Date: 19 September 2012
Originally published in: Metro (UK)
Written by: Andrew Williams
Kim Wilde, 51, is best known for her 1981 hit Kids In America, and talks to Metro about her father, Marty Wilde, and her mother who sang in a 1950s girls’ group.
My parents had me when they were about 20. My father, singer Marty Wilde, was one of the pioneer rock’n’roll stars in Britain and he met my mum on a TV show. She was in The Vernons Girls, one of the first girl groups. They had me and my brother, Ricky, in quick succession. We lived in London until I was ten, when my father wrote some big hits for acts such as Status Quo and Lulu, it changed his fortunes and we moved to the country.
When I was a teenager, me and my mum were my dad’s backing vocalists. We did a show with him at the London Palladium. I learnt a lot about harmony; our voices blended well together because we were a family. I was blown away by my dad’s capacity to transport an audience to somewhere else just by singing. Something magical happens between an audience and a performer and I grew up watching it first-hand. I thought I wouldn’t mind doing that for the rest of my life and getting paid for it.
I finished art college and was hunting around for like-minded souls to set up a music project but didn’t find anyone. My brother had started writing songs and I became his backing vocalist. I went to the studio and the producer, Mickie Most, suggested I become the singer. My brother was relieved. He didn’t fancy being a pop star – he wanted to be out of the limelight. I was envious he had that songwriting ability because I felt I didn’t have the experience to do it myself. I was happy being the front person for my brother and dad’s songs in the early part of my career, such as with Kids In America, View From A Bridge and Cambodia.
We shared the same sense of humour, loved pop music and the fact my dad was young when he had us meant there wasn’t a huge age gap. It felt as though we were a band and we had good fun.
Becoming a mother was high on my list of priorities. When I was 36, I was in the mood for a making a significant change in my life. I was offered a role in Tommy in the West End. My instinct was proved right – I met my husband Hal, an actor in the show, and was married within six months of taking the job. I had met someone I wanted to start a family with and it gave me the courage to completely get out of the business.
We wanted to have children and, when I became pregnant, it inspired me to take up gardening. I had a vision of them growing up in a garden with vegetables and flowers and butterflies and bees. Any mother wants to make their child’s life as perfect as possible and that’s what gardening represented for me. It led to a whole new career I wasn’t anticipating.
My children had no idea I’d been a pop star until they saw me perform as part of a retro 1980s tour – then they got the shock of their lives. My son, Harry, who was around six, came into the dressing room afterwards and I asked him what he thought of Mummy. He said: ‘That was my other mummy.’ He was almost a bit shy. It was a bizarre situation but he quickly got over it when I told him to pick his stuff off the floor. They’ve come to a few gigs since and have a great time.
My daughter, Rose, is 12 and is writing songs. My son is 14 and plays a wicked lead guitar and wants to be in a band. It’s wonderful to see. My son’s a bit quiet, like I was at that age, but has a great passion for music. My daughter reminds me a lot of myself – she enjoys singing and playing the piano and I used to love that. My parents have a wonderful relationship with my children, which is great because my husband and I get to slope off sometimes and be Hal and Kim rather than Mum and Dad.
Kim Wilde is promoting Ronseal’s Go On Get Outdoors campaign. www.ronseal.co.uk