An in depth look at the UK music scene in the 1980s
Information on selected Artists with some external links
ABC was formed in 1980 in Sheffield after Martin Fry, a music journalist, interviewed the band Vice Versa for his fanzine Modern Drugs. They adopted Fry as lead vocalist and changed their name to ABC. The revamped band were pigeonholed as part of the New Romantic movement of the time, which included the likes of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and The Human League.
Aerosmith Official site
Altered Images were a popular band who formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1980. Ex-school friends with an equal interest in the UK post punk scene, Clare Grogan (vocals), Michael ‘Tich’ Anderson (drums), Tony McDaid (guitar) and Johnny McElhone (bass guitar), sent a demo tape to Siouxsie and the Banshees which soon gave themselves a support slot on their Kaleidoscope tour of 1980. Grogan had previously been seen in the cult film Gregory’s Girl.
Amazulu were a predominantly female British ska and new wave band, who had a string of reggae infected UK hits in the early to mid 1980s.
Aneka (born Mary Sandeman) is a Scottish singer, who hit number one in the UK singles chart in August 1981 with “Japanese Boy”.
Anderson is perhaps best known outside Australia for his uncharacteristic ballad “Suddenly”, used as the wedding theme for the Neighbours soap opera characters Charlene Robinson and Scott Robinson. He also appeared in the hit movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and in stage musicals in Australia
Aswad (“Black” in Arabic) is a long lasting British reggae group, that is noted for adding strong R&B and soul influences to the reggae sound.
Aztec Camera was a Scottish New Wave music band from Glasgow. The line-up of the band changed several times over the years, but the constant member has been guitarist / vocalist / singer-songwriter Roddy Frame. Founding members included Campbell Owens (bass) and Dave Mulholland (drums). Ex-Bluebells bassist Craig Gannon was a member from 1983 through 1985, before joining The Smiths. Guitarist Malcolm Ross (formerly of Josef K and Orange Juice) also joined in 1983, and appeared on the Knife album.
Adam & the Ants was a new wave band during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was one of the bands at the time that marked the transition from the 70s punk rock era to the new-wave post punk-music era. Although the band started off with a punk-influenced sound, it soon moved on to New Wave motivated by new sources such as the drum-heavy “Burundi Beat” heard on “Dog Eat Dog”.
a-ha is a Norwegian band who was most popular in the UK and the USA during the 1980s, but continued to be globally successful in the 1990s and 2000s. The trio, composed of lead vocalist Morten Harket, guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (known as P嬠Waaktaar until 1994) and keyboardist Magne Furuholmen, formed in 1982 and left Norway for London in order to make a career in the music business… more here
Bananarama are an English girl group who found worldwide fame with their melodic pop and new wave songs. They have placed ten singles in the top-ten of the UK singles chart to date, as well as three U.S. top-ten hits, one of which hit number one. Some of their biggest international hits include “Cruel Summer”, “Venus”, and “I Heard a Rumour”. They are known for their unique vocal style which features all members singing the same notes in unison (rather than three-part harmonies)… more here
Band Aid was a British and Irish charity supergroup, founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia by releasing the record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for the Christmas market. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Two subsequent re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts. The original was produced by Trevor Horn.
The Bangles were one of the new generation of independent all-women bands that followed The Go-Go’s in the early 1980s. The band was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1981 as The Supersonic Bangs, later shortened to The Bangs. They were forced to change their name to The Bangles when a band from New Jersey, also named The Bangs, threatened to sue.
Barbra Streisand Official site
The Beautiful South The Beautiful South are an English pop/rock group formed in 1988 by two former members of the Hull group the Housemartins—Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway—both of whom performed lead and backing vocals. Other members throughout the band’s tenure were former Housemartins roadie Sean Welch (bass), Dave Stead (drums) and Dave Rotheray (guitar). After the band’s first album (recorded as a quintet), they were joined by a succession of female vocalists, all of whom performed lead and backing vocals alongside Heaton and Hemingway – Briana Corrigan for albums two and three after appearing as a guest vocalist on one, followed by Jacqui Abbott for the fourth through seventh albums, and finally Alison Wheeler for the final three Beautiful South albums.
The Beastie Boys are a hip hop group from the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. They were the first white (and the only partly-Jewish) rap group of any importance and one of the few acts from the early days of hip hop that still enjoy major success today. Their rock- and punk-influenced rap has had a significant impact on artists both in and outside the hip hop scene.
Bee Gees Official site
Belinda Carlisle (born Belinda Jo Carlisle; also known as Belinda Kurczeski) on August 17, 1958 in Hollywood, California, is the lead vocalist and a founding member of the all-female rock & roll band The Go-Go’s and also a successful solo artist.
