The qualities that made Bill Wyman ‘the boring one’ in the Rolling Stones have served him well in his other role – as the group’s archivist. But his new scrapbook is far from dull, finds Nigel Farndale.

It is midmorning and Bill Wyman’s Sticky Fingers burger restaurant in Kensington is empty. Almost. Then a tourist walks in and takes a photograph of a photograph that is hanging on the wall. It is of the Rolling Stones, circa 1968. The man hasn’t realised that one of the rock stars in the picture is sitting a few feet away, watching him. It’s a scene that can only be described as postmodern.

Apart from the black-rimmed glasses he is wearing today, Wyman doesn’t look that different from how he did back then. He was never a tall man (5ft 7in) and his hair is still collar length, if greying now. But he is older: 76.

Indeed, when he orders a vodka and tonic which seems quite rock and roll, given the time of day, he explains that it is, in fact, because he has backache.

The photograph is one of hundreds of items of memorabilia exhibited here in the restaurant, including gold discs, Brian Jones’s guitar and Wyman’s bass (the two instruments together are worth about half a million pounds).

“The stuff here is only a fraction of my collection,” Wyman says. “I’ve got trunks of it at home.” Indeed he is about to publish Scrapbook, a limited-edition volume presented in a clamshell box. It features tickets, posters, programmes, letters, photographs, and much more besides. There’s Wyman’s birth certificate, letters to – and from – fans, a list of expenses for the Stones’ accountant, and even his Japanese work visa application form. In another life he would have loved to have been a librarian, he says, what with all that indexing and cross-referencing. The next best thing was to become the band’s archivist.

Did the other Stones think he was eccentric for collecting all the time?

“Oh yeah, they thought I was mad, they’d say, ‘Why are you bothering to – excuse my language – collect that crap?’ It was quite hard to collect anything because you had to leave a venue so quickly, what with the kids attacking you and jumping over police vans.”

Wyman’s letter to a UK fan. 17th January 1965

Wyman’s letter to a UK fan. 17th January 1965

He says the Stones always went out of their way to be nice to their fans – which must be difficult when, as regularly happened, they attack your car and force you to be helicoptered away under police escort. “There was always stacks of mail waiting for us at venues and we would sit down and start answering it,” says Wyman. “Me, Brian, Charlie and Keith took turns doing the autographs and we learnt to do each others’, because there were so many to do. When the autographs come up at Sotheby’s these days I can often tell they aren’t real.”

But it wasn’t just autographs the female fans were after, was it, Bill?

A grin. “Well, that was Brian and me mostly, the others weren’t that interested, really. But we are digressing.”

Are we? In a way, we are still on the subject of collecting. By Wyman’s own estimates he slept with around 1,000 women. Yes, he says, but it wasn’t how people think. “Before I joined the Stones, a workmate gave me a piece of advice. Always treat a woman like a lady, and I always did that, even when I broke up with one. There are some who I still write to, a friend in Australia who I used to go out with in ’63, ’64. She has grandchildren now. And I’m still in touch with a girl I used to go out with in ’64, ’65. I never treated them like s— and threw their clothes out.”

Presumably he couldn’t remember all their names. “It was a bit of a blur at times. But I can remember a lot of them. I was married so I couldn’t write about them in my diaries. I had to remember when and where. They weren’t one-night stands, though, because I would see the same ones again. Whenever I went to New York there were two black girls I would see. Every tour.” Bill Wyman’s address book: it should be in a glass case in the British Museum. “Yes,” he agrees with a laugh. “But I had it stolen in Spain in 1999. It was in a suitcase they nicked. Never seen again.” What does he make of the current trend for celebrities such as Russell Brand to put their promiscuity down to “sex addiction” and book themselves into clinics for treatment? “Don’t know who that is,” he says.

Michael Douglas, then. “Oh yes, I know Michael. OK, I suppose I didn’t have a sex addiction in that case. I always thought of it as having company when I was lonely and bored on the road. Touring is not a romantic life. It’s exciting for two hours every other night when you’re on stage, the rest is a nightmare of packing and unpacking. So female company helped to pass the time. I didn’t go searching for women, they came to me and were very nice and sweet.

“I was always very careful who I went with. Didn’t go with groupies or anything. Never had any problems with sexually transmitted diseases, as a lot of people did in those days,” He trails off. Looks uncomfortable. “But come on, we shouldn’t be talking about girls all the time.”

