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Like many couples looking forward to tying the knot, Sam Fox and Linda Olsen know the frustration of the pandemic putting plans on hold. They got engaged in February 2020 and lockdowns have forced them to postpone their big day twice.
But the lovebirds are now delighted to tell OK! they hope to walk down the aisle in a matter of months – and as we chat over Zoom, it clearly can’t come soon enough. “We’re both crazy about each other,” says Page 3 girl turned singer Sam, 55. “I don’t want to be with anyone else in my life.”
Linda, 46, is Sam’s tour manager and they have been together for five years. They are currently renovating the east London home they share with Adam, one of Linda’s 19-year-old twin boys, and their two cats, Melody and Fanny. Linda’s other son, Noah, lives in her native country of Norway.
As well as chatting about preparations for their wedding, we discuss how they met and how they both honour the memory of Sam’s late partner, Myra Stratton. Sam was with Myra for 16 years and lost her to cancer in 2015 – and she knows she and Linda have her blessing. “During the time Myra was ill, she always said, ‘I really want you to meet someone when I’m gone as I know you’d hate to be on your own,’” she reveals.
Here, Sam and Linda open up about wanting a traditional wedding, their passionate relationship and Linda’s romantic proposal…
So, ladies, having had to postpone your big day twice, is it nice to be planning again?
Sam: It is. We got engaged just before lockdown and planned the wedding. I sent the invitations out and then the restrictions came in, so we had to postpone it once and then again. We’re keeping our fingers crossed it’s not going to be just 30 people. We’ve got a lot of friends and family, and people we love, who we want to be there. Linda’s got family in Norway and Sweden, and I’ve got friends in the States, Greece, Spain and Australia. We’re just hoping those people can come. It’ll be such a shame if they can’t get here.
When are you thinking of doing it?
Sam: We’re waiting, really. There’s still laws about how many people can be there. We can’t say a date as yet, until we know about this [coronavirus] situation. We’re keeping our fingers crossed it’s going to be this year.
What kind of wedding will it be?
Sam: A traditional wedding.
Linda: Both wearing dresses.
Sam: And bridesmaids. And a lot of people there.
What kind of dresses will you have?
Linda: We both know but won’t tell each other.
Sam: We’re not going to sleep in the same bed the night before, so it’s going to be traditional. And we’re both going to look gorgeous in white dresses.
Where will you be getting married?
Sam: We’ve found a really lovely, old-fashioned venue, with beautiful grounds. It’s going to be a fairy-tale wedding.
Are any of your celeb friends going, Sam?
Sam: A few I’ve known a long time. I want to invite the people who got me where I am today. I know a lot of celebrities but they’re not my real friends – but there’s a few coming!
Can you tell us who they are?
Sam: I can’t. It’s a secret. Originally, Lemmy from [the band] Motörhead offered to give me away after my dad passed away, as he was always a great mate of mine. God bless his soul, he died a few years back [in 2015].
Are you nervous?
Sam: Yeah. I can sing in front of thousands of people but to walk down the aisle in front of people I know, it’s going to be really nerve-racking. I hope I don’t trip up or something.
Tell us about the moment you got engaged…
Sam: No one has been down on their knees to ask me to marry them and I do like a bit of old-fashioned romance. We went to a restaurant for a nice romantic Valentine’s weekend.
Linda: I was nervous but she was hinting all the time. There were all these people there and I was thinking, “Can I do it in front of them?”
Sam: She got on her knees and had this beautiful ring and said, “Will you marry me?” And I cried my eyes out.
Did you see it coming?
Sam: Yeah. Our relationship is so passionate and we’re so in love, and I knew I never wanted to be with anybody else. And Linda said she’d felt like it was the most perfect relationship she’d ever been in. We’re both quite similar people and complement each other very well. But I wasn’t expecting it that night!
How did you meet? Linda, were you a fan of Sam?
Linda: When I was 11 or 12, I collected Sam’s pictures from pop magazines. She’s always been my celebrity crush. Many years later, I saw an advert for a “we love the 80s” concert Sam was appearing in.
Sam: And you had a meet-and-greet ticket.
Linda: And when she entered the room, we were just staring at each other and smiling.
