All You Can Do Is Live Every
Day As If It's Your Last
The Evening Times 25th April 2005
RICKY ROSS tells BRIAN BEACOM how the death of Deacon Blue's
Graeme Kelling made him rethink his life.
At the age of 47 and having been a fully-fledged pop star for a
couple of decades now, you would think the performance fears would
have been conquered by now.
"I'm not sure why I get nervous," he says over
"Perhaps it's just the idea of playing new material to an
audience. Sometimes when you have new songs to play that creates a
sense of empowerment. This time, however, that's not kicked in
He adds, smiling: "Maybe it's my mid-life crisis
manifesting itself and I need to start taking medication."
Crisis may be too strong a word but life re-evaluation would
Ross has never been insensitive. But he admits he's at the age
when life is moving on so much faster. Awareness is heightened.
And being a top musician, he reveals, certainly doesn't cushion
you from tragedy.
He said: "I've been doing more thinking about mortality
recently, I guess.
"When my dad died it was a shock but last year was a big
year for me when Graeme Kelling (the Deacon Blue guitarist who had
pancreatic cancer) died.
"When someone of your own age dies, it really makes you
"And then there was the recent illness of my pal Edwyn
Collins (currently recovering from a brain aneurysm). It was all
"Edwyn's a big gentle giant of a guy. I had a really
lovely night out with him and his partner Grace just before he
took ill. To hear about the illness was a real shock. He's such a
"But you can't legislate for that. All you can think is
'live each day as if it's your last'."
The experience of visiting Graeme when he was dying was a
complete eye-opener for Ricky.
He recalled: "When he was in the Marie Curie hospice at
Stobhill last year I came to realise that these hospices are all
run on a voluntary basis.
"Why should that be the case? It's frightening to realise
governments don't pay for them."
Passing years may have produced greater anxiety, but they have
also polarised life's priorities for Ricky. He reveals the
re-evaluation process began in 1994 during a flight over Glasgow.
"I was fed-up being in a band, doing the promotion
treadmill, the travel - all the things that should have been fun
were no longer enjoyable.
"All I would seem to do was get up in the morning, fly to
London and come back early evening.
"I remember the flight path seemed to go over a golf
course near Glasgow and I'd look out of the window and see guys
playing down below and think 'These people are having a life. I'm
the one missing out. I've had enough'."
But what to do? Dundee-born Ricky couldn't consider going into
management because he admits to being 'hopeless' with money.
Songwriting royalties cheques were popping through his south
side letterbox regularly but he had more mouths to feed.
As well as his daughter Caitlin from his previous marriage,
Ricky and wife Lorraine had daughters Emer and Georgia, and a son,
"I suppose that's part of the reason my work life is much
more fragmented and I don't do just one thing now.
"I've realised that any one project can go down the tubes
at any time," he said.
THERE'S a self-assurance that comes with multi-tasking, whether
it's his solo performances, revivals with the band, writing for
film, radio broadcasting- which he'd love to do more of -or
writing with other artists.
"I love working with other people," he enthuses.
"Next week I'm off to Ireland to write with Ronan Keating.
And you know the guy shocks me in his commitment to things. He
works so hard but has life well balanced.
"He even stopped a performance in his last tour to show a
film for 15 minutes on Make Poverty History. If Radiohead did
that, NME would be writing about it. But he's a former boyband
singer so he doesn't get credit.
"I guess songwriting is the really important thing for me
now. This morning I got up, still wearing my dressing gown, and
picked up my guitar. To be able to do this in life really is a
fantastic feeling and I really appreciate how lucky I am."
"A recent plus in Ricky's life is the success of wife
Lorraine, now starring in BBC Scotland soap River City.
But was there an initial sense he was left holding the baby,
"I think the time I hated most about our working life was
when we both did the same thing.
We would then be in the house at the same time. And there was
always a dilemma. You wanted things to be busy, but then you
wanted a balance to have a relationship.
"So I was really glad when she landed the River City job.
And I'm really proud of her."
Ricky is so much more aware these days of how much he needs his
family and friends around.
That's why when he plans trips away for solo shows - whether to
Ireland or the upcoming British tour he's in or Japan in the
autumn - he makes sure the time away is contained.
"It's the little things that make the difference," he
says, smiling. "It's when the girls tell me about the new
music they're listening to, or slag off my old music pals who come
to the house."
There is certainly no sign of angst in his delightful new album
Pale Rider, the audio equivalent of a Swedish massage.
And if he's a bit nervous of walking on stage with new songs,
it doesn't mean he sees the day when he will walk away from the
business of performing for good.
"I've thought of the notion of retiring when I'm 60, but
then think that's only 13 years away."
What he can't see himself doing is acting - despite being a
Even if River City producers came calling for a cameo?
"Lorraine and I will only ever work together on
music," he says, grinning.
"In fact, I now have to admit I am, in fact, a rubbish
actor. I used to do plays at college and have since realised I'm
at best a panto ham. Serious acting? I don't think so. I'll stick
with what I can do." Brian Beacom