‘Reborn’ Kim Wilde: ‘My lust for life has returned’

Kim Wilde (32) is reliving her early ‘twenties’. ‘If I can’t have you’ was a hit when she was on highschool and now takes care of her comeback. And the British singer is just as slim as she was in the beginning. With the kilos her emotional worries also disappeared.

When Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids in America’ entered the top 20 in February 1981, she had to go up agains the idols of the moment: Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, The Stray Cats, Shakin’ Stevens and Madness. It was her debut single and she was shot up like a comet. She was called a pop sensation and sceptics predicted that her success would last just as long as the now long forgotten Joe Dolce, who was number one at the time with ‘Shaddup Your Face’.
But Kim survived ‘everyone’. She is now working on her ninth album and 27th single. She has sold 6 million albums already and 11 million singles. Since ‘If I can’t have you’ entered the Briitish charts (an immediate record for Kim!) she can call herself the most productive female singer together with Shirley Bassey and Petula Clark.

Kim became a popstar almost by accident. The family Wilde was working in showbizz for 20 years already. She grew up in the rock circuit and worked as backing vocalist for her dad in the teens. After she graduated from Art College in 1980 she wanted to become a studio singer because of the variation in that job. During one of her first assignments she was discovered by Mickie Most, who said she had the looks to become a star. Kim’s brother Ricky took on the challenge to become her producer. ‘Kids in America’ was a bull’s eye shot. And Kim became the symbol of her generation. Countless girls imitated her look. It wasn’t hard to identify with her – a simple girl next door who bough second hand clothes from Oxfam.
“It all happened so fast that I didn’t get the time to get enthusiastic about it all”, says Kim Wilde. “The pressure was enormous and never really left after that. Still those first years of success were fantastic. I had the feeling that I was constantly underway between Heathrow and Germany, where I met different artists, such as the Police, Tenpole Tudor and Sister Sledge in mad TV programmes. Kirsty MacColl was my best friend. We both were in a relationship with a member of Tenpole Tudor. I remember staying in a lot of the same hotels. I felt that the typical rock & roll behaviour of some colleagues was a bit over the top, but I went along with them anyway.”

Kim’s fear that her success would be a short fairytale proved totally unfounded. ‘Chequered Love’, ‘Water on glass’, ‘Cambodia’, ‘View from a bridge’, ‘Love blonde’… they all became international hits. In 1983 she even won the BPI Award as ‘best female singer’ of that year. Among her admirers: Michael Jackson, who asked her to do his support in 1988 during his European tour. In 1990 she had a similar offer from David Bowie.
Kim: “Those tours were unique experiences for me, because I got the chance to sing before big masses of people. But they were also a chance to concentrate on the rest of my career. Although I kept scoring hits, I felt that I’d reached a dead end. I wasn’t really happy with my image and I wanted to compose songs myself. Emotionally I was going through a tough time. I had depressed moods at times and had to deal with disappointments in relationships. At some time I let myself go. I had no more inspiration and I wasn’t taking care of my looks anymore. I became too fat. I even had less contact with members of my family. I turned into a hermit of sorts. The tide turned when I bought a house on the countryside. I decorated it myself and regained a balance. I learned to be happy again. The big difference is that I’m no longer obsessed with material possessions. My pets, the contact with my neighbours, nature, friends… I have become a new person. You notice the result on my new songs. I’ve got the punch to go at it again. Certainly now that my private life looks better, my lust for life has returned.”