It’s a Wilde life

Phil Gould finds out from Kim Wilde that being an Eighties pop starlet isn’t the only route to fame, fortune and happiness.

In the 80s Kim Wilde was the princess of pop who notched up a string of hits to win the accolade of the most charted British female vocalist of the decade. She seemed to have it all: she was the blonde-haired pop kitten who every man wanted to date and every girl wanted to be.

Although most of her songs were original compositions, often penned with brother Ricky, she scored her biggest hit with a remake of the Supremes 1966 hit ‘You keep me hangin  on’. But towards the end of the decade her star began to fade and by the early 90s it all seemed to be over.

In 1996 Kim landed a part in the West End musical Tommy, a catalyst for her in more ways than one. Today the blonde hair has gone and the woman before me has a much fuller figure than the Wilde of yesteryear. But the pout is still very much in place, although she is happier to admit she is older and wiser than she was when she first burst on to the pop scene.

“I’m still really proud of my musical career. I was very young – the perfect time to be a pop star”, recalls Kim, now sewing the seeds of a career in horticulture by fronting Garden Invaders. “I’d always wanted to sing and be a pop star. I was given a giftr with my first hit Kids in America. Then everybody seemed to like my hair and bizarrely it went from there. I’d got the song, the hair and then the career. After a few years I decided to start writing my own songs. I listened to the radio and thought that I could write songs like they were playing. The 80s became filled with female songwriters. Although I wasn’t one of the eminent ones, I was there”, says the daughter of 60s pop star Marty Wilde. “I still love music, it’s not like I walked away from my career with disgust and contempt. I walked away because there was something better on offer”, says the 40-year-old.

“By the early 90s, I’d had enough of being a pop star and I think the public had had enough of me.” But as her love affair with music began to falter, Kim discovered a new love – actor Hal Fowler, who she met while appearing in Tommy. The couple enjoyed a whirlwind romance and were married in September 1996. They now had two children Harry, three, and one-year-old Rose. “I had kind of given up on the idea that I would ever meet a man who would be a soul mate”, reveals Kim. “The last thing I expected was to go into a West End musical and meet the man who was going to become my husband and the father of my children. It all happened so quickly. After we got married I had this feeling that we would have a family rather quickly – because I was dying to have kids with Hal.”

Kim developed her interest in gardening when they bought their ghome. She is studying for a City and Guilds qualification in Planting and Planting Design. “I find it much easier to learn now than when I was at school”, she says. “I do a lot of studying in the evening when the children are in bed. Initially they didn’t recognise me. Then everybody seemed to know. I’m just plain Kim Smith to them and they are not interested in who I am. They are just interesting in having a chat about plants”, she laughs.