de Burgh and his daughter, Rosanna Davison
to Rosanna Davison
Times Magazine 2006
Interview by Danny Scott
Chris de Burgh, 57, is best known for his 1986 No 1 hit, Lady in
Red. He has sold over 45m records, and his new album, The Storyman,
is out tomorrow. He lives in Ireland with his wife, Diane, their
sons, Hubie, 18, and Michael, 15, and their daughter, Rosanna Davison,
22. Crowned Miss Ireland and Miss World in 2003, Rosanna, who chose
to go by her mother’s maiden name to avoid charges of nepotism,
recently graduated from University College, Dublin
CHRIS: The fact that Rosanna was even born at all is a complete miracle
because my wife, Diane, had some difficulties with pregnancy. First there
were miscarriages and then, in 1982, she had an ectopic pregnancy that
nearly killed her. She’d passed out, suffering from major bleeding,
and was luckily found by a doctor who got her to the hospital with about
half an hour left before she would have died. Another doctor performed
microsurgery on her damaged fallopian tube and managed to save it. At
the time, we didn’t know the other tube had been damaged by an infection
and was useless. Even with the repaired tube, we were told our chances
of having children were very low.
Watching all the happy families in the park on a Sunday, I could feel
the sadness, the wrench, of maybe not being able to have children. But
for Diane, that pain must have been unbearable. So you can understand
how we felt on April 17, 1984, when Rosanna came into the world. I was
there, right at the sharp end, and I have to say that it was the most
overpowering feeling I have ever experienced. I really would recommend
that all fathers try to attend the birth of their children. It was the
first time I realised the floodgates of emotion could just burst open
like that — the first time I realised I could actually kill another
human being if they were to harm my baby. It just put everything else
in the shade. There in the hospital I thought to myself: “Okay,
now I get it. I understand why we’re on this planet.”
Of course, being the first-born, Rosanna was the apple of her father’s
eye. I remember having to go on tour when she was about eight weeks old
and I just didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave her.
It was like having to leave behind a piece of myself. I was touring Canada
at the time and I kept stopping people with prams as I was walking down
the street. “Excuse me, I’m a new father. Would you mind if
I gaze at your baby for a while?” They all understood.
Diane came out to see me with Rosanna a couple of weeks
later and I rushed to meet them at the airport. Rosanna was lying on her
back in this pink and blue carrycot, with her eyes wide open, and when
she saw me, her face just lit up. Her smile — it was like dawn.
I could have melted right there on the spot. It would have made a terrible
mess for the airport staff.
As a child she was a complete bundle of energy. Always
running, always jumping and always wanting to see what everyone else was
doing. One of the first things I ever remember her saying was: “Zanna
do self!” She wanted to do it herself — she wanted to get
stuck in there. It also amused me that she had these long legs and was
obviously going to be very tall. I am only 5ft 6in, but Rosanna was representing
her school for long jump and hurdles.
When it came to education, I wanted the best for Rosanna,
but there was no way I was going to have her sent off to some boarding
school on the other side of the country. I was sent to boarding school
at a young age because my parents were working in Africa, and it’s
left me with some holes in my life. The sound of boys crying themselves
to sleep at night is something I’ll never forget, and I don’t
believe small children should be sent to boarding school. To be a family,
and to be a father to that family, you need to be together. How could
I be an authority figure for Rosanna if she only saw me three times a
I know I’m going
to sound like the clichéd proud father here, but Rosanna really
is an incredibly hard worker. I’ve only got to think about her last
two years at school. Her attitude was that if she’s at school trying
to get her qualifications, she might as well give it the full whack. What’s
the point of half-measures? She was the same at university. But I hope
people don’t get the idea that Diane and I were pushing her to succeed.
All we’ve ever said to the kids is: “Do your best.”
Rosanna just seems to have a quite awesome sense of
discipline and I think that comes from deep inside her. Look at what happened
at Miss World. People started writing stories about how it had been fixed
— as if I was able to just go and have a quick word with the judges
and they would vote for my daughter! But she just got on with the job.
In reality, the way she got involved in Miss World was much more mundane.
She was at a cashpoint one day and this girl walked up to her and asked
her if she wanted to be in a competition at a disco in Dun Laoghaire.
