The Moneymaker: David Foster

With 16 Grammys under his belt, you’d think that David Foster would at least carry a wallet. 

david foster

The Moneymaker
: David Foster, 65. The Grammy-winning mega-producer, who’s worked with pop royalty from Madonna to Celine Dion, has added yet another album to his long CV. This time, it’s Diana Krall’s 12th album, Wallflower. “I took over as chairman of Verve Records and she’s an artist on the label. She came to me and said she wanted to make a pop record and that I should [produce it]. We’ve known each other for so long she’s almost like a younger sister,” muses David, who’s also on the judging panel of Asia’s Got Talent along with Mel C, Vanness Wu and Anggun.

His home is: A mansion in Malibu, California, where he lives with his wife Yolanda, who stars on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

His ride is: An Aston Martin Vanquish S. “It’s called the James Bond car. I recently bought a German car, but I regretted that and wish I’d bought another German car. It’s beautiful, but it’s just not quite me ’cos it’s a little too conservative. But I’ll still keep it for about three years.”

What he makes: The star-maker, whose career spans 44 years, has a reported net worth of US$30million (S$41mil).

8 DAYS: Anything unexpected we can find in your wallet?
DAVID FOSTER: I don’t carry a wallet. I have two credit cards, a couple of business cards, some Singapore money, some American money. That’s it.

Why don’t you carry a wallet?
That’s too much stuff for a wallet. I also don’t wear a watch. But I can tell you what time it is. Now you’re going to test me, right? I’m thinking it’s 10 minutes to 5pm. [Ed: It was 5pm.] Oh, I’m 10 minutes off. You trace back your day. I knew it was 2.30pm when I was at the restaurant, and I just went from there. And no, I don’t check my phone for the time.

You’ve worked with the who’s who in the music industry. Who’s most likely to beat you at poker?
Probably Seal. He’s very strong and it’s hard to read his emotions.

Who are you most likely to beat?
Michael Bublé. He shows his hand every time, figuratively speaking. I’ve played poker with Michael before, not Seal. I don’t remember who won, though.

In your opinion, what’s one thing that people in Hollywood spend too much on?
Plastic surgery. It needs no explanation, right?

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought this week?
I was in Pisa in Italy working with Andrea Bocelli and chartered a jet from Pisa to Frankfurt, Germany, so that I could fly from Frankfurt to Singapore. It cost a lot, over 10,000 euros (S$15,000). That same day, I chartered my wife a plane too, to go to from Los Angeles to Seattle to see a doctor. My extravagance is flying privately. It’s my passion and my vice. That said, I don’t have a lot of expensive cars, I don’t collect art, and I don’t have houses all over the world. Another reason why I fly privately is ’cos it’s the only true time machine. You can cut an hour and a half off the front end of your trip, and another hour off the back end of your trip. If you’re flying off at 7pm, you can leave your house at 6.30pm and by 7pm, you’re in the air. Time is money and it’s worth it to me.

What did you last buy for less than US$5 (S$6.80)?
A magazine. I buy trash rags like The Enquirer and Star Magazine at the airport just to see who’s doing what.

What else is in your luggage?
It’s so junky. Let me go get it. [Shuffles to the next room to grab his carry-on luggage.] I’m not gonna take anything out. I have my laptop, phone chargers, oregano oil and grapeseed extract and Vitamin C to stay healthy. I take Tylenol — it helps me sleep. This book, Radical, is great. It’s about a Muslim boy who grew up in London and joined a terrorist group and he realised how wrong he was and tells the story of how through rap music he became a terrorist. This is another incredible book, The Power of Now, which I’ve read but I keep it ’cos it’s so positive. Then there are magazines like Success, Time, Sports Illustrated. I bought Sports Illustrated ’cos [my stepdaughter] Gigi is in there. I also have a teddy bear that [Singapore Airlines] gave me on the plane, and I stole the pyjamas and two decks of cards from the plane as well. What else? Extra glasses, sunglasses, Beats earphones, DVDs like Into the Woods and Bryan Adams’ new DVD, a blood pressure monitor, and keys to the house.

Speaking of home, what is it about home you miss the most when you’re travelling? You recently posted a photo of your home movie theatre.
One of the most exciting times for my wife and all of our kids is around November when we start getting movies from the Oscars, ’cos I’m a voting member. So we get all of the movies that are current and they start coming in the mail every day. It’s like Christmas every day and we go down to our movie theatre and watch it.

When was the last time you did your own grocery shopping?
I’ve probably only been in the grocery store five times in the last five years. So I don’t remember the last time. I don’t mind going. But I’m always so shocked at the prices that I never go. I’m always like, “What? A carton of milk is $6? I thought it was like 50 cents.”

Do you know how much you have in your bank account?
Yes, I watch my money quite closely. I still sign all my own cheques and it’s a pain ’cos there’re a lot to sign — there are a lot of people who work for me. But I just don’t like the concept of someone else signing my cheques. I also don’t like people depositing money directly into my bank account. I like to feel the money. So once in a while, I’ll tell my business manager to send the cheques to me, don’t just put the money into my bank account. I want to touch it, then I’ll send it back to him. It’s a psychological thing.

What did you do with your first pay cheque?
I was 13 and made US$39 on New Year’s Eve in 1961 playing the piano. It must equate to thousands of dollars now. It was probably as much money as what my father made in a week. My father took a home movie of me coming home at 1am fanning out the $39 and going “Yay!” I saved the money ’cos I like to save. One of the things I regret, though, is not giving my parents the money I earned from the time I started working at 13. I would play on weekends and make US$20 a night. My parents weren’t poor and it didn’t feel like we were struggling, but my father worked hard and didn’t make that much money, and my mother made all of our clothes. I always regret that I never gave that money to my parents then — it would’ve made their lives so much easier. And they never asked me for it. My father died when I was 18, but my mother lived until eight years ago. So later on I got to give my mother lots of stuff like houses and cars — it’s a great feeling to be able to do that . But when you’re 14, you’re stupid.

Wallflower is out in stores and on iTunes. Catch David on Asia’s Got Talent on Thur, AXN (StarHub Ch 511), 8.30pm.

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