ROBBIE WILLIAMS has revealed his signature hit Angels was inspired by a ghostly encounter from his youth.
According to the 45-year-old singer, he regularly came into contact with the dead as a child.
“When I was a kid I used to talk to dead people,” he told The Sun. “I had lucid dreams. There have been UFOs, one close enough I could throw a tennis ball.
“I used to call them ghosts but I don't anymore as I don't know what they are.”
These unexplained phenomena apparently helped shape his work as a songwriter, particularly when it came to penning his first song, Angels.
“The very first song I wrote was Angels and it's about actual Angels,” he told The Sun.
“People think it's about my mum or think it's about somebody I loved but it's actually about angels. That's been my biggest hit by far.”
He said: “If it wasn't for my belief or semi belief or trying to understand what it is I see and feel every now and again I wouldn't be where I am.”
Williams previously claimed he wrote Angels with co-writer Guy Chambers in about 25 minutes, while sitting outside a café watching a water fountain.
In 2016, Williams said: "It was the first of our songs that we wrote together. We could tell and hoped and prayed that we got something incredibly special. After we wrote the song ... I hailed a cab down. [The taxi driver] played it and said "that is great, that is, Robbie, 'that is gonne be number one', and you know what: it never was number one."
The claims run contrary to those of Irish singer-songwriter Ray Heffernan who has long asserted that he wrote the first version of Angels, titled Angel Instead in Paris in 1995, after his partner had a miscarriage.
According to Heffernan’s version of events, he met Williams in a pub by chance in Dublin, where he showed him an incomplete version of the song. Later that week they recorded a demo version.
Williams has confirmed these version of events but has always insisted that he and Chambers rewrote the song significantly.
After learning Angels would appear on Williams’ album Life thru a Lens, Heffernan accepted an offer of from Williams's management to buy the rights to his version of the song for £7,500.
In 2011, Heffernan reflected: "For a long time, I was angry about this, but as you get older you see things differently ... the 'Angels' connection has opened doors to publishing companies and earned me a few quid."
In 2017, Williams defended the decision to pay Heffernan saying: "We could have gone to court, and it all would have been down to whether what way the judge wakes up that day out of bed ... So I gave him some money, and he went away."