An­nie’s love life back on track

She’s rock’n’roll roy­alty and now there’s an­other new man in Len­nox’s world

Scottish Daily Mail - - Saturday Life - by Jim Mc­Beth

WHEN the ha­rassed wait­ress placed the trendy veg­e­tar­ian dish in front of a young folk singer called Dave ste­wart, still some way from Eury­th­mics su­per­star­dom, he looked up at An­nie Len­nox and blurted out: ‘Marry me!’ To this day, nearly four decades on, he is un­able to ex­plain his im­petu­os­ity – or why they never did walk down the aisle.

It was 1976, and in a res­tau­rant in Hamp­stead, Lon­don, when Sun­der­land-born ste­wart laid eyes for the first time on the stat­uesque scots girl who was al­ready show­ing signs of the lu­mi­nous, if an­drog­y­nous, beauty which would ma­ture, en­dure, and make the two of them fa­mous and wealthy be­yond their dreams. Miss Len­nox, as pas­sion­ately pes­simistic at 22 as she is at 57, har­rumphed and walked away. But the young mu­sic stu­dent and would-be singer of­fered a back­ward glance and a smile which hinted she might al­low him to be­come the first sig­nif­i­cant man in her life.

And so it came to pass. But it did not end with wed­ding bells – and her love af­fair with ste­wart would be over by the time they had gone through sev­eral mu­si­cal in­car­na­tions to erupt onto the 1980s mu­sic scene as Eury­th­mics.

Friends of the stars still sug­gest ste­wart is the one that got away from Miss Len­nox – and both have since ad­mit­ted it was a painful part­ing f r om which t hey never r eally re­cov­ered.

But they would re­main to­gether pro­fes­sion­ally for a decade of suc­cess, in which ste­wart was sven­gali to the com­plex, trou­bled star un­til she ‘left’ him to pur­sue an award-laden solo ca­reer. From this she racked up record sales of 80mil­lion and a for­tune of £30mil­lion, which has never man­aged to make her truly happy.

Those who know her best re­veal she has car­ried a ‘bleak sen­si­bil­ity’ from child­hood into mid­dle age – through the sep­a­ra­tion from ste­wart, the loss of her first child and two failed marriages that led her to de­clare she would never again marry as search­ing for ‘ ro­man­tic love’ was fruit­less.

BuT some­thing has hap­pened to the singer who has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the most suc­cess­ful fe­male artist in uK mu­sic his­tory. Friends say the Aberdeen boil­er­maker’s daugh­ter who once ‘lived up a close’ in a ten­e­ment with an out­side toi­let has dis­cov­ered her Holy Grail of love, re­spect, ad­mi­ra­tion and ro­mance with a tall, hand­some south African doc­tor whose com­pas­sion and com­mit­ment to good causes matches her own.

At the age of 57, af­ter be­ing on her own for 12 years since the col­lapse of her sec­ond mar­riage, to Is­raeli film pro­ducer uri Frucht­man, Miss Len­nox is expected to go for third­time-lucky by mar­ry­ing gy­nae­col­o­gist Dr Mitch Besser, 57, who runs a char­ity in his home­land ded­i­cated to pre­vent­ing the spread of Aids from preg­nant moth­ers to their ba­bies.

The work of the di­vorced fa­ther of two sons has been lauded glob­ally, par­tic­u­larly in the us where, in 2008, he was pre­sented with a Pres­i­den­tial Medal by Ge­orge Bush.

A friend says of the new re­la­tion­ship: ‘It is per­fect. An­nie has, for a long time, dis­dained mar­riage, claim­ing she isn’t “built” for it. she hasn’t seen the point and be­lieved that re­la­tion­ships with men were hugely dis­ap­point­ing for the ma­jor­ity of women.

‘For years, An­nie, the per­fec­tion­ist and peren­nial wor­rier, has been un­will­ing to risk the pos­si­bil­ity of hurt and aban­don­ment – but she has changed her tune since meet­ing Mitch in 2009, when she vis­ited one of his projects as a uN Aids am­bas­sador.’

Miss Len­nox has been see­ing the medic, who cre­ated the Moth­er­s2­Moth­ers char­ity, for more than a year and they were pho­tographed this week near her Vic­to­rian man­sion in Lon­don’s Not­ting Hill.

‘They are in love, com­fort­able with each other,’ says an­other friend. ‘They are the same age, with the same value sys­tem, t he same com­mit­ment.

