This website started as a very simple homepage informing the world of the first ever Kim Wilde fan meeting, which was to be held in the Spring of 1996. Following the fan meeting, a report of this day was made on the same page, housed at Compuserve at the time. For quite some time it seemed like nothing more would happen. The limitations of webspace (1 Mb) didn’t allow for more additions.
In the summer of 1996, Geocities.com offered free webspace without annoying advertising, causing the Kim Wilde page to move to the unusual address http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/6251 . Lyrics and a little discography (compiled from my own record & CD collection) were added, and the Kim Wilde Homepage was born.
As time went on, the homepage expanded. I wanted to make a site that would contain more information than any other site. Hence the birth of ‘The Ultimate Kim Wilde Internet Experience’.
Within a few months, 12 sections were added and filled with all the information I could think of at the time. The first incarnation of the Ultimate Kim Wilde Internet Experience was inspired largely on the design of the then also very exhaustive website A dent in the Tori Amos Net Universe.
The name was too long, so I decided on moving to a shorter URL (I was growing very tired of the Geocities environment), and make a catchier name for the site.
In October 1997, http://kimwilde.go4it.net was found and the site was renamed “Go for it!”, subtitled “The Ultimate Kim Wilde Internet Experience”. In a way, the name had become longer, but “Go for it” was an excellent name to go by.
Between October 1997 and October 1998 the website went through several problematic changes: the size of the website meant that several hosts needed to be used. More than once did I have parts of the website suddenly disappearing on me, without any explanation from the webspace providers.
Then, when everything finally seemed sorted out, go4it.net announced that they would stop their service. Out went 25% of my webspace and the URL could only be forwarded.
I found help in the shape of plex.nl, a Dutch provider who gave me a new Internet connection with unlimited webspace, and Webfusion, an English company which could make a forwarding domain name. KimWilde.com was born!
From the day KimWilde.com was launched, on October 9th, 1998, it was a big success. The amount of visitors per day jumped from 30 to 60, climbing to 80 by the beginning of 1999, and by the end of the year, it got 100 visitors a day. The instant success was of course partly because of the easy domain name, but also the addition of Juan Larraz’s “Close” website helped a lot. Juan closed his site due to time constraints, and the addition of all of his information made KimWilde.com what it is today: the central information place for Kim Wilde information.
Things went pretty smoothly from then on. Some behind the scenes troubles arose when Plex chose to abandon this site due to the fact that it contains some copyrighted material. It only caused KimWilde.com to move to an English server. It was hosted for two years by Webfusion in the UK, then two years by The Nexus, also in the UK, until it finally came back to the Netherlands in September 2003, with IN.nl as its host.
On January 1st, 2000, the third version of KimWilde.com was launched.
Three years later, version 4 of kimwilde.com was presented to the world on May 1st, 2003. The website was an ever growing collection of informations, with pictures becoming ever more popular due to public demand. It restored the balance in a way: for the first five years, kimwilde.com was full of information and thus text heavy, but by adding lots of pictures, the site grew in popularity.
In January 2006, a new design based on photography by Katrien Vercaigne was launched. For the first time, the website relied on technical wizardry created by Marc Stroo and his company Aglaea. With a database behind the website, it was possible to create intricate indexes like the Timeline and a more efficient Encyclopedia.
When in August Kim was to release ‘Never say never’, EMI Germany wanted to use the kimwilde.com domain as the official website. This website was consequently renamed to Wilde Life, with the accompanying url ‘www.wilde-life.com‘. For the first time, this website was dubbed ‘official fansite’. Both the official website and the official fansite were maintained by me, but Wilde Life is obviously the biggest of the two.
Another new album meant that the design of kimwilde.com and Wilde Life was to change once more. While kimwilde.com was designed by Kim’s new record company, Wilde Life moved to a new cms (Drupal) and a new design inspired by the new album. Pictures and text were as important as ever, but video and audio were rapidly added, not least because of Kim’s new duties as a radio presenter for Magic FM.
Drupal 6 turned to Drupal 7 and so a major overhaul of Wilde Life was needed yet again. Launched in September, the new version lost its popular Gallery section, as all the photographs were moved to Flickr instead. All the other sections were still there and a great new feature was added: the ability to choose your own theme for the look of the website. All of Kim Wilde’s albums are represented in a beautiful theme to be chosen by the visitor. Earlier in the year, Wilde Life’s own Facebook page was launched, with behind the scenes information about the website for a growing group of ‘likers’.
With a new design the photo galleries returned, and blogs were added, giving some interesting background information about cover versions and music written and/or produced by the Wilde family. With Kim Wilde performing live regularly, photography of her live concerts became increasingly important – and so the ‘concerts’ section of the Discography was quickly expanded to feature photographs from almost every gig in recent years.
In December 2017 the website was redesigned yet again, this time to conform to the redesign of kimwilde.com, while obviously maintaining an own identity. The homepage is more than ever a place to find all the latest additions, with almost daily updates.
Wilde Life moves to Drupal 8 just a week after the release of ‘Here come the aliens’. The change was prepared during a three month period in which every page of the website was remade in the new environment. Since January 1, 2018, Wilde Life has maintained a strict ‘at least one new page every day’ policy, as well as offering you ‘related pages’ at the bottom of most pages to let you click through to appropriate content elsewhere on the website.
Wilde Life moves to Drupal 9 in November. With a new design – bigger fonts, better accessibility – the website is ready for the next few years.
Size of the site
Wilde Life now contains some 9 Gb data, which includes many soundfiles from radio performances and interviews.
Back in 1997, when asked what Kim thought about the contest to name her firstborn child on this website, she answered: “Hilarious! Haven’t people got anything better to do!! I shall have to get Hal to find the site – maybe there will be some names that we haven’t thought of!!” (Kim Wilde Fanclub Magazine, Xmas 97).
After her comeback to music, Kim became increasingly more involved with the website devoted to her. She wrote some messages and even wrote a tour diary when she was on tour in Australia in 2003. The photography on the previous version of Wilde Life was made at her home in the summer of 2005, and Kim has even recorded some video messages for occasions like Christmas and Easter in the past. In 2010, she even opened her own private archive of magazine articles for this website. These are now all included.
Makers of the site
As is stated above, Wilde Life and its predecessor kimwilde.com are almost entirely made by Marcel Rijs. However, the contributions of other fans such as Steve Benton, Kwok Hung Chau, Roberto Kappen, Juan Larraz, Michael Poole, Leandro Rodriguez, Ramona de Roij, Laurent Thiébaud and Martin Zandstra have greatly helped in making the site what it is today.
Matteusz Piechaczek also deserves an honorable mention for his endless contributions in the field of sound and vision. (Check out his YouTube channel WildeTapes)
Katrien Vercaigne is responsible for much of the visual aspects of Wilde Life, including her great photography of many gigs between 2001 and now.
Wilde Life couldn’t be what it is today without the support of all the fans and, last but certainly not least, Kim Wilde, Nick Boyles and Sean Vincent. Many thanks to you all.