Kim Wilde is one of the most adored female singers of the Eighties. In 1981, her debut single, KidsinAmerica, was a global hit and she went on to sell 30m records. Seen as the voice of a generation of rebellious youth, Kim’s punchy vocals hit the airwaves around the world – and she still holds the record for being the most-charted British female solo act of the Eighties. Here, Kim opens up about 40 years in the music business – and why, at 60, she’s only just begun!
You’re celebrating 40 years in music... how does that feel?
I remember when I was 20 years old and Olivia Newton John had just turned 30 – I thought that was such an old age to be still singing! My perception of age back then was so different. Now Olivia is still singing and I’m 60! Who knew we would last this long?
You were seen as the female figurehead for a rebellious generation...
I suppose I was. I was the classic rebel without a cause. I rebelled against high fashion, about how elitist it was. I took aim at that by shopping at Oxfam, and cutting my own hair. I was a 20-year-old with attitude – making a statement without actually saying anything.
How did you cope with instant fame after Kids in America?
I grew up with a famous dad (Marty Wilde), so I knew what fame was about. Dad loved music and was always singing and playing the guitar around the house. He still does and he’s now 80 years old. I’m just the same, I love music and fame is something I can put away in a drawer. I can’t live without music, but I could live without the fame…
Social media means fame is quite different now…
Yes, that has its pluses and minuses, I’m just glad I didn’t have to deal with social media when I was 20. It was bad enough having the tabloids follow me everywhere I went! But I knew what fame was about back then. I think my message to younger people now is, if you don’t want to know what people are saying about you, don’t go on social media! Keep away.
Why do you think Eighties music’s had such a revival with the festivals, etc?
We had just come through the punk era and suddenly you had all this new technology. It was the perfect pop storm, after two immaculate decades of music. Also pop music re-emerged in 1980 with new clothes, and that’s why people still love this music. I think I was lucky to be there, right from the very beginning.
You hold the record for being the most-charted British female solo act of the decade – does that make you proud?
Of course. It’s a great honour. I have been very lucky in my career. I think I was in the right place, at the right time.
Does music keep you young?
For me personally, very much so. Gigs at 60 keep me on form! My muscle memory just clicks in, when I know I’ve got to get back into those black jeans again. I look after myself, but I’m not obsessive about it.
You stopped drinking a couple of years ago...
Yes, it changed my world. My gardening keeps me fit. Walking the dogs and keeping the house clean keeps me fit. I’m also careful about what I eat. I’m largely vegetarian, but I still love a bacon sandwich.
You have two children in their 20s now, RoseElizabeth and Harry. What do they think about your music career?
Haha, do you mean are they proud? I’m not sure that’s the word I would use. I think they duck in and out of what I’m doing with my music. I was the same with my dad. They are both musicians, so I can only hope they gained some inspiration from my career, and their grandfather’s career.
Can your fans expect some more music from you soon?
Yes, we are currently writing and recording tracks for the Greatest Hits album, which will be out in September. I am just hoping that everything will get better here with the coronavirus, and we can all get on with our lives!