Tuesday, 26 May 2020

'I lost my Bitcoin fortune...until I found I'd left it on a computer at my mum's': 80s pop icon Greg Kane tells how a big investment gave him a shock

Musician Greg Kane struggled to pay his mortgage in the 1990s despite making millions in the pop duo Hue and Cry a decade earlier.

- Kane struggled to pay his mortgage in the 1990s despite making millions
- He once again earns lucrative sums playing Hue and Cry songs for fans
- He also made £16,000 selling Bitcoin he left on a hard drive at his mum's house - but says the stock market is gambling and doesn't trust pensions 

He splashed out on Ferraris, Porsches and luxury holidays at the height of his fame, but was then forced to work as a sound engineer to make ends meet.

Now 52, he lives in Glasgow with new partner Rhona Ostman and earns lucrative sums playing for fans who fell in love with his music in the late 1980s. Later this year, he is touring the country with The 80s Invasion Tour, featuring Five Star and Martika.

What did your parents teach you about money?

My dad taught me to save it, my mum to spend it. My parents were aspirational and working class.

My father worked for British Rail as a personnel manager while mum was a district midwife, who delivered 4,500 babies, sometimes for families who had nothing.

Every now and again, she would give away my clothes to them or tell my father: 'Give this man a job, it could solve all their problems'. My poor dad had to succumb to my mum's persuasions.

Even to this day, I will meet a train driver in a pub and they will buy me a drink and say: 'This is for your dad, that job turned my life around.'

My mum was supportive of me as a musician. She sent me to piano lessons when I was nine and bought me my first saxophone at 13, paying for it all out of her own wages. So yes, she spent her money - but she spent it well. I mourned her passing last month.

What was the first paid work you did?

Playing saxophone for a band when I was 16. I got paid £20 a gig and did two a week. I have always been able to find away to make money out of music.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Yes. There was a period between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s that was a struggle. That was when people stopped buying CDs and the arrival of Napster and illegal music file sharing meant the revenue streams we relied on began to dry up. It was depressing.

Fortunately, the money for the songs I had written still generated royalties, but nowhere near as much as I had earned in the 1980s. I would look at my bank balance and think: 'Sugar, I am not any-where close to making enough to pay my bills and mortgage'.

I was only 20 in the summer of 1987 when I was handed the world. I enjoyed my money at the time. I had so much fun.

I owned some nice houses and a Ferrari and a Porsche. I went on lovely Caribbean holidays, but when you do not have any money you regret all that.

How did you cope when the money dried up?

I had to spend time working as a sound engineer and a tour manager for other bands.

People would come up and say: 'Are you that guy from Hue and Cry? What are you doing here?' I would reply: 'I am earning a buck.' That was a bit awkward. I made enough to get by, but I remember some shaky months.

Luckily, the bank allowed me to take mortgage payment holidays and I got help from PRS For Music, the organisation that grew out of the old Performing Rights Society and collects royalties for songwriters. It paid my mortgage for six months. So I was not on the streets, but it was close.

Have you been paid silly money?

Yes. The craziest fee was £5,000 for a song. A lot of the Hue and Cry fans who fell in love with our music in 1987 have done well financially. They want to support us. They will say: 'Come and play at my birthday party.'

You can basically charge whatever you want within reason. It can be quite funny. They pick the songs they want us to play. Once, a guy who hired us sat there on his own listening to us play and crying. Everyone else was in the garden having fun.

What was your best year financially?

It was 1989. I would not want to say exactly how much I earned that year, but it was in the millions of pounds.

We toured with huge bands such as Madonna and U2. We were wellmanaged and had a good lawyer who would negotiate on our behalf with the record company.

What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?

It was a red Ferrari 248 GTS, costing £68,000. I was 23 and had to pass an advanced driving course and pay a £10,000 motor insurance premium before I could drive it.

What is your biggest money mistake?

Investing in a recording studio in the early 1990s, just before software came onto the market allowing you to do it all on your computer. It was costly to maintain all the equipment and staff and I lost a five-figure sum.

The best money decision you have made?

Reforming Hue and Cry 11 years ago with a manager who understood the marketplace for the band. Now we play more than 50 gigs a year and some 100,000 fans subscribe to our email updates.

Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?

'I had multiple computers in my studio 10 years ago so for six months I used them to mine Bitcoins at night. My partner told me to stop because she did not like me leaving the computers on all night'

No. I have never thought about investing in pensions and I do not trust them. I have got my royalties and I did the whole Bitcoin thing. I had multiple computers in my studio 10 years ago so for six months, because I love technology, I allowed them to be used at night to mine Bitcoins.

I accrued all these Bitcoins but then my partner at the time told me stop because she did not like me leaving the computers on all night. I am not going to say how many Bitcoins I now have, but trust me, it is enough. More than 10.

I was shocked when I discovered recently that each coin was worth $18,000 [the current price is £6,879 per coin]. They were all on a computer hard drive which I had left at my mum's.

Luckily I found it, sold some immediately and made $20,000 (£16,000), but found the process difficult - it took all day - so I still have the rest. That is my only investment. I have never considered the stock market. I see it as a form of gambling.

Do you own any property?

No. I have owned property in the past, but I have just been through a separation so not at the moment. I spend a lot of my time on tour so I now mainly live in places I find on Airbnb.

What little luxury do you treat yourself to?

I like to customise my clothes and spend a lot of money on them. If I buy a suit, I go to my local tailors and get them to change the buttons. If I buy a jacket, I change the zip. I like to make them special.

If you were Chancellor what is the first thing you would do?

I would save money by scrapping the nuclear deterrent Trident and the HS2 high speed train project. Both are a waste of money.

What is your number one financial priority?

To provide for my six-year-old daughter and two teenage boys. I want to make sure they have a financial cushion when they become adults. Young people face a lot of challenges.

source: dailymail.co.uk
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