Julio Iglesias, the musical Latin heart throb, says he has just emerged from a crippling three-year depression to launch a second singing career.
The 44-year-old Spaniard, who has melted many a woman's heart over the past 20 years with his love ballads, compared his fight back to mental health with that of a boxer."I built up my own knock-out three years ago," he said in an interview. "Now I'm back in the fight to win again."
Sitting in a Manila hotel room at the beginning of an eight-country Asian singing tour, the sun-tanned singer described a depression and "serious psychosomatic problems" that hit him "like a storm."
"It's like you develop a cancer in your brain and you go from doctor to doctor thinking you have a cancer," he said.
He said long, therapeutic hours in the recording studio finally brought him out of the painful cycle of melancholy and physical disorders brought on by stress.
Fiddling with a heavy glass ashtray in a plush penthouse suite with a private swimming pool, the recording artist shrugged off his image as an international sex symbol.
"Everything is pure fantasy . . . I don't have anything special," he said.
The singer, who is said to take along 200 identical tuxedos when on tour, said his daily reflection in the mirror gave him a shock.
"I'm full of complexes, I'm full of psychiatrists . . . I'm not a superman," he says.
A throng of ooing and awing women in the lobby below disagreed. A few minutes earlier, they swarmed around the singer, clad in a white T-shirt and trousers and a black dress jacket, and smothered him with kisses.
Iglesias said he lived for music and had sworn off marriage after his first ended in divorce.
"I'm a professional singer and an amateur lover," he said. "I prefer to make people dream than to dream myself."
He also said he was impatient to see the results of his newest album, his second in English, due for release this month. Called "Non-Stop," it includes a song with Stevie Wonder.
"It's like when the pregnancy is over. I want to know if the baby has blue eyes or red . . . or whatever," he said.
Iglesias has sold 150 million records in five languages. He was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records when his sales hit 100 million, behind the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby.
Any one of his songs is said to be played on the radio somewhere in the world every 30 seconds.
The singer said he was donating the money from his three performances in Manila to widows of Philippine soldiers killed in the 19-year war against communist insurgents and to a private group building a memorial to those who died fighting against former strongman ruler Ferdinand Marcos.