THERE are not many former pop stars who have lived a life of excessive excess whom you can ask ‘Did God save you?’

One of the people you can put this question to is Reverend Richard Coles, who is the parish priest of St Mary the Virgin parish church in Finedon, Northamptonshire.

Rev Coles has the unique distinction of being the only vicar in the UK to have had a number one hit single.

He achieved this ‘record breaking success’ with The Communards when their song ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ was Top of the Pops in 1986.

Before Rev Coles entered the church, he was a member of Bronski Beat and then The Communards and he lived the pop star live to the maximum.

His lifestyle ‘back in the day’ was to live life at full throttle and this meant spending money on anything and everything, in otherwise as quickly as it came in, it went out.

It was excess beyond excess and one which was slowly leading him on a path to destruction.

He knew what he was doing, he knew what would happen and before it was too late he admitted to himself he had a problem.

Somerset County Gazette:

While looking for a suitable quote from the Bible about excess which I thought would fit Rev Coles situation when he was a pop star, I came across Philippians 3:19.

It states: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach,and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is setting on earthly things.”

When I read this to Rev Coles, he immediately recognised the passage and agreed those words would be applicable to what he had been doing. It was then I asked him: “Do you think God saved you?

He replied: “Oh yes, definitely.

I just thought about the mystery of God and the fact he stands in front of all of us but at that moment my eyes were opened and I became receptive to him and what I could see and feel came from him.

"It was like St Paul on the Road to Damascus as it was just as decisive. For me to make this change it was a leap of faith.

"I felt as though I was coming out of the darkness and stepping forward into the light.

“At that moment you see the world for me changed and I could feel his light and love which is like a constant living flame.”

Before Rev Coles was ‘saved’, he was living the pop star life with a devil may care attitude without any restraint.

Back in the 1980s, he had an bank account which he used to pay his drug dealer and when asked in an interview how much he spent on drugs he replied: “ More than a clergyman should.”

For someone who is a member of the Church of England and a vicar, Rev Coles (who lives with his civil partner David, also a priest,) is still in the public eye despite not being a pop star anymore.

Somerset County Gazette:

He is in the public eye of his parishioners, the public eye of those who recognise him and in the public eye in the media due to his television, radio and newspaper work.

How does he feel about still being famous?

He said: “For a while I tried not to be in the public eye.

"This was when I was at college and trying to become a vicar. When I was appointed as a vicar, obviously I was back in a the public eye.

By my nature I have been a performer all my life and I am always willing to stand on the stage.

“I am happy to be standing in the pulpit and preaching as much as I am being on television.”

He admitted being a vicar did have moments which were as surreal and at times come close to what can be seen in Father Ted.

In fact the BBC comedy Rev with Tom Hollander was based on Rev Coles experiences and he worked on the show as an advisor.

Tom Hollander spent time with Rev Coles and when he saw the show, Rev Coles saw his mannerisms in the character of Rev.

He has also appeared on Celebrity Masterchef in 2016. He loves cooking as he ‘got a taste for it’ from his mother who was a gourmet chef and in his words ‘he adores cooking’.

Somerset County Gazette:

Reflecting on his pop star career he said: “I am really grateful to have been part of it and that included the highs and lows.

“Doing it gave me the experience of how to perform and took me to extremes in my own life some of which I am not able to remember, which is not a bad thing.

"When I am helping someone who has an addiction it does help that I have been in a similar situation.”

An evening with Reverend Richard Coles is at The Brewhouse in Taunton on June 15, at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost adults £18.50 and students £12.50. These can be bought online at or by calling the box office on 01823 283244.

Asked how he was looking forward to the show he said: “What could be better than being on stage and talking about myself for a hour- my favourite subject” -then he laughed.