‘An­nie is a tire­less cam­paigner for ev­ery­thing from Aids, the en­vi­ron­ment, jus­tice for Pales­tine, Ti­betan free­dom and even Burmese pris­on­ers of con­science. Mitch i s equally ded­i­cated to al­le­vi­at­ing suf­fer­ing in Africa through the trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease from HIV-pos­i­tive moth­ers. He’s stolen her heart. It’s been a long road and this is the real deal.’

Yet she has been here twice be­fore. Her first choice of hus­band was radha ra­man, a Hare Kr­ishna ‘monk’. she mar­ried him in 1984, a month af­ter meet­ing him while on tour with Eury­th­mics. It was a dis­tinctly odd pair­ing – the post­punk chanteuse and the squat, re­tir­ing Ger­man-born devo­tee of eastern mys­ti­cism.

They met when the band was in Ger­many. ra­man’s Hare Kr­ishna group pre­pared veg­e­tar­ian dishes for the group and, when Miss Len­nox de­vel­oped a throat in­fec­tion, he con­cocted a home­o­pathic ‘ cure’. Af­ter that, the Kr­ish­nas trav­elled with the band throughout Europe, and she and her spir­i­tual friend were soon in love.

Miss Len­nox be­came a veg­e­tar­ian and be­gan learn­ing Kr­ishna chants. The cou­ple mar­ried in a spur-of-themo­ment cer­e­mony in New York and she vowed to keep the re­la­tion­ship away from the spot­light, say­ing: ‘My life is so pub­lic, I must keep him pri­vate.’

she ap­peared at par­ties, cer­e­monies and events with­out him and never took him home to Aberdeen to meet her par­ents, Tom and Dorothy, both of whom have since suc­cumbed to can­cer.

Mean­while, ra­man be­came a forlorn fig­ure in the back­ground of her life and, when the mar­riage col­lapsed af­ter a year, few were sur­prised. Miss Len­nox ap­peared to es­cape un­scathed, jet­ti­son­ing ra­man’s phi­los­o­phy and putting on a brave face when she said: ‘ Per­haps I was im­petu­ous.’

But, pri­vately, the singer, who never in­dulged in the ca­sual re­la­tion­ships as­so­ci­ated with the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll life­style of bands on the road, mourned the end of the mar­riage.

‘Life on the road re­ally suits ego­tis­ti­cal men but it wasn’t my scene,’ she said. ‘It was like the party was go­ing on in an­other room.’

The im­age of gen­der-bender, fem­i­nist strength which char­ac­terised her videos and live per­for­mances is just an im­age: ‘I’m quite a do­mes­ti­cated per­son. I’m hu­man. I feel what any­body feels, but there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween what I do on stage and what I do in my life.’

Miss Len­nox’s moral com­pass dic­tated it would be an­other three years be­fore she found love with uri Frucht­man, the pro­ducer of films such as An Ideal Hus­band, The Im­por­tance of Be­ing Earnest and the spice Girls movie, spice World.

THE mar­riage would last longer than her first and pro­duce two much-loved daugh­ters – Lola, now 22, and Tali, 19. But from the be­gin­ning the re­la­tion­ship was touched by tragedy. The cou­ple’s first child, Daniel, was still-born in 1988, the year she mar­ried.

Miss Len­nox re­calls: ‘At t he hospi­tal, they tried to mon­i­tor the heart­beat but couldn’t find it. Within an hour of go­ing into labour, I found out my baby was dead.’

After­wards, the star asked for Daniel’s body to be washed and wrapped in a shawl so that she could at least hold her child. His death was a dev­as­tat­ing blow to a woman who longed to be a mother, and claims that since the death of her par­ents her ‘girls’ are the most im­por­tant thing in her life.

‘I don’t be­lieve in guilt-trip­ping them,’ says the singer, who recog­nises her ‘good works’ on be­half of a

trou­bled world might lead her chil­dren to look askance. ‘They have val­ues but they see me com­ing and say: “Oh God! She’s at it again. Mum’s off sav­ing the world.”

‘But do you know when I’m happy? It’s when I’m do­ing sim­ple things. Most nights, I eat with my girls. It’s im­por­tant to sit with them, lis­ten to what they say.’

She also ‘ works hard’ at be­ing happy, ad­mit­ting that she has prob­a­bly al­ways ex­pe­ri­enced a ‘ sense of loss’, say­ing: ‘ I can’t pin­point it but I’ve al­ways been melan­cholic. My par­ents are dead and the fam­ily now is my girls. They give me joy. I need to find mean­ing in my life to make me happy, and that’s been a chal­lenge.’

