'Passion is in my DNA' Julio Iglesias tells how the three great loves of his life are wine, women and song – but he’s trying to give one up…
22:09 GMT, 17 August 2012
Julio Iglesias is lounging by one of his pools in his compound in Marbella in Spain. He’s wearing cropped Chinos, a white linen shirt – no longer undone to the waist – and the same leather shoes with thin soles he’s been wearing all his life.
They’re like ballet slippers. At 68 he’s still handsome, full of face, full of spirit, but sometimes he seems self-conscious, asking the photographer to shoot from a certain side.
His property is so huge he drives me in his golf cart around the 450 acres.
'I dont have a great voice, but thats not what its about. Its important to have great style' says Julio
He is very touchy-feely, but he’s limping with a bandaged foot. He says, ‘It’s because I was making love standing on one foot.’ He quickly corrects himself. ‘If only that was possible… When I say making love it’s not related to sex, it’s related to life. You have to keep the passion for everything. That’s how you survive. Passion has been in my DNA for generations.’
In the golf cart he tells me that actually his foot is bandaged because of an accident in the swimming pool and it seems to have provoked old pains.
He started off as a young goalkeeper for Real Madrid, but a car accident when he was 20 left him paralysed. He was told he would never walk again. He began learning the guitar while lying on his back. His determination, and not listening to doctors, meant he regained almost total mobility.
As we drive around his property we pass three separate houses, each with its own infinity pool. We pass the school where five of his eight children study.
Julio Iglesias next to his sons Enrique and Julio Jose in Hawai
The church where, in 2010, he married his girlfriend and the mother of those five children, Miranda Rijnsburger. She is 22 years his junior but looks younger, all pillowy lips and dark blonde hair wet from swimming.
We pass the studio where he has re-recorded his biggest British hit, Begin The Beguine, for an album entitled 1 (all of his number one songs reworked).
He speaks with almost constant sexual innuendo, but where once it might have been a real flirtation, now it’s a joke, poking fun at the notorious lover he was supposed to be.
He tells me, ‘I don’t have a great voice, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s important to have great style. Look at Frank Sinatra.’ He starts singing When Somebody Loves You in the style of Ol’ Blue Eyes and looking directly at me. ‘My 2012 version of Begin The Beguine is very different from the original.’
Once inside he plays it for me. It sounds very modern, very clubby, very summery. ‘My interpretation now is different because my life experience is different. You don’t have the same views as you did 30 years ago.’ In many ways he seems to work harder than he did 30 years ago.
He releases his albums in many languages and tours relentlessly. His children from his second marriage – Miguel, 14, Rodrigo, 12, twins Victoria and Cristina, 11, and Guillermo, five – speak Mandarin, as well as Spanish, English and Dutch, because he realises the importance of the Asian market.
‘I’ve never had a great talent. I have a little talent and a lot of discipline and a good relationship with my brain and heart. There is a saying; there is no better honour in life than that which comes from sacrifice. Sacrifice makes you strong.’ He is big on this.
He meditates every day. He wants to make the most of every moment. ‘I like to exercise. I always walk an hour a day, I swim 250 days a year and I do balancing exercises which take me an hour. To have perfect control this is what I do. If I don’t do it I miss it.
‘I don’t eat much. I drink wine every single night. I love red wine, it’s good for me. I’ve been buying wine for the last 50 years.
The ones I bought when I was 20 for 20 a bottle are now worth 3,000 a bottle. Wine allows me to talk to myself, to reflect. Good wine gives you that in an amazing way. It allows me to get inside my soul and meditate. I live for those moments.’
It was once written that he’s had more than 3,000 lovers, a number he’s always said is exaggerated. But there’s no doubt he had a lot of fun. Women used to hide in his hotel rooms after shows and he once admitted sex for him was ‘as vital as sleep’.
It was once written that he had around 3,000 lovers; a figure he maintains is exagerrated
Now he realises that this may have hurt many people, including his first wife Isabel Preysler, who he married when he was 26 and she 19. He is close to his older set of children now – Enrique, 37, Julio, 39, and Chabeli, 40 – but he admits, ‘I was not a very good father in that I wasn’t very present.’
There is a sense he wants to make up for this with his second set, who are all with him wherever they are in the world. They come in and out of the house, he introduces them all, they are all very polite.
He was with Miranda for 20 years before they married. Why ‘My wife is Dutch and very independent. She never wanted or needed to be married.
'We had a lot of passion and we thought that is enough. But then Guillermo would ask, “Why can you not get married” So the kid provoked us. We got married for the children, not for us. For me and her, we were always going to be together till the end of time.’
Julio is said to be worth 192million
I had read that in the beginning he wasn’t faithful to her, and that she didn’t mind that or even demand it. He looks a little offended.
‘Let’s get straight to the point. I’m a faithful person in these last years. I’m not telling you that’s always been the case, but now I have no interest in the brains and heart of another person because I can’t imagine my life without her brains and heart.
The day I met my wife I understood that she was my life. It happens sometimes. It didn’t happen when I was 32 years old. Then I was crazy.’
The crazy time he’s referring to is the break-up of his first marriage. Isabel could not accept his infidelity. I wonder if he likes to collect women like he likes to collect wine, which is obsessively. He looks hurt and misunderstood, and says sharply, ‘No, not at all. I have respected women from the beginning of my life. I adore women.’
Men who say they love women often love more than one of them at the same time. ‘Men are all the same and I’m quite sure men who love women will never stop loving women, but it’s not like that for me today because that takes incredible energy and I’d rather share that energy with my family.’
If he had met his current wife when he was 20 would he have behaved differently ‘I can’t answer that question. At that time I was flirting. I like to flirt with life. But now, if I see a beautiful woman do I want to use that energy in trying to conquer her No. Never again. Finished.’
Staff in white uniforms give us delicious tortillas. They remain on the property all year even though he is only here for two months of it. He is said to be worth 192 million.
Yet this is not a man who is content. What makes him happy ‘Happy is something that confuses me. I’m not a happy man. Basically I put situations in front of me and I accomplish.
'Happy means content and I am not content. That would be very ageing. I don’t want to sit here waiting for something to happen. I want to make it happen.’
His eyes sparkle. ‘Let’s drink wine now.’ Glasses the size of goldfish bowls are filled with delicious wine worth 800 a bottle. He smiles and toasts. ‘This may be the best wine in history.’
Julio Iglesias’ double CD ‘1’ is out on Monday. Visit www.julioiglesias.com