Kim Wilde (born Kim Smith, 18 November 1960 in Chiswick, West London) is an English pop singer.
Wilde burst onto the music scene in 1981 with the new wave classic "Kids in America", which hit number two in the UK Singles Chart. Major U.S. success eluded her until 1987, when she topped the charts with her version of The Supremes' hit "You Keep Me Hangin' On".
Since 1998, Wilde had an alternative career as a gardener, whilst still being active in music.
Kim Smith was born in November 1960, the first child of 1950s rock 'n' roller Marty Wilde (real name Reginald Smith) and Joyce Baker, formerly of the British singing and dancing group The Vernons Girls.
As a child, she attended Oakfield Preparatory School, Dulwich. She moved with her family to Hertfordshire at the age of nine, where she was educated at Tewin School and later Presdales School, Ware, before completing a foundation course at St Albans College of Art & Design in 1980.
In 1980, at age twenty, Wilde was signed to Mickie Most's RAK Records.
The RAK (now EMI) years
Wilde released her debut single "Kids in America" in January 1981. It was an instant success, reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart and scaling the Top 5 in other territories such as Germany, France and Australia. Although it achieved only moderate success in the U.S., peaking at number 25 when released in 1982, it is often regarded today as Wilde's signature song.
Her debut album Kim Wilde repeated the success of the single, spawning two further hits in "Chequered Love" (Top 5 in the UK, France, Australia and Germany) and the UK-only single "Water on Glass". Her follow-up album was 1982's Select, led by the hit singles "Cambodia" and "View From a Bridge". Both were Number 1 hits in France and reached Top 10 positions in Germany and Australia. In France, "Cambodia" sold more than 1 million copies.
At the time there was some controversy about Wilde's hesitation to do live concerts. Her first concerts in September 1982 took place in Denmark, before embarking on a UK-wide tour in October .
Wilde's third album, Catch As Catch Can (1983) was a relative failure. The first single from the album, "Love Blonde", was another success in France and Scandinavia, but failed to have major success in other countries. The failure of the album led her to her leaving RAK and signing with MCA Records in the summer of 1984.
The MCA years
Her first MCA album Teases & Dares was again overlooked in her home country, but fared better in Germany, France and Scandinavia as well as scoring another German Top 10 single with "The Second Time" (which was Top 30 in the UK). The video for this song appeared in an episode of the 1980s TV hit Knight Rider in 1985. The second single, "The Touch", was not a commercial success, but the third single, the rockabilly "Rage to Love", made the UK top 20 in 1985.
All of Wilde's songs up to this point, including all her major hits, had been written by her father Marty and brother, Ricki Wilde. On "Teases & Dares", she began contributing herself to the writing, penning two songs on her own.
Meanwhile, Wilde had embarked on three European concert tours (1983, 85 & 86). During this time, she was achieving more success on the European continent than in her native UK.
On her fifth album, 1986's Another Step, Wilde wrote or co-wrote most of the songs. The album's lead single "Schoolgirl" flopped in Europe and Australia ??? but Wilde's fortunes improved in spectacular fashion with the album's second single, a remake of The Supremes classic "You Keep Me Hangin' On". After topping the charts in Australia and Canada and peaking at number two in the UK, it became a U.S. number one single in 1987. With that hit, she became the fifth U.K. female solo artist ever to top the U.S. Hot 100, following Petula Clark, Lulu, Sheena Easton, and Bonnie Tyler.
Wilde later admitted to "not knowing the song terribly well" beforehand: "Basically we just went into the studio with a lot of energy and not a lot of reverence. We changed quite a lot of the song and I think that's why it was so successful. It was a very spontaneous idea."
Her popularity, especially in her native UK, was revitalised and she scored further Top 10 hits in 1987 with "Another Step (Closer to You)" (recorded with Junior) and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (a charity single, recorded with comedian Mel Smith). Unfortunately the success of all the singles didn't help the album Another Step to climb up the charts.
