Date: 24 July 1988
Originally published in: Go (UK)
Written by: Mike Housego
Sexy singer Kim Wilde can be as wild as she likes on stage – so long as she remembers that in real life she is still plain Kim SMITH.
The keep-your-feet-on-the-ground advice comes from her manager, her agent – and her dad. For all three happen to be the same person.
Marty Wilde, pioneer of British rock ‘n’ roll during the Fifties, keeps a stern eye on his daughter and won’t let her go off the rails like so many of the other rock stars.
Yes, he’s made her cry. And sure, they’ve had rows. And he’ll tell her if he doesn’t like her latest boyfriend.
And that’s what helps 27-year-old Kim – one of Michael Jackson’s favourite singers – to keep in touch with reality amid all the dizzy glamour.
Marty can’t count the number of pop superstars who have come to grief since he changed his name from Reg Smith, picked up a guitar and started a band called the Wild-cats.
So the Wildes keep everything in the family. Dad writes many of his daughter’s hits with her brother Ricky. Mum Joyce, a former singer who met her husband on one of the first TV pop shows, looks after the books.
The Wilde business – Big M Productions – is run from a small building at Knebworth, Hertfordshire, a few miles from the family’s beautiful thatched home.
The Wildes make no secret of the fact that they are super rich. But more important to Marty is that they are a secure and stable family unit.
He said: “Collectively, we are very wealthy. Everyone in the family is reasonably safe financially. We have spent the last six years investing wisely.
“But however much we earn we have always tried to keep our feet firmly on the ground. We have been in showbiz for a long time, but we still stand open-mouthed at what other artists do and the lives they lead. It might work for some, but not us.”
Projects – and problems – are sorted out at family meetings. The “official” ones are at the office, the less formal ones over roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at home.
“We all sit around and throw ideas about without the accountants or anyone,” says Marty. “It’s private and we can say what we want. Sometimes it’s difficult for Joyce to get everyone together at one time, but I do like to keep tabs on Kim’s career.
“When I look at her on stage or on TV and judge her performances I can be ruthless. I have reduced her to tears, I admit it. We have had some pretty heavy rows, believe me. But they are short, sharp and to the point.
“And if I upset her I always exercise a father’s prerogative and give her a kiss and a cuddle afterwards.”
Marty is 50 next year but feels he has been able to stay young partly because he and Joyce really have two families.
As well as grown up Kim and Ricky they also have young Marty, eight, and Roxanne, nearly nine. Tragically, Joyce lost another baby last year.
In Marty’s heyday when he had a string of hits like Endless Sleep, Danna and Teenager In Love, the music biz wasn’t so complicated. Even recording techniques were simpler.
“Yes, I have had to catch up a bit,” he told me. “And it helped having young children around. If it had not been for them, I would have been very out of touch.
“But because I have Kim and Ricky, who are pretty hip, and Roxanne and Marty, who are kids, I get this huge range of different opinions all the time.
“I have learned a lot through my children,. They are bright, creative, sharp and witty. They want to work and will work. I think I would find it hard to understand the way young people think and dress today if it had not been for them.”
Despite regarding himself as a “golden oldie” Marty has just treated himself to a new “toy” – a gleaming red BMW with personalised number plate MY 750. And that’s led to some leg-pulling from his cronies down at Knebworth golf club.
“Here he comes,” they laugh. “Look at that car, he’s been sponging off his daughter again!” Says Marty: “I can take it. What they say is not meant to be nasty and I can take a joke. In fact, it’s not like that at all in reality. I still work regularly, go out and play theatres and clubs all over the country, I more than cover myself. I am totally independent.”
From his own hard slog up the pop ladder, Marty knows there are some pretty unscrupulous agents out there. He remembers when his own agent booked him to play Newcastle and Brighton – the same night. “It’s a sea of sharks,” he says. “And that’s why I am careful with my Kim. I don’t want to be thought of as a slave-driver.
“Last year, for example, Kim was pretty close to complete physical exhaustion and it started to show. She stared to screw up a little bit. She was getting snappy and ratty.
“So I made sure she eased back and we have tried to pace things out for her.”
Right now, Kim is enjoying what she regards as the high point of her career so far – appearing on Michael Jackson’s world tour.
“I can’t tell you what it means to her,” says Marty, glowing with pride. “He is the greatest performer I have ever seen in my life. At this moment in time, Jacko is the hottest person around. He is IT! And my daughter is opening the show for him!
“That would have been equivalent to me opening the show for Elvis Presley in my day. He was always my idol – still is.”
Marty knew the Michael Jackson tour was a pretty big deal for Kim when a woman arrived at rehearsals with a truck load of designer clothes worth thousands of pounds.
It was quite a contrast to Marty’s most recent tour a few months ago with Buddy Holly’s old band, the Crickets – he fitted out his guys with £75 suits from Marks and Spencers!
Kim’s name has been linked romantically with many celebrities – Julian Lennon, Jackson himself, Calvin Hayes of Johnny Hates Jazz, and Terence Trent D’Arby.
But Marty says: “I read a lot of things about Kim which aren’t true.” Once, Kim did ask her father what he thought of a certain young man she fancied. And he told her in no uncertain terms that he didn’t approve.
“I am not saying who it was, but I had to put my size 15 down,” he said. “At the moment Kim is seeing Calvin Hayes. They have been buddies for years and his father, Micky Most, is her producer.”
Marty added: “I don’t worry about Kim. She will never be like Sabrina, this new Italian girl who’s always exposing her nipples all over the place.
“It would be very easy for us to do that with Kim. But if Penthouse or Playboy put a deal to us, I would tell them to go take a jump.
“Even though we are a showbiz family, we don’t lose sight of reality. My mother still calls me Reg sometimes, so do my old mates in London.
“On Kim’s passport it says Kim Smith. And when she goes down the aisle to get married, that’s who she’ll be.”