Date: 16 November 2001
Originally published in: Manchester Evening News (UK)
Written by: Kevin Bourke
Why Kim Wilde ditched pop stardom in favour of gardening!
There are basically two approaches, for the artists at least, to the sort of packaged nostalgia offered by tours like the current Here And Now tour, arriving at the Manchester Evening News Arena tonight.
There’s the “this is a bit beneath us” approach, or there’s the more upbeat “well, what’s really wrong with doing this as it will allow me the financial wherewithal to make the sort of music I’m currently making?” take on proceedings.
Actually the approach taken by Kim Wilde, who’s on the bill tonight in a line-up including Paul Young, Heaven 17, Go West, Nick Heyward, Curioslty Killed The Cat and T’pau, falls somewhere between the two, as she had long-since adopted a far more sensible approach to pop stardom.
“It’s just a bit of fun. At least, that’s what it feels like to me,” she good-humouredly argues, adding with a laugh, “but on the other hand I already know the words to my six songs and, if I was one of the poor musicians, having to learn everyone’s songs (everyone except Paul Young is using the same backing band), I might be a bit less lald-back about lt all!”
“For me, the reality of it was that I was never, ever going to retain the sort of popularity and success I had in the eighties (when she had 10 hit albums and 30 hit singles, let us not forget), so why bother to try? I didn’t want to be left floundering, so the easiest way was just to give it all up, to walk away from a career that was already on the slide.
“I was never gaing ta be able ta write songs like Carole Ring or sing like Aretha Franklin,” she says with thoroughly disarming honesty. There was a period, though, when she slld into depression and heavy drinking.
“The problem was that that decision meant there was space for me to plummet emotionlly” she says now. Her sllde, though, was halted by her meeting her now-husband, the actor and producer Hal Fowler in rehearsal for the stage version of Tommy. She was 36 at the time and says she “never thought I would meet someone who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I was drawn to him immediately. “I deeply wanted to have a family, especially when I looked around at my contemporaries and peers. I knew that if I was ever to get married and have children, that was the time to do it.”
More recently she’s re-emerged as a TV presenter/gardener. Gardening is, she says, a passion that goes back to her earllest childhood memories.
“I’ve always loved the country life and living outside. I was always impressed by those people who were aware of their environment.
“That was a noble aspiration, I felt, and, during my pop star days, I’d get off the plane in my pop star makeup and clothes and rush straight to my garden to start potting and pruning.”
Mind you, she hasn’t entirely turned her back on pop.
“Of course, I wouldn’t mind another hit single or album,” she admits, “but if it happens, it happens. I won’t force it.”