King of the soft rock ballad, Michael Bolton chats to KELLY BUCKLEY about touring with Ozzy Osbourne, reality TV and how he hates getting interrupted when he’s eating. The 60-year-old crooner comes to the Cliffs Pavilion on May 20.

KB: Hiya Michael, how’s it going?

How has your day been?

MB: Good. Full! It started out with me going on Loose Women.

KB: Ah, brilliant! What did you think of that? They’re a wild bunch, aren’t they?

MB: Let’s see...I would call it...easy.

It’s a very easy and comfortable show to do.

KB: I saw you recently on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and I thought you came across like a real sport, like you like a good laugh.

MB: Well, either I’m a good actor or that’s how it was. No, it was a really good show to do. I had a lot of fun on that show and I’d like to do it again.

KB: Howmischievous are you?

MB: Massively! You can never have too much fun. That Captain Jack Sparrow video allowed me to stretch out in that way. Have you seen it?

KB: No, I was reading about it today, but I haven’t actually seen it.

MB: Ah, OK, well, type in Captain Jack Sparrow featuring Michael Bolton – it has almost 120 million views. That video opened up all these other opportunities for fun things to do for me. I don’t know if they would have ever contacted me without that.

KB: Well, I hope you do Never Mind the Buzzcocks again here. OK, so getting on to your music, you started out in heavy metal – I read you auditioned for Black Sabbath – and went on to have hits with the softer, rock ballad genre. Do people perceive you differently as a person do you think, depending on what genre of music you make?

MB: Well, actually I wouldn’t say I started out in rock ‘n’ roll. I actually started out in blues really. I had a couple of albums which were more R‘n’B and then I was in Blackjack, which were a rock band. We were more like Bad Company. You know them?

KB: Yes.

MB: Well, we opened up for Ozzy Osbourne and really hard bands. But that rumour about me auditioning for Black Sabbath was only a rumour, I don’t knowhow on earth it started. But anyway, I decided to stay solo and stayedwith Columbia. I was writing songs and giving them away to other people, but Columbia talked me into keeping them for myself, and really that’s how I went in the direction I did. I was 16 when I was signed, but was 34 before I had my first hit.

KB: So you certainly worked for it then.

MB: Oh yeah, I paid my dues. I paid a lot of other people’s dues too, I think. You know, there were no instant breakthrough TV shows like there are now back then, like Idol or whatever.

KB: You had to work harder?

MB: Oh yeah.

KB: Are there any genres of music you are into that you think would surprise us?

MB: Well, I did something with Kid Cudi, who is a pretty big hip hop artist in the States. I featured on a track on one album of his. And there have been artists like Kanye West, who have wanted to use my songs to rap on. There have been country artists, and Kiss and’s really wide...a big, eclectic bunch of genres.

KB: Do you have anything up your sleeve you are working on at the moment?

MB: Well yeah, it’s one of the most exciting albums. It’s a blues album, but it’s not finished yet.

KB: Do you know when it will be?

This year?

MB: I can’t really say for sure. I have a lot going on and I’m on the road right up until June 15.

KB: You’ll probably need a rest by then.

MB: Yeah, I will need a rest, but usually when that happens and you want to take a rest is when something else happens, like you’ll get that once-in-a-lifetime phone call, asking you to do something you can’t resist.

KB: What do you do to rest?

MB: I head for a warm place. My brain keeps going all the time, it doesn’t slow down, even when I’m asleep, and only somewhere hot can help that.

KB: Is there anywhere in particular you like to go?

MB: I like Maui.

KB: Is there anywhere in the UK you like to go?

MB: I’ve never taken a vacation in the UK, time to recharge, because I do work here quite a bit. The thing is, it’s tough to predict the weather here. If you only have ten days or two weeks off, you want to go somewhere you can count on the weather.

I mean, you can predict the weather here now at this time of year, you knowwhat it’ll be like, but you don’t knowwhat it’ll be like in July.

KB: No, I think Maui is a safer bet.

MB: Right.

KB: What is the weirdest thing about being famous?

MB: Hmmm, that’s a hard one. It’s been a while for me, so I’m not sure if I find anything weird anymore.

Although what I do find strange is when people come up to you when you are out having dinner. And they walk over to you in the middle of you eating. They don’t wait for a break or for the food to be taken away. They just come right over and want to start talking. I find that stuff kind of curious. I appreciate they are a fan, and they usually want a picture taken, but I find is so strange they seem to have no connection to the fact I am a person sitting there eating. I mean, I wouldn’t do that to someone.

KB: Yeah. I would think that is pretty annoying. What about the nicest thing?

MB: The nicest thing is when people make acknowledgements, and they just want to express howmuch my music has meant to a certain point, to something significant in their lives. It’s something that reminds you music is not just a product, it can be the soundtrack to what is going on in people’s lives, and to hear people express how, in precise and concise ways, is always very satisfying.

KB: That’s lovely. Well I wish you lots of luck and fun with your tour, and I hope you enjoy your break in a warm place when you get it.

MB: Thank you, Kelly. I wish you lots of luck too.