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DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME; ONCE HE BLASTED ABOUT IN A PORSCHE .. NOW HE TOOTLES ALONG ON A VESPA.

Byline: John Dingwall

HE is more likely to be HE spotted behind the wheel of a Smart car or riding a scooter around the narrow streets of Sicily ... but Jim Kerr looked right at home amid the glamour of Formula 1.

The Simple Minds frontman and his band were one of the highlights of the star-studded F1 Rocks, the new festival accompanying the Singapore Grand Prix, playing a set packed with their hits as well as a taste of their new music.

And Jim, 50, who now lives in Taormina in Sicily, where he runs a hotel calledVilla Angela, managed to find a little bit of home in the Far East.

"The venue is lovely and the history of Singapore is great," he said.

"I took a walk to the marina.When you cross the river, there are a few metal bridges and the signs near the entrance say Made In Glasgow."

On Friday, the band shared the stage at Singapore's Fort Canning Park with rock legends ZZ Top, N*E*R*D and No Doubt.

But Jim admitted performing on the island was a challenge because of the high humidity.

"We played Fort Canning Park on our last tour, too," he said.

"It was the first time in Singapore and it was excellent.

"The only thing was that I was gulping for air before I'd even played a note. Being caught on film, I don't want people to see the flagging Scotsman, never mind the Flying Scotsman."

Though Jim didn't hang around for yesterday's grand prix, the rest of the lads stayed on to see the race.

Jim said: "We all grew up with Jackie Stewart. When Charlie Burchill and I lived in Ireland, Charlie's next door neighbour was Damon Hill.

"As well as the gig, F1 Rocks asked us to join in the TV side of things with fun antics. I was OK with that so long as it wasn't kungfu fighting or racing a Formula 1 car.

"I once had a hairdresser's Porsche and I have gone through all the BMWs and Mercedes. But my fancy cars are long gone because in Italy you can't park anywhere. "These days, I drive aVespa scooter.

"It's is great for getting up and down hills and I bought a Smart car, which is the ugliest car on the planet.

"If MTV asked me to do a Cribs show now, it would be a Smart car and aVespa and a photograph of all the cars that have come and gone."

As we sit in the 65th floor of the plush Swissotel The Stamford, a vintage car race threatens to drown out our conversation and there's a hazy view of the grand prix track far below.

Amazingly, Jim manages to find a link between hanging out in the vertigoinducing hotel suite and the home where he grew up in Toryglen, Glasgow.

The flat became an unwitting TV star when it was one of hundreds of derelict properties used in a Sony advert depicting paint explosions all over an inner-city scheme. He said: "In the early days, Charlie and I would come up with ideas for songs at the flat in Toryglen. Yesterday, he turned up here in the hotel and we swapped music ideas on our iPhones. The flat in Toryglen was on the 11th floor of a high-rise but it felt like we could see the whole world.

"I was sitting in Sicily and the advert came on the telly during Champions League coverage. I was like, 'There's my house.' At first, people didn't believe me but I was able to prove it when it made it on to YouTube."

Away from his own music, Jim has also found himself mentoring younger artists, including his son James, 17, whose mum is Jim's ex-wife Patsy Kensit.

He said: "James is so into music. He was at every single festival this summer. He and his pals are playing in a band.

"When I ask him what they are doing, it all sounds very vague.

He is into obscure bands that don't even have a name yet."

AMORE familiar name on the music scene has also asked for his advice.

Jim became personal adviser to Coldplay's Chris Martin after the Viva La Vida band stayed at his Villa Angela hotel.

"I hadn't met Chris before," said Jim. "He bounded over and said, 'Jim, you've been around the block a few times.

Any advice?' "I thought he was taking the p**s. So I said, 'Why are you asking me? You're the biggest band on the planet.'

"But he said there must be some advice I could give. I thought they were probably sick of each other and knackered so I told him, 'Don't split up.'

"Chris looked at me, seemed to take it in and said, 'That's a good idea.' "

And what of Oasis and Liam Gallagher, who was married to Patsy for four years? "Creatively, Oasis were running on fumes anyway," he said. "But you've not seen the end of them.

"They'll be back in a year because Noel and Liam are joined at the hip. It is a long time since I've had the desire to listen to an Oasis album, but they've still got it.

"Oasis are the band of their generation and Liam and Noel are larger than life.

"They're almost a caricature of themselves. So it's easy to forget how hard they worked in among the soap opera."

Jim has nothing but praise for Liam in his role as step-dad to James "Liam was always great to him and that made me feel great," he said. "I can't argue with that. Because can you imagine if my son didn't like him? I would be distraught."

His daughter,Yasmin, 24, from his first marriage to Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde, is also doing well.

Jim said: "Unlike me, the kids have never been intimidated by talent.

My mother used to say, 'Your cousin is a talented boy,' which meant I wasn't. That doesn't go on with my kids.

"WhenYasmin was wee, Chrissie and Linda McCartney were the best of friends andYasmin would go to Linda's house and ride ponies.

"When she was seven, she called me and said, 'I'm at Linda's, the one that's married to the guy Paul. The one that wrote The Frog Song.' That made me laugh and I still tease her about it. "Paul would sing it for her because he loves kids. She is a huge Beatles fan now and is working with a company that manages bands and events.

"She's enjoying it. She doesn't have any ambitions to be frontline but she has her smarts about her.

"There is something very Scottish aboutYasmin, even though she is brought up in Hampstead.

"She'll always land on her feet and would never ask for help. She usually doesn't tell people who her parents are until it is unavoidable."

Confessing his partying days are over, much of Jim's enjoyment now comes from experiencing other cultures on his travels.

He said: "I love places that are foreign. My girlfriend is Japanese.

"Her dad is a fan of the Japanese baseball team Hanson Tigers. They are Japan's equivalent of Newcastle United. The people's team.

"They spent a fortune but, according to my girlfriend, the one time they won something the celebrations were chaos.

"She found it too shamefuSl to talk about. I pushed her until she revealed that six men had been arrested for being drunk and 'pee-peeing'.

"I told her I am going to have to take her to Hampden next year."

CAPTION(S):

FAMILY: Patsy and James, left, and Yasmin MINE HOST: Jim with staff at his Villa Angela hotel and with Record man John Dingwall in Singapore NEW DAD: Liam with a young James and Jim with Chrissie in 1984
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 28, 2009
Words:1303
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