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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Roisin O'Connor

‘I felt like a charlatan’: Robbie Williams explains his notorious ‘I’m rich’ comment in 2002

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Robbie Williams has explained the motivation behind his notorious remark about being rich.

In 2002, the former Take That singer signed what was, at the time, the biggest recording deal in British music history, which added a substantial amount to his personal fortune.

Williams received a reported £80m from label EMI in a six-album deal, the first of which, Escapology, was released that same year.

“I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams,” Williams, then 28, announced outside his manager’s office in London, when asked if the contract was worth as much as the rumours claimed.

“My mum said it would be really uncouth of me to talk about money... I’m going back now to count it all,” he said.

In a BBC Radio 2 interview with Scott Mills titled Robbie Williams: My Life Thru a Lens, the British pop star reflected on some of his wilder moments, along with his departure from Take That in 1995.

”The real story [behind this quote] is this. I feel like a charlatan. I’ve got charlatan syndrome, I feel like I don’t deserve anything that’s happening to me,” he said. “And then you are thankfully signing the biggest record deal the world has ever seen. And all I thought was, ‘A) Well, I don’t deserve that. B) How do you perform like somebody that’s going to make 80 million quid?’”

Mills sympathised, suggesting Williams would have struggled to deal with his change in fortune.

“What do you say?” Williams asked. “Very talented people deserve that, not me. Prince deserves that, George Michael deserves that, Michael Jackson deserves that. I am somebody from Stoke-on-Trent, how on earth is this possible? So then you go in to do this meet-and-greet with the press and I do this signing. I’m also, to combat that, full of bravado, too.”

(Getty Images)

He then explained that his comment had been influenced by a woman who won the lottery and announced she was going to “spend spend spend”.

“And that became her catchphrase and that defined the life of the lottery at the time,” Williams said. “What I thought she actually said was, ‘I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams.’ So I’ve got paparazzi going, ‘Give us a quote.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams!’. And I’m thinking, ‘That’s what she said, right? Everybody’s going to understand that that’s what she said?’”

The singer said he realised he’d misquoted as soon as the phrase came out of his mouth: “And it didn’t have the reception I was hoping for.”

Williams is scheduled to play a show at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk next year.

The concert will take place at the estate, which is owned by the royal family, on Saturday 26 August 2023. It will be the first time the estate has ever been used for a live music event.

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