Simply Dad! Mick Hucknall on going from ladykiller to doting father
01:01 GMT, 2 November 2012
Mick Hucknall sought the help of three more experienced hands as he began planning for life after Simply Red two years ago.
He’d spent 25 years promoting ‘the smooth, jazzy sound’ of his band, and wanted to make music with a rougher edge as a solo musician. He found his inspiration by playing gigs with Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, who had all carved their reputations in The Rolling Stones.
Mick, 52, says: ‘When I called time on Simply Red, I suddenly found myself being invited to do one-off shows with other people. I did a Faces reunion with Ronnie Wood, and a couple of concerts with Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. I was singing rhythm and blues with my all-time heroes!
Doting Dad: Mick Hucknall is seen with his wife Gabriella and daughter Romy True in 2008. He says he loves watching his daughter grow up and says her favourite phrase is 'I'm ready to rock'
Reunion: Hucknall joined Ronnie Wood on stage for concerts with a reformed Faces. The former Simply Red frontman says working with them was invigorating
‘Working with them was invigorating. It made me realise I’m happier making music with a bit more bite.
‘When I was a teenage punk, I was also listening to the first two Rolling Stones albums. The Stones did a lot of blues and soul covers, so it feels as if I’ve come full circle.’
Hucknall’s new album American Soul, which was released this week, salutes the music of the Fifties and Sixties, from the earthy rhythm and blues of Etta James and Otis Redding to the poised crooning of Perry Como. Mick’s silky voice is now more bass-heavy, but his affection for the material shines through.
New soul: Mick Hucknall has changed direction with his latest album, choosing a record that salutes the music of the 1950s and 60s
‘In Simply Red, I was trapped by the name,’ he tells me. ‘My influences were drawn largely from the Seventies — Barry White and Marvin Gaye. Now I’m looking at an older era. I like the idea of taking the raw, dirty spirit of those records and transporting it to a modern setting.’
And Hucknall is not just a changed man artistically. At the height of his fame with Simply Red — who sold 55 million albums — he dated a string of beautiful women including Catherine Zeta Jones and Helena Christensen. But the notorious ladykiller is now a devoted family man.
He and his wife Gabriella have a five-year-old daughter, Romy True, and it’s clear she is the apple of her father’s eye. ‘I like the little things about watching her grow up,’ says Mick. ‘At breakfast she’ll often come up with a new word or phrase. Her current favourite is, “I’m ready to rock!” Where on Earth did she get that from
‘She has also been to a few of my gigs, and I have a feeling she might go into entertainment one day. She knows all the Disney songs and does her own dance routines. But I don’t want her to be a mini-version of me. I want her to find out who she is.’
Mick’s desire to throw himself into family life can be traced back to his own upbringing. He was raised in Denton, East Manchester, by his father Reg, who died in 2009. Mick’s mum Maureen had walked out when he was three — and father and son locked horns during his teenage years.
‘My dad was from a generation who didn’t show emotions,’ Mick says. ‘We clashed a lot, largely because there was no woman in the house to act as a referee. That’s why having my own family is so special.
Still performing: Mick is planning to perform in one off gigs rather than in longs tours to promote his albums
‘I’ve become obsessed with doing a good job. I remember the emotional wilderness of my teens, and I’m determined not to become a repeat offender. I won’t be doing any more long tours — my family comes first.’
He is not giving up live work completely though. In September, he played two stunning solo gigs at the Royal Albert Hall, showcasing the music from his strongest album since 2003’s Home.
He has already completed a self-penned follow-up to American Soul, which is due out next year.
Mick says: ‘Seeing my name outside the Albert Hall was such a thrill. My ultimate ambition is to sell out the O2 Arena as Mick Hucknall. If I did that, I’d retire happy.’
American Soul is out now. Mick Hucknall’s UK tour starts at the Barbican, York, on April 12. See simplyredshop.com