Interview for Radio Nostalgie, Kiev (Ukraine)
   “Radio Nostalgie” (Ukraine), 23.10.2003

— Hello, I'm calling from Radio Nostalgie in Kiev, Ukraine.

— Hello, yeah!

— I'd like to say that the 25th of October the Radio Nostalgie devotes to the creative work of the group Smokie. And on this day there will be lot of music of this group, the story about creating of this group and, of course, your interview. I have to say that the author of this program is our colleague Alena who is your devoted admirer and for 20 years she celebrates your birthday on the 25th of October. And this day she always cookes something tasty and raises a glass for your health.

— Oh, that's very nice!

— She's behind me but to her pity she can not speak to you as she was learning French at school. She said me that this day will be the happiest one in her life as we found the possibility to connect and to speak with you.

— Good, that's very nice, thank you!

— Would you be so kind to answer some questions?

— Sure, absolutely!

— Ok! Could you please tell us about your family, do you have any brothers or sisters, how many?

— No, I don't have any brothers or sisters actually, I'm an only child as we call it in England when it just only one, you know.

— Ok, understand. You was the most loved child in your family, yes?

— I was the only one in my family. The parents were in show business as well, so I guess they hadn't enough time for anymore after me.

— Your parents were actors. Where did they perform?

— They weren't actors, they were around the stage. My mother was a singer and my dad performed in a group that did like comedy and acrobatics, things like that. And they did like music halls and theatres around Britain and sometimes in Scandinavia and so on, but mainly in Britain. It was all vaudeville sort of stuff, you know, like the old vaudeville music hall stuff.

— During the school period of life you made acquaintance with Alan Silson and Terry Uttley with whom you were at the same group Smokie. Tell us some words about the most remarkable elements from your life.

— Well, I was in school with Alan and Terry. We met when we were about 14-15 years old. Alan Silson and I suddenly discovered we both were interested in playing guitar, so we got together and did that together. And tryed to sing harmonies together. And decided to start little group and then we were looking for somebody else. We asked Terry Uttley if he would like to join the group, so he joined for a while then. And we used to just practise and play and learn lots of songs like by “The Beatles”, “Rolling Stones”, those kind of groups which were around at that time which was mid 60s. So that was a good time, you know. And later on we left school and we got back together about a couple of years after that and started to turn professionals and, you know, did it for a living, did it for serious. We had some great time, saw the best time to be in the group when we had first hit single, for instance. And then the success we had and played in big arenas and travelled the world. So great times, you know. And my personal life, of course, was the best time when I met my wife, when I had all my kids, you know, I've got a big family. So when all the kids were born that were great times too.

— And how did you make an acquaintance with Linda?

— Well, I was playing in the group by then. And I was playing in Scotland which is in the north of Britain. Linda is from Scotland. And I was playing in a town called Elgin and staying there as well. I was in a cafe and saw her in a cafe. I thought I liked the way she looked. When she'd gone out I got talking to one of her friends who turned out to be her sister. And I was talking to her sister and arranged to meet at the next night. Followed her. Actually I didn't meet her next night, I saw her next night and I was walking of behind her. And so I came and started talking to her. And then we started to go out together.

— Ok, that's nice! You are living on the Isle of Man. Tell us some words about your way of life, your children, your wife and your creative work?

— Well, it's a very peaceful place to live – the Isle of Man. It's not very big, it's only about 50 km by about 30. So it's not very huge. Population is only about 60 thousands people. There's a main town here with all the shops and all the things you need – entertainment, restaurants etc. It's very civilized but it's very peaceful as well. It's all surrounded by the sea, by the ocean so you're not very far away from that anytime. So it's a nice place to grow up children and it's a nice place to live. I've got five children, two older ones and three younger ones. Two of them are in college now, another one is at school. And I live here, I've got big house where I live with my wife and kids. And it's great, you know. It's really nice peaceful kind of living. And I have a recording studio touched to the house. So I can work there quite happily without going too faraway. We do things together as a family – go out and do day trips to places, go to a beach, do things like that.

— And do you have grandchildren?

— I've got 3 grandchildren – Danielle, Jack and Thomas.

— Does Chris Norman - father differ from Chris Norman - grandfather?

— Well, I don't really see myself as a grandfather, to be honest. Cause as a grandfather I don't really have a great deal to do with the grandchildren as far as bring them open, discipline because it's not my responsibility, you know. Whereas with your own children it is your responsibility. So it's a different way of going on. I don't have to tell anybody what to do, you know, with kids – “don't do that” and “don't do this” sometimes, which you don't like to do but sometimes have to. So with grandchildren you don't have to do that because it's someone else's job, you know.

— You have often perfomances and tours in Russia but only a few times you were in Ukraine, particularly in Kiev. What impressions do you have after the perfomance in the capital of Ukraine?