Rosanna just thought it would be a bit of fun. It was only after she’d
won that, and went on to win the national competition, that people started
talking about her famous father.
How is a father supposed to feel when his daughter’s been crowned
Miss World? Delighted and so incredibly proud. Diane and I went out to see
her in Beijing, and you could tell she was an instant hit with the photographers.
Rosanna seems to have this spirit, this light, inside her. People immediately
warm to her. That has nothing to do with who her father is. That’s
who she is.
Everything Rosanna achieved at
the Miss World competition is down to her own talent and the hard work
she put in. Well, it certainly isn’t down to my looks, is it? I
must admit, I had a little chuckle when she was crowned Miss World. There’s
my daughter — this tall, gorgeous creature. And here’s me
— the little guy with the funny eyebrows.
ROSANNA: I think the fact that I still choose to live
at home with my dad and my family says a lot about our relationship. I’m
at an age where a lot of my friends have left home, and I could afford
to have my own place. But I prefer to be here, knowing that I’ve
got the support and love of my family close by.
When I was at university, I studied sociology and we
covered a lot about how the family has evolved and changed over the last
few years. Those changes have been very dramatic. I’m sure that
some people look at our family — mother, father, two teenage boys
and me living under the same roof — as a bit old-fashioned, but
personally I think it would be quite nice if there were a few more like
For me, it’s the perfect balance. I see Mum and
Dad in the morning, then I go off and do my own thing, and we come together
in the evening for dinner. There have been times when I’ve had to
be away from home for a few weeks and I’ve really missed my family.
Even when I’ve been away on holiday with my boyfriend, James, I
always enjoy coming home.
I miss being here in this house. I miss the laughs
and the closeness. My boyfriend still lives with his family too. He understands
what I mean.
There’s no doubt that Dad missed out on a lot of affection when
he was a kid. His mother, my grandmother, is still an inspirational woman
and we all love her, but Dad’s relationship with his own father
— who died a while back — was certainly fraught at times.
Dad has talked to me about this quite a lot, and I think he feels that
they just didn’t provide him with the affection that he wanted.
Because Dad missed out on all that, he compensates
for it with his own family. He is a very emotional man, full of hugs and
affection. He’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, and
I feel lucky I’ve got a father who’s like that. He doesn’t
go by the book.
He doesn’t care about the stereotypical gruff, aloof macho image
of what a man’s supposed to be. Yes, he gets annoyed with me and
my brothers, but
I don’t think I’ve seen him get angry. To be honest, I don’t
think he’s got any anger in his body at all.
Probably the worst I’ve ever known him is one
time when I was playing football with my brothers when we were younger.
I was a bit bigger than them, and I was kind of pushing and shoving them
off the ball. Dad really hates bullying — and he definitely had
a go at me for that. It didn’t last long, though. Sometimes I think
he tries to get annoyed with us but he just can’t do it. It must
be quite difficult to be terrifying when you’re as short as my dad.
It does piss me off when I see the press having a go
at him, whether it’s for his music or for the kind of person he
is. But what can you do? I’ve grown up seeing how the media has
treated him, and I have nothing but pride and admiration for the way he’s
dealt with it. He never gets down about it or cynical. He just pulls himself
through, and I find that uplifting. It doesn’t matter what happens
— my dad will always look for the good in people.
Mind you, I did worry when my dad first met James,
who I started seeing four years ago. I’m pretty sure Dad has always
been quite anxious about the whole relationship thing because he doesn’t
want me to get hurt. He used to joke that he wasn’t going to let
any boys in the house! Luckily, when he did meet James, who’s the
same age as me, he really warmed to him. Dad said to me: “He’s
a lovely guy. He’s got a dry sense of humour. I like that.”
Dad and James are best mates. The other day I came
in and they were play-fighting in front of the TV while watching football.
Dad plans things with him before he even tells me. James will say: “Oh,
I’m coming on holiday with you next month.” I’m like:
“Thanks for telling me, Dad.” I don’t mind, really.
I’m just happy they’ve got such a brilliant relationship.
I can definitely remember situations where I’ve
been embarrassed by Dad. God, I can remember this pair of leather trousers
that he bought about six or seven years ago. The whole family said to
him: “Please, Dad, don’t wear the leather trousers.”
