Tim Hughes joins teh countdown to Cornbury Festival with Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred

Richard Fairbrass is in flamboyant mood. The Right Said Fred singer laughs and jokes as he tells me about the band’s place in music history.

“We are having more fun now than ever,” he says. “We know the game now and know who we are. The business has changed out of all recognition. At first we didn’t fit in, which bothered me because when you’re a kid you want to be like everybody else – but now I take pleasure in not being like everybody else. I relish the fact I don’t fit in!”

Unfairly written off by some as a novelty act, Right Said Fred have a formidable CV, shifting 20 million records worldwide, scoring multi-platinum status and picking up two Ivor Novello Awards for floor-fillers I’m Too Sexy and Deeply Dippy.

The Brit Award nominees may have had their heyday at the dawn of the 90s, but still pack in the crowds with their feelgood pop and sensational stage shows.

This weekend they sprinkle their stardust across the manicured acres of Great Tew Park for the final ever Cornbury Festival.

The Fairbrass boys join an impressive line-up topped by Kaiser Chiefs tomorrow, Bryan Adams on Saturday, and The Pretenders and Jools Holland on Sunday.

Also gracing the bill are Oxfordshire’s Jack Savoretti, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Tom Chaplin, Ward Thomas, and, joining Right Said Fred on Sunday, Imelda May and Midge Ure.

While they have released eight albums, things have been a little quiet since 2011’s Stop the World, which failed to chart in the UK, like the five before it. But the Fairbrass brothers have never stopped performing – with a back catalogue stretching back to the 70s when they appeared in a band called The Actors, once supporting Joy Division at the Factory in Manchester. Richard also played bass as a session artist for Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Boy George.

Right Said Fred sprung to life in 1989, Richard picking up lead vocals and bass and his brother on guitar. They took their name from Bernard Cribbins’ 1962 comedy hit.

Their 1991 hit I’m Too Sexy remains their biggest, spending six weeks at number two in the UK charts – only blocked from the top spot by Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It for You.

It spent three months in the Top 10 and topped the charts in 32 countries including America.

It remains a gay anthem, though Richard insists they are not gay icons.

“That’s a misconception,” he says. “Our audiences are predominantly straight, with families of all ages. “People assumed we had a big gay following, but we don’t do dance music – and we actually spend a lot of time listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

He prefers the term ‘camp’.

“Campness is a very British thing,” he says. “It doesn’t translate very well abroad and you don’t see it. It’s vaudeville and theatrical and not the same as gay”.

He goes on: “People called us a novelty act, and if that means new or interesting, I am quite happy with that.”

The band join a long list of musical brothers, many of whom have fallen out. Think: Liam and Noel Gallagher, Ray and Dave Davies, Ali and Duncan Campbell and Don and Phil Everley.

Have they managed to keep it together? “We don’t disagree about music, only about politics,” he says.

“I’m more outgoing – while Fred is more reclusive. He has managed to buy a home with a one mile-long drive and is happy not to be working.

“I quite enjoy being who we are though.”

Right Said Fred’s natural habitat was the age of charts dance music, when rave went mainstream but before the dawn of Britpop. “When Britpop happened, anything that didn’t fit in had to go elsewhere, so we went abroad – to the states, Europe or South Africa.

“We have been working consistently, just not in the UK. You go where the work is, or, more realistically, where the money is,” he says.

In 2006 they performed at the World Cup opening ceremony in front of 200,000 people at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The same year they played at The Bollywood Awards in India in front of a live TV audience of 200 million. Richard has also joined the likes of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Winston Churchill in addressing the Oxford Union.

The Cornbury show follows the release of their latest album Exactly! – which Richard described as grittier. And it finds the 63 year-old in a sweet spot – both as an artist and a person

“One of the things about growing old is I take no notice of people I don’t know or respect. Your music is a reflection of who you are. And I love the reaction our music gets.

“It cheers people up.”

  • Cornbury Festival takes place at Great Tew Park, near Chipping Norton, from tomorrow to Sunday. Cornburyfestival.com