It's good to be back in control of my cash

Gary Glitter's biggest mistake
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The Independent Online
'Nowadays I always say to myself ''Do you want it, or do you need it?''. If I need it, I pursue it. If I just want it, I don't. Compared to the old days in the Seventies, that's a changed animal.

From 1972 till 1976, I couldn't do a thing wrong. I was top of the charts most of the time, and I found myself wondering what to do next. So I decided to buy a mansion, because that's what it says in the Elvis Presley Handbook for Upcoming Rock 'n' Rollers.

I found a lovely property set in the middle of 12 acres. It cost me about pounds 100,000 which, in 1973, was quite a lot of money. It was wonderful. One minute we were in one room in Brixton, and the next we were eating lobster and living in the most beautiful house.

Then I set about saying: ''The swimming pool's got to go there. I don't want an Aga, but I want similar to an Aga, so that's got to be made...'' We didn't even have any water, so we had to put in a pipe from the main road, 12 acres away. It was a complete disaster.

I used to have a coach that would regularly go to the Playboy Club and say ''Gary's having a party tonight, and you're all welcome''. Then they'd all arrive at the house at 3.00 o'clock in the morning.

I was getting plenty of business advice, but I just turned a deaf ear. I did start drinking rather heavily, and I think that was probably the reason. People were trying to tell me - I was employing people to tell me - but I wasn't listening.

It was only when I was in New Zealand, doing The Rocky Horror Show, that I got the notice telling me I was bankrupt. Then a friend of mine invited me out to Australia and we rented a house on the beach.

To my amazement they were still taking my American Express card. It still hadn't really sunk in. I thought it must all be a mistake, because I'd just sold 18 million records.

When I did eventually go back to England I was offered a tour of cabaret clubs. I told them I belonged in the arenas, but they said clubs were all that was going, so I did the tour. They collected the money, and I was paid a living wage. The mansion went to the taxman, the Rolls-Royce had gone. I was living in a rented house.

That's when I started to learn the game. I became a lawyer and an accountant and I started to learn that it makes sense not to spend more than you can earn. You can spend money while you're working but, if you suddenly stop touring, you can't go on spending in the same way.

In 1980, two punks from America showed up at one of my club shows and, because of the way they were dressed, they weren't allowed in. I thought that was wrong - there must be somewhere else we could play. So we played Norwich University and that sold out in about an hour. Then we went to three nights at Norwich, two nights at the ball at Christ Church in Oxford, and it just got huge. It started out as nostalgia, but it went way beyond that.

We toured for six years solidly round the universities, and it gave me a huge audience. Then we decided to try renting arena-sized venues ourselves - the first one was the NEC in Birmingham. That was nine years ago, and it really took off. They sell out every year now.

I'm just starting now to become a rich man as a result of taking care of business, but I lost 10 years in the middle of it all. You have to take advice and, every now and again, you've got to get off the merry- go-round and take stock of the situation. I've learnt my lesson - it's not what I want, it's what I need. That's a good one for everyone to remember.'

Gary Glitter was talking to Paul Slade

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