“When we felt the demand, we made the tour bigger.” Adele fans – mortified to see their girl outdone – pointed out that the 21 singer’s tour had been sabotaged by illness.
Even so, as one critic wrote, “the music world could only look on in awe and envy at what Sade had achieved”.
“She’s a lovely woman,” says BBC radio presenter Robert Elms, who lived with her in the early years.
“She is very charming and down to earth, and the most remarkable thing is how normal she is.
Looking on may be as close as it is possible to get to Sade, the daughter of an English nurse and a Nigerian college lecturer.