Article from The Sun, Dotmusic Review – 24th October 2001
From The Sun:
I stole a man and broke up a family but I’m not proud of it
By NICOLE LAMPERT
STEPS are the most successful boy and girl band since Abba.
Lisa, Claire, Faye, Lee and H have sold 12 million records worldwide and have had 13 consecutive top five hits — an achievement bettered only by The Beatles.
Their bubblegum pop image has led many to think the band lead squeaky-clean lifestyles.
Banding together … from left, Faye, Lee, Lisa,
H and Claire are the biggest thing since Abba
But, as they celebrate hitting No1 with their greatest hits album Gold, the band lift the lid on their private lives.
On Day One in our exclusive series we talk to Claire and Lee.
Gorgeous … but Claire’s first
love caused heartbreak
WITH her angelic smile Claire Richards looks the sort of girl who couldn’t possibly hurt anyone.
But the 24-year-old beauty today admits she was the “other woman” who broke up a family. Claire stole a Steps record company boss from his fiancée and their baby.
Her lover Reece Hill, 32, was forced to leave his job because of their relationship.
Opening her heart for the first time about the affair, Claire admits: “I was a home-wrecker, a marriage-wrecker or whatever you call it. “I was dating someone who had a partner and they had a child.
He had lived with this woman for quite a long time. “I am not proud of some of the things I did. I was seeing him behind his girlfriend’s back and lying to my parents.
“There was a lot of heartache for a lot of people and a lot of pain.
New love … Claire with Mark
We were together just under a year. “My only excuse is that I was 22 and I loved him an awful lot. He was my first boyfriend and he was a lot older than me.
“Because we weren’t supposed to be together it gave it that extra bit of edge — made it more exciting.
“Then things started getting difficult. He split up with her and it wasn’t very nice.
“Reece was my first love and it was really hard for me. I ended the relationship because it had become too messy.”
As she lies on a bed in her London hotel suite, Claire reveals she has a new boyfriend — Mark Webb, who danced on a Steps tour.
Claire says: “Me and Mark get on so well. We are like best friends.
“We have moved in together but we are not engaged. We were friends for ages and now there are different feelings.”
Neither of them bother about Steps being Mark’s boss.
Claire says: “We do pay his wages but we’re all friends. He doesn’t feel like I’m his boss.
“Sometimes I wind him up and he gets a bit upset and I have to say I was only joking.”
She believes the kind of love she has with Mark is one that could last and adds: “He is such a nice bloke. We live together and have a dog, so there is a little bit of commitment.
Cute … Claire as a youngster
“You always get that flicker, ‘Is he the one?’ I hope he is because I can’t imagine life without him.”
Claire, born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, was close to giving up attempts to be a star before she spotted an audition for Steps in The Stage newspaper.
She had already been in one girlband — TSD. But their two singles only got to No68 and No64 and when the Spice Girls came along they were dropped.
That disappointment helps her appreciate the success she has achieved. But Claire says none of them are millionaires.
She adds: “I think it is c–p when people from other bands say they are millionaires.
“I don’t know where the money goes but we have got a good record deal.
“I am not mega-rich and I could not retire tomorrow. We’re not complaining though.
“I’ve got my own house and a Mercedes SLK. I’m not doing too bad for a 24-year-old.”
I don’t like our pop
but it’s a job – says Lee
Oh baby … Lee as a boy and in step Lee today
AS the Steps heart-throb, Lee Latchford Evans has dated a bevy of beauties — but he is not happy. Lee says often he thinks he would be luckier working nine-to-five in an office.
Lee has been out with actress Terri Dwyer, who plays Ruth in Hollyoaks, model Emma B and Vicky Dawdall from girlband [email protected], yet he admits he didn’t want to be a pop star and does not like Steps songs.
The 27-year-old dreamed of becoming an actor and confesses: “I don’t know why I’m here. I never had a favourite band or went to any concerts.
“This is a job. It always was a job. And in all honesty I would not wish it on anybody. Your life is taken away from you.
“People see the limousines, the glamour and the premieres. They don’t see the hours and hours of work and the no sleep and all the stress. You are so unprepared for it.
“People say to me, ‘You must love what you do, you get so much money, you have so many girls around you,’ and I say change with me for six months and we’ll see what you have to say.
“I’ll do your nine-to-five and you do my 18-hour-a-day job. See how you like it — not just the job but the fame and pressure. See how you deal with losing your life.
“Don’t get me wrong, it has got huge rewards. The money is good. You meet a lot of great people. But if it ended tomorrow we would still have to work.
“And it is frightening being famous. When you walk down the street and people recognise you, they know everything about you and you know nothing about them.
“I used to be a very confident person when I was out. I used to walk head high, chest out, proud of what I was doing. Now I have a cap on and look at the floor all the time.”
And on the band’s chart-topping music he says: “I have never been a big pop fan, I like rock.
“I think our songs like It’s The Way You Make Me Feel are great but there are songs I really groan about.”
Lee, from Cheshire, ended up in Steps because he was having trouble finding work as an actor. When Steps were offered a one-single contract he thought there would be no harm in taking it up.
Then there was an 18-month wait for any money to come in when Lee was left homeless.
Despite not liking their music, he says: “We are the biggest band the UK has got. We are second only to The Beatles for consecutive top five hits — we have sold more concert tickets, we have had the biggest arena tour … blah, blah, blah.
“I’m amazed it ever took off — we all are. But the people that deserve the pat on the back are ourselves and we don’t get it that often.
“It took four-and-a-half years for the money to be there.
We were living on £50 a week for the first 18 months.
“You have to work hard for what you get. We have had bottles thrown in our faces, we have been booed off stage.
“We were never given anything on a plate and you respect what you get because of that.”
A little bit slow with this (sorry) here is a review about the Greatest Hits album (From Dotmusic, Last Friday)
In four years, Steps have transcended their trite beginnings (the nasty line-dance cheese of 5,6,7,8) to become the most successful British mixed group of all time. A couple of massive arena tours, a wardrobe of matching outfits, and 15 Top 5 hits later and Faye, H, Lee, Lisa and Clare have become a pop institution.
Steps may have never been cool, but they hit a major nerve with the record buying massive. Sneer all you like, but it wasn’t thin air or NME covers that kept ‘Tragedy’ in the charts for over six months. There’s also very few bands that can carry off yellow, let alone blue rubber catsuits.
The best bits are pretty much all of it, although the Abbaness of ‘One For Sorrow’ and ‘Last Thing On My Mind’, the Chic tribute of ‘Stomp’ and the superb ‘Deeper Shade Of Blue’ stick out, as well as their cover of ‘Better The Devil You Know’. The Gibbs-too-far of ‘Chain Reaction’ was perhaps a bit obvious and overclunky, and ‘The Summer Of Love’ sounds a bit too much like ‘Flashdance’ for comfort, but minor gripes. There’s also three new tracks, of which the best is the funksome ‘Baby Don’t Dance’ and the mellow ‘Words Are Not Enough’.
‘Gold’ is chocka full of tunes you suddenly realise – when drunk, mainly – you know like the back of your hand, and gets you throwing shapes like a goon at staff knees-ups and wedding receptions. It serves as a reminder of how great pop can be. ‘Gold’ is one the best Greatest Hits compilations ever. It’s their ‘Immaculate Collection’, their ‘Abba Gold’, their ‘Substance’. Pop rarely gets any better than this. (4.5 out of 5)