SINGER KNOWS SO WELL HOW TO NET RECORD ROYALTIES

Actress and singer Barbara Dickson has just released her latest album 'For The Record'. The Dunfermline-born star, who was awarded an OBE earlier this year, is best-known for her duet 'I Know Him So Well' with Elaine Paige. The song, from the musical 'Chess', entered the Guinness Book Of Records in 1985 as the bigest selling single by a female duo. Barbara, 54, lives In Lincolnshire with her husband Oliver and three sons; Colm, 15, Gabriel, 13 and 11-year-old Archie.

What is your financial background?
I am from a totally working class background. My father worked in the Rosyth, Fife, dockyard on tugs bringing big naval ships in. My mother was a housewife. We were brought up comfortably but there wasn't much financial slack.

Were you given pocket money?
No, my parents would buy sweets for my brother and me at the weekend. I think it was a much gentler age in the Fifties, you did not expect so much.

What was your first job? Do you remember your first pay cheque?
Unfortunately I did not leave school with enough qualifications to go to teacher training college so I became a civil servant. My first pay packet was £3 7s 6d in 1964 and that was as a temporary clerical assistant.

How did you start singing professionally?
I moved to Edinburgh because I wanted to be in the centre of things. I was singing semi-professionally in the evenings although I cannot remember much money exchanging hands. I became professional when I was offered a job in Denmark for five weeks.

Have you ever been out of work?
When I came back from Denmark I was unemployed for about a month and a half and that was hideous. I hated it and I could not bear the humiliation. I ended up going to England and started to earn money. It was the late Sixties and I used to get £8 - £12 a night for singing. That was a considerable sum at the time.

When was your big break?
In 1972 I met my manager Bernard Theobald. He had £100 in the bank and he said he would invest it in my career. But he did not earn any money from me until my prospects improved considerably.

Do you have a strong work ethic?
The work ethic has come from my parents. They may not have been perfect but they were exceedingly respectable people.

Are you a spender or a saver?
I think I am a bit of both. If i have some money I will spend it. But I have three children in independent education and that galvanises you every year to save as it costs a lot of money.

Do you use a credit card or cash?
I do prefer cash but I can't always manage it. I prefer not to use my credit card too often because it gets so deeply expensive if you do not pay it off at the end of every month.

What is your main extravagance?
I go to London to get my hair done which costs a lot of money. I go to a West End salon called Michaeljohn to have all the major surgery done.

What about holidays?
We don't always take holidays because my husband works in television drama and very often they are filming through the summer. Last year we went to Canada because my brother lives there.

Which has been more lucrative, singing or acting?
Singing, simply because in my heyday as a popstar I was getting gold and platinum albums and I was getting royalties from them selling in massive quantities.I did not write any of my hits but I had good advice and I was well-managed.

Which of your hits has made you the most money?
I think 'I Know Him So Well' was the most lucrative for me because I got paid for the album of 'Chess' as well as the single and it was successful at a time when records were selling a lot.

What has been your best financial decision?
I have always made a good profit from the houses I have bought. I have been in my current home for 10 years and it was a good buy because of where it is. We have completely redecorated and restored it.

And the worst?
I still have my first car, a Mini Clubman estate that I bought in 1978 and it is rotting in my garage. I should have sold it when it was worth some money. That wasn't very sensible.

What is your opinion on the euro?
I do not like it. I would rather keep the pound.

Do you have a pension planned?
Yes, I have retired from my company so I get a pension every year and I do have other investments for later in life.

Do you collect anything of value?
I collect needlework samples and paintings. They are all insured and we have a burglar alarm.

Are you generous?
I am more generous with my affection. I tend to be quite understanding of other people's shortcomings and I think that has to extend into my financial life. I would never hoard money.

Can money bring you happiness?
No, it definitely can't. Love makes you happy.


Sunday Express - July 7, 2002. Barbara is interviewed by Laura Milne
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