In a taxi with... singer Olly Murs

The chart-topping X Factor heart throb has world domination in his sights, but he’ll always be true to his inner football-mad Essex lad

Olly Murs

Olly Murs steps out of the doors of his record company and jumps into our cab. I must admit, I’m disappointed. Not with the Murs-meister – he’s still the cheeky chappie who won hearts and so nearly the votes (he came second) on The X Factor last year. No, what’s missing is the signature pork pie hat. ‘I’m trying not to use the hat as much any more,’ he laughs. ‘If you wear them all the time it’s too much.’

But he does admit that a hat serves a certain purpose. ‘I’m 26.  You get to that age and the receding hairline’s kicking in…’

Not many aspiring pop stars would be so quick to mention that they’re going bald, but then Olly is a take-me-as-you-find-me kind of guy. In spite of having a number one with his debut single ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’, he’s still more Essex symbol than sex symbol. He lives with his parents in the same semi he grew up in and
the rules are that, groupies or no groupies, he’s not allowed to have girls in the house overnight.

‘I can bring girls round, but my folks wouldn’t let them stay. It’s not religion, they’re just an old-fashioned family, and it’s their home.’

That must be tough – we may presume the pop star famed for his ‘Olly wiggle’ gets many an offer. ‘I haven’t had a girlfriend for a while, but if a girl wants to talk to me, if she’s attractive? Well, being a single man, I’m sure I’m going to take
her up on it!’

‘If it all ended today I’d be happy to have got to where
I am now’

But if Olly Murs is a hit with the ladies right now, he is refreshingly realistic about how fame can be fleeting, in particular for products shipped from the X Factory.

‘When I finished the show I didn’t think I was going to get signed. Then when I was lucky enough to get a deal I thought I was just going to be given songs to sing. But no, I was put in the studio to write and produce the album, and I wrote my first
single. Then I played for England for Soccer Aid at the beginning of the year – I was able to be a professional footballer for five days! So there have been all these amazing things. If it ended today I’d be happy to be able to say that I’ve got where I’ve got to.’

When we stop in the park he chats to a few passers-by. One of them is insistent – a little too insistent – that Olly should employ him as a bodyguard. But Olly gives him the time of day and lets him say his bit.

‘I don’t want people to feel they can’t speak to me,’ he says back in the cab. ‘I’m no different to anyone else. I’ve just got a job that’s in the limelight and I’m able to sing songs. I haven’t made it yet.’

Unfortunately, being nice to everybody does leave him open to the nasty side of stardom. Back in August Olly was turned over by the tabloids. The man selling the story was his own twin brother, Ben, ranting about how Olly missed his wedding to be on The X Factor.

‘My family have been devastated. If it was a stranger I’d accept it, but he is my brother and it’s upsetting to think that he would do such a thing. I’m gutted that I missed his wedding and I love him very much. But he knows how much I wanted to be a singer and how much The X Factor meant to me. I’ll always love my brother and we have to move on now.’

So having been through the celebrity wringer, what’s his advice? ‘Don’t change, don’t try and be someone different. It’s like Susan Boyle. She looked like an old lady from Scotland, not a glamorous star, but they haven’t tried to make her a beautiful lady. Because she’s not.’

For Olly, being himself means staying true to the football-mad Essex lad who worked in a call centre. ‘I always loved dancing and performing but I never sang – football was my life. Then one night at the age of about 23 I was in my local pub and I did a bit of karaoke. The guy down the pub said, “You should get up and sing.”’

He did a few gigs and applied for The X Factor. The first two times he didn’t make it. The third time, he did. ‘I just had this belief and if you believe, you can achieve. I still dream about being one of the biggest artists in the world, but I might never sell a record outside the UK. This might be my only taste of it. But, oh my God, what a taste it will have been!’

Olly’s debut album Olly Murs and latest single ‘Thinking of Me’ are out now


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