70's Artist Archive
With a series of top ten hits, many of them reaching number one, Swedens best export since the Volvo have reason to be proud of their ability to conquer the European and American charts.Whilst everyone remembers the Eurovision smash Waterloo from 1974, all four members of Abba were well established on the Scandanavian music scene in the 60s. Bjorn Ulvaeus was a member of a successful folk group and Benny Andersson played with pop band Hep Stars. When the two bands played together in 1966, Benny and Bjorn decided to write songs together, quitting their respective groups in 1969 to write and produce in house for record company boss Stig Anderson.After an unsucessful first single, Benny and Bjorn recruited their fiancees , Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad to sing backing vocals on their follow up and the result, People Need Love, hit the top twenty in Sweden in 1972. Early 1973 saw the finals for the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest and the name Abba was used for the first time (the group had previously used their four christian names). Abba performed Ring Ring, but despite coming third the lost opportunity to represent their country in the main contest must have been offset somewhat by its popularity in the Swedish charts.Encouraged by a successful tour, Abba had another crack at Eurovision and won the main contest staged in Britain in 1974 with Waterloo which reached number one in the UK.Abbas next UK number one came in 1975 from their first album Abba, Mama Mia. They would soon establish a trend of an album per year as the hits became more frequent than ever before.The Arrival album brought more hits in the form of Dancing Queen and Fernando. Abba toured extensively during 1977 and filming for Abba The Movie, released a year later, took place at the same time. Further hits flowed from Abba The Album in 1978, making Name Of The Game and Take A Chance On Me classic Abba works. 1979s album Voulez-Vous was followed by Supertrouper which would be their last album as the group split in 1982 to follow solo projects. Agnetha went on to climb the British charts in 1983 with The Heat is On, whilst Frida teamed up with Phil Collins for a much underated album and great single Theres Something Going On. Benny and Bjorn continue to write and produce and one of their major successes came in the 1980s with the hit musical Chess.The 1990s have seen a revival of interest in their music from the many tribute bands and the tribute single by a selection of current stars which reached number one in Britain last month aptly named "Thank Abba For The Music".
The Millenium may have passed, but David Essex hardly looks any different these days than he did in the 1970's. Born David Cook in London , his early career as a drummer and vocalist in various bands led to record contracts but no chart success.But the young David proved he was multi-skilled, securing a part in the Rock Opera Godspell. When film-makers offered him the lead role as Jim McClaine in That'll Be The Day, the chance to act alongside Ringo Starr wasn't the only break he received. Rock On, a song Essex made for the film gave him his first hit - a number three in 1973.In That'll Be The Day, David's character Jim McClaine is the schoolkid who walks out of his exams in favour of a life with fun without responsibility. However, it's not enough for the young Jim who dreams of stardom like his 50's pop idols.In the 1974 sequel, Stardust, Essex's anti-hero McClaine (see picture) returns and makes it big in the music business, but there's a price to pay. Stardust features some of the best supporting actors in the form of pop stars Dave Edmunds, Adam Faith and Keith Moon. Another single from the film, Stardust made it into the Top Ten.Whilst Rock On and Stardust were quite a change from the Glam Rock of the time, his first two number ones Gonna Make You A Star in 1974 and Hold Me Close a year later were unashamably commercial and the ones everyone seems to remember.A few years of lower end chart entries didn't last too long and Oh What A Circus from the musical Evita (which he starred in at the time), put him back into the Top Three in 1978.Now, it's only my opinion, but his 1980 film Silver Dream Racer was not his best, yet the single it spawned, Silver Dream Machine gave him another hit at number four in April of that year.In December 1982 his third most successful hit A Winter's Tale, written by Mike Batt, reached number two.David spent over two years in Africa with the volunteer services in the early 90's and his last chart entry to date, True Love Ways with Catherine Zeta Jones entered the top forty in 1994. To quote a line from his first number one, Oh his he more too much more than a pretty face ? Decide for yourself. Me, I'm off to watch Stardust again.......
