Kim Wilde

Date
Published in
New women in rock [book] (UK)
Written by
Rosalind Russell

When Kim Wilde's dad Marty was breaking hearts in the Fifties, female singers looked like her mum - who was one of The Vernons Girls. But Kim's taste in clothes comes mainly from what happens to be on offer in the local Oxfam shop, even though she could have had a clothes allowance if she'd wanted it.
Kim's family didn't think she would follow dad into the family business, though her brother Ricky had been writing and recording songs for some time. Kim looked settled at art school. But when Ricky came up with the idea for the song 'Kids in America', Kim recorded it and it took off as one of the biggest sellers of the year. In fact, Marty Wilde hadn't been keen for his daughter to go into the music business because he'd seen what happened to some girls who tried to make it in that tough world. But, as Kim has veteran producer Mickie Most as her manager, not a lot can go wrong.
And she is determined to make her mark without cashing in on her dad's name. That's an ambition she's had since she was at college, where she didn't even tell anyone she was Marty Wilde's daughter, and used the surname Smith. Unlike most artists, she still lives at home with mum and dad. The Wildes are a close family, and Kim loves her baby sister Roxanne (named after The Police hit) and baby brother Marty.

Kim is still a bit surprised by all the attention she's been getting since her record made the charts. She's a stunningly attractive twenty year-old, but says she only became confidence about herself when she lost weight.
Although she was brought up in a showbiz family, they didn't live the typical showbiz life. Kim hates going to flashy nightclubs, preferring the more earthy places like the Moonlight in West Hampstead, where you can see a lot of talent in its raw stage. It's that same uncut sound that felt so good to Mickie Most when he heard Kim and Ricky. Although he polished up their style a little bit, he was more interested in letting the slightly rough excitement shine through.
He was also careful not to push her out on a tour until she felt ready for it, so there were two singles and material for an album before she even thought of facing a live public. That way she avoided all the back (and heart) breaking toll of trekking round the country trying to break a single in the clubs.
In fact, she wasn't even around in Britain when 'Kids in America' was overtaking everything in its path on its way to the top of the charts. She got her public appearance practice in on the Continent, where she did television shows, well away from the avid eyes of UK audiences. Nothing is easy about the music business, but with good advisers in Mickie Most and her family, she's certainly not treading the hard path like most singers. Marty, who admits he's probably been over-protective of his daughter, has seen to it that she's not making the mistakes that others have.

But even he has been surprised by the clearheaded, practical way she's gone about forming her career. Kim thinks it could be a drawback having a father in the business, because so many famous sons and daughters have come a cropper. 'I'm determined to change that', she said firmly.
One of the ways she's doing that is to make sure she identifies with her fans. That's part of the reason she likes wearing second hand clothes - because most kids buy those now. They also give her a distinctive look that's not borrowed from other singers like Debbie Harry or Hazel O'Connor. For her first appearance on "Top of the Pops", she wore one of her dad's old jackets, but most of the time, she buys old clothes and adjusts them to fit. 'I'm basically scruffy', she admitted. 'Definitely uncontrived. That's the way I am.'
But to anyone who would point to her comfortable life, she answers that she has just as much ambition to succeed as anyone who had it harder. Music isn't just a hobby to her - or even just a job. It's a challenge. Coming from a family where both mum and dad have been at the top of the business, it's a challenge that she can meet with her eyes open. But it's a lot to live up to... or maybe a lot to live down!