Guests Gina Lollobrigida and Suzanne Accosta at the Sticky Fingers Cafe’s 4th Birthday Party. 6th July 1993

Guests Gina Lollobrigida and Suzanne Accosta at the Sticky Fingers Cafe’s 4th Birthday Party. 6th July 1993 Credit: Alan

It’s obvious why not. He says he usually stayed in touch with his old flames, but not with his second wife Mandy Smith, presumably? “Not after we broke up, no. Since the settlement I haven’t spoken to her.” I’m 48 and it is sobering to think that Wyman was my age when he first slept with her. That was in 1985, when she was 14. They married in 1989 when she was 18 and he was 52. With no irony whatsoever, Hello! magazine called it a “fairy-tale” wedding, a headline it would not get away with in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. In the past year, indeed, Wyman’s name has been cited in several newspaper reports as an example of a celebrity who had sex with a minor.

Brave of him to include a snapshot of Mandy Smith in his Scrapbook, I note. “Yes, that was before we broke up. I have many wonderful pictures of her, but I didn’t want to dwell on it because it’s a sore point in my life. People have always treated it badly, when it wasn’t bad. I don’t want to talk about it because it upsets my [third] wife and my [three] daughters, who are the age she was.” He trails off again.

“We all have a skeleton in the cupboard, it’s just if you’re a taxi driver in Halifax no one ever hears about it. But if you are a celebrity everyone does. In my case it was publicised to the world and that wasn’t really fair, I don’t think. No, it’s a tough one. Thirty years ago.”

Does he still feel nervous about prosecution? “There was never a complaint so…” Again, the trailing off. Then he says, “I went to the police and I went to the public prosecutor and said, ‘Do you want to talk to me? Do you want to meet up with me, or anything like that?’ and I got a message back, ‘No’. I was totally open about it.”

His affair with Mandy Smith was “a heart thing”, not “a lust thing”. “It was very emotional and special at the time. It wasn’t how it was reported, and the only time it ever happened in my life. A lot of people understood, but a lot didn’t. The media certainly didn’t. They treated me like crap.”

The heart can make a fool of a middle-aged man, is that how he sees it? “That was why I married her, but it didn’t work out, by then she was changed, but we mustn’t talk about this any more because my wife will get upset.”

OK, let’s talk about the Stones, then. I know he has said he has no regrets about leaving the band in 1993, but when he sees the kind of money they are still making from touring it must give him pause for thought. “When I said I wanted to leave they told me I was probably giving up £20 million for the next two years. But I had three great houses and some nice cars.” He felt he had enough? “Yes, and I got married again and worked on books, and started a band to subsidise my living expenses. And I don’t regret it because I’ve never been happier.” He looks over my shoulder at something.“I’m sure I’m happier than they are in their lives, I really do.”

Wyman seems a likeable man, about as far removed from a one-time rock legend as you can imagine. He was, after all, always characterised as “the boring one” in the Rolling Stones. Indeed, when he left the band Mick Jagger claimed not to have noticed. “How hard can it be to play bass?” he said. “I’ll do it myself.” Certainly Wyman didn’t do drugs; his main requirement on the road was Marmite and Branston pickle. In conversation he uses quaint expressions such as “hark at me”, and when he swears he apologises. His main passion these days is metal detecting.

And his comments can seem quite Eeyorish. It still rankles with him, for example, that his contributions to the Stones were unacknowledged with writing credits. “None of us got them, Brian, Mick Taylor. If you came up with a riff that turned an ordinary song into something special it was never acknowledged.” Would Mick and Keith acknowledge the riffs privately? “No, not really. The riff on Miss You was mine. And the one for Jumping Jack Flash. There was one interview where Keith acknowledged that ‘that was Bill’s song’. Then about 10 years later he denied he’d said it.”

He sighs. “I don’t push it. You have to swallow your pride and let it go, otherwise you get knotted up. I went away and had the biggest solo success of anyone in the band with (Si, si) Je Suis Un Rock Star. A world hit.” You get the feeling there is little love lost between him and Jagger: “He can start a sentence by saying Yes and by the end of it you realise he has said No.”

But they do have a passion for cricket in common, I say, trying to act as go-between. “Except I play it and he only watches it.”

