“Fame and fortune almost destroyed me. I nearly became a farmer and I turned down Corrie… but now I'm back”
It’s 24 years since her All Around The World soared to No1 in the pop charts and set her on the path to global stardom.
Yet Lisa Stansfield says the fame and fortune garnered from selling 20million records and winning two coveted Brit awards nearly destroyed her – and drove her into a decade of self-imposed exile away from the relentless glare of publicity.
She said: “I gave up everything and nearly became a f***ing farmer, walking around in headscarf and wellies for 10 years to find my confidence again.”But now the straight-talking Lancashire lass has decided she’s ready to go back on the road with a new album.
And launching a European tour in Paris, she talked about life as a pop idol, turning down Corrie, her respect for Madonna, why she’ll never be a judge on X Factor – and regretting giving millions to Tony Blair.
Lisa, 47, said: “The fame thing made me run – it got out of hand and I needed to go away.“I’m not the sort of person who if everyone thinks you’re fabulous you thrive on it.
“Fame made me insecure and insular. I wanted to run away from being me.“I needed to learn to f**king sit back and enjoy my life.“It took me 10 years to realise that and get myself straight.”
Lisa, who grew up in Rochdale, spent much of her 10-year “exile” in Ireland with her producer husband Ian Devaney.
But when she lost the ability to hit some of her famous high notes she quit the cigarettes she’d always cherished and accepted £4million for her house and the couple moved back to England, settling in north London.
And Lisa’s written most of the songs on what will be her comeback album.
The death of her mother and reflecting on her life and success in the 80s and 90s have inspired much of the new music.
She said: “When I finally took stock of what I’d done it was a massive shock. “I remember thinking ‘F***ing hell, you’ve done all right.’
“But I didn’t have time to think about what I’d achieved while I was in it. You get one award after another and say ‘thank you’ and say you’re really appreciative – but you aren’t really because you don’t get the gravitas of what you’ve done and can’t believe it.”
And Lisa praised the new generation of female singers like Adele, 25, who won this year’s Oscar for Bond song Skyfall.
Lisa said: “I admire her so much. She’s a brilliant writer and a wonderful singer. I’d love to meet her for a chat.” And she paid a special tribute to Madonna, 54, and Kylie Minogue, 44.
Lisa said: “I can’t believe how relentlessly they have worked. I couldn’t have done it.” Work has never been just about music for Lisa, though. She started in showbiz in 1981 hosting pop show Razzamatazz with Brendan Healy and went on to act in films and TV, including a guest spot on Marple opposite Geraldine McEwan. In 2010 she was offered the role of Rovers Return manager Stella Price in Coronation Street. But she said no because it was a three-year commitment – and Michelle Collins got the job.
Lisa was also concerned at how Corrie fans would react, saying: “You get into a role and people see you as that character, so they’d be confused because they know me as Lisa Stansfield. It would freak them out if I was pulling pints at the Rovers.” At the height of her fame, when George Michael asked her to duet and she met Prince Charles at a charity bash, Lisa gave millions to Tony Blair’s New Labour.
Does she now regret it? She conceded she did give “a lot” then added with a grin: “I’ve got a really funny story. I shouldn’t tell you this – but I will.“We were invited to Labour headquarters to meet Tony Blair and he went, ‘Sooooo, how’s it going?’ I was just going on tour and replied, ‘It seems to be going all right so far – great crowds.’
“And he went, ‘Not you. Me.’ And I thought, ‘Oh dear, give me my f***ing money back.’”
She went on: “I’ve always been political but I don’t like to bring it into my work any more because I think it limits me.
“The political world is now so nondescript it’s ridiculous. Put it this way – I’m not writing any more cheques for anyone.”
As you’ve probably noticed, Lisa loves the F-word and often howls with laughter when using it in stories about her life.
With her honesty and humour, you feel she would make the best X Factor judge ever – like Sharon Osbourne’s more credible but twisted younger sister.
Lisa has a sneaking respect for show boss Simon Cowell. She said: “He’s done a lot of people a favour in the music business. “Since these shows happened all that corporate bull***t has been broken down and there are not as many big-label signings.
“It’s not worth being with a big label anyway – they take 85 per cent of your money and just sit there while you do all the work. “For others, though, X Factor can be the bane of their lives.” But she added: “I’ll never be a judge because I just couldn’t do it and I swear too much. I’d be f***ing all the way through it and they’d have to gag me.”
Meanwhile, work on the new album is well under way. Lisa said: “Let’s face it, I have a fun job at the end of the day.”
- Lisa plays Hampton Court Palace Festival on June 14. Tickets: www.hamptoncourtpalacefestival.com
Courtesy and thanks to Dean Piper and the Daily Mirror for using this article.