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Judging by her international success and the adulation of her fans worldwide, Simone has left her humble beginnings well behind her. Yet in reality, she remained shackled to the memories of a ghetto childhood. Her first husband, New York detective Andrew Shroud, to whom she bore her only child Lisa Celeste, set a pattern of abuse that was to plague Simone's life. In 1970 he became her first business manager - and subsequently embezzled a quarter of a million dollars from her before abandoning her. 'He was such a ruthless creep,' she reminisces sadly.

She's currently single. 'I find that even men who are good in bed aren't worth the trouble' she says. A string of unsatisfactory love unions followed her 1971 divorce from Stroud, resulting in four miscarriages and a bitterness that filters through to her songs. 'My problem is that I'm too innocent I trust what people close to me say. I've got to trust someone, haven't I? I make excuses for them sometimes.'

Clifton says Simone can earn sufficient money to retire from show business by the year 2000 as long as she plays live as much as she can, appears on television to endorse brand-name terms and agrees to launch her own perfume, tentatively called 'Simone. 

Estranged from her 36-year-old daughter Lisa, to whom she hasn't spoken in 10 years, the icon insists that her staff -manager Clifton, dresser Janet and bodyguard and chauffeur Xavier - reside with her in her far-from-comfortable four-bed-room home. 
Last year she was invited to join Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and a host of dignitaries at Nelson Mandela's glittering 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town,n. When it became apparent that Simone was unable to raise the funds to accept the honour of attention, the South African government had to step in and foot the bill for her traveling expenses. 

As she shuffles up the rickety, winding staircase towards the unmade bed in her bedroom, she turns and says, 'Please tell my public that there aren't many of us geniuses still living. Hardly any of us left at all. It's down to Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Sinatra. 'Except Frank's already dead', she adds, almost as an afterthought.

Source : The Big Issue - Feb 99. Interviewer : Precious Williams





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