Singer Jay Aston won Eurovision, but tells ME & MY MONEY: ‘I never made the big bucks in Bucks Fizz’

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Jay Aston, 62, shot to fame as a singer with pop group Bucks Fizz which won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, writes York Membery. 

Their song, Making Your Mind Up, went straight to No 1 in the UK and eight other countries. 

The four-piece went on to have two further British chart-toppers – The Land Of Make Believe and The Camera Never Lies – and sold 50 million records worldwide.

Jay left Bucks Fizz in 1985, but in 2009 got back with two ex-bandmates to form The Fizz. 

In 2018, Jay, who lives in Westerham, Kent, with her guitarist husband Dave and daughter Josie, was diagnosed with mouth cancer but has since made a full recovery.

What did your parents teach you about money?

My dad was a comic and my mum was a singer/dancer, and they had a double act called Ted Durante and Hilda. They played a lot of cabaret gigs and appeared on The Good Old Days, [the BBC light entertainment TV show that ran from 1953-83], a record 25 times. 

They were in pretty much constant demand (Dad was even being offered gigs when he was later in a care home) but got more work some months than others, so they taught me the importance of having other irons in the fire when you’re in showbusiness.

Dad always had a property on the go, aside from our home, that he was either doing up or selling, so as to top up the family income. And like them, I’ve bought a number of houses over the years that were a wreck, done them up and sold them at a profit. I’ve also got an Airbnb that I rent out.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Oh yes, especially after leaving Bucks Fizz when I faced litigation. At my lowest point, I was on housing benefit and living in a bedsit in Croydon, surviving on cups of tea. The pandemic was also a tough time financially – The Fizz had to cancel a string of gigs and for 16 months we had no income, while my husband had to go back to teaching.

Have you ever been paid silly money?

I got well paid for playing cover songs with my own band, Aston, at corporate events in the early 2000s but it wasn’t silly money. The Fizz also do the occasional corporate/private gig, as well as Eighties festivals.

But despite getting a decent fee for such events, any money that we earn has to be split between the band members and our support team – a two-strong road crew, the duo who handle our merchandise and our PA. That’s nine people, in all. Being in showbusiness is not for the financially faint-hearted.

What was the best year of your financial life?

People think we were coining it in during our heyday with Bucks Fizz in the Eighties but that wasn’t the case.

Our first year’s income was about £7,000 each despite having scored a couple of multi-million selling singles (we had a terrible record deal), and we walked away with just £1,600 each after doing our first tour. Ironically, we’re making more as The Fizz – a slow, consistent amount – more than we ever made in Bucks Fizz, but I can’t think of any outstanding money-making year.

What’s the most expensive thing you have bought for fun?

A black Canada Goose winter coat, which was in a sale but still cost £700. I bought it a couple of months ago because I feel the cold. It’s all too easy to catch a chill when you’re rehearsing in a draughty hall and if you get a cold in my business, while on tour, then you’ve had it. My Canada Goose coat might be the most expensive item of clothing I’ve ever bought but it’s brilliant at keeping me warm so was worth every penny.

They can bury me in it because it’ll last me forever!

What is your biggest money mistake?

Probably leaving Bucks Fizz. I shouldn’t have left but I was hospitalised for my back injuries and had pains after a coach crash in 1984 which left my bandmate Mike Nolan in a coma.

I probably made the decision to quit when I wasn’t fully recovered. I subsequently had a string of lawsuits taken out against me for supposedly breaking my contract, and despite winning every case that wasn’t settled out of court, I had to sell my West Kensington house to pay my £400,000 legal fees. That house is probably worth a few million pounds now, so I’d have had a very different life if I hadn’t left the band.

Best money decision you have made?

It’s a toss-up between my five property purchases and joining The Fizz. I seem to have an ability to spot a property and know it will go up in value, and have made money on all the places I’ve bought. My husband Dave has become very good at DIY, too, and learnt how to renovate a property – although he couldn’t even put a shelf up when I first met him.

Do you have a pension?

I cashed in a small private pension I had just before Covid because I needed the money, so I’ll only get the state pension when I retire at 67. The only thing I’ve made money out of is property.

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Do you own any property?

Yes, a detached six-bedroom house set in seven acres near Westerham in Kent which my mum and dad bought for £12,500 in 1976 but pretty much rebuilt.

I bought my brother out after our parents died, and Dave, Josie and I have lived there for the past 15 years. We’ve spent at least £100,000 building an extension and it’s now worth around £1.5 million.

If you were Chancellor, what would you do?

Oh my goodness, I’d love that job. I would raise the tax threshold [currently £12,570] to about £18,000. I don’t think people should have to pay taxes if their earnings are below that amount, given how much the cost of living has risen in recent years, and how hard it is for young people to get on the property ladder.

What is your number one financial priority?

To pay off my mortgage. I’m getting there – we had to remortgage the house to build our extension – but it’s going to take a few years.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.

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