Book review: Offstage by Michael Buble

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MICHAEL BUBLE is amusing and self-deprecating. He swears like a trooper, is a terrific mimic (his Spanish and South African accents are hilarious) and is just as excited about his success now, as when he cut his first record.

He’s on a whistlestop visit to promote his illustrated pictorial memoir, Onstage, Offstage, which is full of photographs of his life on the road, and with his family and new wife.

His charming, tactile manner and sweet-sounding voice make it easy to understand how women swoon at the mention of his name. But the multi award-winning singer, whose covers of American songbook hits have made him the biggest male solo artist in the world, is now officially spoken for.

He wed Argentinian actress Luisana Lopilato, 24, in April, whom he met at an after-show party in Buenos Aires. They have homes in Vancouver, Argentina and Los Angeles, although he admits their respective careers have meant they’ve already had to spend a lot of time apart.

“It’s better being married than not being married,” he reflects. “If you’re serious about that commitment, then life is better. She’s my best friend, we drive each other crazy, we love hard and we fight hard.

“But the truth is that neither of us wants to quit. And it’s not easy, especially in the first year. It’s harder for us because of the careers that we have and the distances. Sometimes we are lucky to see each other for a week every month, but we have Skype to keep us connected.”

At home, he speaks Spanglish, he quips, although Lopilato speaks perfect English, “I talk like a caveman in Spanish.”

Buble was born into a family of fishermen in Canada and his love of music was heavily influenced by his grandfather, Mitch Santaga, who introduced him to the old American standards, sung by the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Buble would spend hours with grandpa Mitch, listening to the type of music which made more sense to him than the more contemporary songs his friends were listening to.

“Sure, I liked the bands that were big when I was a teenager, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, but I idolised the way the old-time singers could phrase a few poignant words so that they stayed with you long after the music had stopped playing.”

He knew he wanted to be a singer early on, winning several small talent shows, but slogged away for a decade as a lounge bar singer, doing gigs in dingy clubs, weddings and small corporate events.

In his mid-20s he was so broke that he considered giving up.

Then in 2000 he got a break when he met an aide to the former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, and ended up singing at Mulroney’s daughter’s wedding.

One of the guests was top music producer David Foster, who persuaded Buble to move to Los Angeles and provided enough introductions to secure him a record deal.

The rest, as they say, is history.