Date: 18 July 2015
Originally published in: Various local newspapers (Netherlands)
Written by: Jean-Paul Heck
This article was published in the following Dutch newspapers: Apeldoornse Courant; BN/De Stem, Brabants Nieuwsblad, Dagblad Flevoland; Deventer Dagblad; Eindhovens Dagblad, De Gelderlander, Gelders Dagblad; Nieuw Kamper Dagblad; Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant, Sallands Dagblad; Twentsche Courant Tubantia, Veluws Dagblad; Zutphens Dagblad; Zwolse Courant.
With a long string of hits, Kim Wilde wrote pop history. The songs she sings still. Soon also back in the Netherlands.
Despite her reputation Kim Wilde (54) seems to be rather timid. Arriving in the charming village in the English region Welwyn Hertfordshire, a taxi driver makes that immediately clear. “The Wilde family I know well,” he says. “I played golf with her father. The man is old, but still super fit. And Kim is a great girl. Quiet and reserved. She often takes the train to London.”
Fifteen minutes later she stands in the doorway of her farm called The Great Barn. She has gained a little weight. But this assertive head, the pouting lips and blonde hair unmistakably belong to one of the biggest pop stars of the eighties. In the vast living room of the farmhouse there are instruments all over the place. Her daughter is sat before the hearth watching MTV. On the table are CD’s from rock bands such as The Clash and Iron Maiden. “I have listened to metal music for the last few years,” she says.
The pop goddess was born in London and feels at home in the countryside. “My parents moved to this area when I was 10 years old. I had a great childhood, grew up with the glampop of the Bay City Rollers and Donny Osmond. My father Marty (he scored many hits in the fifties and sixties, ed.) made the musical transition to glam rock in the Seventies. At home we heard Gary Glitter, Marc Bolan and T-Rex all day. But also Elvis Presley, Kraftwerk and Tchaikovsky.
“I remember Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield came out. My father thought that everyone in the household had to hear that song. My mother was not too crazy about it. My brother Ricky, Marty and I found it fantastic. Even then we had a musical alliance. “
It was therefore quite natural for her to work with them. “In the late Seventies I was fascinated by The Mo-dettes, a female punk group that came out of The Slits. I was actually a little punkrocker. I wanted that too! To be a beautiful girl with a wild character.”
That message went well with dad and brother Wilde. “When they first let me hear the song Kids in America, I was so surprised. It fitted the spirit of the time exactly. Of course it was surreal that I had to sing the lyrics written by my father.”
Together with the savvy record executive Micky Most of the label RAK Records Wilde conquered Europe rapidly in 1981. “Micky always said to me, ‘Kim, you do not have to worry about your success. Your records have legs. They walk right into the charts…” Most was right. “But it was not a continuous glory trip. My third album flopped completely. I made my comeback with the album Another step. I decided to leave the family home and buy an apartment in London. That really didn’t make sense because it became a repository of my bags more than anything.
Off the cuff
“In 1986 my career exploded for the second time. We’d recorded the Supremes song You keep me hangin ‘on off the cuff and suddenly I was number one in America.” After that, the hits continued to follow. “It was a turning point. Within a year I scored with You came, Four letter word and Never trust a stranger. For dessert, I could do the opening act for Michael Jackson during his BAD tour.”
Wilde then made a number of fine albums, but the success was over. “The Americans were increasingly involved with my musical direction. That eventually became very annoying.”
A role in the The Who musical Tommy in 1997 made a desired fold in her life. “I auditioned at Covent Garden and was so nervous. Pete Townshend sat front and said nothing. I got the role and later Pete wrote me a beautiful letter. It was the first time in my life I took an independent decision without the intervention from my brother and father. “
In the theater where Tommy was playing, she bumped into singer and actor Hal Fowler. “I was 36 and suddenly I met The One. It was immediately clear to me: with him I wanted to have children. My music career wasn’t running very smoothly in the mid-nineties, so the choice for a family life was made quickly.. ”
Still, the singer kept busy with music. “We organize here at home regular music evenings and do songs by artists including Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell. I was so happy at the time that I’d turned my back on the music world. Suddenly it was not about my lipstick, face cream, videos and interviews.”
However, an old passion was sparked with her. “During my pregnancy I started studying again. The design of gardens and applying the right techniques is the most beautiful thing there is. The BBC got wind of it and it asked me for the TV program Better gardens. The reactions were so good that I got my own garden program Garden Invaders: a huge success. In England there are now more people who see me as that famous gardener then that singer from the eighties.”
A rare appearance of Kim in Germany, made in 2003 for the final comeback on stage. “I would do something with the German singer Nena. She came up with the idea to record a duet. I had actually forgotten, until Claire called me from the Netherlands where Anyplace, anywhere, anytime had reached No. 1. I could not believe it. That moment was crucial for me to return. “
In recent years they released four albums that gave her a superstar again in Germany in particular. “I’m working on a new CD. In addition, late this year a greatest hits album will be released. But first I’m going to do this autumn concerts in the Netherlands. Whether I find it silly to still sing all the old hits? Are you crazy? I ‘m very proud of what I’ve done. “
Concerts Kim Wilde: 1/10 Bergen op Zoom, 2/10 Den Bosch, 3/10 Heerlen, 4/10 Zoetermeer. Ticket sales have already started.