Kim Wilde: the vintage gay icon who rocks the kids

I initially hesitated in choosing Kim Wilde as my icon as it’s difficult to think of her as ‘vintage’ but my musical love-affair with her started 30 years ago so she probably qualifies (even though, by default, that also marks me as a certain age)!

I was 5 years old when I received a gift of my first ever album – a cassette of Kim Wilde. Her self-titled debut album, featuring the iconic Kids in America, went Gold in the UK and Germany, and also hit the Number 1 spot in the Netherlands and Sweden. More importantly, it set in motion a chain that would lead to me developing an obsession verging on the unhealthy.

Kim Wilde’s not my only musical obsession. I also own everything ever released by Kylie and Bonnie Tyler, but she was my first so holds a very special place in my heart. Plus, she was born just down the road from where I now live which automatically marks her as fabulous.

Speaking of her birth, let’s take a moment to investigate her pedigree. Her father is the well-known rock ‘n’ roller Marty Wilde and her mother, Joyce was a member of The Vernons Girls. Her brother, Ricky, has co-written and produced most of her hits and her sister, Roxanne, is Kylie Minogue’s backing singer. With genes like that, there’s no wonder Kim became such a sensation.

By the age of 20, Kim was signed to RAK Records, home to Susi Quattro and Hot Chocolate among others. Her debut single, Kids in America, was an instant success in the UK, France, Germany and Australia. In 1983, she received the Brit Award for Best British Female and, four years later, You Keep Me Hangin’ On made Kim Wilde only the fifth British solo female to top the US Hot 100, following in the hallowed footsteps of Petula Clark, Lulu, Sheena Easton and Bonnie Tyler.

The following year, 1988, saw the release of her most successful album to date (and my personal favourite), Close. Remaining in the UK Top 40 for almost 8 months, Close spawned 3 major UK hit singles (You Came, Never Trust A Stranger, and Four Letter Word) and tied in with Kim joining Michael Jackson on his Bad World tour.

Fast forward a few years, and she became a YouTube viral sensation in December 2012 when a video surfaced of a somewhat inebriated Kim serenading a trainload of commuters with two of her best-loved hits, Kids in America and Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.

Clearly developing a taste for public transport gigs, March 2013 saw her break the world record for the highest ever concert – performing an acoustic set with Tony Hadley, Bananarama and Go West on a Boeing 767 at 43,000 feet.

She is also known for her support of gay rights, speaking out in favour of the Belgrade Pride parade and stating “You cannot know how much something like that pleases me.” when asked how she feels about having a particular place in the court of the gay public

With a 33 year career covering 17 albums (and rumours of another on the way), 2 books, 3 TV series’ and many award-winning garden designs, it’s something of a miracle that she still finds the time to perform live. But she does, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. I last saw her at the Rewind Festival in 2011 and she outshone every other artist with the 30,000-strong crowd singing along and dancing to a non-stop string of hits. Kim will be performing at The Rewind Festival in Henley-on-Thames (16-18 August) and the Rewind Scotland festival (26-28 July) again this year, and has just announced dates for the Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party (18 Dec – Bristol, 19 Dec – Birmingham and 21 Dec – London).

Kim – for being the first ever music I owned, for being the first music I bought myself, for being the most-charted British solo female of the 1980s, for loving the gays, and for being a fabulously drunken lush on a train, I salute you. Here’s to the next 30 years!