Hello article:Luke & Shirley Wedding 1994
FOLLOWING THEIR SECRET WEDDING THE EX-EROS MEMBER AND HIS BRIDE REVEAL THE HIGHS AND LOWS THAT HAVE MADE THEM SOUL MATES
LUKE GOSS AND SHIRLEY LEWIS
Last month Luke Goss, 26, formerly of Bros fame, proposed to his girlfriend Shirley Lewis, 34, on a transatlantic call from LA, and just three days later the couple were married in Marylebone Registry Office, well away from the glare of publicity.
Only two people were invited – a friend, and Shirley’s daughter, Carli, 11, who acted as witnesses. It was a low-key but joyful affair, testimony to a relationship which has endured the fickle nature of fame and fortune. Bros (originally made up of Luke, his twin brother Matt, and schoolfriend Craig Logan) were the teeny pop sensation of the late Eighties, but their fall was as sudden as their rise.
Despite having the ability to send 68,000 pre-pubescent girls wild at Wembley, by 1991 the band was in financial ruin. Since Bros disbanded in late 1991, Luke has been trying to rebuild his life and career. His autobiography, I Own You Nothing, reached number nine on the bestseller list and in the spring his band, Thieves Like Us, will release their new single Pray, which will be followed by an album Life. He lives with Shirley and Carli in a luxury rented apartment overlooking the Thames.
Why, after eight years of living together, did you decide to ask Shirley to marry you, Luke?
“We were out in LA over Christmas visiting my brother Matt and Shirley had to come back early. So I was alone out there seeing all these record companies and feeling very lonely, because LA is a lonely place to be. Then I said to myself, ‘If Shirley was here I’d be fine’. And then it hit me that I’d be a complete idiot to let her go. So I called her up and said, ‘Shirley, you make me really, really happy and I need to ask you something. ‘ She thought I was going to say, ‘Will you forgive me, I’ve been with another woman. ‘ But then I asked her to marry me. Matt was in the room when I was proposing and he wanted to get on the phone and speak to her, too. It was very romantic. I got very emotional and she got very emotional.”
Were you surprised, Shirley?
“Yes , because Luke’s never been keen on the idea of marriage so I thought it was a joke at first. But once I realized he mean it I was overjoyed, although I still couldn’t quite believe it. When he came back to England I gave him every opportunity to get out of it up until the very last day.”
Why do you choose to have such a small, quiet wedding?
S: “Recently we went to a wedding which was a huge production and at the end of it the bride and bridegroom were sitting there exhausted not having enjoyed it at all. We didn’t want something like that.”
L: ”We wanted to be spontaneous and do it the way we wanted to do it. I didn’t want the whole family being there because they always want to chip in and do things for you and so it ends up being their day rather than yours. We just had two witnesses with us – a friend and Shirley’s daughter, Carli. Afterwards we went to a bar and had champagne and then later that evening a few of us went to Langan’s. We didn’t have a honeymoon.”
Have you any plans to have children?
L: “Not yet. We need more rooms, more security , more money and at last three nannies per child. I’m not that into kids anyway. Also I feel I’ve done it all with Carli who lives with us now. I’m definitely a father figure to her. It’s a good arrangement because she sees her father at weekends and sometimes after school which means we can have time to ourselves. What’s lovely is that she has stacks of respect and love for me, and I have the same for her. I’m really pleased about that because I know that the step-parent thing can either go well or badly. Although I have a good relationship with my stepfather now, I had fairly negative emotions towards him as a child.”
How did you and Shirley first meet?
L: “I paid her £300 to sing on my first album . I saw her in the studio and I really liked the look of her so I went up and kissed her. In those days I used to kiss all the girls, it felt quite natural. But nowadays it’s hard to be as tactile and spontaneous as I’d like to be because people seem to have become suspicious of physical contact.”
S: “When he kissed me I thought he was really forward and I got quite embarrassed. But I thought he was really cute, too.”
Was there love in the air from that very first meeting?
L: “As I kissed her I didn’t think she was the one I was going to marry or anything like that, but I did think she was really cute. I couldn’t take my eyes off her for the whole session.”
S: “I didn’t really allow myself to think of love at that stage because I was 27 and he was 18 and there was no way it was going to happed. I also had a three-year-old daughter.”
How did the relationship progress from there?
S: “That evening we went to a club with some other people and there was definitely some kind of spark there. As I left I gave Craig Logan, who was in the band at that time, my number saying, ‘If you guys are ever in town give me a ring.’ I didn’t want to give it to Luke because I thought that looked too forward.”
L: “I was convinced she didn’t like me because she hadn’t given me her number. The next day all I could do was think of Shirley. I was going out with someone else at the time but I immediately ended it. Then I called Shirley up and got her answerphone. I left a message but I didn’t leave my number. I was also very aware of the age difference and I didn’t want to appear like a young kid.”
S: “His tactics worked because I spent the whole of the next day ringing around desperately trying to get hold of his number.”
So when was love first mentioned?
L: “I loved her very quickly. Within a week or so of hanging around with her I knew I loved her. I’ll never forget her reaction when I actually said the words ‘I love you’ – all she said was ‘Thank you’.”
S: “The only reason I said that was because I was still feeling insecure about the age gap. I thought it would be irresponsible to say ‘I love you’ too.”
Did you move in together very soon after that?
