You ask the questions: Mick Hucknall

(Such as: Mick Hucknall, is your music just easy-listening for yuppies? And what's your favourite chat-up line?)
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Mick Hucknall was born in Denton, Manchester in 1960. He recorded his first hit, "Holding Back the Years", with his punk-inspired group, Frantic Elevators. They split up in 1983 and he went on to form Simply Red, whose best-selling singles have included "Money's Too Tight to Mention", "Fairground" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now". He has sold 40 million albums worldwide and his album Blue is double platinum.

Has Tony's government lived up to all your expectations?

Guy Saunders, Lewisham, London

Not all of them... probably no one could in such a short time. But the truth is Just William and Paddy are not the superior options. Tony Blair is one of the century's great leaders, and Bald Billy is a prat.

How do you respond to critics who say your music is easy-listening for yuppies?

Darren Long, Epping - PS. I'm a great fan and I'm not a yuppie!

I don't.

What do women find attractive about you? And what's your favourite chat- up line?

Lena Taylor, Dublin

Ha! It mystifies me but everyone is attractive to at least someone. My chat-up line? I don't have a list of questions. It just depends on the moment.

Why have you never got married and would you like to have children?

Gillian Mann, Epsom

I'm only now becoming mature enough to desire it, and yes, I am now ready to make some babies.

If you could date an All Saint, which one would it be?

Pete Lennon, Bayswater, London

They have a very cute assistant... very cute.

How did you become friends with Robert De Niro?

Emily Downs, East Dulwich

We met in Milano several years ago and then again in New York. Along with Jack [Nicholson] and Sean Penn and Mr Brando, he is "de bollocks of de dog".

Was it a culture shock living in Hulme, Manchester and then jetting around the world? How do you deal with the contrasts of where you grew up and how you live now?

Lesley Meade, Stockport

Totally. It took me years to learn to deal with the realities of fame and success. It's hard work sometimes but clearly the pluses outweigh the negatives.

In what way could you describe yourself as a typical only child?

Anna Hopkins, Huntingdon

I couldn't because I'm an only child from a single-parent family. Double trouble!

In one interview, you said you felt like an outsider because your mother left you at an early age and you were seen as "the odd kid with red hair". Have you reconciled either of these two things?

Julia Ramsay, Chelmsford

No, actually I haven't and whenever I read some horrible comment about me or my hair, for example, I realise I never will.

Do you think white people really can sing soul?

Will Oaking, Camden, London

Do you think black people really can appreciate classical music? Offensive, isn't it? Well, I'm offended too. This century has been unique in the story of mankind in that we have witnessed the marriage of cultures, mainly Western and African. I am one of this century's children. Musical recording history is full of multi-racial collaborations and it is this cross-pollination that has created the magic of Ellington, Sinatra and the Beatles. I am merely a part of that tradition. It is perhaps the most "soulful" strength of living in a multiracial society. Please, for the sake of the next century, let's rid ourselves of these racist shackles, and move positively forward.

Do you harbour any desires to act?

Jane Thurlow, Woodwalton

I'd like to try at least once, because I'm an addictive mimic and I'm always impersonating people, but I have friends who are very great actors... that makes me think twice.

I've heard you're keen on Italian food - what's your favourite Italian meal?

Jan Blake, Newcastle

Spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico. Predictable but eternally classic.

I used to see you DJing at Manchester Poly - would you like to try your hand at it again?

Paul Ellis, Whalley Range, Manchester

I still do from time to time. I have great memories of my time at Manchester Poly. I still enjoy DJing from time to time.

How many houses do you own and where are they?

Robert May, Chelmsford

I have a house just outside London and an apartment in Milano.

What do you think is the worst aspect of working in the music business?

Mark Chisholm, Shepherd's Bush, London

Feeling like a supermarket item. Seeing new fads becoming special offers... oh well, I guess it's the nature of the beast.

Who would you most like to duet with?

Jay Brand, Horsham

Duets are not easy. The soul singer Gladys Knight would be nice.

What are the last three records you bought?

Roddy Maine, Edinburgh

Beach Boys box set, Lauryn Hill and Stardust - "Music Sounds Better With You".

Who or what has given you the greatest pleasure over the last three months?

Christina Burrell, Sussex

Seeing my closest friends achieve their goals in life. Writing some of the best songs of my career - this is pleasure.

Who would you most like to have dinner with tonight? And where would you most like to go?

Laura McEwen, St Neots

Hillary Clinton. The Oval Office.

Would you rather be Marvin Gaye, Al Green or Aretha Franklin?

Nick Johnston, Luton

I am their illegitimate menage a trois son!

You claim to be a Mancunian so how can you justify supporting Man United?

Brendan Smyth, Wythenshawe, Manchester

Ha Ha! How can you claim to be a Mancunian from Wivvy? Man City are now a registered charity. It's a crying shame... I miss the Derbies.

Your label Blood and Fire is such a success - why do you think people are still interested in reggae from the late Seventies?

Jessica Webb, Truro, Cornwall

It truly was the golden era for Jamaican music, a bit like their Swinging Sixties if you like - except they were digging the Old Testament, Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie.

What's your favourite reggae album?

Rob Turner, Redditch

One of these four: Social Living, Burning Spear; Two Sevens Clash, Culture; Under Heavy Manners, Prince Far I; Heart of the Congos, The Congos.

Do you ever regret having a ruby put in your tooth?

Daisy O'Sullivan, Banbury

No I love it, I'm very happy with it.

Jarvis Cocker famously shunned New Labour's courtship - how come you didn't?

James Lee, Islington, London

Because I don't need to butt-lick the trendy, pseudo-hip, self- absorbed elements of the popular music and fashion press.

How do you think you will celebrate the Millennium?

Chris Walsh, Tenby

With my dearest friends.

I've got an original copy of your single "Holding Back the Years" by Frantic Elevators. Is it worth anything?

Francis Ross, Derby

A few hundred quid, apparently.

Who would you like to find in your Christmas stocking this Christmas morning?

Carol Macleod, West Lothian, Scotland

My future wife!

`Live at the Lyceum', a compilation of Simply Red's recent live concerts will be broadcast on BBC1, 12 December at 11.55pm

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psychologist Penelope Leach, or Richard Dawkins, to: You Ask The Questions, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL (fax 0171- 293 2182; e-mail by noon on Friday, 11 December