Berlin was an American new wave band featuring lead singer Terri Nunn. Berlin was formed in Orange County, California in 1979. Their first single, “A Matter of Time,” was released in 1980 on I.R.S. Records and featured replacement vocalist Virginia Macolino on lead vocals after Nunn had temporarily left the band to pursue an acting career. Their first significant hit was the controversial synth-driven “Sex (I’m A…)” (1982), which was banned by some radio stations due to its graphic lyrics, but it was “Take My Breath Away” (from the movie Top Gun) that became their best-selling single in 1986. They had two other hits: “The Metro”, which was later covered by System of a Down, [[Sounds of Mass Production (SMP)]], Alkaline Trio, and I Am The World Trade Center; and “No More Words”, who’s subsequent video saw Terri Nunn and bandmates re-enact a Bonnie and Clyde style car chase and shoot-out.
Big Country were a rock band from Dunfermline, Scotland, popular in the early to mid 1980s, but still releasing material for a cult following as recently as 2004.
Big Fun -Fan site
Billy Idol lived in Worthing before attending Sussex University for only a year before joining the Bromley Contingent of keen Sex Pistols fans. He joined a punk rock band Chelsea in 1977, soon leaving it to form Generation X… more here
William Martin Joel (born May 9, 1949, in Bronx, New York) is an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Joel recorded many popular hits from 1973 (beginning with the single “Piano Man”) to his retirement from recording pop music in 1993. He is one of the very few rock or even pop artists to have Top Ten hits in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
Billy Ocean (born Leslie Sebastian Charles on 21 January 1950 in Fyzabad, Trinidad), is a UK based popular music performer, who had a string of rhythm and blues tinged international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s.
Black is the musical vehicle for singer/songwriter Colin Vearncombe (born on 26 May 1962, in Liverpool, England). From 1981 to 1988, the band also included Dave Dix. Black’s first release was “Human Features” on Rox Records in 1981. This was followed by another independent release in 1982 “More Than The Sun” (Wonderful World Of Records), after which Black was snapped up by WEA Records.
Black Box (later Blackbox) was an Italo-house music group popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, best known for their hit “Ride on Time”. The members of the group included a trio made up of a club DJ (Daniele Davoli), a classically trained clarinet teacher (Valerio Semplici) and a keyboard and electronic music “whizz” (Mirko Limoni.) The three had previously joined to form a group called Groove Groove Melody, producing dance music under names such as Starlight and Wood Allen. They went on to record music under many other aliases.
Blondie Official site
The Blow Monkeys
The Blow Monkeys was a British sophisti-pop band of the 1980s. Fronted by lead singer and songwriter Dr. Robert (born Bruce Robert Howard, 2 May 1961 in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland), the group formed in 1981 upon Howard’s return to the UK after spending his teen years in Australia. The group gets its unusual name from an offensive term used in Australia, referring to Aboriginals playing the didgeridoo.
The Bluebells were a Scottish pop group in the 1980s. Peddling a kind of jangly guitar based pop not dissimilar to their Scottish contemporaries Aztec Camera and Orange Juice, they had three Top 40 hit singles in the UK, all written by guitarist and founder member Bobby Bluebell (real name Robert Hodgens) – “I’m Falling”, “Cath”, and their biggest success “Young at Heart”. The latter was co-written with Siobhan Fahey (with whom Hodgens was romantically linked for a while) and made it to number 8 in the UK Singles Chart on its original release in 1984. The band also released two albums, The Bluebells and Sisters.
Bonnie Tyler (born Gaynor Hopkins on June 8, 1951 in Skewen, Neath) is a Welsh singer. Born into a large working-class family of six children, her father worked as a miner while her mother, an opera fan, shared her love of music with her children. Influenced by the music of Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, as a teen she sang with a group called “Bobby Wayne and the Dixies,” following which she formed her own band, calling it Imagination. Adopting different stage names until settling on Bonnie Tyler, for nearly a decade she and her band performed at pubs and nightclubs all over South Wales.
Bryan Adams, OC, OBC (born 5 November 1959, Kingston, Ontario) is a Canadian singer, guitarist and songwriter.Some of his best-known albums are Reckless, Waking up the Neighbours and 18 ‘Til I Die. Adams was awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia for his contribution to popular music and his philanthropic work. He was also inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1998, and more recently inducted into the Music Hall of Fame at Canada’s Juno Awards April 2006. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards for songwriting… more here
Bucks Fizz are an English pop group, formed in 1981 to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest that year. They won with Making Your Mind Up and went on to have a successful pop career… more here
Bon Jovi is an influential rock band from New Jersey, USA. Fronted by lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi, the group originally achieved large-scale success in the 1980s as a hair metal band.
Bon Jovi has sold more than 35 million albums in the United States, and over 105 million albums worldwide, and has played live concerts in major cities in Asia, Europe, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and South America, in addition to a large number of cities in the U.S… more here
Bros were an English boy band active in the late-1980s and early- 1990s, consisting of the twin brothers Matt Goss and Luke Goss along with Craig Logan. They were managed by former heremanager Tom Watkins, who it was rumoured was actually one of the main songwriters, working under the name “The Brothers” with other songwriters to give the impression that the Goss brothers were the actual writers of the early hits… more
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American rock and folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Springsteen has frequently recorded and toured with the E Street Band, in addition to recording and performing as a solo artist and with other musicians. An heir to Elvis Presley… more here.