Ok, so Mud fans may argue their band to have mastered the dose of good ol' rock 'n' roll mixed with as much fun as you can cram into a three minute single lark, but think of the 70's, think of pop and I bet Slade are the first to enter your head !In fact, the four West Midlands lads had been in the game long before the deserved stardom they enjoyed in the 70's arrived. Originally known as the 'N' Betweens, Noddy Holder (real name Neville), Jimmy Lea, Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell changed the bands' name to Ambrose Slade. Ambrose was later dropped as they teamed up with their new manager, Chas Chandler. If you're going to get a manager, you can't go wrong with a true professional and Chas, who served his time in the 60's group The Animals, dressed the guys in Doc Martens to cash in on the "Bovver Boy" craze of the time.The image was short lived and soon the long hair and flares appeared, not to mention Noddy's collection of tall hats. Hits came thick and fast too starting with Get Down And Get With It in June 1971 which peaked at number 16. Noddy and Jimmy's decision to start writing their own material payed off, when Coz I Luv You reached number one in October of the same year. Not bad for a first attempt that was apparantly written in about twenty minutes in Jimmy's Mum's kitchen !More and more Slade songs became number ones and it seemed the higher the hit, the more mispelled the title. School Headmasters over the UK no doubt cringed at Mama Weer All Crazee Now, Cum On Feel The Noize and Skweeze Me Pleeze Me as they topped the charts. They compromised in late 1973 with Merry Xmas Everybody, after all, the bad spelling fad might not be as appropriate in the following twenty three years that the single has charted during various Xmas's.Not all Lea/Holder compositions had a fun rock feel to them. Slade brought us Everyday and Far Far Away in 1974, Everday being a sensitive love song and Far Far Away exposing a touch of sentimentality.1974 was also the year they ventured into the film industry with the release of Slade In Flame, the story of a sixties band that adapted to the 70's and remained popular -sounds familar... The film was thankfully accepted by a wide range of people, not least myself, a long haired eleven year old at the time.During the punk/new wave era, many of the Glam bands suffered and even Slade began to see their chart popularity decrease, despite good reports of their appearences at various festivals. Slade experienced a comeback in 1983 with a couple of hits Run Run Away and My Oh My.As far as I know, Noddy and Jimmy left a few years ago leaving Dave and Don to continue the 90's Slade. Jimmy is now a Psychotherapist and Noddy hosts a regular oldies show on Piccadily Radio, Manchester. During a flight to Teneriffe in 1996, I had the pleasure of listening to one of his shows via the in-flight radio service. Noddy informed listeners of some of the trivia /gossip associated with behind the scenes at Top Of The Pops.
Born in East London on 30th September 1947, Marc Bolan brought us a collection of classic songs during his short life.Like so many leaders in their field, the young Marc displayed a desire to perform from an early age. Infact, his determination to lead in fashion brought him to the attention of a hip 60's magazine at the age of 15 when he was associated with the "mod" fashion circuit. By the age of 18, he had been signed to Decca records as a solo artist, his first two releases being unsuccessful.He later joined John's Children, a bunch of young people eager to experiment with the improvisation that many psychedelic bands of the time were trying out. Marc sang lead vocals on Desdemona which was the bands most memorable offering.Three months later, Marc left John's Children and formed Tyrannosauras Rex with Bongo player/ drummer Steve Perregrine Took. Their folk/ psychedelic mix was well respected and spawned a hit Deborah in 1969. Perregrine Took and Bolan parted company and replacement percussionist Micky Finn, bassist Steve Currie and drummer Bill Legend were recruited into the group that was now calling themselves T. Rex. Their first hit single, Ride A White Swan was the style change that would become a winning formula for years to come with Jeepster, Hot Love and Get It On being similar foot tappers.At the height of Marc's success, Ringo Starr made his debut as a film director by making Born To Boogie, a celebration of Bolan's talent mixed with a touch of surrealism. Most people have said that Ringo is a far better drummer and actor than film director. I haven't seen the film, so will decline to comment.1974 to 1976 were less than happy times for Marc as his popularity diminished and the press documented his decline. However, 1977 was to be the year of his comeback. His new relationship with soul star Gloria Jones and their new son Rolan saw Marc as the family man, determined to return to the top with new songs. I Love To Boogie received a great deal of airplay and reached number 13 in 1976. Laser Love in the same year didn't do so well, only reaching no 41 in the UK charts - definately a "one that got away" song.The rising popularity of punk in 1977 destroyed many glam artists. There seemed to be a mutal dislike between the two factions. Marc did not get involved with any of this and showed that the two styles could live happilly next to each other in his TV series Marc, widely broadcast on the UK ITV network. Marc was quite happy to showcase new wave talent such as The Jam and Generation X on his programme screened during the late afternoon children's spot.Marc's life tragically ended on 16th September 1977, when the Mini car he was a passenger in collided with a tree. His partner Gloria received serious injuries. His funeral was attended by a queue of anybody who was anybody in rock and roll and a huge white swan made of flowers sat beside his grave.I first heard Marc's music as a young boy listening on a transistor radio by candlelight to Telegram Sam during the power cuts in England. I also remember Children Of The Revolution being played and enjoyed at the trendy alternative discos of the early 80's when most 70's music was being treated as an embarassment. His untimely death was a great shock and it's hard to believe he's been gone for over twenty years.
Long before the thumping repetative techno dance tracks of today, one lady was doin' it right in the mid-70's. Donna Summer's I Feel Love, mastered by Euro-dance wizzard Georgio Moroder was a breakthrough record in the history of disco. Leaving aside the fact that it was one of the longest records of the time, it's pioneering use of the synthesizer as something more than just a novelty instrument faved the way for the boom years of the 70's and 80's disco scene.Always able to follow up a successful single with something of equal quality, Donna returned to the charts with the theme from the movie The Deep and arguable one of the sexiest records ever produced, Love To Love You Baby.Her early career involved the late 60's psychedelic scene, yet moving from her US home to Europe exposed Donna Summer to a wide range of influences. However her roots were always firmly planted in good soul music and several departures from the Euro-dance anthems led to more mainstream hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic.During the mid 80's, Donna's absence from the charts didn't last too long, probably due to her ability to adapt easily to the changing nature of music. British hit makers Stock, Aitken and Waterman who were responsible for so many of the hits of the late 80's wasted no time in recording Donna Summer's last UK hit single This Time I Know It's For Real, an example of the perfect Producer/Artist match.Recently Donna has concentrated on other projects. She is a talented artist who's paintings are much sought after at exhibitions. Let's hope it's not too long before Donna visits the recording studio again.
Bradford, England is perhaps better known for it's lead in the textile industry during this century than it's ability to produce internationally famous pop bands, though Smokie were responsible for putting the city on the musical map during their successful blitz on the 70s charts.Chris Norman, Terry Uttley and Alan Silson formed a group whilst attending St Bede's School. Originally touring as The Elizabethans, a name change and several energetic tours led to a record deal. Unfortunately the record flopped and it was to be 1974 before they were to get their big break. In the meantime, more tours as themselves as also as backing band for Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits fame) were on the cards.After several false starts, a deal with Micky Most and songwriting/production kings Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman brought them a debut no 3 hit in the summer of 1975 with If You Think You Know How To Love Me. The follow ups during 1975 and 1976 were all Top 10/20 hits and 1976 closed with the classic Living Next Door To Alice. Apart from a cover of the Searchers' Needles and Pins, most of their work consisted of well produced Chinn and Chapman songs delivered with Smokie's famous warm and tight vocal harmonies.Although the start of the 80s seemed to signal the end of major chart hits for the band, fan loyalty never faded and Smokie continued to increase their popularity in the countries they toured in Europe and Scandanavia. Lead singer Chris Norman left the band and everyone became involved in other projects.Chris briefly reformed the band in the mid 80s, before leaving once again. Anyone who remembers the UK Eurovision entry in 1979 (Mary Ann by Black Lace) could be forgiven for thinking it was a Smokie song. Black Lace frontman Alan Barton sounded so much like Chris Norman, it was probably not much of suprise when he was recruited as the replacement. His contribution to the comeback album Boulevard Of Broken Dreams helped it's long stay in the charts in Norway.Sadly, Alan Barton died in a road accident during a tour of Germany in 1995, the other members of Smokie sustaining injuries. The addition of new vocalist Mike Craft has seen the band continue to maintain their popularity and Alan Silson still has strong links with the lads despite not having toured with them for a while. And as far as their standing in their home town of Bradford - just try and get tickets for their concerts in the city - be prepared to queue. The city is proud of it's stars.There are a large number of Smokie related web sites out there. The official page is a good source of news and the Virtual Smokie Fan Club In Lviv is an excellent example of a devoted enthuisiasts site.
