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May 2009

SPANDAU Ballet's recent reunion was a good example of how differences can be put aside when there's the promise of a handsome payday.
But Kajagoogoo aren't in it for the money, reckons bassist Nick Beggs.
"I don't have to do Kajagoogoo to make ends meet", he says. "It was never a driving force."
That they're going in at ground level, playing small rock venues like the Rescue Rooms on their comeback tour this autumn, lends some weight to the argument that they're not after a quick buck.
It would make more sense for them to be doing the Here & Now Tour - the 80s nostalgia tour that comes to the Trent FM Arena on Saturday.
"Kajagoogoo don't really fit into that genre. When these artists go out on the Here & Now Tour, they use a house band. We are a band in our own right."
He adds: "I was in actually in the Here & Now band for a while. Kim Wilde, Nick Heyward, Howard Jones... I played for all those people."
But he's not part of the current tour.
Beggs, 47, is busy working on the Kajagoogoo comeback.
But why did they fall out in the first place, so soon after topping the UK chart with Too Shy?
"We were pulling in different directions. There were personality problems within the band. It felt like Limahl was becoming more of a solo artist. Not that we minded him being the frontman.
"The manager didn't help either. He wasn't going to win any prizes from the Dr Kissinger school of diplomacy", he adds, laughing.
It was at the back end of 1983 that Limahl quit and had a few solo hits, including Neverending Story.
It was a missed opportunity, says Beggs.
"If Kajagoogoo had done Neverending Story we could have been Wham! but we weren't strong enough to stay together as a unit."
The rest of Kajagoogoo, with Beggs taking over on vocals, carried on and produced two more albums.
Since then Beggs has been a jobbing musician.
"It's been a long road", he says. "I studied music, I've lectured and toured with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. I'm a member of Steve Hackett's touring and recording band. I did an album with Steve Howe. I was an A&R man at Phonogram Records. I was a member of ABC for five years. I was part of Right Said Fred's touring entourage. I spent a short time on the periphery of Seal's project in the early days because his band was influenced by my band Ellis, Beggs & Howard.
"I also had a progressive folk band called Iona. Robert Fripp worked with me on some Iona stuff and did some sessions on the Ellis, Beggs & Howard stuff."
It was Fripp, "a friend" he says, who recommended him to John Paul Jones for his post-Zeppelin trio in 1998.
"I took John out for tea and he said 'when I'm playing lead guitar I want you to play bass. When I'm playing bass you're going to have to play lead. I want you to play Hammond organ, brass and string section parts... and throw in some solos in the style of Jimmy Page. Are you up for it?'
"And I said 'Err, I think I've left the iron on...'
"But of course I did it and it was one of the best times of my life."
He toured the US with Jones in 2001 supporting King Crimson.
"John Paul Jones and Robert Fripp have taught me so much about music", he says.
So what do they think about the Kajagoogoo reunion?
"John Paul Jones always told me that he really liked Kajagoogoo. When we were looking for a name for the project he said 'we could always call it Zepagoogoo'."
Beggs points out that he is not a member of King Crimson – though he wouldn't mind.
"King Crimson is a very difficult gig, probably the most difficult of its type that anyone can play. But if he did offer it to me I'd bite his hand off."
Sir Cliff Richard is another friend.
"I spent an evening with Kate Bush and Cliff. He introduced me to Olivia Newton-John as well. When he was doing Time in the West End I used to cook him dinner. He brought Sue Barker over for dinner one night. Surreal.
"Another great one was having a prayer group with Bono. We had a little 'Our Father...' sort of moment.When Kajagoogoo split up all four of [U2] wrote to me. The Edge put 'Nick , we're all thinking of you...' stuff like that."
Of all his post-Kajagoogoo happenings, nothing has matched the commercial success of his first band.
"But still, it was making a living and was something I really enjoyed doing."
He adds: "Kajagoogoo for me was always a means to an end. At the age of 25 I decided I was going to be a professional musician. It was never about being a pop star. It was about being a composer rather than a poser."
That said, you had interesting hair back in the day and that's still the case – blonde pigtails?
"My hair is actually on a different contract. It has to have its own manager. It's very demanding and it gives Limahl a run for his money."
What, so you're completely bald and it's a wig?
"(Laughs) No it's part of me."
A very strange part of you.
"Yes it is", he adds, "I sub-let it to porn stars."
With differences to one side, the band will tour the UK for the first time in 25 years. Not that they can agree why they're able to share a stage together again.
"Limahl says we all grew up but I don't think we were immature. Maybe we were too earnestly serious.
"We've probably got more coping mechanisms now. We know how to deal with each other."
So why did they choose to start playing again in such small venues.
"We felt that the only way to garner interest was to give it credibility at ground level. People would see we're doing the leg work."
But do Kajagoogoo really fit in a venue like the Rescue Rooms?
"When you see Kajagoogoo play, it's quite in your face", he says.
It's not fluffy pop, you mean?
"No. We can all play and we have a fuzzbox in the band."
You mean Kajafuzzbox?

Kajagoogoo, Rescue Rooms, Goldsmith Street, Saturday September 26, £17, 08713 100000,

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