Sam: I’d seen her on Instagram before. You don’t forget a beautiful face like hers. When I met her, I said, “I’ve met you before.” At that time I was still in a relationship with Myra, who was very sick at the time, and Linda was also in a relationship.
Linda: We had a really good connection.
Sam: But I didn’t think about that because at the time I was away working, I was still looking after Myra, I wasn’t thinking about a relationship. But I found her very attractive and I didn’t forget her face. Nine months after Myra [passed away]…
Linda: It happened. Her manager asked, “Do you want tickets for another 80s gig?” I said me and my partner were separating and he told Sam, and she called me immediately.
Sam: We got to know each other and laughed a lot. There was a big connection there and we felt very compatible and had a similar sense of humour.
Your relationship has moved quite fast, then…
Sam: Yeah. Myra was terminally ill for two years and she used to tell me, “I never want you to be on your own. I’d love for you to meet someone really nice and trustworthy.” I trusted Myra with my life. A few people before that had ripped me off, so she wanted me to meet someone with a good heart – Linda’s got such a good heart. She never lets things bog her down and is a realist. If ever I’m depressed about something, especially this year, she lifts me up. I don’t think I’d ever have depression being around Linda. She’s very compassionate and she’s got that motherly instinct.
Linda: She’s my baby.
Do you continue to remember Myra?
Sam: Of course, and Linda’s fantastic about it. I moved into our house with Myra, so it was done to our taste. She’s been on my mind so much recently because we’re changing the whole house, so it becomes mine and Linda’s house. Her name comes up most days and there’s still a picture of Myra and me in the house. Linda’s not a jealous person. I was with Myra for 16 years and you can’t be with somebody for that long if you weren’t close and you didn’t love that person. So of course I think about her, and Linda’s lovely about her.
Linda: I can’t be jealous about someone who’s not here any more.
That’s lovely. Did you think you’d find love again after losing Myra, Sam?
Sam: During the time Myra was ill, she always said, “I really want you to meet someone when I’m gone as I know you’d hate to be on your own.” I was only in my forties when Myra got ill, I was still young and had a dream of marrying.
Linda: And you had a lot of love to give.
Sam: Myra and I were engaged for a long time but marriage never happened.
As a same-sex couple, have you ever experienced prejudice?
Sam: I came out in 2009 and at the beginning I was a bit nervous, because 75% of my fans were male. But then they became my music fans. I’ve got a lot of gay fans too and I’ve helped a lot of young girls and boys come out to their parents.
Linda: Love is love.
Sam: I don’t like it when people say I “fooled a lot of teenage boys”, because I didn’t know what I was when I was that age. It wasn’t until I met Myra, who was gay and wasn’t bisexual, who said, “No, I think you’re definitely gay.” And I came to terms with it. As a kid, I’d have crushes on the Bionic Woman and Jodie Foster, and I didn’t know why.
How do you look back at your modelling career, Sam?
Sam: With fond memories. It was a five-year contract I had with a newspaper [as a Page 3 girl]. I was opening shops with 10,000 teenage boys turning up and I absolutely loved it. One minute I was doing my A-levels and then I was flying around the world! Then I started to become a celebrity, going on Terry Wogan and Des O’Connor’s shows. I feel like I really made a change with Page 3 – before that, I think everyone thought we were just dumb blondes! But I was presenting The Six O’Clock Show with Michael Aspel, which was a current news affairs show. It was a bit like The One Show now.
Have you ever been starstruck?
Sam: Meeting Whitney Houston. I was doing a festival in France with stars from all over the world. We all had closed rehearsals and she watched the whole rehearsal. She congratulated me on my No3 single in America [Touch Me] and said she really liked it. I asked her for an autograph and she wrote, “To lovely Samantha, God bless you.” Also, Debbie Harry. After telling her I was a fan since I was 10, she said, “Hold on a minute, I’ve just got to go pee.” She never came back! I was sitting there like Sammy-no-mates.
Ouch! Finally, what have you got coming up next, Sam?
Sam: I’m going on tour again, hopefully. I wrote a book five years ago and it was 300-and-something pages, and a lot of the fans thought, “How can you fit four decades into those pages?” So I’m going to re-write the book because I’ve been offered a TV series [about her life] on Netflix. I’ve also got a cameo in a movie, a new album and a rock album. I have a lot of rock fans!
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