Cameo is a funk, R&B and dance group, best known for the 1986 hit “Word Up!”. Their lead singer is Larry Blackmon. Formed in 1974, Cameo started out as a 13-member group created by former Juilliard student and New York-area clubgoer Larry Blackmon, called the New York City Players. Signed by Casablanca Records to their Chocolate City imprint in 1976, the group soon changed its name to Cameo. Cameo started with a deep, funky sound, but it was obvious from the start that their sights were set on the dance floors. Their first albums Cardiac Arrest, Ugly Ego, We All Know Who We Are and Secret Omen contained dance floor songs such as “Rigor Mortis”, “I Just Want To Be” and “Find My Way,” the latter which was a major disco smash and was included on the soundtrack to Thank God It’s Friday.
Cher (born Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere on May 20, 1946) is an American pop/rock singer, songwriter, actress, director, author and all-around entertainer. Through her achievements in music, television and film, she has won an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy and 3 Golden Globe Awards, among others.
Chicago Official site
Chris De Burgh Official site
Christopher Anton Rea (born 4 March 1951) is a successful English singer-songwriter, from Middlesbrough. Rea began to focus his attention on continental Europe, releasing eight albums in the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1985’s ‘Shamrock Diaries’ and the songs ‘Stainsby Girls’ and ‘Josephine’, that UK audiences began to take notice of him. Follow up albums ‘On The Beach’ and ‘Dancing With Strangers’ became big UK hits before the New Light Through Old Windows compilation album in 1988 brought Rea great success, cementing his reputation as one of the UK’s finest singer-songwriters. His next full album was to be his major breakthrough. ‘The Road to Hell’  enjoyed massive success and became his first number one album in the UK. These successes could not be mirrored in the U.S., however, where it failed to chart. The follow-up album, Auberge, also enjoyed massive European success, reaching the top spot in the UK.
The Christians are a soul band from Liverpool, England, scoring several UK chart hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They consisted of Garry Christian (lead vocals), Roger Christian (vocals), Russell Christian (keyboards, saxophone, vocals) and Henry Priestman (b. 21 September 1955) (keyboards, guitars, vocals). The band’s name relates purely to the Christian brothers surname, rather than any religious sentiment.
Colonel Abrams is a dance music musician who was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Brooklyn, New York. In 1985 he signed to MCA Records for a debut album Colonel Abrams, featuring a hit entitled “Trapped”, which reached the UK Top 5.
He also enjoyed a string of very successful entries on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the 1980s and 1990s, including four entries that hit #1. “Trapped” topped the dance chart in 1985, to be followed by the entire Colonel Abrams album, which spent two weeks at #1 the following year. “I’m Not Gonna Let” also spent a week at #1 in 1986 and in 1987 he had his fourth #1 US dance hit with “How Soon We Forget.”
An electronic remix of “Trapped” was later released in 1995 by Boards of Canada under the pseudonym Hell Interface.
Communards were a British pop duo of the 1980s.
They formed in 1985 after singer Jimmy Somerville left his earlier band Bronski Beat to team up with classically-trained musician Richard Coles. Though mainly a pianist, Coles played a number of instruments and had been seen previously performing the clarinet solos on the Bronski Beat hit “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Also with Dave Renwick, bass player, who also played with Bronski Beat. Jimmy was well-known for his falsetto singing style, and the fact that he was openly gay.
Culture Club was a popular 1980s English pop group, perhaps most noticeable for their gender-bending frontman Boy George. The other members of the band were Roy Hay on guitars and keyboards, Mikey Craig playing bass and Jon Moss (ex Damned, London and Adam and the Ants) on drums… more here
The Cure are a successful English rock band, widely seen as one of the leading pioneers of the British alternative rock scene of the 1980s. A combination of lead singer Robert Smith’s iconic wild hair, pale complexion, smudged lipstick, and the frequently gloomy and introspective lyrics have… more here
Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper (born June 22, 1953), better known as Cyndi Lauper, is a Grammy Award-winning singer and Emmy Award-winning film, television and theatre actress. Her melodic voice and wild costumes have come to epitomize the 1980s and New Wave ? the decade and genre in which she first came to fame… more here
The Damned are a punk rock/gothic rock group formed in London in 1976. They are notable for being the first of the British punk bands to release a single, put out an album, and tour the United States… more here
Danny Wilson were a pop group formed in Dundee, Scotland. Brothers Gary Clark (born on 10 March 1962 in USA); and Kit Clark (born on 20 May 1967, in Dundee); formed a band with longtime friend Ged Grimes (born 28 March 1962); in 1984, initially under the name Spencer Tracy. However, after representation from the estate of Spencer Tracy, they changed their name to Danny Wilson, from the Frank Sinatra movie Meet Danny Wilson
Deacon Blue are one of Scotland’s most popular pop bands. The name of the band is taken from the title of a Steely Dan song, whose lyrics seem to reflect the Scottish band’s early outlook:
They got a name for the winners in the world I want a name when I lose…. Call me Deacon Blue. Formed in 1985, this predominantly Glaswegian act… more here.
