At some point in the mid-90s I was asked to interview Linda Ronstadt. She was in London promoting some album of ballads. The day before the interview the PR called and said Linda had hurt her back. She could still do the interview but she had to remain lying down. Would that be OK if she did the interview in bed?
Avoiding mentioning that there was a time when an interview with Linda Ronstadt conducted in a recumbent position would have been a fantasy assignment, I assented. The following day I turned up at Claridges and was conducted to a suite where a make-up artist was just finishing touching up the make-up of Linda Ronstadt. She was sitting up in a king-sized bed with the covers carefully arranged over a decorous high-collared nightgown.
She apologised for the unusual circumstances and I interviewed her for about an hour. I've often thought back on that encounter in the years since. Obviously this makes me appear naive but it dawned on me very slowly that she probably hadn't hurt her back. What she was really doing was trying to avoid any press comment on the fact that she is a lot bigger than she was back in the day.
To which you might say, aren't we all? Yes we are but most of us are allowed to grow up and grow out without being ruthlessly measured against peers who are insanely motivated by their own vanity (such as Madonna) or slowly disappearing before our eyes (such as Cheryl Cole).
Male rock stars are constantly reminded of their younger, more beautiful selves. The unsinkable vanity of blokes means that they just shrug it off. Female rock stars don't.