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Tony Hadley reveals debut solo album regrets: "I think I made a massive mistake"

31 August 2021, 15:41

By Tom Eames

Tony Hadley has one of the most distinctive voices in pop music over the last 40 years, and he's still going strong.

The former Spandau Ballet frontman will soon embark on his 40th anniversary solo tour, celebrating his four decades in music across the UK.

Speaking to Smooth's Jenni Falconer, Tony opened up about his career so far, including how he would have done things differently when it came to launching his solo career at the beginning of the 1990s.

Watch the full interview above.

Read more: Tony Hadley announces solo 2022 UK tour to celebrate 40th anniversary

Tony released his debut solo album The State of Play in 1992, taking on a more soft rock style and working with producers in Los Angeles. However, the album didn't reach the UK top 40 at the time.

Discussing his early solo days, Tony said: "It’s a weird one. I wasn’t sure where I was going, musically. And if I’m really honest, I think I made a massive mistake. I’ve made a few of those in my life, that’s for sure!

"I had this thing about… I love American rock music. I still love Tom Petty, John Cooper Mellencamp, Bon Jovi. I’m really into that kind of stuff.

"So at the time, I was even contemplating moving to LA, and probably getting the spandex trousers and growing my hair long and everything, and becoming a 'rocker'. But I was kind of into that sort of stuff.

"So the producer I had at the time was Ron Levinson, who had produced Heart and The Who and stuff like that.

"And I don’t actually listen to my old stuff, but when we have played it on occasion. It was quite a big album in Germany, so they liked to hear that kind of stuff. And actually, some of the songs were really, really good.

"But they were a bit too kind of – I call it my 'REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, So West Coast it Was Nearly in the Sea' album.

"There were some great songs on it, but it was, I think, too American. And I think, certainly for the UK and the European market, it was a bit: 'Oh, where’s he going with this kind of thing?'.

"And I sort of knew halfway through making the album that this wasn’t necessarily the right one to make!. But I’m still proud of it. And like I say, there are some great songs on it. And it was brilliant working in LA with Ron Levinson, and just living there for three-and-a-half or four months. It was just incredible."

Talking about how he dealt with working as a solo artist compared to being in a band following Spandau's initial breakup, Tony said: "The first thing I did was to surround myself with good musicians, so that you have some sort of camaraderie around you.

"The weird one is the fact that when you’re doing interviews, it’s just you. You can’t sort of say, 'I feel a bit tired today. Can you – Steve, Gary, John, Martin – can you do one of those?'. You delegate the various interviews and stuff like that. And also, you were never on your own. You always had your mates with you.

"But I’ve been really fortunate over the years to mix and work with so many great musicians, who have become great friends as well. I call them The Fabulous T.H. Band, and they really are, because not only are they great musicians, but they’re lovely people as well.

"And also, I’m not one of those sort of dictatorial – you know, 'This is how it goes all the time'. Sometimes, I need advice. And when you’re surrounded by such good musos, it’s like: 'What do you think?'. We work on the songs, and rehearse them.

"We’ve got new songs, which are going to be on the new album next year, and stuff like that. But we very much collaborate as a band. But I just do all the interviews!"

Tony Hadley
Tony Hadley. Picture: Getty

However, Tony reiterated his stance that he has no desire or plans to reunite with Spandau Ballet, despite their hopes of his return, following his exit from the group a couple of years ago.

"Unfortunately, it went a little bit too far," he said. "They’ve been a little bit disingenuous with the truth, when I’ve seen them on TV and stuff.

"They know why I left, and maybe one day, as I say, they might be honest about it as well. But it’s not for me to say. I think it’s really sad. You know, I think it’s a shame for the fans as well.

Read more: Spandau Ballet: The inside story of the bitterest break-up in pop history

"If things had gone the other way, then we would probably be celebrating a 40th anniversary tour ourselves. But there you go. That’s life. It’s full of ups and downs. You take it on the chin, and you move forward. That’s the most important thing, I think – it’s to always move forward.

"I don’t go back and listen to all of my old songs, whether they’re solo songs or Spandau songs, or watch videos. I can’t think of anything worse. I hate watching myself on TV. So I’m always moving forward, and trying to do new things."

Tony Hadley's 40th anniversary tour kicks off in 2022. Tickets are available now.