Wilde World: Laurie Dryden

Kim Wilde’s first records were written and produced by her father and brother, Marty and Ricky. The three of them have had a great influence on the music world, as this regular series ‘Wilde World’ shows.

This week’s song is an interesting one: ‘The spirit of Joe Hill’ was written about a Swedish-American labour activist. Joe Hill, an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular songwriter and cartoonist for the union of Industrial Workers of the World. In 1914, John G. Morrison, a Salt Lake City area grocer and former policeman and his son were shot and killed by two men. The same evening, Hill arrived at a doctor’s office with a gunshot wound, and briefly mentioned a fight over a woman. Yet Hill refused to explain further, even after he was accused of the grocery store murders on the basis of his injury. He was convicted of the murders in a controversial trial. Following an unsuccessful appeal, political debates, and international calls for clemency from high-profile figures and workers’ organizations, Hill was executed in November 1915. After his death, he was memorialized by several folk songs. His life and death have inspired books and poetry.

Laurie Dryden recorded ‘The spirit of Joe Hill’ in 1972. The song was written by Mike Hawker and Marty WIlde. Hawker produced the track as well. The single was released in the UK, Sweden and New Zealand. Dryden remains an unknown artist – he had no further releases.