There are only certain people who can get away with leather trousers and,
unfortunately, my dad hasn’t been blessed with the legs. I found
those trousers the other day, neatly folded up in a cupboard. He told
me he was finally going to throw them away because nobody liked them.
He’d kept them for six years, though.
When people find out that I’m Chris de Burgh’s
daughter, there will always be someone who brings up Lady in Red. In fact,
there have been quite a few times when I’ve been in the pub with
my friends and the whole room has started singing it. But it’s usually
just people having a laugh. That sort of thing doesn’t really embarrass
me as such.
Talking about embarrassment, I’m not even sure
if I should tell you this story. It must have been about five years ago,
when we were living in Dalkey. The town is full of great pubs and bars,
and one Christmas Eve I went into town with my dad and uncle. We went
into this one bar and it was packed. Everybody was really drunk and this
rather portly man with a bald head came up to me and gave me a quick kiss
on the cheek. He was just being friendly, but I could see my dad was really
put out by this, so he took hold of this man’s face with both hands
and gave him a huge kiss full on the lips!
I didn’t know where to look, I was so embarrassed.
My dad just said to him: “You kiss my daughter and you have to kiss
me, too.” As we walked away, I could hear this man saying to his
mates: “My God, Chris de Burgh just kissed me!”
Sunday Times Magazine 2006
Interview by Danny Scott
section of www.chrishigh.com is for the fans and fans to be of Chris de
Burgh. Check out some of the amazing things to do and see here including:
Burgh - The Storyman
The Storyman: An in depth look and latest news.
de Burgh - The River Sessions
Revealed - this superb new CD recorded in Glasgow
Album by Chris de Burgh
Chris High reviews the new album from Chris de
Unofficial information about Ferryman Productions
CdeB Rare Facts
A collection of hard to find and uncommon CdeB
Chris de Burgh Story
A ten minute streaming video presentation - 'The
a New Star Up In Heaven Tonight
A tribute to Princess Diana and her connection
with Chris de Burgh.
de Burgh on songwriting
Quotes on the songwriting process from Chris de
de Burgh Guitar Solos and Riffs
A look at some of the amazing guitar solos
in CdeB album tracks.
de Burgh The Simple Truth 1991
An in depth look at The Simple Truth concert
of 1991 in aid of Kurdish Refugees including pictures and streaming video.
de Burgh Record Collector
Chris de Burgh has featured twice in Record
Doud art for Chris de Burgh
The paintings of Mike Doud for the 1986 Chris
de Burgh records.
Castle - Interactive Tour
An imaginary tour of Bargy Castle by Chris de
de Burgh - Soundalikes
An in depth look at the Chris de Burgh Soundalike/Tribute
de Burgh - A Child Is Born
truly amazing 2 minute video shows Chris de Burgh morphing from a baby
to the present day - awesome!
de Burgh - This Is Your Life
Flash presentation adapted from the UK British TV series in 1992.
de Burgh - Memory Games
A Selection of CdeB memory games to test you.
de Burgh - Album Covers Game
How well do you know the CdeB album covers? Why
not test yourself here.
de Burgh - Song Title Quiz
Can you work out the clues to discover the correct
CdeB song titles?
de Burgh - Picture Puzzles
Rearrange these 5 CdeB single covers online -
de Burgh Java Applet Games
Highly addictive Chris de Burgh Java games - Great
de Burgh Crossword Puzzles
Either play online or print out to do later, both
easy and hard levels.
de Burgh Competition
A Chris de Burgh MP3 music quiz - win a copy of
de Burgh DHTML Zone
Dynamic HTML effects, just a bit of fun with some
de Burgh - Subliminal
A look at the possibility of reverse lyrics found
in Chris de Burgh songs.
de Burgh talks about wine
CdeB talks about his wine collection and what
good wine means to him.
de Burgh links
We've scanned the Internet to bring you some of
the best CdeB websites.
would be very interested to know your thoughts about Rosanna Davison
or her role as Miss World 2003 - FEEDBACK
gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone,
can make or
break the rules as I see fit. - Chris High 2003.
designed and maintained by Steve Bennett © 2006 all rights reserved