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Life begins at 50 – for Toyah

Toyah Wilcox

Toyah Wilcox

She’s 55 but already this year she’s high dived in Splash and made her point on Pointless – now she’s back on the road - as TONY DEWHURST discovers

Toyah Willcox has never been afraid to speak her mind, and, now she’s a 50-something, the former high priestess of punk doesn’t show any signs of putting the brakes on.

Toyah burst on to the pop scene with smash hits It’s A Mystery and I Want To Be Free, and since then she’s also enjoyed a successful career as a singer, presenter and an actress, appearing in several films, stage plays and in numerous television dramas.

“The punk revolution changed my life, but I’m as busy now as I ever was,” said Toyah, who brings her colourful greatest hits stage show to Clitheroe tonight.

“Slow down? Not a chance.

“I love performing and I’m chocka with commitments.

“My work is my life and I’m getting an enormous buzz out of playing to young people who worship the 80s era.

“I certainly never thought I’d still be touring and singing at my age.

“I’ve just got back from America, I run two bands, my own record label, and I’ll be on the road for most of the summer.

“It’s extraordinary and wonderful and I want to enjoy it as long as my voice holds out.”

Toyah first found fame when she appeared in Derek Jarman’s cult film Jubilee, and a couple of years later in the Who album-inspired movie Quadrophenia.

The pace of Willcox’s life is even more remarkable for a woman who was born with a twisted spine, a clubbed right foot, one leg two inches shorter than the other and only one hip socket.

“I had a titanium hip replacement and my leg shortened recently, so now it’s the same size as the other one,” she said.

“It took me two months to learn to learn to walk again.

“But what’s been lovely is that I think I’ve helped to inspire other women, who nowadays are starting to need hip replacements at a younger and younger age.

“Now I have full mobility for the first time in my life and I strut around the stage so much freely than I was able to do before.

“Women come up to me after performances and say I’ve given them real hope about what can be done.”

Willcox also told of her painful struggle with classroom prejudice as she overcame a learning disability to enjoy a glittering career in the music industry.

She revealed how her own personal experiences with dyslexia had spurred her into action helping others.

Toyah, who is married to musician and King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, added: “Growing up with dyslexia and struggling in the classroom because of it, I know how infuriating and frustrating it can be to be treated wrongly as though you’re of below par intelligence.

“I’ve lived with my dyslexia and gone on to have a successful recording career.”

Toyah Willcox, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, April 19. £20. 01200 421599.

 

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