HE was destined for pop stardom, a pin-up on the top TV shows, the cover of teen magazines and rubbing shoulders with names from the top of the charts.
Yet singer Jamie Rae’s tilt at the big time was derailed by the sad death of his mother.
Now, three decades later, the singer is reaching into his back catalogue and dusting down the songs which once looked set to make him a Scottish pop superstar.
Aged just 18 Jamie, real name Jeff Fillingham, turned his back on a recording career which had seen him rub shoulders with Boy George and George Michael, sign to the same label as Tracey Ullman and Madness and appear on the country’s most popular prime-time TV chat show, Wogan.
But when his mother Maureen Hart, the popular comedienne and singer, was diagnosed with leukaemia, he came home and never went back.
Jeff, now 50, said: “Mum had been saying how tired she was, and we had noticed she was getting a lot of bruises. Her doctor sent her to the hospital for blood tests and she never came back out again.”
Maureen had made her name on the Scottish variety circuit, first as the double act Cheeky Bee, with Jeff’s dad Richard Fillingham, and then as a solo performer.
“She was only 37 when she died. She’d just finished a run of sold-out shows at the Pavilion days before she was diagnosed. She died at four o’clock in the afternoon, and the news of her death was on Scotland Today at six. That’s how popular she was.”
Having faced such deep personal trauma at a tender age, Jeff was unable to focus on getting his dream back on track.
Despite having released two singles, She’s The One and Pretty One, Jeff couldn’t face going back to being Jamie.
He said: “I was halfway through recording my album when she died, and we were about to release the third single which had been written by Boy George. But I messed it up. I threw it all away.
“As well as being my mother, she was also my best friend. I was very close to her. And it was such a tough time.
“Even though I’d loved every second of it up until then, I was only 17 or 18. I had a record company spending all this money on me, and then my mum died. I got scared. I basically ran away.
“My whole life fell apart. I had no interest in anything else. I just wanted to sit at home and mope. When I finally went back to the record company, they basically said nobody knew me anymore.”
Jeff now works as a manager at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, where, like many Scots, he has happy memories of family holidays. He jokes that his first showbiz success came aged five, when he won a stick of rock and £5 for singing The Dark Island on a North Pier talent show in the 1970s.
A decade later, his singing ability was spotted by a London music producer after a short singing scene in the BA Robertson film Living Apart Together, the Bishopbriggs schoolboy embarked on an unlikely journey.
Within months he was working in the famed SARM West recording studios with Bananarama at the other end of the corridor. When George Michael visited during a recording session, Jamie told the Wham star he loved a jacket he’d seen him wearing in a video.
“I remember saying how much I loved the coat. A week later he sent me it and I wore it in the video for Pretty One.”
Yet even after the wheels came off on his ascent to stardom, Jeff still forged a brilliant career on stage, travelling the world as a singer on cruise ships and going on to work in Las Vegas as a support act for showbiz royalty like Debbie Reynolds.
“There are some things I’m very proud of,” said Jeff. “There aren’t many people who can say they opened for Debbie Reynolds. She totally mothered us, she was as nice as pie.
“I worked with Liza Minnelli for a week in Bermuda, too. She was great.
“Even if she’d had a few drinks backstage, she’d go on and be the consummate professional.”
But more than anything he has learned from working with some of the biggest names in the business, he’ll be taking inspiration from elsewhere.
Jeff said: “I’ll be nervous, but part of me thinks my mum will be there with me, giving me the strength.”
Jamie Rae returns at Blackpool Pleasure Beach on Saturday. Visit blackpool pleasurebeach.com/whats-on/late-night-riding-fireworks/ for info, or follow him on Twitter @mrjamierae.