In 1988, Wilde released her biggest selling album to date, Close, which returned her to the UK top 10 and spent almost eight months on the UK album chart. It produced four major European hits: "Hey Mr.Heartache", "You Came", "Never Trust a Stranger" and "Four Letter Word", (the last 3 were Top 10 hits in the UK). The release of the album coincided with a tour of Europe, where she was the opening act for Michael Jackson on his Bad tour.
Wilde released her next album, Love Moves, in 1990. The album barely made the UK top 40, and although it was a Top 10 success in Scandinavian countries, it failed to sell as well as its predecessor and only spawned two minor hits, "It's Here" a Top 20 success in Middle and Northern Europe as well as "Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love), her last Top 20 hit in France. She toured Europe again, this time opening for fellow Briton David Bowie.
A collaboration with Rick Nowels, who had produced hits for Stevie Nicks and Belinda Carlisle, resulted in the guitar-driven pop of the single "Love Is Holy" and the album Love Is (1992). The album's success was again limited to a small number of countries, though the single became another Top 20 hit in the UK, and the second single ("Heart Over Mind") also made the top 40. In 1993, she released her first official compilation album "The Singles Collection 1981-93", which was a success throughout Europe and Australia and the dancefloor-influenced single "If I Can't Have You" (a cover of the Yvonne Elliman song from the film Saturday Night Fever that was penned by The Bee Gees), became her last UK Top 20 Hit as well as a number 3 hit in Australia.
Wilde embarked on a huge "Greatest Hits" concert tour through Europe in 1994 and also toured Australia and Japan for the first time in six years.
Her next album, "Now & Forever" (1995), was a commercial failure worldwide. Her single "Breakin' Away" however was a minor hit and the follow up "This I Swear" was also a minor hit in Europe. She released a single (previously performed by Evelyn 'Champagne' King) "Shame" in 1996.
From February 1996 to February 1997, Wilde appeared in London's West End production of the musical, Tommy.
After this, Wilde started recording a new album. However there were problems with her record company (MCA Records had by that time become part of the giant Universal Music corporation), and legal problems concerning the songs. Subsequently, Wilde abandoned the album which remains unreleased.
Personal life and other interests
During the 1980s, Wilde was romantically linked with saxophonist Gary Barnacle and keyboardist Calvin Hayes of Johnny Hates Jazz. In 1993 Wilde was seeing TV presenter Chris Evans . On 1 September 1996, Wilde married her co-star in Tommy, Hal Fowler, and expressed a desire to have children as soon as possible. On 3 January 1998 she gave birth to Harry Tristan . Two years later, on 13 January 2000, Rose Elisabeth was born .
During her first pregnancy, an old interest in gardening resurfaced and she attended the famous Capel Manor college to learn about horticulture, so as to create a garden for her children. She was spotted by talent scouts of the UK television station, Channel 4, who asked her to act as a designer for their programme Better Gardens. A year later she started a two year commitment with the BBC, recording two series of Garden Invaders. In 2005 she won a Gold award for her courtyard garden at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show .
Her first book about gardening was published in 2005, entitled Gardening With Children. The second book followed in April 2006, entitled The First-time Gardener. Translations of the first book were released at the same time in Spain, France, Denmark and the Netherlands, and later in Germany.
Wilde broadened her eco-friendly image by taking on advertising jobs for various 'green' companies. For two years, she featured on adverts for the highstreet health food shop Holland & Barrett. She wrote infomercials for Bold and Timotei , and in 2008 she started advertising 'green kitchens' for Magnet.
As of 2008, her brother Marty Wilde jr. is a landscape gardener and her sister, Roxanne, is a backing singer for Kylie Minogue.