L: “Within a month we were living together. I’d recommend any young person to leave home the way I did. I didn’t make a big production out of it. I just got my bag with clothes and said I was going to stay away for a few days. Like that it took the trauma out of doing it. Maybe I wasn’t very considerate to my mother but I’m soppy about things like that and didn’t like the thought of leaving home and saying goodbye for the last time. We rented this wonderful two-bedroom flat in Regent’s Park. There was no furniture and we’d sleep on the floor. It was really romantic.”
Within a few months of moving in with Shirley, your second release, When Will I Be Famous? Exploded and was a worldwide smash hit. How did this affect the relationship?
L: “It became really fiery when the band took off. Shirley became jealous as hell of the females I was seen around with, and because I wasn’t very self-assured then, I used to hate it when she was working with guys, I felt especially insecure if the guy was over 20.”
But you had fame?
L: “Yes, but I was never unrealistic about what that mean. Before I was famous I could walk down the road and almost every girl would look at me. But after that, when I wasn’t quite so successful but still famous, no one looked at me any more because they assumed everyone else was looking at me. Being famous is massively lonely.”
Was there ever a time when you thought the relationship wouldn’t stand the pressure of sudden fame and the band’s phenomenal success?
S: “I’m a very jealous person and although the fans didn’t bother me, I was desperate for some kind of commitment from him. Athough we’d only been together for a year I wanted to get married. Calling Luke my boyfriend trivialized our relationship and I wanted to get give it the importance it deserved. I’d had a number of other relationships before Luke and this was the first time I’d ever really loved someone.”
L: “We split up for a brief period just as I was going off on our first world tour. That’s because Shirley was pushing for us to get married and I was dead against it. It wasn’t that I didn’t love her enough, it was just that the institution of marriage terrified me.”
Luke, when you broke Bros up and suddenly found yourself out in the cold, was Shirley still there for you?
“Through all the bad times she’s always been there as my greatest support. But I wasn’t easy to be with then. I left the band because Bros was making me feel claustrophobic and I wanted to pursue something that would represent me more accurately. But then I suddenly found myself with no record company, no publisher and no one handling my publicity. It was very scary and I got extremely depressed. Though Shirley nipped my depression in the bud.”
Was that a very difficult time for you too, Shirley?
“Yes, it was difficult for both of us, but not as difficult as it became later. I never found it difficult to be encouraging to Luke because I knew he had a very good voice and was very talented musically. For a while it looked as if things were beginning to move.”
You mean there was worse to come?
L: “Yes, much worse. I had made a really good demo tape and I showed it to a couple of people and you wouldn’t believe the resistance and the ridicule I received. That’s when the real depression set in. I realized I’d taken absolutely nothing with me from the band – not even my credibility. I was getting up later and later. I wouldn’t get dressed and I just sat around the house all day drinking beer. I was very prickly with Shirley, but she was still so massively supportive and tolerant of my condition.”
S: “I knew there was nothing I could really do. You have to let people get over these things by themselves. I don’t think you can stop people drinking in the mornings, you just have to allow them to get really down and be there for them when they hit rock bottom. That’s what I see as support, not whingeing about what you have or haven’t got. My main concern was that Luke shouldn’t feel useless or a burden.”
What finally got you out of this negative spiral?
L: “One day I was looking in the mirror and I broke down in tears. I hadn’t shaved and I looked frightful . I thought to myself, ‘A year ago this person was so on top of life and just look at him now. And suddenly I realized that enough was enough and I decided to pick myself up. What also helped was being asked to write a book at that time because it brought in some money and gave me something to do.”
S: “It also helped Luke to know where he wanted to be.”
L: “Apart from Shirley , there have been three important people who helped me get out of this mess. Peter Powell, because he instigated the book which helped me to motivate myself, Derek Birkett who is the MD of my record company, One Little Indian Records, which is a very credible, independent, non-mainstream label, and finally and most importantly David Ravden, my business manager. Sometimes all I had was his belief that there was something there worth pursuing.”
Do you think going through such difficult times together has strengthened your relationship?
S: “Undoubtedly. Although it’s been a horrible three years it’s been good for our relationship. If it hadn’t gone that way Luke might have gone off on another tour and we might not be together. At least Luke now knows I’m there for him no matter what happens. For someone who’s famous it’s sometimes difficult for them to know why people are with them. Also Luke is a better person for having been through all this. Remember, he went straight from school to being famous, and any kid that happens to is bound to be a little bit arrogant.”
Shirley, what is your relationship like with Matt?
S: “It’s always been good but it took me a long time to love Matt. At first he has the pop star Matt Goss, the person I saw on TV, whereas Luke was Luke. But I get on brilliantly with Matt now. I’m glad it took a long time because our relationship is real now – he’s not just Luke’s brother.”
L: “Actually, he idolizes Shirley. If he’s over here Matt will come into our bedroom in the morning and I can go out and leave him there watching TV with Shirley and not think another thing of it. Some people would call that naïve, but to me it’s brilliant, I’d rather have that feeling of trust and security than the paranoia that I used to have.”
What is it that really makes this relationship work?
L: “She’s like my soul mate. For me a soul mate is being able to feel 99.9 per cent yourself with someone. You can be so natural that in one way the other person might as well be invisible. Also, the communication has always been so good between us. There’s a real understanding on every level. Also what I find incredibly attractive about Shirley is that she’s more than capable of looking after herself and she doesn’t rely on me financially, but at the same time she does rely on me emotionally one hundred per cent.”
S: “I think we complement each other. When Luke is really down I’m there for him and vice versa. But we try not to worry each other with our problems. All the hard times we’ve had have just made us stronger. We’re absolute soul mates to the point that I think we must have been in another life together.”