~ OK Magazine - Issue 166 - 18/06/1999 ~

The singer who made his name in "Aspects of Love"

Michael Ball

Prepares to play the Hampton Court Festival and talks exclusively about his career and the new addition to the family he shares with girlfriend Cathy McGowan

Do you have a father-daughter relationship with Emma?

Emma was 16 when I came into her life and we have a wonderful bond. Recently we were talking about our relationship and we decided that I am rather like her big brother or a best mate than her father. I'm the one she comes to first when she's got a problem.

Would you like children of your own?

I would, but it probably   wouldn't be right thing for me to do because of my career and being away so much. I think it would break my heart, and I think everything else might suffer because of it.

I understand you are a patron for ROC (Research into Ovarian Cancer). Can you tell me about the charity?

I became a patron of the charity after Cathy's sister-in-law, Angela, died from ovarian cancer at the age of 45 in 1992. then last December a close friend of mine, Mary Miller (who played Rose in Keeping up Appearances ) died of ovarian cancer. We had been in The Phantom of the Opera together - I was floundering a bit and she took me under her wing - we became very close. Mary's case was very similar to Angela's, she was diagnosed too late and by the time she went in for an operation, the cancer had spread out of her ovaries and was attached to her bowel and liver. She died within four or five months at the age of 60. Three days after she died I gave a benefit concert for ROC at Drury Lane. Mary had planned to com, so we dedicated the show to her. I did the eulogy at her memorial service in January and it brought back Angela's death all over again. The only thing you can do is take that awful anger and grief and try and channel it somewhere positive, which is what Cathy and I have tried to do with ROC. Ovarian cancer is the biggest gynaecological killer, and the charity is raising money to develop a two-pronged test to detect if women, first, have a susceptibility to developing ovarian cancer, and second, have the cancer itself.

Has Angela's death become easier to cope with as time has gone on?

They say that time heals everything, but there are moments where something will remind me of her and I'll catch my breath. I see it happen with Cathy too ... the joy having Connor come home, and then the feeling of: 'Angela would've loved this.' Christmas time as well as birthdays can be very difficult for the both of us, as well.

Tell me about that gold ring you're wearing on your little finger.

It's my grandmother's Welsh gold wedding ring. She promised it to me when I was about seven, and my mother gave it to me at her funeral in 1984. It hasn't been off my finger since, although I did lose it on holiday in Portugal. I was on the beach and because it was covered in suntan oil, I decided to take it off and put it down on the towel next to me. Later, I stood up to go, picked up the towel and then remembered the ring. I really freaked out. My friends and I did this search around where we'd been sitting and after four hours we finally found it. I feel as if it's my lucky charm and I still feel my grandmother is watching over me.

Do you spend a lot of money on clothes?

A fortune. I love Gucci, I love Prada, and for knocking about I like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. I used to be nervous about going into 'posh' shops because I felt intimidated, but Cathy got me past that because she knows so much about clothes and fashion. When we started going out, we'd go out for an evening and end up at my place. I lived in a real bachelor flat in West Hampstead, so she'd walk in, a vision of gorgeousness in this fabulous Armani outfit, put on the Marigolds and start cleaning the sink. I think that's when I fell in love with her.

You've risen to the top of your profession .... do you still get nervous before performing?

Yes, although it does get easier with time. I have all these superstition routines before I go on stage. I always get dressed in a certain order and I have to do 'high fives' with various members of the stage crew. Before we go on stage, me and the backing singers have what I call a 'Madonna moment', where we all hug each other and say a prayer and then we all shout 'Madonna'. It's taking the mickey but it does actually make you feel like a unit.

You've been with Cathy for ten years now, do you have any plans to marry?

No, to all intents and purposes we are married. She is the most important person in my life.

Are you happy?

Yeah, I'm probably happier than I've ever been for ages. The last year has probably been the most successful of my career, and my home life is wonderful. It's only with time that I've realised how lucky I am and how important it is to hold on to what you've got.

Comments at the photos:

  • Although at the height of his career Michael says he will be nervous about his show at the Hampton Court Palace Festival. 'I have all these superstitious routines before I go on stage', he admits. He wears a cream linen suit; Jacket, , 280, trousers, , 125, by Kenzo. Blue V-neck top, , 150, by Gucci
  • Michael takes a stroll around the Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace, before the crowd descend for the upcoming Hampton Court Palace Festival. Now in its seventh year, it has beome one of the highlights of the English summer social season. Michael's performance is already a sell-out, and he's set to wow the fans in style. He wears; suit, , 1,100, white leafers, , 230, both by Gucci, and cotton collarless shirt, from a collection at Etro.
  • Michael finds time to relax, in between changing nappies. the daughter of his   longtime girlfriend Cathy McGowan recently gave birth to a baby boy and Michael is delighted. 'I've totally fallen in love with Connor and I'm very hands on', he says. 'I'm the only one who can get two bottles of milk down him, which I do while I'm singing to him. I'll miss him horibly when they move out.' Michael's blue V-neck sweater, , 77, by John Smedley
  • Michael plays the rebel in a black leather jacket, , 800, by Saint Laurent Jeans. It's a part he's played before, at school. 'I was mouthy, disruptive and I hated sport when I was at school,' he recalls. Black silk top, , 240, Gucci, and trousers, part of suit, as before, by Gucci.
  • Michael is embracing summer with a blue Hawaiian shirt, 75, form Adriano Goldschimied. But if he 's heading to the beach this year, he will definitely take care of his personal belongings. One summer in Portugal, the singer mislaid a ring left to him by his grandmother. 'My friends and I did this big search around where we had been sitting and after four hours we finally found it,' he says. 'I feel as if it is my lucky charm'.



STOCKISTS: GUCCI, 0171-235 6707; SAINT LAURENT JEANS, 0171-580 5463; JOHN SMEDLEY, 0171-734 1519; KRIZIA, 0171-491 4987; ETRO, 0171-495 5767; JONES, 0800-163 519; KENZO; 0171-225 1960; ADRIANO GOLDSCHMIMIED, 0171-734 9222

Interview by Claudia Pattison             Photographs by Richard Burns
Fashion Director: Helen Tayler             Stylist: Sharon Hilton
Grooming by Mark Thompson

Shot on Location at Hampton Court Palace, 0181-781 9500

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