Singer Kim Wilde followed her father, mother and brother into the pop world and admits she has a lot of help from them—but on stage, she’s on her own. No amount of family background and know-how will save her if she can't entertain an audience paying to be entertained.
After several hit records, 22-yearold Kim made her first British tour earlier this year. Thames TV were there to film the performances and the backstage joys and hassles. “Kim Wilde—First Time Out” is on ITV on Hogmanay. Kim has just arrived back from a longawaited tropical holiday in time to see the show. “I really needed that holiday,” she said. “It has been such a hectic year, and I had flu just before I left. The tour really took something out of me.”
Kim was born in London, the second child of vintage rock’n’roller Marty Wilde and his wife Joyce. They already had a son, Ricky. The Wildes - still known to friends and neighbours as the Smiths, their real name - have always been a close family. Ricky and Kim still live with their parents. They have been joined in recent years by two much younger children, on whom Kim dotes. Marty's heyday as pop star is long past, but he has remained in the business as a songwriter and record producer. In the late 1960s. he tried promote little Ricky as a sort of British Donny Osmond. Ricky had a lot of publicity, but few record sales. As the writer of Kim's songs, he is much more successful. "I did backing vocals on Ricky's records," Kim told me, “and when he had some songs that he had written for a girl singer, I was the obvious person to sing on the demonstration records. It was Mickle Most, the record company boss, who suggestd that I should record them commercially." The first of them, "Kids in America", was a worldwide hit, to be followed by several more. For publicity photographs, Kim dyed her hair - and was accused of trying to copy the image of Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie. "There was no deliberate image", she says categorically. "I've never tried to be other than myself."
In 1981, she and Toyah Willcox were undoubtedly Britain's top female pop stars, but Kim's fortunes have waned a little this year. Her last single, "Child Come Away", wasn't rapturously received.
"I would like a hit record", she admits. "But dad and Ricky are busy writing some new songs at the moment, and I'm sure I'll find one among them."