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Clark Datchler: ‘I bought a cottage with my first hit’

Nomadic: Clark has lived
in a variety of places –
Amsterdam, Arizona,

CLARK DATCHLER, 54, found 1980s pop success as the lead singer with Johnny Hates Jazz, with hits including Shattered Dreams, Heart Of Gold and I Don’t Want To Be A Hero. The band have now released a 30th-anniversary edition of their debut album, Turn Back The Clock.

What was the first property you bought?

A four-bedroom, 16th-century cottage in a village called Brockham in Surrey, but I never lived in it. I bought it after we had our first hit, Shattered Dreams, in 1987 but then met my former wife, who lived in Holland. I only had it for six months and moved to Holland instead. I bought it because I like the countryside and wanted somewhere big enough to have a home studio — which never materialised.

What did you buy in Holland?

A three-storey terraced townhouse in Amsterdam. It all seemed idyllic but one of the neighbours had a serious mental health problem and he’d play heavy metal music all night and there was a lot of shouting. He lived with his mother and she called the police on numerous occasions. My wife was pregnant, so we sold it and moved to another part of the city.

What happened when you moved back to the UK?

I bought another 16th-century cottage, this time in Bookham in Surrey. It was a three-bedroom cottage and had an annex in the garden which I turned into a studio. This was 1991, which was a few years since we’d had hits but people found out I was living there and we had drunk people banging on the door late at night and shouting my name. I think it was because the house was near a pub. We weren’t there very long either, and moved to Bath.

How was that?

Bath became my adopted home for ten years. I felt very settled there. I worked at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and got into world music. I bought a three-bedroom Georgian terraced house. I put a sweat lodge in the back garden. It was made out of branches which were bent over into a dome with a tarpaulin over the top. It was 8ft in diameter and I put a bed in there and it had a log burner in it with the pipe sticking out of the top. I was getting into the philosophy of indigenous people and environmental issues and wanted to feel more connected to the land. I’d sleep out there quite often.

What did the neighbours think?

The garden wall was only 4ft high so you could see what was happening in all the gardens on the terrace. The kids next door were very interested. On the other side, the couple were quite formal and had a beautifully adorned garden with roses growing around their gazebo. I had very long hair at that time and dressed in South American clothing. They wanted to see a row of beautifully attended gardens when they opened their curtains — instead they got me in my lodge. They moved a year later. They were nice people but it wasn’t their thing. I then went to Arizona.

What did you buy in Arizona?

I bought a ranch house with 20 acres of land. The neighbours were a few thousand feet away, so not on top of you. I bought it because it had a rudimentary solar-powered system and I wanted to record an album as environmentally responsibly as I could. So, I put an industrial solar power system in, which had panels on huge poles. You get an awful lot of sunshine in Arizona. The house had its own water supply, so it was pretty off-grid. The problem was with storing the energy because I still needed a generator when the stored solar energy ran too low.

Where are you now?

Renting in Guildford. I haven’t owned a place since Arizona. I’m a bit of a wanderer. I’ve remarried, my wife is from Argentina, so I’m getting a sense of where I want to be.

What would be your dream home?

I’d have two. I’d want somewhere in London for work but another house in Cornwall or the Highlands. I love being outside — it’s invigorating. I love sunny days, I love stormy days. I love being out in the sticks.