Return to pop
On 13 January 2001 Wilde performed live for the first time in years, as a guest star in a charity show by the ABBA tribute band, Fabba. This sparked an interest in performing live again. Since November 2001, she has toured the UK three times (and once in Australia during 2003) as part of the "Here & Now Tour", an Eighties revival concert series, together with artists such as Paul Young, The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, Howard Jones and Five Star.
New recordings also followed. In 2001, she recorded a new track, "Loved", for a compilation album which became a surprise hit in Belgium. She recorded a single in 2002 "Born to be wild". It was in summer of 2003, she had a major hit with Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime, a duet with German pop star Nena. The single was a Top 10 hit in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland.
In 2006 Wilde signed a new record deal with EMI Germany and released the first single from her tenth studio album in many countries across Europe, Scandinavia and Asia. "You Came 2006" charted Top 20 in most of these countries and became her biggest solo hit in Germany since 1988. The album Never Say Never included eight new tracks plus five re-worked previous hits and has charted in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. There are no current plans to release the album in the UK.
The second single from the album, which was voted for by fans on her official website was "Perfect Girl", released in November 2006 and spent nine weeks on the German Top 100 singles chart. A third single, "Together We Belong", was released in March 2007 and a fourth single, "Baby Obey Me", was released in Germany as a remix featuring German rapper Ill Inspecta.
In 2001 Kim Wilde appeared on the first Here and now tour around the UK and repeated this, as the only artist, 4 years in a row. Also on different summer festivals and summer Here and now events, she became a regular guest. Even on the Australian leg of the Here and now tour, Kim was on the set. Since the summer of 2003 Kim Wilde appeared on numerous festivals and concerts all over Europe with her own show. In the spring of 2007 she toured (The Perfect girl tour) around Europe singing new material with big succes, and started a second leg of the tour in the fall same year. This was the first solo tour since the Greatest hits tour in 1994. Also in the spring 2009 she successfully toured around Europe to almost sold out venues, with lots of festivals and concerts to follow during the summer of 2009.
In early September 2009, a brand new single "Run to you", recorded by Kim and Swedish rockband "Fibes oh Fibes" was released in Sweden under the name "Fibes oh Fibes feat. Kim Wilde".
Kim Wilde holds the record for being the most-charted British solo female act of the 1980s, with 17 UK Top 40 hit singles throughout the decade (including her duets with Junior Giscombe and Mel Smith).
In France, she was known as the "Brigitte Bardot of Rock" and her song "Cambodia" sold over a million copies. In 1985, French singer Laurent Voulzy paid tribute to Wilde in his song "Les Nuits Sans Kim Wilde" ("Nights Without Kim Wilde"). He apparently wrote the song after seeing Wilde on television and finding himself totally fascinated by her image. Wilde heard the recording, and finally agreed to sing a few lines on the song herself. It was released as a single in France. Wilde also made a cameo appearance in the song's music video.
Her second career as a gardener has been equally successful, having received many accolades within only five years as a serious gardener, including a Gold at the 2005 Chelsea Flower Show. She also held an entry in the book of Guinness World Records for successfully moving and replanting the world's largest tree with fellow horticulturist Dave Fountain. Unfortunately the tree was blown away by a storm in January 2007.
The song Cambodia is featured in Christophe Honore's 2006 film Dans Paris("In Paris").
1996 RSH-GOLD Female Classic of 1995 (Germany)
1993 Bambi Award for "The Singles Collection" (Germany)
1990 Diamond Award (Netherlands)
1988 European Platinum Award as female singer who sold the most records across Europe (she shared this award with equally successful 80's singer Sandra).
1984 Golden Otto Best Singer
1983 BRIT Awards - Best British female solo artist (UK)
1983 Silver Otto Second Best Singer
1982 Silver Otto Second Best Singer
1981 Golden Otto Best Singer
She duetted with the French living legend Johnny Halliday and with famous composer and singer Michel Berger, both on French TV.
Wilde provided backing vocals for Johnny Hates Jazz on their 1987 hit "Turn Back the Clock" and on two songs on their second album Tall Stories (1991).