Find­ing a mean­ing in her life has been a chal­lenge since Ann Griselda Len­nox was born on Christ­mas Day 1954 in Aberdeen’s Sum­mer­field Ma­ter­nity hospi­tal. Leg­end has it she grew up in poverty but in fact the only child of Tom and Dorothy Len­nox was any­thing but poor.

Young An­nie was ed­u­cated at Aberdeen High School for Girls and sent for pi­ano and flute lessons. She re­calls child­hood as ‘warm and safe’, but even as a child her con­cern for the world was ev­i­dent: ‘You be­come con­scious when you’re a kid that the world is a bad place.’

Friends say she has car­ried that bleak sen­si­bil­ity into adult­hood, and it is ar­guably the rea­son why, now that she is rich and fa­mous, she has used her global pro­file and influence for good.

LONG-TIME friends talk of a ‘black cloud’ which has hung over her since her teens, while she her­self ad­mits: ‘The world is a heart­break­ing place. At 14, I felt melan­choly. I thought the world was so heavy. And it is!’

Her f ears were i n some part re­lieved by mu­sic and she showed prom­ise as not only a pi­anist and flautist but as a singer, win­ning a tal­ent con­test at a But­lins hol­i­day camp singing Mairi’s Wed­ding. But in her bed­room she was singing along to the stars of the era – The Bea­tles, Dusty Spring­field and Joni Mitchell, who she cred­its as the per­former who proved that a po­et­singer could be­come a pop star.

Her first mu­si­cal am­bi­tion was to be­come a clas­si­cal flautist and at the age of 17 she ar­rived in Lon­don to study at the Royal Academy of Mu­sic. But af­ter three years of study, she left be­fore her ‘fi­nals’. Later she ex­plained: ‘I wasn’t gifted enough and I didn’t iden­tify with peo­ple.’

She stayed in Lon­don, singing with bands in pubs and with an­other girl as the Stock­ing Tops. She aug­mented her earn­ings work­ing in a book­shop – and then the res­tau­rant, where her meet­ing with Ste­wart would for­ever change her life.

Soon they dis­cov­ered they had mu­si­cal as well as ro­man­tic com­pat­i­bil­ity. In their first band, from 1977 un­til 1980, she was the key­board player and girl singer of The Tourists, shar­ing the vo­cals with song­writer Peet Coombes while Ste­wart played gui­tar.

By the time the band broke up, so had her re­la­tion­ship with Ste­wart, but they stayed to­gether to form Eury­th­mics – and the rest is pop his­tory.

The duo en­joyed a string of hits such as Sweet Dreams, Love Is A Stranger, Here Comes the Rain Again, Sis­ters Are Doin’ It for Them­selves and There Must Be an An­gel (Play­ing with My Heart).

BY 1983, they had con­quered the UK and US charts – but be­hind the suc­cess there re­mained the pain of their love split, of which Ste­wart re­marked: ‘It was like cut­ting off my legs. It took eight years to un­tan­gle – a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship.’

Their en­tan­gle­ment meant that for a long time they could not form a re­la­tion­ship with any­one else. She says: ‘It was tough, re­ally tough. When I look back, it was al­most like a lost decade in terms of my emo­tional life. It was a mess. I was not in a good space. I was very, very iso­lated.’ It is a sense of iso­la­tion that she has suf­fered from for most of her life, ar­guably be­ing the great­est bar­rier to find­ing true love and jaun­dic­ing her view of re­la­tion­ships.

She says: ‘You need a kin­dred spirit. I cer­tainly have felt that throughout my life. I need to be with some­one who un­der­stands me. So if that is not avail­able, it is im­mensely har­row­ing.

‘To share one’s life with some­one is a beau­ti­ful thing. But I haven’t made a great job of it in the past. It is pretty chal­leng­ing to share my world.’

A friend adds: ‘An­nie was a woman fight­ing a whole se­ries of con­flicts – a rel­a­tively poor child who is now a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire, a young woman who fell in love with Dave Ste­wart and then had to cope with los­ing him. She has been a wife and a mother who loved and then lost a baby.

‘Be­ing her – and with her – is chal­leng­ing. It i s, how­ever, a chal­lenge which Mitch Besser is rel­ish­ing.’

Strictly pro­fes­sional: With Dave Ste­wartSec­ond hus­band: Pro­ducer Uri Frucht­man

New love: Dr Mitch Besser with the 57-year-old Scot­tish su­per­star

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