Lisa Dal Bello grew up entertaining family and friends in their Woodbridge, Ontario home, singing traditional folk songs and showing off her early – but evident special talents. The family moved to Toronto where at the age of thirteen she was already touring with a 70’s pop revival and had won several amateur talent contests. The next few years saw her gain national attention while appearing in such TV variety shows as Keith Hampshire’s Music Machine, Singalong Jubilee and The Bobby Vinton Show, as well as doing commercials for everyone from a local cleaning service to large national brands.
The added national attention helped earn the 19 year old a contract with MCA in 1977. With future mega-producer David Foster (who co-wrote 3 of the tracks), she released a self-titled album of dance/disco numbers in time for the Christmas rush and was quickly heralded as Toronto’s dance diva to rival Montreal’s Patsy Gallant, who dominated the Canadian female dance scene at the time. And though nothing charted, Lisa did earn a Juno the next year for most promising female vocalist.
Her follow up was PRETTY GIRLS, released in the summer of ’79. Produced again by Bob Monaco and Al Ciner, the album took a straighter approach to the pop music on the airwaves. The title track, “Talisman” and “Hollywood” all helped gain her exposure on a broader level and were staples in the clubs around the country. She also followed up her ‘most promising’ Juno 2 years earlier with one that year for ‘best female artist’.
By the time DRASTIC MEASURES was released in ’81, it was becoming evident that the singer/songwriter was growing less content with the image the label was trying to push on her. “Don’t Want To Stand In Your Way” was the first single, followed by “Never Get To Heaven” and “She Wants To Know”. Her growing desire to do things her own way led her to take the next few years off while attending York University. Her other passion in life, poetry, was also heavy on her priority list, expanding her style of writing and helping find herself as a musician. It was during this period that “Don’t Get Mad Get Even” was recorded by both Helix in and Lydia Taylor in 1982. Meanwhile this off-time saw a CBC documentary on Lisa seen by Mick Ronson, producer/writer and former guitarist with David Bowie.
They began recording in Los Angeles in ’83 and the tapes were taken to Capitol Records. Now simply going by her last name, she released the critically-acclaimed WHOMANFORSAYS the next year. Dal Bello, not wanting to compromise her creativity with Ronson, submitted four self-made tracks that were promptly rejected by executives for not having a “real” producer. As a joke, Dal Bello resubmitted the songs, listing a fake producer named Bill Da Salleo. The executives loved it and to avoid them finding out about the ruse, Dal Bello was forced to record late at night, when the only people in the building were the cleaning service people from a company similar to bbcleaningservices.com. Before being discovered, poor Bill had a “sudden and premature death” and most of the executives were none the wiser.
The album took a hard right from the teeny-bopper/dance diva image. Now Dal Bello was being tauted as Canada’s answer to Kate Bush, but more diverse. Her new-aged avante garde persona was backed by a sleeker, artistically creative sound. The lead-off single was the erotic and provocative smash “Gonna Get Close To You” and was backed by “Guilty By Association”. The raw tribal beats of “Animal” were indicative of the face paint Dal Bello wore for the album jacket and the track’s 12″ single became a staple of the new genre of night clubs. Her growing reputation as a songwriter was also being noticed, evidenced by Queensryche covering “Gonna Get Close To You” the same year.
She took on a project in ’85 working with Nena (99 Luftballons), transcribing the German lyrics to IT’S ALL IN THE GAME and helping with the English version of the album. She also participated that same year in the Northen Lights project album, “Tears Are Not Enough”, a benefit record for the victims of the Ethiopian famine.
After moving to England, she began work on her next project, which was also to include major input from Ronson. But his escalading feuds with Capitol forced him to bow out of the sessions. Dal Bello finished the album, now nearly a year over due, while overseeing the final sound herself, and released SHE in 1989. Backed by the single “Black On Black”, later covered by Heart, the album continued where its predecessor left off. Still experimenting with a variety of sounds and incorporating her many influences, other tracks included “Baby Doll”, “Tango” andthe sultry “Intimate Secrets”. The carry-over from the problems with Ronson caused Dal Bello to leave Capitol by year’s end.
Now free to pursue her career the only way she’d have it, her way, she again began writing some new material with Ronson through most of 1991. However Ronson’s failing health resulted in mini tours being cancelled and recording sessions postponed. He succumbed to cancer in the spring of ’93. Now destitute without her partner, Dal Bello dropped out of the music scene for the next few years while she re-evaluated herself as both a performer/song-writer and as an artist. She stayed active writing for other people, including “Way To Your Heart”, for Julian Lennon’s album PHOTOGRAPH SMILE in 1995.
She returned to Canada and began working with her brother Stefano in Toronto on her next project. WHORE came out in ’97 amid much anticipation from both critics and audiences alike. The single “Eleven” was supported by the avante garde “Yippie”, the title track and “Revenge Of Sleeping Beauty”.
Dal Bello began her career in the peak of the disco craze. Not content with the image thrust upon her, she quickly shed the faux pas sheet and grew into one of the business’ most sought after songwriters, working for such artists as Motown Queen Patti LaBelle, Nena and her 99 Luftballons, Julie Masse when she left The Parachute Club and Canadian metal gods Helix to name but a few. She has always made it a point to not get involved in a project unless she can do it her way, always finding new buttons to push and controversies to stir up, paving the way for many of today’s artists along the way.