— We had a great night in Kiev. I only've been there once. I was in Ukraine once before but I didn't get to Kiev. We were supposed to be in Kiev and something happened there and the last show was cancelled. The last time I was there, I'd been in Moscow the night before, then we flew to Kiev the following day. And did the show that night. We had a great time, we played in a nice big theatre and everybody treated us extremely well, people were very friendly. We stayed in a really nice hotel and people in the hotel were extremely nice and friendly. The audience were great. We just had a great time, you know, it was enjoyable. So I'll be very happy to go and play there again when I'll get some time to do that.

— What do you think, is there a difference between Russian and Ukrainian audience?

— That's difficult to tell, you know. When you're on stage... basically if you get an audience that standing up and enjoy themselves and clapping hands, shouting and screaming and like the show, you know... which is what happens in Russia and it's also what happened in Ukraine as well. So it's difficult to know what the difference between them is because they both reacting very well. So it's difficult to say what's the difference between any audience, not just Russian and Ukrainian but between Russian, Ukrainian, German, English – any audience. If they reacting well then all audience is a good, you know. And locally, for as so far as we played in Russia and in Ukraine the audience reacted extremely well.

— Can you tell us about the brightest birthday in your life?

— Mmm... brightest birthday... Well, I had many good birthdays, you know, I had some great birthdays really... I remember once when I was a little kid I really wanted a pair of football boots, a special pair of football boots, you know, cause I used to play football when I was at school. And I always remember that pair of football boots was a very expensive, I was about 11 or 12 at that time. And I used to look at these football boots in the shop when I passed by, they were very expensive. Especially for kids, you know, to buy them. And when I got my birthday I opened the present and that's when I got the football boots. So that was a great time, you know! I really enjoyed that because I've been looking for these football boots for ages and finally I got them.

— And that was the most bright present for you?

— I think so, you know. I mean that was a simple present but at the time it meant a lot to me. I mean I have had some great presents since that time which cost more but I think that was the one that was like a really special thing. I mean, later on, I remember when I was in mid 20s my wife bought me a Jaguar car which was a birthday present, and that was like a very expensive one. But that was later on when we had more money and so on. It was a great present but it was still not as good as the football boots, haha.

— Do you remember some remarkable moments during your visit to Kiev?

— Well, the time I was in Kiev I didn't really have much time. I came in from the plane from Russia, I think we arrived about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. And we were driven straight to the hotel. I just had time to get into the room, got shower, whatever and then went to the show. And then by the time we did the concert it was kinda late, by the time we finished. And then we had to leave again the next morning. So I didn't really have any time to look in Kiev. When I was in Ukraine before I remember being, when I was in Odessa, which day we played in Odessa and I went down and spent some time on a beach there, we went swimming in the Black Sea, that was pretty good. But in Kiev I really haven't seen it very well.

— And what is the most preferable dish that was prepared for you by your wife for your birthday party?

— I like lots of different kinds of food. I mean I like spicy food like Indian or Chinese, different kinds of food. But I think my favourite kind of food really is very simple – English kind of homecooking. So I like things like roasted beef, roast beef and Yourshire pudding – stuff which is a very typical English meal. And I also like things like steak pie stuff. My wife makes a fantastic steak pie which is like pieces of meat, pieces of steak with a pastry over it. And I think, if I ever get saying what you gonna have for a treat or something, I'd say make me steak pie cause I love those steak pies she makes. So I'll get that.

— And did you taste Ukrainian dishes, no?

— Well, in Ukraine the food was good in a hotel but I don't have to add any specialities really, no.

— Ok, what can you wish to your Ukrainian admirers?

— I wish them what I wish to anybody – good life, happy life and peace for everybody, really. And I look for to see them again when I come across.

— Thank you very much! And do you know some Ukrainian or Russian words?

— I know how to say “Good evening” – “Dobryi vecher”...

— Ok, that's good!..

— “Za zdorovie” (“Cheers”)...

— Yes!..

— .. Mmm... and what else do I know... I've forgot a lot. When I'm in that part of the world I usually remember a few words to say. You know, like “Dobroy nochi” (“Good night”) and things like that. Things to sort of say when I'm on stage, you know. But then I might go to another country which language I can't speak, and then I ask somebody there – can you give me a few words and so then I learn what for are they as well. And then I forget which one I've learned from where, you know. It's difficult cause when you don't speak lots of languages it's hard to remember all the words.

— On behalf of Radio Nostalgie I want to congratulate now one of the most talented musicians of our time with a coming birthday and to wish you long activity and creative progress, happiness and love of your family and friends!

— Thank you very much!

— Our city adores your musuc and we're hoping that you will visit our country soon. Kiev is waiting for you!

— Well, I hope so, I'm looking for to coming again and if it is as good as last time I'm sure I'll enjoy myself.

— Thank you very much, that was very pleasant to speak to you!

— Thank you very much as well!


© Alena Deynego, “Radio Nostalgie” (Ukraine)
 Transcribed and edited © 2007