Exclusive Interview: Samantha Fox
Samantha Fox has had music in her blood a long time. She secured her first recording contract with her band at the age of 15, but put everything on hold to pursue a very successful and lucrative career in modeling. In the four year whirlwind that was her modeling career, Sam appeared in hundreds of publications around the world and quickly became Britain’s sweetheart.
The hunger to write music and perform on stage eventually proved too strong and Sam gave up her modeling career to follow her musical ambitions. She released her first single, “Touch Me,” in 1986. That song would launch Fox’s singing career and she would go on to sell over 30 million records.
Fox still tours the world with her band, performing for thousands of fans at every gig. The passion and desire to perform is just as strong for her today as it was in 1986.
There really are two sides to Samantha Fox, as you’ll read about in our interview. There’s Samantha – the pop star, and Sam – the rock chick. The more I spoke with Sam it became extremely obvious that she really is more rock ‘n roll than most people could ever imagine. Just ask Lemmy. Or Paul Stanley. Or Glenn Tipton.
Sam, I just watched some of your recent live footage and I’m diggin’ the fact that you have a full band playing your music.
I started as a model in England. I had to get rid of that stigma of just being famous for my body. When I released “Touch Me” we did the video with a band. I wanted that image. I wanted people to know I was a real singer and it was real music. We did the first tour of America in 1989 and we did six months on a bus. I paid my dues and I’m still paying them! I think that’s why I’ve survived all these years. Keeping your own image and the sound you love shows on stage.
What does your touring schedule look like these days?
Most weekends I’m doing a gig somewhere. I did a festival in Ireland. The weekend before that I was in Israel doing a show in Tel Aviv and a big festival in Karmiel for 20,000 people. I’ve not had a hit in Israel for six or seven years but can still have a big turnout like that. Touring does keep me busy. After the festival in Ireland I did another festival in Finland. Norway, Budapest. We’re going around the world all the time. In between I’ve been promoting my singles “Call Me” and “Forever” while writing my album that will come out early next year. In between the gigging I’m also writing songs and collaborating with different people. I just worked with Boy George on a track. I’m working with a really great group called Loverush UK. Everything they do always seems to go Top 10. I’m keeping busy. It’s hard keeping me away from that stage.
The fans that really want to know will know, but casual fans – especially here in the States – may not realize you’re just as busy now as ever. Of course, the more markets you can reach the better but does it matter to you that the American market is just so screwed up now?
It’s a little bit like what’s going on in England at the moment. I keep saying to myself that it’s a big world out there. There are new countries that have opened up. There are a lot of countries that never saw Samantha Fox and now I can go to those countries. As long as I’m making people happy and still doing what I love. I get emails from so many Americans wondering why I’m not over there. I’d love to come perform there. I just need somebody to ask me! I can’t just turn up and say, “Hello, I’m here! Where’s the stage?” Someone tweeted “You’re keeping Samantha Fox captive! She’s never coming to America!” I’m dying to get back to America with a hit single and do a live tour again. I have so many great memories. I lived there for a year and a half. I had a great time.
A lot of people think of Samantha Fox as a pop artist, but I see something very rock ‘n roll about you.
You’re dead right! I’m definitely a rock chick. I’m pretty schizophrenic with my tastes in music. I think there are a lot of people like me. I like all different kinds of music for different reasons. It depends on my mood. On stage with my band now I tend to rock out more than I did in the 80s. Songs like “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” and “I Only Wanna Be With You” are rocked out to make it sound more like today. The kids seem to love it and it goes down at festivals much better. Rocking out with a band gives you more freedom. A lot of the songs in the 80s had pre-programmed bass and keys. It’s really hard to emulate live without having a million keyboards on stage. I think if you’re gonna be live, make it live. If you wanna hear the records, listen to the records or watch the videos. I want to make it different live. I enjoy it more when I rock out than performing it the same way I did in the 80s.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that you said you wanted Lemmy from Motorhead to give you away at your wedding!
That’s really rock ‘n roll! We met when I was 17. He read in the newspaper that before I was a model I was in a band and that I loved Motorhead and AC/DC and Van Halen and Kiss. He was quite surprised because my image at the time was very girly. I don’t think a lot of people realized I was into rock ‘n roll so much. He was a fan of my pictures. It’s so funny that he’s a fan of mine! He came up to me at a charity event we were doing together. We started talking and he said we should do a song together. This was way before “Touch Me.” I went to his house and walked into his living room. I couldn’t believe that his back wall was full of my pictures from newspapers and magazines. He said, “OK, let’s get some inspiration. What kind of song you want to do as a duet?” We started laughing about doing a heavy metal Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. He wanted to put on some music for inspiration and I couldn’t believe he put Abba on! Lemmy loves Abba? He told me he gets a lot of his melody ideas from bands like Abba. We wrote a song and called it “Beauty and the Beast.” It was fantastic. Unfortunately, Lemmy and Motorhead got involved in a litigation with the record label and wasn’t able to release new music for about three or four years. We couldn’t release that track, which was a shame. We became friends over the years. We always meet up for dinner if we pass while gigging around. He’s always been a mentor of mine since I’ve known him from such a young age. What can I say? Lemmy is one of the gods of rock music. He knows the ins and outs of the business and if I ever needed advice he’s always been there for me. Unfortunately my dad passed away 11 years ago I thought Lemmy would be great to give me away. It would be fantastic! He’s such a nice fella. He’s got a lot of character and lot of wisdom. I could sit and listen to his stories all day long. This guy tours constantly – his whole life. He’s never home. I think he’s one of the hardest working people in the business.
