Date: 3 January 2020
Originally published in: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Written by: Nick McGrath
The singer and gardener recalls full-moon parties in Thailand, skinny-dipping in Iceland and touring with Michael Jackson.
I ENJOY GOING TO HOLLAND both professionally and personally. I’ve been promoting my music there since my career began, and I’ve hung out a lot in Amsterdam. My best friend Claire, who has known me since I was eight, lives in a beautiful village over there with her children, so I always relish an opportunity to visit. I get to enjoy the Dutch way of life and to learn about their traditions.
I SAW TOO MANY HOTEL ROOMS ON TOUR IN THE EIGHTIES and never explored the destinations fully. It’s only as I’ve grown older that I’ve realised how much I missed. Now, I always pack trainers and head out to the greenest, most natural place I can find. I’m not really into restaurants but I will pop into an art gallery if there’s one nearby – I love to see paintings or churches with Chagall stained glass – but horticulture is my main interest. Nowhere beats the Botanical Gardens in Sydney, next to the Harbour Bridge. It has the most incredible tropical plants, such as jacarandas, growing everywhere and beautiful sculptures at every turn.
I WENT INCOGNITO IN THAILAND at the height of my career, after an album I was working on got delayed. An old girlfriend said, “I’m going to Thailand, why don’t you come?” so I just thought, “Why not?” I scraped my hair back for a few weeks, ditched my celebrity persona and became anonymous. I absolutely loved it, and Thailand is the country I’ve revisited most over the decades. We took a boat from Koh Samui to Ko Pha-ngan for the full-moon party and fell into the sea while wearing our rucksacks. We walked along this tiny jungle track and, all of a sudden, the trees cleared and this gorgeous beach opened up. It was filled with young people all dressed up to the nines and as high as kites.
I DID A GIG HALFWAY UP A MOUNTAIN next to a skating rink in St Moritz, with all the world champion skaters zooming past as we played. Nick Beggs, my bassist at the time, tried to get inside a fridge being transported across the ice. He had a penchant for hiding in small places and particularly enjoyed fridges, so he could shock people by popping out and offering them a drink.
MICHAEL JACKSON’S BAD TOUR IN 1987 WAS INCREDIBLE and I did 33 shows with him. We played all over Europe, including the UK and Ireland, and each of the cities we visited would be transformed for his arrival. You’d know Michael Jackson was in town. Most of the local police force would accompany the entourage to and from the gigs from various hotels, and Michael would always hire a whole storey so no one would ever be on the same floor as him. Throughout that time, I only met him very briefly. He was under a lot of press scrutiny at the time, so he kept himself to himself.
I HAD A LOT OF FUN IN AMERICA BACK IN THE DAY but I haven’t taken my children there. I remember getting off the plane in Reno, Nevada, and there were one-armed bandits everywhere. I’m not particularly into gambling cities and I’m not rushing back, but turning up in some of those places as a young woman was pretty amazing, a real eye-opener.
ONE OF THE MOST ROMANTIC MOMENTS OF MY LIFE was at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I was seeing this French guy at the time and he took me to the restaurant in the tower itself. It must have been Bastille Day as fireworks were bursting in front of us. We ate beautiful French food and drank too much champagne.
I DIDN’T ESPECIALLY LOVE EATING PUFFIN IN ICELAND. The landscape was other-worldly – totally gob-smacking – but the shark was rotten and the puffin not much better. I had a heavenly massage on a lilo in the Blue Lagoon, and friends took us to some secret hot pools that only they knew about. We splashed about naked and had the best time.
I SURVIVED A HORROR LANDING IN THE FAROE ISLANDS once. The pilot asked me to sit in the cabin, then the plane went into a sideways dive. It was very traumatic – people literally wet themselves in panic and both men and women were totally hysterical and traumatised. I felt like the luckiest person on the plane because I could see that the pilots, despite the worried looks on their faces, were completely in control.
ALICE COOPER TOOK ME TO 15 CHRISTMAS MARKETS in a fortnight. We were both touring Germany in December and spent the days between shows exploring the local area, which was fantastic. Even more surreal was the night I had dinner with David Hasselhoff in Prague. I’d sort of missed the whole Hoff hysteria but when I told my sister Roxanne afterwards she was like, “Oh my god, you had dinner with The Hoff?” He was an absolute darling, a total gentleman and hilariously funny.
The pair I’m wearing at the moment are these beautiful Karl Lagerfeld Vivace Glitter Mix Runner trainer. They are black and white and have a bit of sparkle – so they’re good to travel in but also glam enough to wear for events if I’m short of time.
€215 (about £182); karl.com
Part of my disguise is a pair of Tiffany & Co sunglasses. I got them a few years ago and I look after them very, very carefully in a very hard case. They come in handy. From £232; tiffany.co.uk
I particularly love Rimowa cases. They glide smoothly along any surface, making the whole experience of getting them from A to B effortless and easy.
From £410; rimowa.com