For a self-confessed timid soul, the 1980s were a hedonistic blur of drugs, sex and pop success as the lesser known half of chart-topping band The Communards.
As plain old Richard Coles he was paid a £60,000 advance for a record deal in 1985, and four years later treated friends to a wild time in Ibiza, even buying a speedboat. He also did that very rock ‘n’ roll thing of spending a fortune getting his teeth fixed.
When we met at Advertising Week Europe, the Rev. Richard Coles, (he read theology when the band split and ordained as a curate, before eventually moving to his current parish of Finedon in Northamptonshire) was talking about reinvention.
I’d read and hugely enjoyed his memoir, Fathomless Riches, and in a similarly candid and confessional vein during our chat, the Rev. Richard admitted that, like many people, he’d had to reconfigure himself to a world that was changing around him, and looked back on his pop past as “the best of times and the worst of times.” Particularly as he lost many dear friends to AIDS, or “Auntie Ada” as he and his contemporaries called it.
He’s still Britain’s only vicar to have made it to Number One in the charts with Don’t Leave Me This Way, but nowadays only edges into the media spotlight once a week as a presenter of BBC Radio Four’s Saturday Live.
As Easter is nearly with us, I thought it was a suitable time to share our chat and his thoughts on moving from pop to the pulpit. Enjoy.