She appeared in various songs that were recorded for charity: "Something Better" for the Anti-Heroin Project (1986), "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid (1987) and "Spirit of the Forest" for the project of the same name (1989).
In 2002 she contributed vocals to the song "You and Me" by German band Readymade.
In 2005 a white label remix of the classic song "You Came" was made by Groovenut, to be released as "Love You More" by Groovenut vs. Kim Wilde. However, the track was never commercially released. In 2006, Groovenut were approached to remix the new release of "You Came", the resulting track was included on the single as "You Came (Groovenut Remix)".
Wilde sang the track "I Got You Babe" together with Ali Campbell from UB40 live on stage in Brussels during the Stars Of Europe concert on 24 March 2007. She did the same a year later, on 3 April 2008, during Campbell's one night only concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
In September 2009 a new duet together with Fibes, Oh Fibes! is released as a single in Sweden. The song is "Run to you". It is the 2. single from the bands new album "1987".
Kim Wilde as an inspiration for other artists
In 1991, English punk rock band Toy Dolls recorded a parody of "Kids in America" called "The Kids in Tyne and Wear" on their seventh studio album, "Fat Bob's Feet".
Ash ex-guitarist, Charlotte Hatherley, wrote a song about her, entitled "Kim Wilde", in 2004 and included it on her debut album Grey Will Fade.
Sandra Caldarone, a Belgian singer named herself Sandra Kim, after Kim Wilde. Sandra Kim won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986 with "J'aime la Vie".
East German punk rock band Feeling B made a song called "Kim Wilde", which can be found on their debut album.
In her graphic novel Persepolis, Iranian cartoonist Marjane Satrapi has a comic strip titled Kim Wilde. In it the main character Marji, a young Iranian girl, sings "Kids in America" in the streets of the Iranian capital. Also, when her parents go on holiday in Turkey, they buy a poster of Kim Wilde and smuggle it into Tehran for Marji. Marji pins the poster on her bedroom's wall and practices emulating Kim Wilde.
French singer-songwriter Laurent Voulzy released 'Les Nuits Sans Kim Wilde' in 1985, with Kim contributing to the song and appearing in the video.
Kim Wilde covering other artists
Wilde has recorded ten cover versions, four of them being released as singles (see discography)
"Putty in Your Hands" (1984) - previously sung by The Shirelles and later The Yardbirds.
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1986) - previously performed by The Supremes.
"Rockin Around The Christmas Tree" (1987) - previously performed by Brenda Lee.
"Lucky Guy" (1988) - previously performed by Todd Rundgren.
"If I Can't Have You" (1993) - previously performed by Yvonne Elliman.
"Shame" (1996) - previously performed by Evelyn 'Champagne' King.
"Because the Night" (1998) - Written by Bruce Springsteen, performed by Patti Smith Group and later covered by 10,000 Maniacs.
"Born to be Wild" (2002) - previously performed by Steppenwolf.
"Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" (Marty Wilde and Kim Wilde), (2007) - previously performed by Elton John
"Enjoy the Silence" (2007) (live recording issued on CD single only) - previously performed by Depeche Mode.
Kim Wilde covered by other artists
Many artists around the world have performed cover versions of Kim Wilde songs, ranging from pop and rock to dance and death metal versions. In 1995, Indie rock band The Muffs recorded "Kids In America" which was featured in the hit film Clueless. In 2000, Canadian band Len also covered "Kids In America" for the Digimon soundtrack, as did Lawnmower Deth. American pop star Tiffany recorded a version of "Kids In America" in 2007 for her album "I Think We're Alone Now: '80s Hits and More". German Eurodance Act Cascada, recorded a version of "Kids In America", on their Everytime We Touch album in 2007. Other famous artists to cover Kim Wilde songs are Apoptygma Berzerk, Atomic Kitten, Bloodhound Gang, James Last and Lasgo - to name but a few.