The A to Z of the Eighties (UK)

The A to Z of the Eighties (UK)

Adam Ant

A is for... Adam and the Ants

    Adam and the Ants had appeared as warm-up act for many punk bands in London in the late 70s. After some initial success in the charts in 1980, lead singer Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard in 1954) approached Malcolm McLaren (of Sex Pistols fame) for ideas for a new image. Now dressed as an Apache/Pirate cross but with a new band line-up (after the rest of the originals debunked with McLaren to form Bow Wow Wow), a stream of hits followed including two british number ones, "Stand and Deliver" and "Prince Charming". The band, whose style combined rock and roll and dance music with strong drum-beats also scored a number of hits in the US. Abruptly Adam Ant dissolved the band and began a solo career. Despite a number one, "Goody Two Shoes", and working with Phil Collins as producer, the fantastic success of 1981 when Adam and the Ants was the UK's top chart act, was never repeated and Ant turned to a theatrical career.

B is for... Bananarama

    The original line-up of Bananarama was Keren Woodward, Sarah Dullin (both born in Bristol 1961) and Siobhan Fahey (born Dublin 1958). After backing the Fun Boy Three on "It Ain't What You Do", they recorded "Really Saying Something" which reached no 5 in the UK. By the end of the eighties Bananarama had scored another 17 hits including "Robert De Niro's Waiting", "Love In The First Degree" and "Venus", the last of which was a number one in the US. Although the group did not feature strong solo vocals, their pop harmonies and almost amateur choreography made them a fun band to listen to and watch. Siobhan Fahey left the group in 1987 and later formed Shakespeare's Sister, and was replaced by old friend Jacqui Sullivan. Despite the recent success of the Spice Girls, Bananarama remain the UK's most-charted female group.

C is for... Culture Club

    Boy George, born George Alan O'Dowd in Bexley 1961, was the co-owner of a New Romantic fashion store when he decided to move into the music industry. He had a brief fling with Bow Wow Wow before forming Culture Club with Mikey Craig, Jon Moss and Roy Hay. They were eventually signed to Virgin and despite two single flops, their third song "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" was a UK no 1 in 1982. Their next six singles were all top 5 hits, with "Karma Chameleon" reaching no 1 in both Britain and the US. Their biggest hits combined soul and reggae at its very best. George's drag style also made him a favourite headliner in the press but admitting his heroin drug addiction in 1986 marked the end of the group's popularity. George began a solo career with another no 1 "Everything I Own". However none of his future hits reached the top 10. In the mid-nineties George rose to prominence in the dance DJ arena and more recently Culture Club have reformed, charting into the Top 5 again with "I Just Wanna Be Loved".

D is for... Duran Duran

Duran Duran

    Duran Duran were Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, and Andy, John and Roger Taylor. The band first came to light in 1980 when touring with Breaking Glass star Hazel O'Connor. "Planet Earth" was their first hit and making full use of the new video market they scored nine top 10s and two number ones, "Is There Something I Should Know" and "The Reflex", between 1981 and 1986. Although they were essentially a boy-band, their music was dancable and rocky and unlike today's groups theu wrote and played their own music. Hits also including the James Bond theme "A View To A Kill" and the recent Notorious BIG sample "Notorious". A conscious move towards more serious recordings with The Power Station and Arcadia, and various solo projects diminished their teenager fanbase although they did score two other top 10s, "All She Wants Is" in 1989 and "Ordinary World" in 1993.

E is for... Eurythmics

    Annie Lennox and David A Stewart first came together in the group The Tourists which enjoyed brief chart success in 79-80 before disbanding due to a dispute with their record company over royalties. They formed the Eurythmics in 1980 and their first album, although critically acclaimed, was not a big seller. However the second album, "Sweet Dreams" spawned a number of hits, all backed by imaginative self-produced videos which helped break the band in the US. Many hits followed including the no 1 "There Must Be An Angel". The Eurythmics managed to combine an almost avant-garde approach to music and words, with commercial success. In the early nineties the duo took a break from one another and Annie Lennox scored four solo top 10 hits including "Walking On Broken Glass". The duo's latest album, "Peace", was released in 1999 and has already scored a number of modest hits.

F is for... Five Star

    Made up of three sisters and two brothers of the Pearson family, Deniece, Doris, Lorraine, Stedman and Delroy, Five Star were managed by their father Buster who had worked with Wilson Pickett and Desmond Dekker before setting up his own record label, Tent Records. Early singles were moderately successful but it was the no 3 hit "System Addict" in 1986 which established them in the British charts. Their style was very like that of the Jacksons, heavily choreographed pop/soul/dance numbers. Another five top 10s followed as well as a triple platinum album, "Silk and Steel". A major promotional tour in the US netted an offer from Disney for their own show which Buster declined. Although the group continued to chart through 87-90 they failed to emulate their early success.

G is for... Genesis, Collins and Gabriel

    Formed in the lates sixties, Genesis eventually became a five-piece band of Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett when they began to do well in Britain in the mid-seventies. First Gabriel and then Hackett left leaving the three others to continue and surprisingly by the eighties their international stature had grown remarkably. Collins' parallel solo career and Rutherford's Mike and the Mechanics were also scoring hits while with the Sledgehammer single and video brought Gabriel international fame. Even Steve Hackett's career was doing well. In the UK 80s charts Genesis had 15 hits including 4 top tens, Gabriel had 12 with 3 top 10s, Collins had 16, with ten top 10s three of which, You Can't Hurry Love, Easy Lover, and A Groovy Kind of Love were number ones, Mike and the Mechanics had three of which The Living Years was a number two, and Hacket had one. Gabriel and Collins now work solo while Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics continue to record.

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2000, Compiled by Alan J Stuart

Page last updated: March 17th, 2001