He’s feeling distracted now, he says, because he keeps noticing that a picture of Jagger on the wall behind me is on a skew. “I’m a bit OCD,” he explains. “Have you noticed I’ve been straightening these serviettes and forks as we’ve been talking.” As I get up to straighten the picture for him, he asks the waiter if the music can to be turned down “because it’s a bit ’orrible”. His wife Suzanne arrives.

Time for one last question. He played bass on Satisfaction and Brown Sugar. He was on stage at the legendary Hyde Park concert in 1969. For some fans, the Stones without Bill Wyman are not really the Stones at all. Do people still think he is in the band? “Yes, taxi drivers still say after all these years, ‘When are you touring with the Stones again?’”

Actually, he did rejoin them briefly on stage at the O2 last November for their 50th anniversary. What was it like?

“Bit disappointing, really,” he deadpans. “They only let me do two songs.”


James Blunt

It could be the homes around the world; his military bearing; or that he’s our biggest musical export since Elton. For whatever reason, being called annoying, a philanderer or – worse – middle class doesn’t exactly keep James Hillier Blount awake at night. Nigel Farndale met him

It’s not the sight of the groupies that haunts me, but the sound, or rather the absence of sound, as they ghost past us on their way up the stairs to the dressing-room. It takes me a moment to figure out that the reason they aren’t talking to each other is that they don’t know each other. One of the band members, the keyboard player, I think, has picked them from the audience on the basis of their looks. Half-a-dozen of them, all in their late teens and early twenties, and all, surprisingly, in pretty frocks, as if they were going to a Sunday school meeting. They have been separated from their friends like lambs weaned from their mothers. The silence of the lambs.

The ‘us’ they are filing past is James Blunt and me. He has a bottle of beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and not a hair in place – tousled just so, like a Renaissance painting of John the Baptist – but they don’t realise it’s him because he has changed out of the suit he was wearing on stage and is now in jeans, T-shirt and leather jacket, as well as a pink feather boa and star-shaped novelty sunglasses. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the end of the day; we need to go back to the start, well, to the middle, when the seats are empty and the Texan sun is at its most unforgiving.

A barefoot and unshaven Blunt is wearing normal sunglasses and shorts as he plays his piano, strums his guitar and sings his plaintive songs into the microphone for the sound check, all the while looking out with his soulful eyes over an empty, open-air arena in Houston. At 5ft 7in, he’s not a tall man, but he has presence and an unaffected manner – a certain maturity, too, one that you wouldn’t normally associate with a pop star in the ascendant.

But then he is 34 and this is his second career, his first being as an officer in the Household Cavalry. He joined after graduating from Bristol University with a degree in sociology. He became a champion skier for the Army and not only saw active service in Kosovo, but also guarded the Queen Mother’s coffin when she was lying in state.

Tonight he will be supporting Sheryl Crow, though, since his second album ‘All the Lost Souls’ and the single from it, ‘1973’, went straight to number one in America, he is arguably the bigger act these days. Indeed, not since Elton John has there been a more successful British singer-songwriter in the States.

His first album, ‘Back to Bedlam’, also went to number one over here, as it did in 18 other countries, making it the biggest-selling album of the millennium. It even entered the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest-selling album in one year. But it was his first single that really put him on the map. You’re Beautiful became the sound of that summer. It was everywhere, and still is – having become a favourite at weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs. I even heard a brass band playing it at an agricultural show in the Yorkshire Dales this summer.

As well as millions of sales, James Blunt has won Brit awards, Ivor Novello awards, MTV awards and various Grammy nominations. In terms of credibility, he’s headlined at Glastonbury and won the respect of the world-weary music press. Yet not everyone loves him, as he points out when we get something to eat in the canteen area back stage.

‘After Back to Bedlam really started selling,’ he says, ‘there was this sudden aggression towards me in the UK, for whatever reason, and that focused my mind, made it clear to me what I was doing and why I wanted to do it. I write songs for myself. I don’t write them for you, or for anyone else, I write them because I have experiences that I need to process. I don’t have the answers all the time, but I do have lots of questions, and I express them in the songs I write.’

He is, I think, alluding to a poll last year of ‘the most annoying things in life’, which put him at number four, just behind cold-callers and queue-jumpers. ‘I haven’t met anyone who voted in the poll, have you?’ he says when I mention this. ‘That poll probably came from a website that was after some publicity. You and I could do the same poll very quickly right now and it would count as a poll. We could do one about annoying newspapers, for example. I promise the Sunday Telegraph wouldn’t be in my list. My parents take it.’