Mention 70s music and Glam Rock is usually the first style to come to mind. However, the decade would often gives us the one-off artists and a chap called Gilbert OSulivan arrived with a style of his own which would prove popular on both sides of the Atlantic.Born Raymond OSullivan in Waterford, Southern Ireland, he moved to the English town of Swindon at an early age. Whilst attending art college, CBS and Major Minor expressed interest in his music, leading to unsuccessful single releases under the name Gilbert.When Tom Jones manager, Gordon Mills signed him to his new label, a name change to Gilbert OSullivan and a strange image change with Gilbert as a 30s schoolboy complete with pudding bowl haircut led to his first hit, Nothing Rhymed in 1970.Further success arrived and included his first American number one, Alone Again, Naturally. More and more singles topped the chart in Britain and the USA, and Matrimony, Clair and Get Down made Gilbert the best selling artist of 1972.Although his popularity decreased during the mid 70s, after a split with manager Gordon Mills, he returned to the charts in 1980 with, Whats In A Kiss ?Gilbert OSullivan now lives with his family in the Channel Islands and has released an album in the late 90s called Singer Sowing Machine.
It doesn't seem like 25 years has passed since Top Of The Pops introduced a new artist dressed as clown complete with a painted face, but Leo Sayer has been with us for a quarter of a century - and he's making a comeback !Leo left art school to become a an artist who's work would involve designing record covers. But music was his first love and after a spell busking and performing with a band called Patches, he co-wrote Giving It All Way for Roger Daltrey. Adam Faith, always eager to nurture new talent offered to manage Leo and The Show Must Go On went to No 2 in Britain in 1973.No doubt his busking days inspired his follow up hit One Man Band during the summer of 1974 - by now he had shed the clown make up. America too loved Leo Sayer though I wonder what anyone outside the UK would have made of his references to Gretna Green and the Carlisle turn off the M6 motorway in his 1975 smash Moonlighting !If it seemed a number one would pass him by, the expert songwriting team Carole Bayer-Sager and Albert Hammond came up with When I Need You in January 1977.The hits and chart entries continued until the early 80s when Leo moved to America for a brief spell. Then suddenly everything went a little quiet... Still packing large audiences of loyal fans to his gigs, everything changed in 1997 when the Sun newspaper started a campaign to re-launch his attack on the charts. What may have been seen as joke was soon taken very seriously when influencial publications started to investigate the Sayer experience. The campaign received some unlikely backing from current hit outfit Prodigy.A series of sell out tours and his appearance on Big Brother fuelled interest in Leo's current projects -. The show does indeed go on.......
Bat Out Of Hell was an album typical of the late 70s trend in highly polished rock albums. It also made a star out of Meat Loaf.Born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Meat Loaf's roots were in gospel music and the band he formed in Los Angeles 1967, Meat Loaf Soul / Popcorn Blizzard gained a good reputation by supporting established bands including The Who.Meat Loaf is also a talented actor and this led to him securing a role in the musical Hair. Further stage roles followed including a part in More Than You Deserve written by Jim Steinman. After a spell in The Rocky Horror Show, he teamed up again with Steinman to tour with the National Lampoon Roadshow.Their working partnership continued when another of Steinman's musicals was shelved. Some of the songs for this project surfaced on Bat Out Of Hell. The multi talented musician, singer and songwriter Todd Rundgren was brought in to produce the album. It seemed like every track was a classic with all contributors giving 100 percent towards the "epic" feel of the album. Steinman is a natural story teller and his highly emotional lyrics would always strike the right balance. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad and the title track remain classic rock hits.In 1982 Meat Loaf teamed up with Cher for the hit single Deadringer For Love. Further hits were thin on the ground after this single and health and financial problems followed. However, Meat Loaf was to bounce back in style by teaming up again with Steinman for the sequel to his debut album. Released in 1993, Bat Out of Hell II outsold the original and produced the massive hit single I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That).However, the original Bat Out of Hell will always remain the better album in my opinion and bring back memories of late 70s 6th form common rooms to most of us (or 5th form common rooms for those of you, like me, who didn't make the 6th form ! ).
Dutch band Golden Earring may not have stormed the British charts on as many occasions as some of their peers, yet they are worth a mention as artists who have done so well across Europe.Formed in 1961, their original name of The Tornadoes was changed after the then current success of a group with the same name.George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen remain the bands original members, whereas the line up has remained unchanged since 1967.Britain would have to wait until 1974 to experience Golden Earring when the rock classic Radar Love entered the top ten. Top Of The Tops viewers may recall drummer Cesar Zuiderwijks leap over his drum set at the climax of the performance !Several further attempts on the UK charts followed in 1982 and 1984 with Twilight Zone and When The Lady Smiles failing make as much impact as they deserved.Golden Earring continue to feature regularly amongst the bestselling artists in their native country with their latest album Naked II doing well.
