Sue Humphries' Interview

October, 1989
Sue Humphries
Hello (UK)

Gazing out of his magnificent £2 million mansion and over its beautifully landscaped gardens, Tubular Bells star Mike Oldfield says: "Yes I'm very happy here. Very happy."

The multi-millonaire guitarist, who first made his fortune in 1973 with the theme music to 'The Exorcist', has been used to living in the lap of luxury. For years he shared a sumptuous mediaeval-style manor house with long-time girlfriend Sally Cooper, who he'd originally met through the record company, Virgin.

But the couple's relationship hit the rocks just before the birth of their son Luke, now three-and-a-half, and Mike has found happiness with Anita Hegerland, from Norway.

Mike says: "Our break-up was totally amicable. I'd met Anita the year before, but she wasn't the sole cause of the split because the relationship was already in trouble.

"It was a a tough decision but I felt that Anita and I were more suited. Sally and I just weren't any good for each other. Quite simply, we made each other unhappy when we were together"

And it seems to have worked out all right in the end. Sally has gone back to work at Virgin as their artist liaison manager - a job she loves - and, as we live so close, we keep in touch all the time: "see the kids every week - they love coming here and they get me to ride them round the grounds on my motorbike".

The mind fairly boggles at the idea of anyone walking out of one £2 million mansion and snapping up another. But Mike says: "I can affort it -and I don't really see why I should completely uproot the children. The fact that I left is one thing - but the most important point is that they should stay in the home that they have been living in all their lives".

At 36 years old Mike appears happier and more content than ever before. After moving around from pillar to post - once Mike left Sally, he and Anita lived in Switzerland and France before renting a house in Marlow - they finally settled eighteen months ago in their exceptionaly exquisite Victorian mansion. They have a 14-month-old daughter, Greta, and a second child is due in the spring. In fact, life couldn't be more idyllic for this golden couple who could have everything money can buy.

But far from surrounding themselves with all the material knick-knacks of the rich and famous, they lead a relatively ordinary life style. Their main extravagance is employing a full-time nanny and cleaner who comes in three times a week.

That - and Mike's liking for a good drop of rare wine. He says: "I treat myself on Sundays. We always have a traditional lunch and I open a special bottle of wine. Last Sunday it was a 1945 Chateau Latour which cost £180 but that was quite an expensive one. They average between £50 and £200 a bottle. My friends have criticised me for drinking the stuff. They say it's supposed to be kept, not drunk. But I don't see why I shouldn't enjoy it".

Mike has a lot of success to drink to. Every album Mike has made - and so far that totals 10 - has sold well over a million copies. And it was thanks to him that tycoon Richard Branson was able to build his vast empire.

Mike says: "Although he already owned the record shop and his first recording studio, richard was really stuck for cash when we met. The success of Tubular Bells helped him for Virgin Records and he went on from there".

Nowadays, Mike is most popular in Germany. His last full-scale tour there was in 1984 and that is what led to him meeting the new love of his life.

Anita, aged 28, then a popular Norwegian singer, says: "I met Mike backstage after one of his concerts. It was my promotor who introduced us. We went out to dinner together but we were just friends. I didn't see him again till the following year when he asked me to sing on his single, Pictures in the Dark. I went to his house to record and our relationship just gradually grew from there. We began as musical friends and working partners and by the end of that year we had become involved. But we didn't start living together until the autumn of 1986.

"It wasn't exactly love at first sight", she admits. "But I always liked him. He is a very nice man".

She has cheerfully traded in her own career as a film actress to settle down with Mike. It was Anita who did the house-hunting because Mike was too busy. She says "It took several months to find. I must have looked at least 40 houses, as far away as Surrey and Sussex. One belonged to Barry Sheene, but that was too far from London. I also looked at Tim Rice's place in Marlow but it was too big and needed so much renovation".

Mike decided to knock down a few walls downstairs to make two big rooms rather than a series of little ones. "Other than that, it has just been a case of redecoration", he says.

A couple of Nautilus machines sit by the indoor swimming pool beckoning them to keep fit, but although Mike does use them occasionally, the pair admit they rarely use the pool these days. Anita says: "I swam every day during my last pregnancy so I suppose I shall start doing that again soon".

Outside the seven-bedroom, four-bathroomed house are eight acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, much appreciated by their lively two-year-old spaniel, CD. Their gardener, Rex, does a wonderful job tending to the ornamental area and keeping the extensive vegetable and fruit garden well stocked.

Mike says: "Rex has been here all his working life, as was his father before him. He is very fond of this garden and there are some rare trees and plants here".

Lily ponds, ancient cypress trees, a 200-year-old cedar tree, huge rhododendrons and masses of lavender and sweet-smelling roses help to make this little spot of England a mini-paradise. It's hard to imagine that, once here, anyone could bear to leave. Mike admits: "It's difficult, but we have to travel a lot. I almost always seem to be going somewhere. This year we have already been to Switzerland, Mustique and Barbados. And Richard (Branson) invited us to a week's "houseparty" on his Caribbean island, Necker. It was very strange, I didn't expect it to be so terribly English. We played tennis and sat around drinking cocktails".

But although I love visiting foreign countries, I would always much rather stay here. It's so peaceful".

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield