Pop star Mike Oldfield has this advice for youngsters who want to break into the music world - stay clear of the drug scene and get yourself a degree in economics.
Mike, 29, with ten years in the business and album sales of around twenty million, speaks from experience. He took drugs heavily when he was 19, the year before he wrote Tubular Bells, the album which sold about ten million copies.
"Drugs take away the sharpness of the brain," he says, "I took them as a means of escape. I was half way down the corridor of madness - and I was very lucky to find my way back. The early visions and fantasies I had in my music came from taking LSD. Years after I stopped taking it, I would still get hallucinations - they keep returning long after you have stopped taking the drug. Now I haven't taken drugs for many years. I swung away from them through sheer necessity. It was a life or death decision. I understood what it was like to be completely mad. I'm now fiercely against hard drugs."
Mike also feels strongly about many of today's young pop musicians.
"Can any one tell me of a new band on the pop scene that has a good guitarist or keyboard player? I despair at some of the atrocious stuff that becomes a hit these days."
Too few stars, he says, know the business ropes. Acting on this belief, Mike is planning to manage his own affairs. He is suing his ex-manager, Richard Branson and the Virgin Group of companies for alleged breach of management agreement, recording agreement and publishing agreement. He wants them set aside. The suit will be defended. Tomorrow, Mike sets off on a British and Continental concert tour. And with a pocket calculator and a briefcase full of documents he will do most of the organising himself.
"An artist must be properly organised," he says,"I advise any young bloke wanting to move into pop to get a degree in economics first." Has he got one? "Nah, I've got one O-level in English - which is probably why it's all been so hard for me."
Three years ago, Mike sold his £30,000 aeroplane, his car and musical equipment to help pay a lot of money he lost on a world tour. Then he was lucky. Two new albums, QE2 and Platinum, sold more than a million copies and he climbed back into profit.
Now he owns a house in Denham, Buckinghamshire, where he lives with his girlfriend Sally, 28. They have two children, Molly, 3 and ten-month-old Dougal. Mike has a new respect for money.
"I am quite a lucky person. I can lose a fortune and then make money very quickly," he says. "But I've suddenly realised there's too much blah in the pop world. From this day, I'm on my own. All musicians should do what I'm doing and get control. Power to the players!"
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net