■ Life in the seventies was idyllic for the singer’s family in her home in Milton-Under-Wychwood
THE infamous Los Angeles neighbourhood Watts, name-checked in numerous gangster rap songs, may have little in common with the Cotswolds, but they’ve both been home for P.P. Arnold. The American soul singer has worked with Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Ike and Tina Turner during a successful six-decade career.
Where did you buy your first home?
I bought my first home in 1971 in a very picturesque village in the Cotswolds called Milton-under-Wychwood that dates back to medieval times. It was one of three villages named after the ancient forest of Wychwood.
Was the house as historic as the village?
It was a traditional Cotswold stone cottage and was called Hoplands. It had ten acres of land attached to it where the hops for beer had been grown. The house was originally built in the 18th century, but had been refurbished with an extension in the late 1950s.
What was the place like?
Apparently two African missionaries lived in the original cottage that had a staircase outside of the house. The story goes that they would climb the stairs with lanterns in the evening to reach their bedrooms that were located on the upper floor of the cottage. There was a peaceful, warm, welcoming feeling to the property that attracted my partner Fuzzy Samuel and I. Fuzzy played bass in the rock‘n’roll band, Crosby, Stills & Nash. The colour of our skin didn´t seem to be a problem to the estate agent who showed us the house in Milton even though we would be the first black family to move into the village. We were attracted to the property and the village.
Why did you buy in the UK?
I first came to the UK in 1966 and became a British resident in 1968. So, the UK was my home. We had lived in another country village and my daughter’s love for riding horses and my son’s love of soccer had already been established, which is why I decided to buy the house. I felt that it would be a good environment for them to grow up in.
Did you do the place up?
The property had already been refurbished and extended with two spacious bedrooms, a modern kitchen for the time and a very large sitting room with a lovely stone chimney. It also had beautiful leaded windows that looked out onto the large garden and fields. We painted the whole house in pastel colours that was very artistic and creative but our azure blue sitting room was definitely not the norm. All the wood in each room had different stains and we loved all of the pastel green, yellow and orange in that lovely sunroom. We’d chop wood and have cosy winter fires in the fireplace.
Did anything go wrong?
The buying process was very smooth. We had the money to buy and a very good solicitor who advised us well so we didn´t have any problems. Both Fuzzy and I were enjoying success in the music industry at the time. When we met I was pretty established as an artist in my own right and he was earning well playing with Crosby, Stills & Nash and later Stephen Stills’ Manassas band. We decided to form a band together as I was between record deals at the time. It was a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. We received a sizeable advance and decided that it would be a good idea to invest in some property.
When did you sell Hoplands?
We lived together at Hoplands from 1971 to 1977 when we split up. It was a very sad time when my children and I had to leave. It was the happiest time of my son and daughter’s life. Fuzzy and I split amicably, sold the house and although the price had more than doubled, it would be worth a fortune now. I lost my daughter in a car accident shortly after that. We were miles away from the magic of Hoplands. Selling Hoplands was the worst decision I ever made.
What did you learn from buying a property?
Get into the market as soon as you can, and have a good solicitor who will give you good advice. Investing in property is the most lucrative investment you can make.
Where do you live these days?
Although I’m a British resident, I bought a property in southern Spain 21 years ago and I spend as much time here as I can. I have a beautiful Yamaha upright piano and a couple of electric pianos. I don’t play an instrument very well, but I do write songs on it and I know musicians who come and accompany me from time to time. I practise my vocal exercises regularly to keep my voice in good shape and I have loads of instrumental MP3s that I use to practise all the songs for my live shows with before going into rehearsals. I play music every day, because music is my life.
What are you working on now?
Last year was a fabulous year for me, promoting and touring my latest album The New Adventures Of P.P. Arnold and 2020 will be a continuation of live performances in the UK and Europe.
■ P.P. Arnold’s album is out now, pparnold.com