Except for when he’s at the Rainbow playing those touch screen games…
I know! I’ve met Lemmy a few times in LA. We’d go out and have a drink together and he’d leave me to go play one of those machines! You’re not very good at conversation tonight, are ya Lemmy? He’d say, “Put some money in and rub me for luck!” If anyone can drag him away from those machines, I can!
I’ve got to ask about your relationship with Paul Stanley. You dated him for a while. What do you remember about that time?
It was a wonderful time. I remember moving to New York. Every week I was flying back and forth to New York. I was constantly jet-lagged and burnt out. All I thought about New York was guns, gangs, rapes and drugs! That what I saw on TV, ya know? My bass player had moved to Albany. I knew him very well. I moved out my best friend and PA so it wasn’t like I moved out all on my own. I had friends at the record company. I was recording one day with Full Force. We were working on the Just One Night record, I think. Paul was doing some solo stuff away from Kiss. He really liked the “Naughty Girls” song I did. He got in touch with Full Force to work on a track. I was recording and he heard I was in the studio because he was working with Full Force at that time. I don’t think anything ever came about with that track. I think he wanted to meet me because he just happened to turn up the day I was singing. Full Force introduced me to Paul. I was a big Kiss fan anyway. Ten minutes after he left he called me from his limousine and asked me out on a date. I was new in the States and up for meeting new people. I wasn’t thinking about a love affair at that time. I said “OK” and he said, “Well, how about tonight?” We went out for a great meal and he ended up showing me the America I didn’t know. While I was recording the album Paul was doing a short tour of the States. In between the album I went on tour with him and saw how he did things – the rock ‘n roll. way. I had a great time with Paul and learned a lot from him. He’s a very talented guy. We had a great love affair.
I went on tour for six months on a bus with a band. Me and Paul tried to see each other when we could. He was then on tour with Kiss. After that tour I became a tax exile because I was paying so much tax and all of my money was basically going to managers and the tax man. I went to live in Spain for a year and our love affair just kind of fizzled out. There were no arguments or bad feelings. It was just a case of being apart. I have great memories of Paul. He’s a really nice guy. He’s a bit older than me but what can I say? I’m sure he lied about his age then! Kiss is still a fantastic band and in 1989 they’d done far more than I’d done. Listening to their stories and his wisdom was fantastic.
With Lemmy and Paul, that’s definitely good company to be around in the music biz.
When I lived in Spain I became great friends with Glenn Tipton from Judas Priest. He lived just down the road. He was a tax exile as well. I wanted to still carry on writing while I lived there. Someone introduced me to Glenn in a bar. The next thing you know I’m at this beautiful, big house in his studio. I wrote some songs with him, too. Nothing ever came about. The record company wasn’t keen on those songs but he got to play on one of our tracks called “Spirit of America.” He recorded a fantastic solo for me. It was cool during that year in Spain to be working with him.
With the people you know you should totally record a metal record!
I would love to! It’s very difficult at the moment with the music industry. One minute hip-hop is big and then the guitar bands are big again. It constantly changes. The last album, Angel with an Attitude, was more guitar oriented. It wasn’t released in Britain. They didn’t like it. They said it wasn’t pop enough for Sam Fox. Think about my career. I had some songs that had that rock edge. Britain really went more for the cheesy pop stuff I was doing. That didn’t really work for me in the States. I had two different careers going. It’s like there were two of me, Sam and Samantha! Sam is the rock one.
One thing you’ll always be known for is your modeling. You were so successful as a model…
That’s why I’m still known for it. I was so successful at it. I come out after a gig and there are kids holding pictures of me from when I was younger with no clothes on. I’m like, “Oh my god! Where did you get this from?” They always say “the Internet.” You just can’t get away from those boobs!
How did your modeling impact your music career when you first started?
I wasn’t known in America before “Touch Me.” It became a hit because it was a great track and a great video. I was wearing the jean jacket and jeans – nothing too sexy. I never tried to push the model image at all. When we broke America and I arrived on your shores a paparazzi said, “Sam! Have you ever thought about modeling or doing Playboy?” Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt! I turned down Sports Illustrated because I wanted to be taken seriously as a singer. It was damaging in Britain. It’s like someone that’s been on a Soap Opera all their life and then wants to be a serious actor. You can’t get out of that mold. It was very difficult for me at first in Britain. A lot of people said it wasn’t me singing on the record. Once it went #1 in 15 countries Britain started playing it. Going straight in with a live band was very important to me. I wanted to show people it wasn’t just about the recording and making videos. I am a performer and the best thing about being a rock star is to perform live. You don’t sell records just based on what you look like, either. You can’t play a poster!
Do you think Keeley Hazell or Katie Price could sell records? I don’t think so.
No. As Katie Price admits, she did it for a laugh. She knows she can’t sing and she doesn’t care. I went to stage school at the age of five. I had my first band at 15. It’s in my blood. You either can sing or you can’t. You either can perform or you can’t. Life on the road … I don’t think Katie Price could put up with it. Sleeping on the bus with 15 smelly men? You’re either a rock star or you’re not and at the end of the day it’s in my blood. You’ve videos can look great and there are so many things people can do to make you sound great in the studio but you have to get on that stage and perform live. I don’t think I would have survived this business so long if I couldn’t.
You’re absolutely right! Sam, big thanks for taking time out for this. What would you like to say to the readers and your fans to wrap everything up?
I’d like to thank all the fans who have been so loyal to me over the years. Keep those emails and tweets coming. Keep supporting me on the ‘Net. Thank your for being so loyal and I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve performed in the States. I’m just waiting on that phone call! Anyone out there that knows a promoter, get me back out in America! I’d love to get back on tour there and I’d love to see you again. Thank you for all your support!