If someone had said to us a year or so ago that Steps would make a triumphant comeback we would have told them they were talking nonsense. Despite being one of the biggest bands of the late 90s, we would never have imagined the band would be able to sell-out a UK arena tour and score a number 1 album 10 years after their bitter split. With The Steps machine back up and running, its 5 members are making the most of their second chance.
With the release of Claire Richards’ autobiography All Of Me this week it strikes us odd that none of the Steps band members have released a book in the last decade. Surely each one of them could have got interest from a publisher in exchange for the juicy details of Steps’ demise? All Of Me isn’t by any means a sensationalist account of Richards’ days in the pop juggernaut. Instead it’s a refreshingly honest, sincere and heartfelt memoir of the high and lows of fame, as well as revealing the battle with food that Richards has had her entire life.
What we liked about All Of Me is that Richards doesn’t sugarcoat her stories and says what she really thinks. From the early days of her career in first band TSD Richards recounts being noticed for her looks rather than her talent. When the story moves on from her first failed attempt at cracking pop, the stories about Steps come thick and fast, and you can understand from her perspective why she felt the way she did by the end of the band’s time together the first time round.
Careful not to directly slag off any of her former band mates, Richards puts across her perception of what happened during her time in Steps. Feeling like she always had to compare herself to Faye and Lisa, Richards also butted heads with Lee whilst finding a friend in H (although that turned sour after he accused her of revealing his affair with the band’s manager). Battling an unhealthy relationship with food and body image, Richards simply couldn’t cope with life in the spotlight.
Her battle with food is really the heart of the book. In more recent years she’s been more famous for yo-yo dieting than singing, and she details her struggle here with honesty. It’s heartbreaking reading how she used to binge eat to hide her unhappiness and she veers into dangerous territory by making herself sick on occasion after binging. She details how eating became her comfort after her career fell down around her ears. She openly discusses the various weight loss deals she had with magazines that encouraged her to fluctuate with her weight admitting that she could maintain a smaller dress size when the incentive and pressure was there.
Another strong strand of the book is Richards’ love life. Her love story with now husband Reece runs throughout and we hadn’t realised how long the two had been moving in and out of each other’s lives before they finally got together. Again you have to admire Richards’ honesty as she admits to having an affair with him whilst he was with someone else. She doesn’t defend or condone her actions, only detailing them factually as they are integral to her story. There are a couple of celebrity flings revealed and she goes into some detail about her first marriage to backing dancer Mark.
All Of Me is an honest account of a life that has had more ups and downs than most people will realise. at no point does Richards asks for sympathy instead telling her story in a factual and engaging way. Towards the end of the book she talks about her return to the spotlight through a series of TV show appearances before rejoining Steps. All Of Meis a fantastic read and Richards is an inspirational woman. Flying the flag for average-sized women Richards aims to discredit the theory that size 8 is the norm. She does that with ease and she looks simply stunning on the cover too.