Thursday, August 01, 2013

The one and only - interview with Nik Kershaw

FORMER jazz-funk guitarist NIK KERSHAW became a teen idol in the ’80s before going on to write hits for other singers, including Chesney Hawkes’ number one, The One And Only. Now he’s preparing to re-live his own time as a pop star at the Rewind Festival.

CATRIONA REEVES: You’re still writing new songs for yourself and other people - but do you enjoy getting back on stage and singing your old hits?

NIK KERSHAW: I love it. I went through a period of resisting playing them, but they’re great songs, and I’m not ashamed of them. It’s amazing to think that it’s 30 years since I wrote Wouldn’t It Be Good. I still remember that the tune came into my head, and wouldn’t leave me alone - it was demanding to be written. I never thought that I nailed the lyrics though, until it was a massive hit. Then I decided that it was probably alright!

CR: Talking of lyrics, your song The Riddle remains an unsolved mystery. What is the answer?

NK: The Riddle actually started off as a guide lyric - just nonsense I wrote down while writing the song. My second album [also called The Riddle] was released in a hurry on the back of the success of my first album, Human Racing [they were both released in 1984], and in the end, we just had to get the song recorded as it was! I did try changing the lyrics, but nothing else worked.

My record label loved it though - they made it into a competition for people to solve The Riddle, but I don’t think anyone ever won - how could they, when even I don’t know the answer! It’s great that the song still gets radio play. It’s what the Americans call an “earworm”.

CR: You spent a long time away from performing, to write and produce music for other people, but now you’re doing it for yourself again. What made you decide to give it another go?

NK: I feel like I’m a different person to who I was 30 years ago. Music is a weird business, you often have your biggest success when you’re still serving your apprenticeship, and then over the years you improve your craft, but by then your fans have moved on and they’re not interested anymore.

When I play a set at somewhere like Rewind, I often tease the crowd with “this is a song from my new album.... only joking!” At somewhere like Rewind, I know what the crowd want, and I’m happy to give it to them.

CR: Seeing as Chesney Hawkes is also on the Rewind bill, will you be performing your own version of The One And Only?

NK: Certainly not! We’re close friends; I’ve seen Chesney perform it many times, and to do it myself would be a bit rude!

CR: Back in the ‘80s, you were a bit of a style icon, and pretty much launched the fashion for snoods. Do you consider that your biggest cultural impact?

NK: Around that time, I did an awful lot of photo sessions - I must have only worn a snood about four times, but each time I was photographed, and that’s what I became known for! A couple of years ago, there was a big thing in the press about footballers wearing snoods, and I was called up by TalkSport to come on the radio and talk about it. I declined - I don’t really consider myself a snood expert.

CR: It was also documented at the time that you mainly bought your clothes in girls’ fashion shops. Is that still the case?

NK: Certainly not - these days I shop in Gap Kids!

* Nik Kershaw plays Rewind, The 80s Festival on Saturday, August 17 at Temple Island Meadows, Henley-on-Thames. For information, visit

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on July 25, 2013

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