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11/04/2016

Roger O'Donnell's musical journey

The keyboard player with The Cure discusses his love of Ferrari with Nick Mason

Nick Mason: When were you first aware of Ferrari?
Roger O’Donnell: It was definitely an F1 car. I’ve followed F1 since I was 11 [1966]. I think there were only about 10 races a year in those days, weren’t there? I’d watch the races at Crystal Palace Park. Jackie Stewart, Ronnie Peterson, Jochen Rindt, all racing around this ridiculously tight track.

The Official Ferrari Magazine: You recently bought a Ferrari 458 Speciale, didn’t you?
RO’D: Yes, it’s a wonderful car. I remember when I was speccing my Speciale in the Atelier, the late Christos Vlahos tried to persuade me to have a stripe on the nose. But I think the car looks great without stripes. The intakes on the front look so good you don’t need anything else.

Roger O'Donnell with a 458 Speciale  Photo: Charlie Gray

NM: Is the Speciale your first Ferrari?
RO’D: No, I already owned a Dino 246 GT. I remember seeing one when I was 15. I’ve always loved cars, I’ve owned various Lotuses, an Elan, Elises, an Exige. I loved Colin Chapman and the Graham Hill/Jochen Rindt Lotus. It was somehow very English. Graham Hill was another hero, which is why I liked Damon. I met him at LAX after the US GP a few years ago. He’s a guitarist, isn’t he? We’ll forgive him for that.

TOFM: Do you attend many grands prix?
RO’D: I try to go to at least two a year. There is no other team for me. None. Simone Resta [Scuderia Ferrari Chief Designer] is a huge Cure fan, as is [Team Principal] Maurizio Arrivabene. I think that’s why I can get in! I always want to find out about the latest car, but all they want to talk about is music. I’d much rather do a year with the Scuderia than a year on tour.

O'Donnell in conversation with Nick Mason  Photo: Charlie Gray

TOFM: Between you both you’ve been in music for many years, but the internet and social media have changed the industry beyond all recognition.

RO’D: [sighs] It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s democratised, and that can only be a good thing, because now anybody can record an album. But while a lot of good music is being made, it’s difficult to find, and even more difficult to monetise. The first thing I say when I talk to young musicians is, ‘are you prepared to give up everything else in life, family, stability?’
NM: Your health…
RO’D: [laughs] And that. People seem to think it was easy in our day. It was never easy. Luck plays a big part, especially for a musician like me who moved from band to band. You have to get on with people. We still get on, sort of.

O'Donnell at the wheel of a 458 Speciale  Photo: Charlie Gray

TOFM: The upcoming Cure tour is pretty much sold out. Are you ready to re-enter the fray?
RO’D: I’m in training. In fact, I got some tips from Mark Arnell, Kimi Räikkönen’s personal trainer. He told me what to eat, what not to eat. He’s my trainer by proxy. It’s The Cure’s first world tour since 2008. I wasn’t in the band for that one. The first time was probably at the height of our success. You go through your career living hand-to-mouth, and suddenly I had all this money and didn’t know what to do with it. Now I know what to do, of course: buy a Ferrari.

O'Donnell at the Royal Festival Hall, London  Photo: Charlie Gray