Interview: Chris de Burgh

This interview first appeared in The Fly like, last week.

Hi Chris de Burgh. How are you?
I’m grand thank you. I’ve been having a look at some of these chats and I’m excited. It’s funny and irreverent, which I like. I was amused and delighted, I don’t want anyone to think I am stuffed up.
Are you having a busy day?
I have just got off the phone with a newspaper actually. We talked about an item from the film Alien that I bought at an auction. It’s the chestburster that jumps out of John Hurt’s chest, covered in blood and gore.

So you like your films blood-splattered and violent?
I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of horror, actually. So much is created by special effects these days, it’s just unconvincing. With Amageddon, it ain’t even a real spaceship, do you know what I mean?

What are you doing today?
Well I have got another chat later, and then I’m spending the afternoon working. I’m going to be going to Sardinia soon, with my daughter. She was a former Miss World, and the first Irish girl to be on the cover of Playboy. We’re launching the new Volkswagen Golf 7 over there. It’s a very nice car – 100kg lighter than anything they’ve done before, I’m told, the metal is heated to 700 degrees and the alloy is pasted on, so its much lighter and more fuel efficient.

Do you get a lot of perks being Chris de Burgh?
I think back when Lady In Red was a major record – well, it still is – I was offered all sorts of red cars, you know, but they were pretty crap. If I don’t like the car I won’t drive it, so it’s a bit pointless giving me it! In the US they used Lady In Red on the WeightWatchers advert, they paid a lot of money for that.
We would like to note that you are renowned for taking journalists to court over defamation and winning. Have you got a bad relationship with the press?
You cant expect everyone to like what you to do. I remember reading two reviews from a gig I did in Montreal. I am much admired and loved in Quebec, I have done 2 or 3 shows in a 15,000 seat arena. One review said I was fantastic and one said I was dreadful. And I thought ‘this is just an opinion’. The fans have to buy the tickets and these critics are told to go by their editor, so they’re not genuine fans, they’re not expected to write a rave review. With Facebook, you get instant feedback from your fans. That’s more important to me.

Have you got any advice for readers who want to sue someone for defamation?
Once you have a very good defamation lawyer, why not? Go for it! These people [journalists] need manners banged onto them. You see what the Leveson lot get up to and my jaw feels slack thinking about the hypocrisy in the industry.
Are you quite passionate about the phone-hacking scandal?
I’d say the real villains are the dyed-in-the-wool lads. It goes back to the adage ‘theres only one rogue reporter’ – everyone knows there was more than one. Once you tell a little bit of a lie, you can get away with it. I admire you for being young and wanting to be a journalist. I think there are very few things that make me want to puke as much as a tabloid journalist defending phone hacking.

You also sued Ryanair once. Was it something to do with their terrible food?
Ryanair is dreadful but because its cheap, people put up with it. They suggested my daughter was a racist for an off the cuff, innocuous comment. The sad thing about it is I was prepared to lose the case, but it meant a lot for the little man, if i may use that pejorative. Theres no right for them to protect their good name.

So who is the most famous Chris de Burgh fan?
I suppose Princess Diana. It’s hard to put my finger on who would be second. I did find out that Gorbachov was a fan of my music, and I met him. He was charming, he made history, that thing of bringing down the berlin wall. And I’ve performed for Liverpool F.C before, I keep in touch with some of them. Roy Hodge is a lovely man.

Where was your least favourite place in the world?
I’ve been around the world several times, and I cant think of anywhere I really disliked. When I was 12 I moved to an 800-year-old castle in Ireland which my grandfather, General Sir Eric de Burgh owned. We had no light, no heat, no water, no furniture, but it was good at that age, running around outside. We eventually turned the castle into a hotel. I also spent a term at a boarding school in Carlisle, which was interesting, because it was bloody cold in the winter and the spring.

What was ‘Chris de Burgh’ like at school?
It was an all boys school, although they introduced girls later. Your future Queen of England attended. For me, it was 800 boys, and testosterone was quite high. You could bottle it. The bad thing about having guys incarcerated together means there is a lot of attention on girls when you see them on the high street on a Saturday afternoon. They become exotic. I am sorry, in a way, that education of females was lost on me. Being friends with girls is a great way to learn the complexities of the female mind, you don’t have to regard them as sex objects.

Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your life living one day of the week, which day of the week would it be?
I’d pick friday. its right on the edge of the weekend and people are more relaxed. They see the weekend and think ‘I am going to cool down’.

Thanks for chatting to us, Chris.
You take care!

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