It’s not long since you were last in these parts playing the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2010. What have you been up to since then?
Writing my new album. I write from experience so it takes a while. When it’s finished people can stop their moaning.
It’s been a good five years since the last one.
You know better than me love, I can’t even think how long it’s been! There’s all these exciting artists at the moment – Adele dominating, we’ve just had the Brits in the UK… it’s an exciting time for music.
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What did you make of the Brits this year?
I do believe that Ed Sheeran and Adele were good. I’m not going to slag off the Brits, I’ve got two in my possession.
Any exciting collaborators on the new album?
There’s one person that no one will ever expect – if I can pull it off let’s just say my son will be very impressed. Otherwise it’s just me, me, me.
You’ve sold millions already – surely you never need to work again?
It’s not about never working again. Music is my first love, man. There are people like Madonna that don’t stop. What else am I going to do? I’m going to do what I love doing most.
You shared a stage with George Benson in Dubai. Are you a fan?
He’s fantastic – he’s from back in the days of my mother. It’s always amazing to meet someone like that – I played with Al Green and Macy Gray and it was the same feeling.
What’s Al like?
He’s lovely, very encouraging. When he goes on stage you don’t want to go on after him.
Why was your fourth album, 2004’s Play to Win, a flop?
I think that’s less to do with me than the choice of singles, I’m still very proud of that one. Some [albums] are more successful than others, but I loved them all. I’m responsible for them all and I don’t think any of them are bad. You win some and you lose some, really that’s all it is.
How many more albums have you got in you?
No idea… I was going to say ‘as long as I’m here I’ll be doing music’, but Amy (Winehouse) said that.
Were you two friends?
No, but I was a big fan. She was absolutely amazing.
On a lighter note, everyone remembers the patches you wore on your lazy eye. How many did you own?
I had loads! They weren’t that strong so I’d be on stage singing and they’d pop right off.
As a PR stunt, it worked.
It was a necessity that worked in my favour. It was a bit gimmicky, but I wasn’t a gimmick.
Why have you never done any reality TV?
I think it’s disgusting, I couldn’t do it. The idea of sharing a toilet – you couldn’t pay me enough for that. There’s nothing on earth that could make me.
By Karl Baz
Originally posted on Time Out Abu Dhabi, 20 March 2012