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I had to sneak Kylie Minogue around in the boot of my car after she started dating INXS rocker Michael Hutchence: Pete Waterman reveals his bizarre escapades as a star maker


He’s celebrating half a century in the music industry, but despite having clocked up more No 1 singles than The Beatles, Pete Waterman shows no signs of slowing down. Quite the reverse in fact. 

The mastermind behind more than 200 hits from Dead Or Alive, Donna Summer, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and many more has added musical theatre producer to his repertoire.

Pete and his creative partners Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, the legendary Stock, Aitken and Waterman, were known in the 1980s as the Hit Factory, responsible for at least one record in the Top 40 every week for three and a half years in a row. 

Now those hits can be enjoyed in their new musical I Should Be So Lucky, named after the hit Kylie single.

Written by Debbie Isitt, the woman behind the Nativity! movies, the story follows young couple Ella and Nathan, whose wedding is called off after Nathan has a wobble. 

Now 200 hit singles by Pete Waterman and his collaborators Mike Stock and Matt Aitken - the legendary Stock, Aitken and Waterman - can be enjoyed in their new musical I Should Be So Lucky, named after the hit Kylie single

Now 200 hit singles by Pete Waterman and his collaborators Mike Stock and Matt Aitken – the legendary Stock, Aitken and Waterman – can be enjoyed in their new musical I Should Be So Lucky, named after the hit Kylie single 

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan's (pictured) break-up 'felt like the end of our world', Pete Waterman says, as they had been the 'dream duo'

After she broke up with Jason Donovan, Kylie dated Michael Hutchence

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan’s (pictured left) break-up ‘felt like the end of our world’, Pete Waterman says. Kylie then started a relationship with Michael Hutchence (right)

But Ella’s pals are determined she shouldn’t miss out on the honeymoon in Turkey, and when Nathan has second thoughts he jets off there too to try to win her back. 

The show features more than 30 songs from Hit Factory acts such as Kylie, Rick and Bananarama, as well as a ‘magical’ appearance from the real Kylie, who’s been involved with the production from the beginning. 

‘Launching this musical is vindication for me because we took an enormous amount of stick in those years,’ says Pete. ‘We were treated like pariahs because we were making popular music.’

Far from putting them off, the vitriol gave the trio extra focus and many of the hits they created would be dashed off in minutes. 

‘You came in to see us, then you went out with a hit,’ says Pete, now 77. ‘But while the songs were written quickly they were the culmination of 40 years of experience.’

Pete went on to be one of the music business’s great success stories, and key to that was an 18-year-old named Kylie Minogue. He signed her on a five-album deal despite never having seen Neighbours, the Aussie soap that launched her. 

Her first single I Should Be So Lucky, written for her while she waited outside the studio in 1987 after the trio forgot she was coming, was a runaway success. But it was a huge gamble for Pete.

‘I couldn’t eat on Christmas Day,’ he recalls. ‘I had £300,000 of records in my warehouse and if they didn’t sell I was finished. I had staff, rent and taxes to pay. You never advertise on Christmas Day but I took a risk with a TV ad and thank God I did, because I took a call on Boxing Day from the warehouse saying, “We’ve got a problem – we don’t have enough stock.”‘

Kylie's hit song I Should Be So Lucky was written while she waited outside the studio in 1987 when Pete Waterman, Mike Stock and Matt Aitken forgot she was coming

Kylie’s hit song I Should Be So Lucky was written while she waited outside the studio in 1987 when Pete Waterman, Mike Stock and Matt Aitken forgot she was coming

Pete Waterman (pictured) went on to be one of the music business¿s great success stories, and key to that was an 18-year-old  Neighbours actress named Kylie Minogue

Pete Waterman (pictured) went on to be one of the music business’s great success stories, and key to that was an 18-year-old  Neighbours actress named Kylie Minogue

Kylie went on to have hit after hit, but when Pete was told she’d ended her relationship with castmate and fellow singer Jason Donovan after three years, and was dating bad boy INXS rocker Michael Hutchence, everything changed. 

‘It felt like the end of our world as we had the dream duo in Jason and Kylie. I said, “Christ. Better the devil you know.” But we had to come up with a song for her and she was on her way in to the studio. Then it hit me – Better The Devil You Know! 

‘By the time Kylie arrived we had a rough track down so Matt and I sat with our backs to her writing lyrics and putting them up behind her for Mike to teach her. She loved the song and it became a massive hit.

We were treated like pariahs because we were making popular music, so this musical is a vindication 

‘After the Michael Hutchence story broke everyone was looking for her so she hid at my house in Cheshire for two weeks. I had to sneak her around in the boot of my car. 

‘She was like a daughter to me and we’re still friends – how could we not be with everything we’ve been through?’

Pete also worked with the notoriously feisty girl group Bananarama. ‘They knew exactly what they wanted. At that time I was going out with their manager and every night we’d get a call at 3am when we were in bed, asking us to get them a taxi,’ he laughs.

It’s all a far cry from his poverty-stricken upbringing in Coventry. Pete was an only child who at the age of six found a canny way to earn money after joining the church choir. 

‘I realised that couples getting married didn’t know which hymns were best so I’d choose them and select the choristers for ten shillings and sixpence. I could earn £1 a week when my dad was only earning £3.50 a week,’ he chuckles.

A scene from Stock Aitken Waterman¿s I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical, which is on tour now

A scene from Stock Aitken Waterman’s I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical, which is on tour now

He worked as a gravedigger, a steam train fireman and an apprentice for the General Electric Company while beginning to make his mark in the music business as a DJ. 

He joined EMI as a talent scout in 1973 and half a century on he’s worth an estimated £30 million, although he hasn’t been quite so lucky in love. 

‘I don’t have a partner,’ he says. ‘My first wife died a long time ago, and as for the other two marriages I wish I could have been a better husband, given more time to them.’

But Pete has plenty to keep him occupied. ‘This musical theatre world is tough but I love it, so much so that I’m working on a second musical. But if I had to give it all up I’d go back and work on the railways tomorrow. As it happens, I realise I am just so lucky.’

  • Stock Aitken Waterman’s I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical is on tour now, see soluckymusical.com.



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