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The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Nik Kershaw says yes, you can make fear your friend 

Eighties pop star Nik Kershaw, 62, lives near Ipswich with his wife Sarah and their 10-year-old son Theo, his fourth child. He had worldwide hits with Wouldn’t It Be Good and I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me and wrote Chesney Hawkes’ song The One And Only. 

I spent a lot of my heyday in the Eighties feeling anxious, and was physically ill before I went on stage. I have an alter ego who I call Frank and he sits on my shoulder and tells me I’m crap, or that something awful’s about to happen.

He was well and truly on my shoulder when I performed at Live Aid 35 years ago. That was the biggest gig I ever did. The fear of him being there and the fear of the fear of him being there made it totally debilitating.

It was all such a blur, that day. I remember chatting with Sting and sitting in the Royal Box with Charles and Di, and the relief at the end of my set. Afterwards, I shared a minibus with David Bowie, and he was singing Do They Know It’s Christmas. I froze.

Bowie was the reason I got into the music business. I remember watching a film about him as Ziggy Stardust in the Seventies, at home in Ipswich while Mum was cooking tea. It transformed my life. I later jacked in my A-levels and told my parents I was off to be a pop star. Luckily, they were supportive.

When I was on a non-stop round of photo shoots and Top Of The Pops appearances, I could deal with the fear, when my career faltered it was harder. When I was on tour supporting Elton John every night was a trauma. Writing for other people became preferable — it was lovely when The One And Only was a hit, Chesney got the anxiety, not me!

Eventually, though, I got tired of being afraid, and made friends with Frank. I realised fear is there for a reason, it’s a primal thing to get you ready to run or fight or do whatever you have to do.

After saying no for years, I started touring with other Eighties bands. It’s so much fun and we’re all friends. No one needs to be taken seriously any more. I’m releasing another album, and of course I want my fans to like it. But, ultimately, I’m doing it for me. Now, I still get nervous performing, but I just take a deep breath and get on with it.

The EP These Little Things by Nik Kershaw is out now. 

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