What was it like growing up in Leicester?
My upbringing was very, very poor. No home life at all. I was shunted around from place to place and raised by my grandparents. This wasn’t about where I lived, just about my family.
When did you start to earn a crust?
I left school at fifteen and was taken on as an apprentice painter and decorator. I didn’t last very long; I couldn’t settle down. I didn’t respect authority, and working for bosses never appealed to me.
Fronting successful local groups must have attracted some attention from labels?
I had this London agent pursue me, a seedy character called Reg Calvert who managed The Fortunes. He had a big house up near Rugby that was like a pop school. He changed all of my band. I had slightly receding hair even then and he insisted we all wore hats. The band split up and I went to stay in his house. He wasn’t fucking me, if that’s what you were asking.
You didn’t have much luck in the early days, thanks to bad management deals and the like. With your finances back on track, what’s been your best investment?
I’ve got a very nice house, and I’ve had one or two really fantastic holidays – I make a point of it. I bought myself a nice guitar a few years ago, a twelve-string Taylor. I have a habit of walking into shops and picking the most expensive thing.
Do you go in for memorabilia?
Yes I do. The nearest thing I’ve bought is a Bob Dylan painting about four years ago. I’m very proud of that.
How much was it?
I’m not telling you. A mate was here and he says: “Bob Dylan? How much was that?” And I say duh-duh-duh-duh, and he says: “Oh, really?” I said: “Listen, I’d have paid that for the autograph.”
If there’s a fire, what would you save?
Ooh, there’s quite a lot of good stuff here. I hope we don’t have a fire.