Dead or Alive
Dead or Alive is an influential New Wave band from Liverpool that rose to popularity during the 1980s. They are best known for the hit singles “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” and “Turn Around & Count 2 Ten”.
Deborah Ann Gibson, credited as Debbie Gibson (born August 31, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American singer-songwriter who was a teen idol in her youth. She appeared repeatedly on the covers of teen magazines… more here
Dee C Lee
Dee C. Lee (born Diane Sealey, June 6, 1961 in South London) is an English singer. Lee was a backing vocalist for the pop group Wham! in the early 1980s, but she soon left the group to join Paul Weller’s new band, The Style Council. She was married to Paul Weller (but now divorced) and they have two children, Nathaniel and Leah
Def Leppard are an English hard rock/heavy metal band from Sheffield who formed in 1977 as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Thanks to their classic albums, Pyromania and Hysteria, Def Leppard became one of the top selling and influential rock bands of its time… more here
Deniece Williams is an American singer and songwriter who achieved success in the 1970s and 1980s. Williams, whose music has been influenced by pop, soul, gospel, R&B and dance; and hits such as “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” and “Silly”.
Donna Summer Official site
Dexys Midnight Runners, the name consistently spelled without an apostrophe ? were a British New Wave and Northern Soul band, who achieved their major success in the early to mid 1980s… more soon.
Dire Straits was a British rock band, formed in 1977 by David Knopfler (guitar), his brother Mark Knopfler (guitar and vocals), John Illsley (bass), and Pick Withers (drums), and managed by Ed Bicknell. Although the band was formed in an era when punk rock reigned, Dire Straits worked within the conventions of classic rock, albeit with a stripped-down sound that appealed… more here
Eddy Grant (born Edmond Montague Grant on 5 March 1948), is a Plaisance, Guyana born musician. When he was still a young boy, his parents emigrated to the UK, where he settled. He had his first Number One hit in 1968, when he was the lead guitarist and main songwriter of the multiracial group, The Equals. It was his self-penned song, “Baby Come Back” that flew to the chart summit. The tune also later topped the UK singles chart again when covered by Pato Banton. Notably, he openly used his songwriting for political purposes, especially against the then-current apartheid regime of South Africa.
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947) is an English pop/rock singer, composer and pianist. In a career spanning five decades, Elton John has sold over 250 million records and has over 50 Top 40 hits, making him one of the most successful musicians of all time… more soon.
Europe is a Swedish hard rock band originally assembled as a progressive rock group; they later added keyboards to their sound in order to soften it, in hopes of gaining radio airplay. Europe?s sound substantially influenced the power metal genre.
Europe is one of the most successful Swedish bands ever, having sold more than ten million albums worldwide.
Eurythmics were a British music duo consisting of members Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. Stewart and Lennox were both previously in the band The Tourists (originally known as The Catch), who split up in 1980; Eurythmics were formed that year in Wagga Wagga. The duo released their first album, In the Garden, in 1981 to little fanfare, but went on to achieve global success with their second album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), released in 1983… more here
Falco Official site
Feargal Sharkey (born Sean Feargal Sharkey on August 13, 1958, in Derry) is a Northern Irish singer, who first found fame as the lead vocalist of pop punk band The Undertones.
He was also the singer of the one-shot group The Assembly, with the ex-Yazoo supremo Vince Clarke in 1983 (with their UK singles chart number 4 hit, “Never Never”).
His best-known solo material is the 1985 UK chart-topping single penned by Maria McKee, “A Good Heart”, which went to number one in several countries. His solo work is significantly different from the semi-punk offerings of The Undertones.
Starting in the early 1990s Sharkey moved into the business side of the music industry, initially as an A&R manager for Polydor Records and then as Managing Director of EXP Ltd. He was appointed a Member of the Radio Authority for five years from December 1998 to December 2003.
Feargal was appointed Chairman of the UK Government task force the ‘Live Music Forum’ in 2004.
Fine Young Cannibals was an English band best known for their 1989 hits “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing”. Formed in Birmingham, England, by actor/model Roland Gift on vocals with musicians and former The Beat members David Steele and Andy Cox. Their name came from the 1960 film All The Fine Young Cannibals starring Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood… more soon.
Fleetwood Mac (formed in 1967) is an influential and commercially successful British-American band that has had a revolving door of personnel, and varied levels of success. The only two members who have been there from the beginning are its namesakes, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, while keyboardist Christine McVie has to date appeared on all but two albums… more soon.
Foreigner is a rock band formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran musicians Mick Jones and Ian McDonald, along with then unknown vocalist Lou Gramm (Louis Grammatico).
