Right Said Fred star Richard Fairbrass reckons he’s made more than £10 million from the 1991 hit I’m Too Sexy.
The 68-year-old singer also tells Donna Ferguson he and his brother Fred lost out on making the same amount of money by trusting people they should not have done. Richard lives in a £1.3 million apartment in Windsor, Berkshire, with the other half of the band, his brother Fred.
Right Said Fred’s new single, Godsend, is available to stream on Spotify and Richard and Fred’s autobiography, We’re Still Too Sexy, is published this Thursday.
Surprise: Richard Fairbrass didn’t believe the song would be a hit
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be generous with it. My brother Fred and I were spoiled as kids. Mum was a frustrated dancer and singer who became a mother and a housewife due to the Second World War destroying her ambitions. Dad was a salesman for a printing company who would travel around trying to get orders for catalogues and high-end colour plate books.
We were pretty comfortable financially. My parents had a traditional relationship and when Mum wanted to get a part-time job I remember Dad got miffed. He thought she was implying he was not making enough money. But I think all she wanted was to get out of the house.
I took money for granted when I was a kid because Dad paid for everything. I didn’t understand the value of it until I was an adult. For example, when he stopped paying for my petrol, I got angry.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, from the late 1970s until about 1990 I was skint. I waited tables and did painting and decorating – anything I could think of to make money, while at the same time doing gigs and losing money on them.
The worst time was when I lived in a tiny furnished two-bedroom flat with my then partner Stuart.
It was essentially a furnished bedsit – the people who lived on the floor above us had to walk through our flat to get to their front door. It was so cold in winter there was ice on the inside of the windows. Stuart had HIV and couldn’t get work because of his illness.
But it was essential to keep the flat warm for him – and on one occasion, we had to burn some of the furniture in the fireplace because we couldn’t afford to pay for wood.
When the band became successful, it was a great relief because I then had the money to look after Stuart a bit better. We were together for 28 years and he was HIV positive for 27 of them. He died in 2010.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Yes. Right Said Fred were popular in Germany in the early 2000s and we made more money than we did in the 1990s.
Corporations paid us tens of thousands of euros to play at their Christmas party or whatever. A German company once paid us €45,000 (£38,000) to play for about 35 minutes.
What was the best year of your financial life?
It was 1992 when our debut album, Up, came out. It wasn’t my most lucrative year, but it was certainly the time when the money I earned made the biggest impression on my life. I can’t remember exactly how much I made, but it would have been a high six-figure sum.
The most expensive thing you bought for fun?
A second-hand Porsche 928. It was dark blue with a cream leather interior and I bought it in the mid-1990s for about £35,000. It had a really cool, sports pipe exhaust, so when I drove down the underpass going into London’s Piccadilly, it roared like a tiger.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Trusting people we should not have trusted and signing bad deals. Our accountant reckons my brother and I have lost out on making between £7million and £10million as a result.
The best money decision you have made?
Writing and making I’m Too Sexy. It cost us about £1,200 to record and release it. At the time, we didn’t think it would be a hit.
We didn’t even think anybody would like it. But we had nothing to lose and we thought it was funny. If you include royalties, I would say we have made more than £10million from that song over the years.
Do you save into a pension?
Yes. When you’re young, you don’t think about a pension. When I was 21, I thought people who were 30 were past it. But I’ve been saving into a pension since the minute I’m Too Sexy broke.
Our accountants were pretty astute about telling us to do that.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
Not outside my pension. I don’t understand the stock market at all – and I think my life is complicated enough.
Do you own any property?
Yes, my home, a three-bedroom apartment in Windsor, Berkshire. It’s mortgage-free. I bought it five years ago for £1.3million and I think it’s probably gone up in value since then, but not by much.
What is the one luxury you treat yourself to?
Eating out. An Ivy restaurant has just opened in Windsor. My brother and I go there probably around once a fortnight as a treat, and spend £70 or £80 a head.
If you were Chancellor, what would you do?
I’d get rid of VAT. In principle, I think a tax on money that’s already been taxed is immoral. I think we crush people’s ambition and aspiration by loading them down with taxes. I would also reduce corporation tax and the top rate of income tax – and I would try to reeducate the British people into understanding that their life is their own. They don’t have to defer to the Government or anybody else. I would make cash readily available all over the country so that people can lead their own lives as free from state interference as possible.
I accept there would be a huge hole in the Exchequer finances as a result of my policies. To meet the state’s responsibilities to disabled people and others who need care or support, I would increase fuel duty on petrol in cities where people don’t need to use cars.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes. I donate to Alzheimer’s charities because my mum had Alzheimer’s – and the Stroke Association because my partner Stuart had a stroke at the end of his life.
What is your number one financial priority?
To stay healthy and make sure I’ve always got somewhere to live.
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