Source : Mail On Sunday – By JEREMY TAYLOR
The singer on the loneliness of fame, why everyone should start a band when they’re young and being a do-gooder Edwardian lady
‘There’s more to life than being famous. The exposure bands get nowadays, via the internet and television, is preposterous,’ said Annie Lennox
Singer Annie Lennox was half of Eighties pop band Eurythmics, together with her one-time partner Dave Stewart. They achieved worldwide success with the 1983 album Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), followed by such chart-topping singles as Would I Lie To You? and There Must Be An Angel. Her cropped hair and incredible costumes made Lennox a pop icon.
She went solo in 1990, and her first album, Diva, sold 1.2 million copies in the UK alone. She has won eight Brit awards, as well as an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2004.
She received an OBE earlier this year for her charity work.
Everyone should start a band when they’re young, because you have nothing to lose.
There’s no secret formula to success. The only advice I would give is that you have to possess profound passion and dedication. You need a sense of exploration and daring, because there are no guarantees it will work out. You have to be willing to take massive risks.
Fame is a lonely place to be.
That’s why I was glad to be in a band and share it all with Dave (Stewart). If you speak to any young band on the rise to the top, they’ll tell you how incredible it feels. When the wheels start to turn, it’s a remarkable ride to share with somebody close. The downside of working with somebody you’re connected to is that it’s much harder to escape. By end of the Eighties I just wanted to get out and find out whether I could write and record a solo album. We’d been together for ten years and I needed to see what I could achieve alone.
Every time you go on stage you should prove to the audience you’re worth the ticket price.
It hasn’t always been easy to do it, as Eurythmics toured and played continuously. We were famous around the world, so we had to tour for months on end. I don’t think I’ll ever tour again. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve done all that. I also have certain physical issues with my back and foot, and while I love to perform, I’m just not up to travelling around the globe any more. I do the odd performance, but it’s usually in a T-shirt and jeans.
Being a musician didn’t used to be about money or celebrity like it is now.
It should be about making a statement. There’s more to life than being famous. The exposure bands get nowadays, via the internet and television, is preposterous.
You’re too old to be a punk at the age of 20.
In the early Seventies, the best-known women singers in Britain were people like Lulu, Petula Clark and Cilla Black. When punk came along in 1975 it was radical and very exciting. Suddenly a whole new generation of artists appeared, and it was impossible not to be influenced by it. There was a real energy to the music that just swept you along with it, although I wish I’d been a few years younger when it arrived.
It’s very hard to say no when people come to me for support.
I have to try to be more disciplined in that way, because I’m asked to do things all the time. I’m in a privileged position, so more often than not I end up doing the things I should have said no to in the first place. My world is like a lot of plates spinning, and I have to organise my time very well.
When I was young I wanted to change everything.
When Eurythmics formed we wanted to eradicate the past. And we really wanted to reinvent ourselves as something that was cutting-edge and striking. So when I dyed my hair and cut it short in 1980, it was deemed very radical. Dave was my mentor and we understood each other so well. He was somebody I was completely connected to. It was almost like having my best friend with me all the time. We fought the good fight together and went through all the ups and downs.
I agree with John Lennon – ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’.
If I could live my life over, there are things I’d do differently. Certainly I wish I’d made some different choices and avoided some things. Nowadays it’s very much carpe diem – I don’t plan long-term. I’ve learnt to live according to John’s wonderful maxim.
‘I often feel like a do-gooder Edwardian lady. I spend most of my days working on various causes’
When I first moved to London I was so broke I couldn’t even afford my own records.
I shared a flat in London with somebody who had a big record collection, which was a lifesaver. That was when I discovered Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. I just fell in love with their voices. That was the moment when I first realised that I wanted to be a singer too. Joni was such an astounding lyricist with a beautiful voice – the social commentary was so powerful, astute and poetic.
As a teenager I wore torn-up black bin liners.
This was with my first band, who were called the Tourists and formed in the mid-Seventies. A lot of young people felt so disconnected from conventional society that they were forced to create their own identity in whatever way they could. That’s what we did with the Tourists. We had very little money and were living hand to mouth, but it turned out to be good training for what was to come.
I often feel like a do-gooder Edwardian lady.
I spend most of my days working on various causes, as I was inspired by visiting South Africa and hearing Nelson Mandela speak about the HIV Aids pandemic. I set out to try to do something, and it’s not so much charity as advocacy work. I am a campaigner, particularly interested in human rights and justice. All the income from my last album, A Christmas Cornucopia, went to the Annie Lennox Foundation to raise money for projects supporting and educating women and children in Africa with HIV. I’m also an ambassador for several charities, including Amnesty International, Oxfam and Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign.
I don’t go to bed every night in an amazing costume like Lady Gaga.
She clearly likes living that way, but I’ve never been that person. There are always people in life like that, who are very unusual, exceptional and rare. They live completely for whatever it is they do. For them, there’s no separation between their art and real life. My life has been mixed into my art, but I make a distinction. There is Annie Lennox, 56-year-old mother of two, who my friends see crashed out in jeans at home. Then there’s the other person people remember, wrapped up in some pretty wild costumes.
The House of Annie Lennox, a display of the singer’s famous costumes and props, is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until February 26. vam.ac.uk