His father, a retired colonel in the Army Air Corps, manages his son’s finances. His mother arranged the purchase of his six-bedroom villa in Ibiza (he also has a chalet in Verbier and recently bought a place in Chelsea). ‘I’m not married,’ he says, ‘and so the support structure in my life is my parents. I’m closer to them now than I have ever been.’

He certainly isn’t married, as the photographs of him emerging from nightclubs with various high-profile women on his arm attest. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was probably the best known socialite, Jessica Sutta, of the Pussycat Dolls, the most glamorous. He also seems to be photographed regularly cavorting on beaches with bikini-clad models such as Petra Nemcova, whom he dated and then dumped – unceremonious dumping being his way of ending relationships, according to the tabloids. He once said he found himself in a swimming pool in LA with nine naked women. ‘I was the only bloke. It was the only time I wished my mates were there, purely to spectate. I had arrived. It was a moment.’

Now he says of the tabloid interest in his peripatetic love life: ‘Last week I went to my home in Ibiza and was photographed by the paparazzi in my swimming trunks with girls. What is the point of that? I’m not that bothered, but maybe the media should be concentrating more on global warming or the Russian invasion of Georgia.

‘Looking at me in my swimming trunks is not a great sight. It’s a waste of time. There generally is a long lens pointing at me wherever I go, these days. I’m comfortable with it. I appreciate how things work. But my record label said something about my always being photographed coming out of nightclubs and I thought, “But this is what I do. I was doing it before the second album came out, so what is different now? You didn’t tell me to stop then.” I’m not going to change my life because of these people. I don’t see why I should.’

His label also gets him to dye his grey hairs and be enigmatic about his love life, which is an old tactic dating back to the Beatles – they had to pretend they didn’t have wives and girlfriends so that fans could fantasise they were in with a chance.

Actually, at the time of going to press, Blunt seems to be going out again with one of his old flames, Verity Evetts, an Oxford-educated barrister. He has also stayed friendly with some of his other exes, the socialites at least. He told one – an ex who got married not long ago – that he doesn’t feel ‘centred’ at the moment and would like to get married as well. Then again, he also said that he never tires of singing You’re Beautiful night after night because it gets him laid night after night.

Either way, he tells me he has grown used to the idea that his mother will probably find out from the papers what he has been up to, and with whom, before he has had a chance to tell her. ‘And my [two] sisters are quick to email me about things in the papers, laughing their heads off. I get healthy, ritual abuse from them, and give it back myself.’

As we are talking, I can’t decide whether the way Blunt smiles all the time is disarming or disturbing. He’s like a victim of a religious cult, smiling at the beginning of the sentence and at the end. I guess he has a lot to smile about, but also I sense a great deal of insecurity to disguise.

Then, I’m distracted by the sight of Sheryl Crow playing table tennis across the room. She has been holding her adopted son in one arm as she bats with the other, and now, even more distractingly, she is heading straight for us. ‘Are we going to have one of our little conversations on stage again tonight, James?’ she says. ‘That flirting thing. I think it worked well last night.’

They discuss the duet they will sing – a cover of Cat Stevens’s The First Cut is the Deepest – then we both watch her shimmy away, her blonde curls bobbing. ‘She’s very down to earth,’ he says. ‘I’d met her a couple of times, which was why she asked me on this tour. We do end up playing a lot of table tennis on the road. We’ve done 117 shows so far this year, in 117 cities, and there are a lot of hours to fill in the day.’

As he sleeps on his tour bus with his band, one city tends to blur into another. When I joke that he is in Cincinnati now, he looks genuinely confused. ‘No, this is?… Oh, right. Actually, I always get the tour manager to say where we are just as I’m going on stage. I still managed to get it wrong the other night, saying “Hello Dallas” when I meant Austin. I’m surprised I got out alive.’

He is funny on the subjects of things that go wrong. ‘People are normally surprised by my show, which is more energetic than you might think. Jumping on the piano. Jumping out into the audience and running up and down the aisle high-fiving them. But going off the stage can be quite dangerous. I broke my finger once. My legs carried on when I jumped off, and I smacked down on the ground. The spotlight was on me, and when I got back to the piano I hit the wrong note and thought, “Why did I do that?” And I looked down and saw it was because my finger was broken, sticking out an angle. Look,’ he says holding it up. ‘It’s still crooked.’