I, for one, will not be looking forward to December and will be avoiding the shopping malls as much as possible as I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday belches forth from every tannoy. Must admit the fact that it is written by such a musical genius lessens its' sting somewhat.Roy is another one of those rare specimens who could belong to a Featured 60s/70s/80s/90s section if we had one !Back in the 60s, it didn't take too long before the young Roy Wood received recognition as a writer/ performer and soon left his orginal band Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders to join fellow Midland musicians to form the legendary group The Move. Backed by fellow lead vocalist Carl Wayne and talented musicians Bev Bevan, Ace Kefford and Trevor Burton, The Move enjoyed great chart success in the late 60s with Roy's songs. Noteable hits included Night Of Fear, Flowers In The Rain, Fire Brigade and Blackberry Way.A winning partnership with ELO's Jeff Lynne, with whom he co-wrote and co-produced the bands' first album showcased his experimentation with classical instruments in a pop environment. He would soon employ similar intstruments on his next venture, Wizzard where he would throw in brass and strings into his arrangements on such smash hits like See My Baby Jive, Angel Fingers, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday(ahem!), Are You Ready To Rock, creating a "wall of sound" to rival Phil Spectors'. His stage presence, with or without Wizzard, has never dissapointed and all Top Of The Pops viewers from the 70s can recount at least one memorable Wood appearence.The late 70s and the 80s saw Roy concentrate on production, working with everyone from Darts to The Beach Boys as well as his own led projects such as Helicopter and the Roy Wood Big Band. Roy still tours, combines new material with old favourites and is not averse to performing I Wish It Could Be Christmas ... in March according to a friend of mine who went to one of his enjoyable, packed concerts during 1998.I may joke about his Christmas hit... but I wish I'd written it ... : )
The 70s may be remembered for the Glam bands, but we often forget that a strange kind of 50s rock 'n' roll revival appeared at the same time. In some cases, there was a thin line between Glam and the revival which wore the label Fun Rock. Undisputed kings of fun rock are Showaddywaddy.Leicester 1973 saw two bands discover their similarities in musical taste which led to them merging to form Showaddywaddy. They would soon progress from playing pub gigs to larger venues and when they passed the audition to play on one of British TV's most popular talent shows, New Faces, it wasn't much of surprise when they won.A recording contract soon followed as did their first hit, the stomping Hey Rock n Roll in May 1974 (It was kept off the number one slot by Ray Stevens' The Streak !) . Two more top twenty hits followed in the same year.1975 was also a good year for Showaddywaddy with Three Steps To Heaven hitting number two in May, but they would have to wait until November 1976 for their first and only number one hit Under The Moon Of Love. I'm sure it didn't bother the lads too much considering that every song released during the following two years would all reach the top ten.Showaddywaddy's last chart success was in August 1982 with the Barry Mann penned novelty classic Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp-a-Bomp-a-Bomp), but they continue to tour with an energetic performance that says a great deal about their large fan base and their personnel which has seen little change since the early days.If you want to find out more about Showaddywaddy, pop along to Paul Fixter's excellent site which tells you all you need to know about their history and what they are doing these days at http://www.katpaw.force9.co.uk.
