“It was only meant to be an ad for Toys ‘R’ Us [a now-defunct children’s toy store]”, says Aled. But when the song was released in 1985 as a single, it became a hit, reaching number five. “No one had ever followed that path before. I was one of the first to make that kind of music popular. Little did I know it would become part of everyone’s Christmas for years to come.”
However, Aled insists he was not a child star. “I was just a singer who was given great opportunities,” he says. “Monday to Friday I was a normal, football-playing comprehensive schoolboy, then the weekend would come and I would be jetting here, there and everywhere meeting my heroes. I had the best of both worlds.”
Despite being a shy person and hating the spotlight (he admits he still gets stage fright), Aled sang at rock star Bob Geldof’s wedding to presenter Paula Yates, and was snapped in one of their wedding photographs standing next to David Bowie. Eighties icons such as George Michael and pop groups Ultravox, and Duran Duran, also share the picture. “I was there with my mum and dad. They had never seen anything like it in their lives,” says Aled. “I went around with this autograph book asking all these legends to sign it.” Though most did, apparently “the guys from Spandau Ballet” told him “to leave them alone”, he relates.
Other performances included singing for the Prince and Princess of Wales, appearing on the Royal Variety Show and at the Hollywood Bowl (LA), where he shared the stage with conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein. He “had more impact on me than almost any other of countless great talents I was privileged to meet as a boy”, he adds.
School, homework, and family life must have been very tricky, I venture. Aled agrees. “It was a mad, mad year. Probably the busiest I have ever been. And I was trying to do my O levels! I look back and think, It would have been a lot easier for my parents, if their son had been a normal kid. My father is very shy; I think he would have much rather been in the garden than have to come to London with me every weekend. They were fantastically supportive but secretly I think my father was thrilled when I was 18 and I could go on my own.”
I press him a little more on the famous people he has met and sung for (The Queen, The Pope) but the perpetual harking back to his superstar boyhood, is, you get the impression, a little tiring, even for someone as laidback as Aled.
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