Freeez was a dance music group from London, England who had two top ten hits on the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1983. The song “I.O.U.” from the Breakdance movie Beat Street spent two weeks at number one, and was followed by “Pop Goes My Love” / “Scratch Goes My Dub,” which hit the top five. In 1987 a new remix of “I.O.U.” climbed to number eighteen on the U.S. dance chart, plus number twenty-three in the national United Kingdom Gallup charts.
Glenn Alan Medeiros (born June 24, 1970) is a singer and songwriter of Portuguese ancestry from the state of Hawai’i. From humble beginnings performing on a tour bus on the island of Kauai, Medeiros’s musical career soared. He is best known for his rendition of George Benson’s “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You,” which was #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 of 1987 and #1 in the UK as well as in France and Germany (one of his three worldwide #1 hit singles). He also scored a 1990 United States #1 hit duet with Bobby Brown entitled “She Ain’t Worth It” and followed it up with another hit duet hit with Ray Parker, Jr. (#32) “All I’m Missing Is You”. Today, Medeiros performs at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, and also teaches music at St. Joseph’s School in Waipahu, and teaches 2nd grade at Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei.
Gloria Estefan (born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo) on September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba) is a five-time Grammy Award-winning Cuban-American singer and songwriter. Estefan began her career as lead vocalist for the Hispanic dance music band, Miami Sound Machine, in 1975. They crossed over to mainstream popular success with English-speaking audiences with the international hit singles, “Dr. Beat” (1984) and “Conga” (1986).
Go West are an English pop group. The duo formed in 1982, with Peter Cox (born on 17 November 1955, in Twickenham, London, England); and Richard Drummie (born on 20 March 1959, in Twickenham, London, England).
Haircut One Hundred (also known as Haircut 100) was a pop music band, formed in 1980.
They were successful from the beginning, with their 1981 single “Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)” setting the stage for the breakthrough success of the album Pelican West (1982). The single “Love Plus One” was even bigger than anything previous, and Haircut 100 seemed poised for stardom just as Heyward decided to seek a solo career. The remainder of the band tried to continue with the album Paint and Paint (1984, with percussionist Mark Fox taking over Heyward’s vocal duties), but they broke up soon after… more soon.
Hazell Dean (born October 27, 1956 in Great Baddow, Essex) is an English Dance music singer, composer and producer. She started her career in 1970s, but achieved a chart success in 80s working with the famous Stock Aitken Waterman team. Hazell Dean was elected three times as the ‘Best Live Performer’ by the Federation of American Dance Clubs (U.S.), and twice as a ‘Best British Performer’ by Club Mirror awards (UK).
Heart is an American band formed in Seattle, Washington. Going through several lineup changes, the only constant members of the group are sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. The group’s music during the ’70s was influenced by hard rock groups like Led Zeppelin, and folk music. In the ’80s they became a mainstream rock act, before dropping out of the public consciousness in the ’90s.
Heaven 17 are an English synthpop band originating in Sheffield in the early 1980s. Taking their name from a fictional pop group mentioned in Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange (where ‘The Heaven Seventeen’ are at number 4 in the charts with “Inside” ), Heaven 17 formed when Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware split from their earlier group The Human League and formed production company British Electric Foundation (BEF). Shortly after, they recruited their friend and photographer Glenn Gregory on vocals to complete their lineup for Heaven 17. Contrary to popular belief, they were not New Romantics and shared few visual characteristics with groups such as Spandau Ballet and Culture Club.
The Hothouse Flowers
The Hothouse Flowers is an Irish rock group that combines traditional Irish music with influences from soul, gospel and rock. The group first formed in 1985 when Liam Ó Maonlaí and Fiachna Ó Braonáin (who had known each other as children in a Gaelic-speaking school) began performing as street musicians, or buskers, on the streets of Dublin, Ireland as “The Incomparable Benzini Brothers.” They were soon joined by Peter O’Toole, and had won a street-entertainer award within a year. They renamed the group “Hothouse Flowers” and began writing songs and performing throughout Ireland. Rolling Stone magazine called them the best unsigned band in Europe.
The Housemartins were an English indie rock/accapella band that was active in the 1980s.
The band was formed in 1983 by Paul Heaton (vocals), Stan Cullimore (guitar), Ted Key (bass) and Chris Lang (drums). The band’s membership changed quite a lot over the years. Ted Key was replaced by Norman Cook (the future Fatboy Slim) and drummer Chris Lang was replaced by Hugh Whitaker, former drummer with The Gargoyles, who in turn was replaced with Dave Hemingway.
Howard Jones (born John Howard Jones on February 23, 1955) is an English singer and songwriter. He is the eldest of three boys. His birthplace is Southampton, England, and he spent his early years in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and attended the Royal Grammar School. He now lives with his family in Somerset… more here.
Hue & Cry
Hue and Cry is a pop group formed in 1983 in Coatbridge, Scotland by brothers Pat Kane (vocals) and Greg Kane (keyboards). They had a number of modest hits in the UK singles chart in the late 1980s, and early 1990s, and have released eleven albums from 1987 to date, selling over two million copies worldwide.
