Matt Monro Jnr, the son of the famous crooner Matt Monro, initially struggled to make ends meet as a singer to keep his father’s name alive.
Monro Jnr, whose father had huge hits in the 1950s and 1960s with Born Free, On Days Like These, From Russia With Love and Portrait Of My Love, took up singing at age 21 after his father died.
He feels close to his late father when he sings his songs on stage, he says, and it has helped him come to terms with the loss.
Monro Jnr took up singing at age 21 after his father,Matt Monro, died
He remembers his father – described as one of the finest male vocalists in the business by Frank Sinatra – as a generous individual who spoilt him and his sister with presents while taking care not to spend much on himself.
Matt Monro Jnr is touring the UK this autumn with his show about his father, The Matt Monro Story, a mix of music and memories. Tickets are available from mattmonrojnr.co.uk.
Now 54, Matt Monro Jnr lives with his wife Chandrika, 50, in Battersea, South-West London.
What did your parents teach you about money?
My dad came from a humble background. He was poor and as a child spent time in foster homes. He then worked as a roadsweeper and lorry driver to support himself and his family. As a result, after he had made it big, he was careful with his money. He would say: ‘You do not know what is around the corner’.
At the same time, he was always generous. He spoilt me and my sister. At Christmas, we never wanted for anything. We would get a main present, plus a four foot high stocking crammed full of sweets and little gifts.
We would end up with about 40 presents to open. Every 18 months, we went to exotic places such as Barbados to enjoy five weeks of holidaying.
My mum was cagey with money. She was the bank.
How much pocket money did you get as a child?
Five pounds a week from age eight. I would spend it straightaway on sweets. I liked gobstoppers, liquorice allsorts and lemon sherbets.
What was the first paid work you ever did?
I got a job at age 17 as a bank clerk at NatWest for around £8,000 a year. At that time I had no interest in showbusiness at all. I wanted to become a golf professional.
My dad forced me to take the bank job so I would have a way of making a living in case my golf dream did not work out. I did not enjoy the work. I spent all my free time playing golf. I only decided to become a singer when my father died two weeks before my 21st birthday. He died way too young.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, often. The worst period was between 1987 and 1997. At the time, I was not a good singer and I was earning peanuts – £50 a night.
It horrified my mum – she never wanted me to go into showbusiness. But I sang to keep my dad’s name alive.
If I had not done it, I would have cracked. I feel like he has not left me when I sing his songs and pay tribute to him on stage.
Have you ever been paid silly money per hour for a job?
I once earned $10,000 for an hour-long show I did in Asia. There I can attract up to 25,000 people to a show – in this country, it is 500 to 1,500.
What was the best year of your life in terms of the money you made?
I did a big international tour in 2008 and that boosted my annual earnings to £100,000. Back in those days, my dad’s fans were still around but things have now changed – he would have been 88 today.
I am also working less because my priorities have changed since I got married for the second time. I want to enjoy myself a bit more. Showbusiness has become a bit stale for me.
His father was described as one of the finest male vocalists in the business by Frank Sinatra
What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought yourself just for fun?
My set of custom-made golf clubs which cost about £2,500. My dad took me to play golf when I was seven years old and I have been playing ever since. In the summer I like to go two or three times a week and I also try to play once a week in the winter.
What is the biggest money mistake you have ever made?
Getting married to my first wife. No one ever wins when you get divorced. We both had to downsize and it was a financial pain in the backside. I was probably £100,000 worse off afterwards.
What is the best money decision you have ever made?
Buying our two-bedroom apartment in London’s Battersea. We own it outright without a mortgage. It is only 800 square feet, but it is just the right size. It overlooks the Thames and there is a gym, cinema and underground parking in the complex.
Battersea is booming. Since we bought the flat 18 months ago it has gone up in value from £865,000 to £1.2 million. House prices in the area have gone through the roof.
Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?
No. Investing in the stock market is of no interest and I do not have a pension or life insurance. My wife and I started a commercial and residential property development business 18 months ago which has been successful. We convert office blocks into apartments. I expect that will provide me with a retirement income.
Do you always pay off your credit cards in full?
No. Sometimes I pay just the minimum. On a typical £5,000 transaction I will pay £1,500 a month until it is cleared. I do not mind paying interest if it suits my needs.
What is the one little luxury you like to treat yourself to?
Going on a week-long golfing holiday to Turkey with my friends. We go every year to a five-star resort and play every single day. The weather is always beautiful. It is paradise – like golf heaven – and costs £1,200.
If you were Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the first thing you would do?
I would increase the funds for the National Health Service until there was no funding crisis. I think we are incredibly lucky in this country to have the NHS – and to know with certainty that people who are not well off can access this quality medical care.
Do you think it is important to give to charity?
Absolutely. I take part in charitable events for Cancer Research because that is what my dad died of.
Finally, what is your number one financial priority?
To enjoy my life while living within my means.
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