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Staying young... naturally

Source: RTE Guide

Writer: Rory Hafford

Date: 18th October 2003


RORY HAFFORD MET THE EVER-YOUNG GILBERT O'SULLIVAN AND DISCOVERED THE SINGER'S HEALTH SECRETS.  FIRST, PULL ON A PAIR OF WALKING BOOTS...


When 70s pop star Gilbert O'Sullivan took the stage at Dublin's Olympia recently, he rolled back the years for the packed audience.  It wasn't so much the evocative melodies and the timeless lyrics, it was more to do with the fact that the guy doesn't seemed to have aged at all.  Now either he has a portrait in his attic or has discovered the elixir of youth along his travels.  I had to find out.


Some time later we cornered the 56-year-old himself in a London hotel where he happily spilled the beans.  And, you know what, there's no big secret.

"I walk", he said.

That's it?  You walk?

"Yeah", he said, before adding, "and sometimes watch what I eat."


For the creator of such great songs as "Alone Again (Naturally)", "Clair" and "Nothing Rhymed", walking is a precious sanctuary.  He moved to Jersey some time back, primarily because it was far from the madding crowds and also because it afforded him the rural seclusion that his mind appears to crave.


He was never easy with the 'pop idol' thing, which swept him along on a wave of euphoria during his heyday.  He always appeared a bit nervous and rather uncomfortable.  The tabloid press at the time dressed this up as a kind of aloofness.  But the reality was and is very different.


He's still some-what uneasy with the attention, even though it is a one-to-one interview.


"When I'm on stage, I'm okay.  I'm prepared for the glare and I can work myself up to deal with it.  Off-stage is another thing altogether."  The man is as toned today as he was back in his 20s.  Coyly, he puts this down to a 'nervous stomach'.


Apart from the endless walking (he still doesn't know how to drive - and refused to learn) the thing that really keeps him in shape is his work.  Nothing much has changed for him.  he still puts in the hours at the piano every day and produces album after album.


"We're sort of like a cottage industry nowadays", he says.  "Gilbert O'Sullivan still has a good following.  Some of the loyal fans are still there, but there's also a few new ones, won over with the later albums."


He has no time for the "age thing", as he puts it.  He is still the same; still does the same things; still enjoys the challenges of life.  This, if anything, is his 'staying young' secret.  Facing the music has never been a problem for this famous son of Waterford.