Huey Lewis & The News
Huey Lewis & the News, formerly known as Huey Lewis & the American Express, are a popular U.S. rock band based in San Francisco, California whose greatest success was in the 1980s, when they were one of the most popular music acts of the decade. The band is known for writing simple, light-hearted songs from a working-class perspective and typically appealed to yuppies and baby boomers of the 80s. Combining a rock (and sometimes, a “blues-rock”) backing with harmony vocals and Lewis’s voice, Huey Lewis & the News had numerous hit songs during the 1980s and early 1990s, including “The Power of Love”, “I Want a New Drug”, “Doin’ it all (For my Baby)”, “Do You Believe in Love?” “Hip to Be Square”, “Stuck With You”, and “Jacob’s Ladder”.
The Human League are an English synthpop band formed in 1977, who, after several changes in line up, achieved great popularity in the 1980s and a limited comeback in the mid-1990s. Originally a synthesiser based group from Sheffield, England, the only consistent band member since the Human League formed in 1977 is vocalist and songwriter Phil Oakey… more soon.
Inner City is an American music group formed in Detroit in 1987. The group consists of producer and composer Kevin Saunderson, and two vocalists; Ann Saunderson (Kevin’s wife) and Chicago native Paris Grey. Kevin Saunderson is renowned as one of the “Belleville Three” (along with Juan Atkins and Derrick May), high school friends who later originated the Detroit Techno sound.
Inner City topped dance charts in America and Britain 11 times, hit the UK Top 40 eight times and sold around 6 million records. The group is best known for their early dance floor / pop music crossover tracks “Big Fun” and “Good Life” that were shown on MTV all around the world. Later work introduced a hybrid of techno, jazz and swing beats with a more soulful sound in the vein of down tempo British groups like Soul II Soul and Massive Attack.
INXS (pronounced “In Excess”) is an Australian rock group. The band was formed in 1977 by the late Michael Hutchence (lead vocals), Andrew Farriss (guitar and keyboards), Tim Farriss (b. August 16, 1957, in Perth, Western Australia, Australia) (lead guitar), Jon Farriss (drums), Garry Gary Beers (bass), and Kirk Pengilly (b. July 4, 1958, in Kew, Victoria, Australia) (saxophone and guitar)… more here
It Bites are a progressive rock and pop fusion band formed in Egremont, Cumbria, England, in 1982. The group was a mix of post Peter Gabriel Genesis and 10cc with Van Halen like vocals and guitar histrionics. The group enjoyed number 6 single chart success in the UK with their only major hit single “Calling All The Heroes”.
Jaki Graham (born September 15, 1956 in Birmingham, England) is an English singer. She originally sang in a band called Ferrari, and then went on to sing with the band Medium Wave, before becoming a backing vocalist for UB40. She was soon discovered and went on to achieve good chart success, including two singles in which she duetted with the former Linx member and future Fame Academy vocal coach, David Grant.
The Jam were an English rock band active in the late 1970s and early ’80s. They were one of the most popular groups of the day, achieving eighteen straight Top 40 singles in the UK from their debut in 1977 to their swansong in 1982, including four #1 hits. Two of these eighteen singles were available on an import-only basis; they remain the best-selling import singles of all time in the UK… more here
Jason Sean Donovan (born 1 June 1968) is an Australian actor and singer, with world-wide record sales of over 30 million copies (singles, albums, compilation inclusions, etc.) . In recent years he has mainly worked as a leading man in stage musicals in the United Kingdom… more here.
Jermaine Stewart (September 7, 1957 – March 17, 1997) was an American pop singer, best known for his Billboard hits, “The Word Is Out” from his 1984 debut album of the same name, and “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” in 1986, from the album Frantic Romantic. Born in Columbus, Ohio to parents Ethel M. Stewart and Eugene Stewart, Jermaine always enjoyed dancing and in school would often give dance lessons to other children for $1 a lesson. In 1972, the Stewart family moved to Chicago, Illinois where he took his first steps toward a career in entertainment. This was followed by stints on both American Bandstand and later Soul Train as a dancer.
Jim Diamond (September 28, 1951- October 8, 2015) was a Scottish singer-songwriter. Diamond is best known for his two Top 5 hits – “I Won’t Let You Down” (1981) as the singer in the trio Ph.D., with Tony Hymas and Simon Phillips; and his solo performance, “I Should Have Known Better”. The latter song was a United Kingdom number one in 1984.
He is also known for some guest vocals on various Genesis band members solo outings including; “You Call This Victory” on the album Soundtracks by Tony Banks. “Days Of Long Ago” on the album Darktown by Steve Hackett.
He also wrote “Hi Ho Silver”, the theme song for British television drama series Boon, which reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1986. Diamond has resumed touring in the UK in recent years, and in January 2003, he put the finishing touches to his first album, with British horn virtuoso Snake Davis, under the group name The Blue Shoes.
