band Of Gold, Bring The Boys Home and Deeper And Deeper); Dorothy Moore (Misty Blue, I Believe You and Funny How Time Slips Away); William Bell (Private Number, Tryin’ To Love Two and Born Under A Bad Sign); Jean Knight (Mr. Big Stuff and My Toot Toot); Kim Weston (It Takes Two, Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me) and Helpless) Ben E. King (Stand By Me) and Very Special Guest Star, the renowned Percy Sledge (When A Man Loves A Woman and Warm And Tender Love) as well as many of the characters David made famous in the jungle. On the final tour date at the St. David’s Hall in Cardiff, David was joined on stage by “his second mother”, Hollywood film superstar Jane Russell, who joined the cast for one very special date.
The tour was closely followed up by TV appearances on Sky 1’s factual entertainment series “Michael Jackson: The Search For His Spirit” and a Channel 4 tribute to “Michael Jackson Cha’mone Mo’Fo’ Selecta! A Tribute to Michael Jackson”.
Topping off a hugely successful year for Gest, in December 2009 the star launched a massive TV campaign with no fewer than 10 appearances on British television throughout the entire month including a record-breaking appearance on the Christmas edition of Channel 4’s hugely popular food show “Celebrity Come Dine With Me”. The action-packed show broke records as the most-watched episode ever with nearly 4 million people tuning in to see Gest delight his fellow celebrity diners – TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin, Sherrie Hewson from “Loose Women” and ex-“EastEnders” star Hannah Waterman – by having his old Hollywood pal Mickey Rooney hand out cocktails at his dinner party. Gest went on to a joint victory in the show – with the prize money donated to charity. Off-screen, Gest’s bizarre cooking practices (sprinkling the goose fat with Viagra to make his roast potatoes stand up tall) proved too tantalizing for journalists and made headline news in the tabloid press as well as the story hitting countless news websites throughout the world after it was picked up by an international press agency.
In addition, Gest’s other appearances during December included a star appearance on ITV1’s “All Star Impressions” on Saturday 26 December at 9.30pm where he appeared as Tom Jones singing the massive hit “It’s Not Unusual” backed by JLS. Gest’s four-hour MTV/VH1 Christmas Special entitled “David Gest’s Top 40 Christmas Crackers” ran throughout December on VH1, VH1 Classics, Viva and MTV.