Button-maker to Sophia Loren in Italy, blanked by Diana Ross at the Grammys – Rochdale’s Queen of Soul’s been around the world and found nothing beats being tucked up in bed at home crying at The Golden Girls
Interview by GRAEME THOMSON
PUBLISHED: 22:00 GMT, 18 January 2014
What sort of child were you?
A really happy kid. I would go off on my own a lot and live in my imagination. When I got my school report back it always said, ‘Lisa should try a little harder because she always seems to be in a different world from everyone else.’ I still am, really.
Tell us a secret about yourself
I made buttons for Sophia Loren. I was with this wardrobe guy from Italy back in the 1980s – he was working on a film in Yugoslavia. Sophia was stunning but I mainly had to dress all the drunk, smelly extras on the movie. And I never got paid.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
Shaun Ryder once said, ‘Lisa, your family makes mine look posh.’ There was a bit of history to it. Shaun’s dad was a comedian, and we both entered a talent show in Manchester when I was 14. His dad came second but I won and got to go on the telly. So I think it was because his dad was dead jealous of me.
How do you relax?
I love lying in bed all day and watching really c*** TV. I’ll record reruns of old detective series, surround myself with rubbish food and pig out. Occasionally I’ll go downstairs for a cup of tea or to warm something up in the microwave. My bed is my weird little haven. It’s like a deflated tent.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Playing the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 at Wembley Stadium was amazing, but nowadays I’m prouder of having lasted as long as I have and people still wanting me around. I don’t think it’s a good idea to analyse it too much, I just think, ‘How did that happen? What a fluke!’
What has been your biggest disappointment?
I was at the Grammys one year and Diana Ross was there. She was my first influence; from the age of four I thought she was amazing. She was sitting in the front row and when I smiled at her she completely blanked me. Obviously she didn’t know who I was but I thought, ‘Oh my God, my idol has just given me a really dirty look.’ I still love her regardless. I always will. She could kick me up the **** and I’d still love her.
What’s your best characteristic?
I’m a real trouper. If everyone’s energy is waning because it’s getting late, even if I have to do a little tap-dance or show my bum to make everybody wake up, I’ll do it. I like to keep everyone happy. I feel like it’s my responsibility to do that.
...and what’s your worst?
I’d like to have more tolerance. Putting up with niggly little things every day takes a lot of tolerance, and I’m one of those people who eventually just flip. I go into two minutes of flipdom, like a whirling dervish, then I’m done. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does you’d better get out of the way.
Who would your dream dinner date be?
If I could go back in time it would be Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Round Table in New York. Having an acerbic verbal tennis match with her would be beautiful, not in a vindictive way, but I think I’d be quite good at a witty battle of wills: ‘What can you pull out of your hat?’ It would be absolutely hilarious.
When did you last cry?
Everything makes me cry. I can cry at an episode of The Golden Girls. Even some adverts on the telly make me weep buckets. I’ve always been an emotional person; I wouldn’t write songs the way I do if I wasn’t, although I think it probably drives everyone I know mad.
What are you best at?
I know that whenever I open my mouth to sing, people are going to listen to me. I first became aware of that at school when everybody wanted me to sing all the time, although hopefully I’ve improved a bit because my voice was bloody awful back then.
What would you like to be better at?
Acting. I don’t get much opportunity to do it and it’s very instinctive when I do. I sometimes wonder if I should take some training, but I think in life you learn through experience, you never learn through example. You have to throw yourself into it.
What’s your biggest fear?
That I die too young and miss out on all the fun. My mum died before her time; her side of the family are prone to heart disease and a few of them have died very, very young. It does worry me.
What’s your most treasured possession?
The last dress my mum wore before she died. I’ve got it in a drawer at home. Occasionally I take it out and have a sniff but it doesn’t smell of her any more. They say that you grow around the grief, but you never get over it.
The album ‘Seven’ is released on February 10