Richard Ashcroft: “Not long into your career, you realise that it’s pretty much Spinal Tap”

The solo artist and Verve frontman answers your questions about Brian Wilson, youth clubs and the existence of God

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How did you take the news of George Best’s death?
Martin D, Runcorn
George Best was my idol. I got a chance to meet him once. We got the Brits to film us from the Brixton Academy and we had George Best present us with the award. An amazing night. The night before he died I drove past the hospital. I’d been in a pub doing an interview and I’d drunk about 10 pints and I was slumped in the back seat going past the hospital thinking, “I wish I could just stop, get in there and tell him how much he meant to me.” I think it hit a lot of people. He had a lot of demons, but he was a very warm and likeable person.

How was the experience of playing with England legends vs Germany?
Debbie Martin, Middlesex
It was an amazing experience. Playing with some of the legends like Gazza – it was absolutely fantastic. The greatest footballers take the sport into the world of art, of performance. That’s what it should be: Cruyff, Pelé, Maradona, Rooney at his best, and George Best, they all took football into a higher level. Which is what rock’n’roll and music is. All these things are comparable, because you’re just playing off the seat of your pants, and often you could fall flat on your face or you could do something glorious.

A lot of people think your best musical partner was Nick McCabe in The Verve. I’d love to hear you work with someone like Ry Cooder. Is there any musician you’re keen to work with?
James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers
Someone like Ry Cooder would be great. There’s lots of people I’d love to work with. Unfortunately quite a few of them are passing away at quite a quick rate! I’d really love to do a song with Keith Richards. But I guess I already have done one with him – “Bittersweet Symphony”! Maybe Burt Bacharach on more of a songwriting and love tip. Yeah, I think Keith and Burt would be ideal…

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The Velvet Underground, The Black Crowes, Bunny Wailer, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson, Blake Mills, Postcard Records, Mogwai and The Selecter
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