The one and only Nik Kershaw
PUBLISHED: 16:01 15 September 2014
To mark the 30th anniversary of his first hit, Suffolk’s Nik Kershaw is taking to the road with his new Me, Myself and I tour, including a stop in Bury St Edmunds. But first he makes a dream come true, albeit several decades later, by talking to Tara Greaves
If you ignore the two back gardens, a three-bedroom house and a fairly busy road, Nik Kershaw and I were neighbours.
And in my head that made him far more likely to marry me than one of the teenage girls who used to congregate outside his parents’ house.
Sadly, we never even met, and while my fickle young heart eventually moved on an enduring appreciation for his music has remained.
This year he celebrates the 30th anniversary of his first chart success – when Wouldn’t It Be Good soared to number four in the UK and helped to launch him worldwide - with a new acoustic, Me, Myself and I, tour.
“It’s ‘An Audience With...’ style, with questions and answers, some stories and obviously the songs but also screens on stage playing clips from the last 30 years,” he said, adding that he will answer audience questions as “honestly and hopefully as humorously” as possible.
The anniversary was not a date he had marked on a calendar but when he realised it was this year he wanted to acknowledge it – after all, it transformed him from a jobbing musician to spikey haired, >>
>> earring wearing, 1980s “teen idol”.
“I just wanted to be a songwriter and a guitarist and maybe sing my own songs but the words ‘pop star’ didn’t come into my head and certainly not ‘teen idol’,” he says now.
“I think that sort of thing either happens or it doesn’t. If you look back at the interviews from that time I look bemused.”
Although born in Bristol, he grew up in Ipswich where he attended Northgate Grammar School for Boys.
He came from a musical background - his mum trained as an opera singer while his dad was flautist in the town’s orchestra - but did not pick up a guitar until the age of 15.
After he left school, he worked as a civil servant by day and continued to play in a number of bands at night.
Later he grabbed the opportunity to turn professional, serving his apprenticeship playing at weddings and other functions before landing a deal with MCA Records in 1983, when he was in his mid 20s.
Although he released his first single I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me in September of that year, it was Wouldn’t It Be Good, released at the beginning of 1984, which provided his breakthrough.
Success on such a grand scale was not just a massive change for him but also for his parents who suddenly had girls peering in their windows, stealing soil from their front garden and calling their home number.
“It was ages before I could convince my dad to change their telephone number. They kept getting calls from all over the place asking for me but he would just sit there on the phone chatting to them,” he remembers.
Following the success of Wouldn’t It Be Good, he worked non-stop in 1984 with the release of the album Human Racing, two European tours, four more hit singles and another platinum album, The Riddle, before the end of the year.
The following year also brought three more hit singles, tours of Europe, Canada, Australia, the US and Japan plus he appeared at Live Aid.
“I remember three countries in one
day for promotional work,” he said of
that crazy time.
He recorded two more albums with MCA, Radio Musicola and The Works, before leaving the spotlight in 1989.
“In truth, the fourth album didn’t do very well so it felt like a natural time for a break,” he admits.
“I was just starting a family so I thought it would be good to spend some time at home and write songs for other people.”
Those “other people” have included Cliff Richard, Bonnie Tyler, Lulu, Ronan Keating, Jason Donovan and Gary Barlow and he also wrote and produced a duet with Elton John.
“He phoned me and asked if I would sing with him, which was a real honour,” he said.
Nik also wrote and co-produced The One And Only for Chesney Hawkes in 1991, which topped the UK charts as well as reaching the top 10 in the US.
But after nine years of writing for other people, he made the move to start recording his own work again.
“It was never supposed to be a massive re-launch, I didn’t want to go back to the circus I went through in the 1980s, I just thought it would be nice for people to hear the songs,” he said.
Although he now lives in Essex with his family, he still pops back to Suffolk – including a visit to this year’s Suffolk Show.
“I spent most of my childhood walking around in a plastic mac at the Suffolk Show. It was a great day out,” said the 56-year-old.
As for what people can expect from this tour, there should be something for everyone, including acoustic re-workings of his biggest hits as well as newer songs and some of the pieces he wrote for other people.
There will also be plenty of anecdotes from his three decades in the business.
He said: “The thing about acoustic gigs is that it is much easier to talk to the audience, there is less of a barrier.”
n Nik Kershaw brings his Me, Myself and I tour to The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on September 18. For more information visit www.theapex.co.uk.