On another occasion, in Chicago, he jumped 8ft off the stage. ‘When I began running to the audience, a security guard stuck his arm out and I thought, “Does he want a hug?” Then next thing I know he’s rugby-tackled me. He wouldn’t release me and I was screaming in his ear, “I’m the f—ing singer.” I had to wait for the other guards to pull him off.’

I would have thought Blunt’s training in unarmed combat would have helped. I presume he still works out. ‘No, never. Couldn’t handle it. Too boring. I am a hyperactive person though.’ He likes an adrenaline rush, as well, having recently bought an 1100cc Moto Guzzi V11 Sport motorbike. There’s also the skiing, which he still does, and the riding. Actually, he tells me, he never really liked horses before joining the Life Guards. So why did he join that particular regiment?

‘Well, it is a reconnaissance regiment.’ But they are all so tall in the Life Guards, did that not make him self-conscious? ‘Some are. The Foot Guards tend to be taller regiments, though. The Life Guards take a few shrimps, as well. Besides, they are on horses, so height isn’t so important. Also being in that regiment had the benefit of being in Knightsbridge. I got a chance to be in London and meet people in the music scene.’ And groupies, as it happens.

As he paraded up and down the Mall in plumed helmet and shiny breastplate, girls would stick their phone numbers down his knee-length boots. But it was his time in Kosovo that really made girls swoon. He used to strap his guitar to the outside of his tank, because there wasn’t room for it inside. He had learnt to play the violin at five, the piano at seven and the guitar at 14, while a pupil at Harrow.

He writes his songs on piano and guitar. ‘But mainly guitar because it is easier to carry around. It’s like a child messing around with a toy. If a tune comes to me I don’t record it instantly. I think if I remember it, then it must be worth remembering, and if I forget it, then it was forgettable.’

Does he have any anxiety dreams about forgetting lines or chords? ‘Not yet. Perhaps I will tonight. Perhaps you’ve jinxed me. But audiences aren’t judgmental, and if things go wrong and you can look them in the eye, that is fine. The only people who are judgmental are the journalists. I will be conscious of you being there in the audience judging me.’

Blimey. Sorry about that. Is it true he signs breasts? ‘Not that I remember. Not that I’m fussy what I sign. A lot of men started coming to the shows after I appeared on Top Gear last year. That was such fun. I spun the car five times. I thought I might as well make the most of it. I am competitive.’

He recorded one of the fastest laps, but I’m surprised blokes didn’t think him manly before that, given his tour of duty in Kosovo. ‘It’s because I sing songs that are heart-on-your-sleeve and therefore I must be overly emotional. Nothing I can do about it. I could pose more, but I am comfortable with my masculinity.’

He has said that his lyrics are autobiographical, in which case, are we to assume that the lyric on his new album, ‘I killed a man in a far away land’, means he killed a man in a far away land? I only ask because in the past he has said that he would never try to exploit what he went through, what he saw. ‘You should ask any soldier how many lives he has saved. How they do it is no one else’s business. What I took from my experience in Kosovo is that you are told from one day to the next who your enemy is and it keeps changing. That’s what is happening in Iraq, too. I believe in looking people in the eye, looking for the common humanity.’

He is a great believer in looking people in the eye. He will use the phrase again later and it seems to reveal a Christ complex, or a John the Baptist one. That direct and challenging stare of his. It would also explain the hair.

It is time for him do some photographs before he goes on stage and, endearingly, he says he is ‘not fussed’ about the grooming he is offered before they are taken.

On stage his features contort with passion when he sings. The big video screen goes in tight on his face. His voice is by turns soft and tremulous and forceful, but always high. Having seen him in concert once before, a couple of years ago, I notice the tone of his banter has changed.

‘Wow it’s hot tonight,’ he says now. ‘I’m surprised any of you are wearing any clothes. We could all take them off and get friendly.’ It is suggestive, designed to get the teenage girls in the audience screaming. Before he used to joke about his ‘girlie voice’ and taking helium to get it that way, and being ‘a bit wet’ and the ‘housewives’ favourite’. I think now he has realised that, actually, he is a proper musician, a popular one, too, and that he doesn’t need to apologise for it.