Johnny Hates Jazz was an English band formed in 1986 by Clark Datchler (vocals, piano), Calvin Hayes (keyboards), and American-born Mike Nocito (bass). Named after a friend who hated jazz, Johnny Hates Jazz released their first single, “Me and My Foolish Heart,” on RAK Records that year. After searching for a major-label record deal they landed one towards the end of 1986 with Virgin Records after a gig at, ironically enough, a jazz club. The group’s debut single for Virgin, “Shattered Dreams,” became a monster success in 1987. Datchler left in 1989 and was replaced by Phil Thornalley. A month before the release of their second album Tall Stories the band was involved in a serious car crash which left Hayes in a body cast for over a year. The band lost momentum and eventually split in 1995… more soon.
Johnny Logan (real name Sean Patrick Michael Sherrard) was born in Frankston near Melbourne, Australia, on 13 May 1954 but lives in Ashbourne, Co. Meath, Ireland. His father was a very well known Irish tenor, Patrick O’Hagen, who performed three times at The White House, for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon. The family moved back to Ireland when Johnny was aged three. He learnt the guitar and began composing his own songs by the age of thirteen. On leaving school he apprenticed as an electrician, while performing in folk and blues clubs. His earliest claim to fame was starring as Adam in the 1977 Irish musical “Adam and Eve”.
Kajagoogoo was a British pop band best known for its first single, “Too Shy”, which reached Number 1 in the UK and Number 5 in the U.S in 1983. The single was produced by keyboardist Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran and Colin Thurston who was, at this time, Duran Duran’s in-house producer… more here
Katrina & The Waves
Katrina and the Waves were a pop rock band of the 1980s, best known for their smash hit “Walking on Sunshine” and their 1997 Eurovision Song Contest victory.
Formed in 1981 in Cambridge, England, the Waves were fronted by American-born singer Katrina Leskanich until she left the group in 1999. Their lead guitarist is Kimberley Rew, formerly of the Soft Boys.
Kelly Marie (born Jacqueline McKinnon, 23 October 1957, in Paisley, Scotland) was a British disco singer. She had several hits internationally during the late 1970s, including “Make Love to Me” (1978). Her biggest hit by far was “Feels Like I’m in Love” (1980). That track was written by Ray Dorset, originally as a potential song for Elvis Presley who died before it could be given to him. Marie made the most of the opportunity and enjoyed the third biggest selling single of 1980 in the UK. Her other UK hit singles were “Loving Just for Fun”, “Hot Love” and “Love Trial” – although the latter only made it to number 51 in the UK Singles Chart in 1981.
Kids from Fame
Fame was an American television series that ran from 1982 to 1987. The show was based on the 1980 motion picture of the same name that tells the stories of the students and faculty at the “New York City High School for the Performing Arts.” They performed collectively as The Kids from Fame… more here
Kool & The Gang
Kool & the Gang was a highly successful R&B/soul/funk/disco group. They originally formed in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1964. They went through several musical phases in their career. They started out as practitioners of R&B and funk, eventually went through a phase where they were a smooth disco ensemble, and wound up the successful period of their career recording tunes that were a mixture of pop and R&B.
Laura Branigan (July 3, 1957 ? August 26, 2004) was a popular American singer/actress from Brewster, New York, best known in the U.S. for the song “Gloria” (1982). She received the first of four Grammy Award nominations for the song. Branigan introduced the ballad “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” (1983), making the song a standard, recorded by dozens of artists throughout the world in the years since. “Self Control” (1984) was her biggest-selling album, and the title track became an international Number One hit. Her other Top 40 hits included “Solitaire,” “The Lucky One,” “Spanish Eddie,” and “The Power of Love.” She was of Irish and Italian ancestry.
Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. (born June 20, 1949) is an American R&B singer, songwriter, composer, producer and occasional actor.
His fame began when he was the front man for the Commodores, a nationally popular Motown band during the 1970s… more here.
The London Boys were a German-based, British dance pop duo comprising of Edem Ephraim (born 1 July 1959 in London) and Dennis Fuller (born 19 June 1960 in Jamaica), both of whom were killed in an Alpine car accident on January 21, 1996. Although they lived near Hamburg, Germany since 1981, they had actually met when they were at school in London. They were formed in 1986 as a vehicle for songwriter and producer – Ralf-Ren頍au鮠Their musical style was catchy and highly infectious Eurobeat dance music combined with choreography acquired during their experience as Rollerblade dancers prior to forming London Boys. Consequently their early releases were marketed towards the Eurodisco scene.
Lonnie Gordon is a female dance music singer from New York’s Bronx, who had several entries on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the nineties, including three that hit #1. She also had a major UK hit with “Happenin’ All Over Again”, which reached #4 in the main singles chart in 1990. She also had a hit single in the UK with “Gonna Catch You” (# 32 UK) in 1991. “If I Have To Stand Alone” reached only #68 in the UK. Her first US dance #1 was “Gonna Catch You” in 1991, which was featured on the soundtrack to the Vanilla Ice movie Cool as Ice. It also hit #79 on the Hot 100. Her next single “Bad Mood” topped the dance chart in 1993 and was followed by a remixed version of “Happenin’ All Over Again,” another dance chart #1 that also climbed to #98 on the Hot 100. Gordon has hit the Top 10 of the US dance chart two more times and her most recent chart entry was in 1996.
