Rock-a-bye baby in the chart tops

As a warm-up to her first British rock tour, Kim Wilde – talented daughter of Fifties pop star Marty Wilde – made her stage debut with a six-concert mini-tour of Denmark. And those laid-back Danes were delighted.
Although a hit on record, Kim – subject of ITV’s documentary profile on New Year’s Eve – had never made a stage appearance. Her Danish debut before an audience of 3000 was, she tells me, ‘a shattering experience. It was great but it just did me in, mentally. I was very overcome by it.’
If nothing else, it taught her the importance of sleep. ‘After that first gig in Denmark I was very late to bed and didn’t sleep all night’, Kim recalls. ‘Next day I just watched the dawn come up. I’d had a bit to drink so I wasn’t feeling too good. Then we had a coach rid and a boat trip to the next gig and I was in a real state. I realised I had no choice but to go on stage feeling rough. I did it – and it was fantastic’.
When the idea of a British tour was first discussed, 22-year-old Kim – whose first record, Kids in America, written by brother Ricky, sold two million copies – had thought the try-out in Denmark was not necessary.
It was her father who convinced her. ‘There are certain times in your career when you’ve got to lay your prestige on the line and take chances’, he told her. ‘One day you’ve got to get out there on the stage and show the people what you can really do.’
But there was no reason, he argued, not to have some insurance, which is why he arranged the Danish tour so she would get used to a live audience and avoid an inexperienced debut in front of the fans at home.
Dazzled by the clapping, whistling, stamping fans at her opening concert in Denmark, she now says: ‘Looking back, I realise I needed the experience very much.’
The British tour opened in Bristol and, three weeks and 18 towns and cities later, finished in London. again sleep – and regular meals – suffered.
‘We had some wild nights with the group’, she says, ‘and I wasn’t getting to bed much before 3am. But often I could stay in bed until 11 in the morning before morning on to the next venue. And my eating habits were a bit dodgy. I’d miss breakfast, which was really stupid. We’d often be on the coach at lunchtime – and then wouldn’t eat until it was far too late, after the gig.’
Her impressions of the tour were inevitably fleeting. She saw much of Britain for the first time from the windows of the coach and liked what she saw. ‘I never realised England was quite so beautiful. The area near Sheffield, the Peak District, is really lovely.’
Paignton – or it could have been Southport – was where some members of the audience made a grab for her feet she was leaving the stage. ‘There were loads of people backstage to look after me’, says Kim, ‘and those who did manage to get up on the stage were promptly pushed off into the audience. I certainly wasn’t attacked. There wasn’t any moment on the tour when I was actually scared. I really enjoyed myself.’
Southport she remembers ‘because my nan and my cousins came down’ and Birmingham was good because her mother and father were there.
‘But I’ll never forget London – two nights at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road – because that was special. Most of the gigs I’d ever been to as a kid were in London. It’s where I was born, and everyone was there.’
Her relationship with a live audience, she discovered, was ‘a very instinctive thing’, not anything that she feels could be put into words. Sexy? She doesn’t really know about that, but it was certainly something quite basic.
There were few of the more basic moments of hassle from over-enthusiastic males.
‘I didn’t get too much of that from fellows. People were very respectful towards me, mostly’, says Kim, dubbed the Bardot of pop for what one woman writer called her ‘sultry looks and simmering sexuality’.
‘Instead of getting chatted up I’m getting more the arm’s-length treatment. I think they may be a bit scared – it’s what I’ve been told, not a conclusion I’ve come to myself – maybe because of the basic insecurities of the male population.’