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The Grown-Up Test: Tony Hadley

Simon Hemelryk / 23 July 2018

The Spandau Ballet and solo star is 58, but how old is he in his head?

Tony Hadley

When was your first kiss?

I was about 13 and it was with Julie Lodge – in the back of her mate’s dad’s van. It was very innocent. Julie’s lovely and still comes to my shows – with her husband!

School prefect or school terror?

A terror who became a prefect by default. I don’t think anyone else wanted to do it. Me and my mate, Pete, got voted in while in the lower sixth, even though we weren’t exactly the most conventional people at school. Were we any good? Probably not.

Our school was in the Angel Islington, then it was moved to Potters Bar because they were going to whack a big motorway through the centre of London – though that never happened. The Potters Bar school was beautiful and brand new with amazing facilities. Then a bunch of oiks from the Angel arrived and started to cause a bit of havoc. Myself and Pete did six months of A levels and then decided one day that was enough and just walked out.

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Worst hairstyle?

I was really into punk and Iggy Pop was playing at, I think, The Rainbow in Finsbury Park. I tried to dye my hair red, but it turned this bloody awful auburn colour. When I was leaving the house, I would’ve normally gone into the kitchen and given my parents a kiss goodbye. This time, I just called out, ‘Anyway, see you!’ But my mum saw my hair and was in tears.

She was still in tears when I got back.

First car?

A sky-blue Vauxhall Viva that had almost been taken to the scrap yard. I painted 

a great red stripe down the middle so it looked like a packet of Embassy cigarettes. It was my pride and joy. Eventually it just blew up.

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What was your plan B? 

 My plan A was to be a surgeon, but my maths wasn’t going to be good enough. Then, when I was about 14, I started entering the talent competitions on holiday at Pontins. The first time I sang in public, I got the girl I’d fancied all week. And when I started winning, I was signing autographs, and I thought, ‘I like this’.  

Last public complaint or protest you made?

It was on Twitter the other day. Someone posted a great picture that looked like an iceberg coming out of the sea but was actually a plastic bag. I just said it’s a disgrace how much rubbish we’re putting into the oceans and we do have to look after the environment. I’m a big recycler. I still see people throw litter out of the car. Disgraceful.

Last time you broke the law? 

I was sent on a speed awareness course about three years ago. There was lots of it I didn’t realise. I haven’t been done for speeding since.

Silliest thing you’ve done recently?

I’m always pulling faces at my grown-up kids when they’re about to drive off. And pulling faces at my younger daughters to make them laugh.

Which decade are you most nostalgic for?

I’d kind of like to go back to the 1960s in the area where I grew up. It was pretty tough. We didn’t in any way, shape or form have the luxuries we have today. But you tend to remember things through rose-tinted spectacles and I’d like to return as an adult and see myself and my family.

When I was born, it was only 15 years after the Second World War. There were bomb sites everywhere, but a great sense of community.

What makes you grumpy? 

Lack of time. I always feel I’m rushing everywhere. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Woah, Tone, calm down’.

Which new technology do you struggle with?

Most of it. I can operate an iPad. It’s simple with pictures. But have I any desire to use my wife’s Apple Mac? Not really. In the studio, no one lets me near the mixing desk because they know I’ll muck it up.

What do you do to conceal your age?

Nothing. I’ve never done Botox or anything like that. The thing about facelifts is that there are all those Hollywood stars who’ve had them and can’t get them right, so there’s no way Joe Public is going to succeed.  

Exercise, good diet or both?

Both. I do have a slight problem with my weight. It’s something that I’ve got to watch all the time. I’ve got my own beer – Moonstone IPA – and great beer and food are my second love behind music. I have a gym at home, which comes in handy.

Name two people from the past you’d like to sit next to at dinner?

I’d love to catch up with my generous, hard-working dad. And Winston Churchill. A driven man and an amazing politician.

Your hope for the future?

That we learn the lessons from the past. There are still countries with expansionist policies. You think, ‘Come on, mate, you’ve got a big enough plot of land. Get on with your life.’

What would be your preferred epitaph?

I always liked the Spike Milligan one, ‘I told you I was ill.’


He may be a technology sceptic and have to watch his weight, but Tony’s still every bit the suave pop star – and can’t really be much past 45.

Tony’s new album, Talking to the Moon, is out now. Article taken from the August 2018 edition of Saga Magazine

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