MARRS (or M/A/R/R/S, or probably more accurately M|A|R|R|S as they were named on their record sleeves) was a one-off recording act from 1987, a collaboration between the groups A R Kane and Colourbox, with additional input from DJs Chris “C.J.” Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell. However, the collaboration did not go entirely to plan. Once in the studio, the groups’ different working methods and personalities failed to gel. Producer Jon Fryer found himself in the middle and unable to resolve the conflict between the two camps. The result was that instead of working together, the two groups ended up recording a track each, then turning it over to the other for additional input.
Madness are an English rock band who achieved most of their success in the 1980s, spending more weeks in the UK chart than any other group… more here
Marillion are a British Rock group formed in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England in 1979, whose 13 studio album career to date is generally regarded as comprising of two distinct eras, delineated by the departure of original frontman Fish in late 1988 after their first 4 albums and the subsequent arrival of replacement Steve Hogarth (“h”) in early 1989, with whom a subsequent 9 albums have been released thus far.
The core lineup of Steve Rothery (the sole remaining original member), Pete Trewavas, Mark Kelly and Ian Mosley has stayed unchanged since 1984. The band has enjoyed critical and commercial success with a string of UK top 10 hits spanning their career and even an entry into the Guinness book of records.
Meat Loaf is the stage name of Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947), an American actor and rock and roll singer. He is particularly noted for his smash hit album Bat out of Hell and several famous songs from movies. Meat Loaf is also the name of the band he fronts, as its lead singer. In 2001, he legally changed his first name to Michael… more soon.
Mel and Kim were an English musical act that achieved success in the late 1980s.
Sisters Melanie (July 11, 1966 – January 18, 1990) and Kim Appleby (born August 28, 1961) were noticed dancing in a nightclub in their native London and signed to a recording contract with Supreme Records under the guidance of production team Stock Aitken Waterman in 1985, and began releasing records under the name of Mel & Kim.
Mental As Anything
Mental As Anything is an Australian rock music band which has released several albums and many innovative music videos, including “Get Wet”, “Cats & Dogs”, “Creatures of Leisure”, “Fundamental”, and “Mouth To Mouth”. Although they have worked in a much broader musical idiom, Mental As Anything are in many respects comparable to British band Madness, in that their music is typically delivered with a quirky, ironic sense of humour and a strong visual identity. Founding members Martin Plaza and Reg Mombassa met at art school and formed the band in 1976; all of the early members became accomplished painters, with Mombassa’s work in particular becoming very well known through his designs for the Mambo clothing company.
The Mentals’ music is characterised by poppy, accessible and well-crafted melodies and lyrics, and almost all their work showcases their ironic, satirical and self-deprecating sense of humour. They are arguably one of the most typically ‘Australian’ of rock groups, with their music and their satirical, good-time image deeply rooted in the milieu of Australian suburbia, despite the fact that two key members (the O’Doherty brothers) were in fact immigrants from New Zealand. The group’s art school background and visual design skills also made them pioneers of the music video form in Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and their videos rank as some of the funniest and most imaginative produced in Australia at that time.
Midge Ure OBE (born James Ure on October 10, 1953 in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland) is a rock and roll guitarist, singer and songwriter from Scotland, who had particular success in the 1970s and 1980s. His stage name, Midge, is a phonetic reversal of his real name, Jim… more here.
Milli Vanilli was a pop and dance music ensemble formed by Frank Farian in Germany in 1988 and fronted by Fab Morvan (b. May 14, 1966) and Rob Pilatus (June 8, 1965 ? April 2, 1998). The group’s debut album achieved high sales internationally and garnered them a Grammy award for Best New Artist in 1990. However, their success turned to infamy when the award was revoked after it was revealed that the purported singers did not actually sing on the record.
Mr. Mister was an American atmospheric pop band of the 1980s. The band took its name from a drink called Mr. Misty that was sold by the Dairy Queen ice cream franchise. Richard Page had formerly worked as a session musician (for Quincy Jones) and had composed for Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Kenny Loggins, Al Jarreau, and many more, when in the late 1970s, he and his childhood friend Steve George founded the band Pages (most notable song: I Do Believe In You) in Phoenix, Arizona, from which Mr. Mister was founded in 1982. The two continued to apply their tight harmonies to background vocals on albums by successful pop artists like Laura Branigan and the Village People while working to break their own material.
Musical Youth formed in 1979 at Duddeston Manor School, Birmingham, England. This pop / reggae influenced group, featured two sets of brothers, Kelvin and Michael Grant, plus Junior and Patrick Waite. The latter pair’s father, Frederick Waite, was a former member of Jamaican group The Techniques, and sang lead with Junior at the start of the group’s career in the late 1970s.
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80’s Music Scene Part 3 focusing on N-Z is available here.