Kim wanted hits

Kim, said father Reginald Smith, on that optimistic morning in November 1960 when he went to the office to report the birth of his daughted in Cheswick.

Kim she was called, Kim Smith. Now the story could end here, because there is no Kim Smith in music history. She became famous with a surname she also got from her father, Reginald Smith sang using the stage name Marty Wilde. For the Netherlands, he was barely more than a one hit wonder, with that one hit from 1968: Abergavenny. But in England he was famous enough for Kim to use her dad’s surname and so she became Kim Wilde.

Not that she left father behind after that. Marty Wilde wrote, together with his son, and Kim’s brother, Ricky some of the early hits of Kim. Because hits she did have, from day 1. The jumpy ‘Kids in America’, the thumping ‘Chequered love’, the emotional ‘Cambodia’. The hits are among the biggest and most infectuous of the early Eighties. Sung with a stern look, underlining her image of beautiful but unapproachable blonde lady. She couldn’t be approached literally: she didn’t perform live.

In every decade

In 1984 the magic disappeared for the first time. Singles didn’t reach the top 20 anymore, and in 1985 she didn’t even reach the charts at all. Not unusual in pop, a short lifespan. Kim Wilde knew how to extend her career with a cover of ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ from the Supremes. And how: it became her first number 1 in the United States.

And so began a series of lucky breaks and incidents that made Kim Wilde a wellknown name in pop music until this day. She went on tour across Europe with Michael Jackson, who had just released his album ‘Bad’ in 1988. Not that she ever saw him, but a young audience did see her and she returned to the highest regions of the charts.

After which she started gardening. She met her one true love and they soon had children. They had to grow up in a healthy environment with lots of green. She started studying seriously and was asked by Channel 4 and the BBC to present gardening programmes, amongst others around her own successful designs. She seemed lost for music, but then she got a phone call from Germany.

and she succeeded

It was Nena. They knew one another, the German singer (from ’99 Luftballons’) and the English singer, because they were in the charts together quite regularly. She asked whether Kim would like to sing a new version of ‘Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann’, which was a hit for Nena in 1984 when Kim had a hit with ‘The second time’. And Kim agreed to do it.

World hit. The world without the UK, because it was not released there. It was the umpteenth return of Kim Wilde in the sportlights and the charts. She also re-recorded an old hit herself, but ‘You came’ didn’t quite make it. But that doesn’t say much: luck can strike at any time. Or drink.

At the end of last year, a few days before Christmas, she returned from a very nice party by train. What do you mean unapproachable? A wild Kim, wearing antlers on her blonde hair. A man near her had a guitar and so she improvised ‘Kids in America’ on the spot. The movie on YouTube has been watched almost two million times.