Afterwards, back in the dressing-room, he strips to the waist as he talks because he wants to take a shower before going back on to do his duet with Sheryl Crow. ‘Things got a bit hairy out there when I jumped into the crowd,’ he says. ‘Did you see that? Some thought it was some kind of sport to grab me.’

I watch his duet from the side of the stage and notice he whispers something in Sheryl Crow’s ear and then she starts running her hands over his trousers suggestively, patting them. Afterwards, I ask what he said. ‘”Is now a good time to ask for your phone number?” She was checking my pockets, pretending to look for a pen.’

He shows me round the gold-coloured tour bus where he will be sleeping tonight as they drive to their next gig in Dallas. It is full of hi-tech equipment and is nicely air-conditioned but there isn’t much space in the bunks. ‘We do live in close proximity,’ he says. ‘Some of us stay up late. This is the crew end, they have to get up early.’

Where do the groupies go? ‘Never have groupies on here. Never. They’d only get in if we invited them in. But we’d only ever invite friends in.’

Does he sleep OK? I heard he has to take sleeping pills. ‘It is a bit of a rough sleep, but better than a hotel and taking planes all the time because you have to get to the airport two hours early, which is miserable. Then your flight gets delayed.’

He is drinking champagne from a plastic cup. ‘This is for your benefit,’ he says. ‘The tour management went out and bought a bottle of champagne because he thought I should be seen drinking it. Better for my image. Isn’t that sweet? Normally, we drink vodka and beer. In fact, I think I’d rather have a beer, now. Want one?’ He opens a well-stocked fridge then takes me to the back of the bus where there is some seating space. He has one small case which he pulls out from a cupboard. It continues a few pairs of socks, T-shirts and a spare pair of jeans. No photographs or mementos. ‘This is all I have for 14 months on the road,’ he says. ‘I’m not known for style.’

Does he know how much he is worth? ‘No I don’t, not very interested in it to be honest. I travel with hand luggage only. That is why I always seem to be wearing the same clothes in photographs. If a tabloid says my clothes aren’t fashionable or my hair looks stupid, I really don’t worry about it. Don’t have any hair gel.’

In London, he takes the Tube or the bus. He prefers pubs to restaurants. When he goes to Ibiza, he flies easyJet. Still, that’s at home. Presumably on the road he can afford to be more self-indulgent.

Another lyric that we can only assume is autobiographical is ‘I’ve taken a s—load of drugs’. It is. Though his only comment on the subject is that he has ‘a comfortable relationship with drugs’. His relationship with fame is less comfortable. Oscar Wilde said there were two forms of tragedy: not getting what you want, and getting it. Is that how it felt for him when he went to number one? ‘Actually, I don’t think I had been dreaming about it. Certainly, I hadn’t anticipated being so recognisable so quickly.

‘I do remember getting a phone call from the record company, who said both the single and the album have gone to number one, and thinking, “S—, this is not what I expected.” I hadn’t prepared myself for it. Number two is great. Number two is nice. I sensed then it would mean having to change from being a musician to being a celebrity and that that would be a change for the worse. Fame doesn’t affect me, but it does affect everyone else around me. As for celebrity, it is the worst invention of the modern world. Gossip columns treat your life as if it were a cartoon. Relationships reduced to cartoons.’

Although there are other public-school bands around at the moment – Radiohead, Coldplay – Blunt seems to have suffered more than most from a perception that he is too posh to be credible. His family name is Blount (and his middle name Hillier), but he changed it to Blunt to sound, well, blunter and more proletarian.

When he tells me he would nevertheless still send a son of his to Harrow – ‘I think I would. I think I would. Public schools make individuals rather than sheep’ – I ask what he makes of the mood change now that the old Etonian David Cameron has made it OK to be posh. ‘Is it? I must come back to Britain immediately. Is it really safe to come back?

‘It’s not a dirty word to be posh, people come up to me and no one gives a damn if I’m posh. It’s about having a normal conversation and looking people in the eye.’

We head back to the dressing-room where he puts on his feather boa and novelty sunglasses then we wander back downstairs to have a word with Sheryl Crow, who is signing autographs. This is the moment at which the keyboard player says: ‘This way to the good-time room girls’ and the silent groupies dutifully appear.