Ex art student Chris Stein, former Playboy bunny Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke formed Blondie in 1974. Keyboard player Jimmy Destri joined the band shortly after and they enjoyed success as a live act throughout the next few years.Their first album, Blondie was soon followed later in 1977 with the second album, Plastic Letters which spawned Blondie's first UK hit Denis in 1978.However, the real hit album and the one that seem to be in everyone's collection came later in 1978 in the form of Parallel Lines. A successful collaboration between the band and Mike Chapman, the Producer responsible for so many hits throughout the 70s, led to single after single hitting the charts including Hanging On The Telephone and Picture This.The sound dominating everyone's radio in February 1979 was the dancable Heart Of Glass which seemed to fit nicely into the late 70s disco trend, although it was written back in 1974. Heart of Glass reached number one as did the follow up, also from Parallel Lines, Sunday Girl.A new album, Eat To The Beat gave us Dreaming, Atomic and Call Me, the latter two hitting the UK charts in 1980. Debbie was also proving to be an actress in demand and her first film, Union City brought us Union City Blue, Blondie's last hit of 1979.Blondie last number one in Britain was The Tide Is High from their fourth album and after Island Of Lost Souls, their last top twenty hit, it seemed Blondie would spend the remaining years reliant on re-releases and re-mixes for chart entries. Debbie would also spend the next few years devoting her time for caring for Chris who suffered a rare, life threatening disease.By 1986, Debbie was back in the charts using the name Deborah Harry and had a top ten hit with French Kissing In The USA and followed this in 1989 with I Want That Man.Now with Chris is good health, Blondie have reformed to produce a new album No Exit and have released Maria, a first rate song that is getting much airplay in the UK as I write.If you want to find out more about the band who's revival promises to be worth watching closely, go to their official website at www.blondie.net .
The Bay City Rollers
No flashback to the 70s would be complete without mentioning the band that played to hysterical crowds equalled only by the type of fan reaction during Beatlemania, the Bay City Rollers.Their history can be traced as far back as 1967 when brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir teamed up with Gordon Clarke and John Devine to form a band that would achieve popularity by their performance in various clubs around Scotland. They would soon be noticed by Tam Paton, an Edinburgh bandleader who became their manager.The Rollers had their first chart hit in 1971 with Keep On Dancing.Other singles followed, but failed to make the charts, until a change of personnel brought the band back into hit parade. New members Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood and the charismatic lead singer Les McKeown embarked on a mid 70s assault on the charts and a series of sell out live performances.Although there first number one was in March 1975 in the form of Bye Bye Baby, singles the previous years had all been top five. The Bay City Rollers were also given their own TV series in the UK called Shang-A-Lang, based on the title of one of their 1974 hits.The Rollers had a reputation for building a loyal fan base and soon thousands of young teenagers would wear the essential Rollermania gear which would often be strips of tartan on the hems of skirts, trousers and shirt pockets, not forgetting the tartan hat !Les McKeown left the band in 1978, but not before his contribution to You Made Me Believe In Magic, one of their best singles in my opinion which only reached the bottom end of the top 40 in the summer of 1977.Although chart success has been non existant since 1977, The Bay City Rollers still tour despite members being involved in solo projects and band members are often reunited giving old and new fans a chance to experience Rollermania again.
If you were an aspiring pop star born with a name like Steve Nice, you might think it a major advantage. In this case, a change of name to Steve Harley seemed to pay off.Orginally a journalist, Steve decided that the newspaper world was not for him and after learning the guitar and piano in his late teens, formed the band Cockney Rebel.Their first single flopped, but with help from producer Alan Parsons, their second single Judy Teen reached number five in the spring of 1974. Mr Soft followed later that year and Harley's theatrical type vocals seemed to stamp a unique hallmark on his work. Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel may have got off to an excellent start in 1974, but the following year proved to be even better when the single Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) hit number one and became a classic 70s single.Several other hits followed, including a respectable cover of George Harrison's Here Comes The Sun.Cockney Rebel split in 1977, but Steve continued to work on solo material and contribute to other artists' live projects and was back in the Top Ten in 1986 with Phantom of The Opera, a duet with Sarah Brightman.Make Me Smile experienced a revival in 1997 after it featured in the film The Full Monty, reinforcing the record's status as a milestone 70s track and Steve remains respected as a singer, musician and now as a radio presenter too as his BBC Radio Two show Sounds of The 70s is aired weekly.
Ron and Russell Mael won over audiences rapidly during the 70s with their group Sparks, but their first taste of fame came as child models.Whilst attending University, they formed a band called Halfnelson with Russell as vocalist and Ron playing keyboards and writing the bands material. Shortly afterwards, Todd Rundgren befriended the group, helping them secure a contract and first album in 1971.After a new near misses on the American charts, they renamed the band Sparks.The Mael's were so delighted with the warm reception received whilst touring Britain that they uprooted and moved to London, working on material for their album Kimono My House which was released in 1974. Soon, British chart fans would be addicted to their unusual mix of catchy pop melodies mixed with abstract lyrics. Sparks image too contrasted with the Glam bands of 1974 and for weeks, Top of The Pops fans would talk about the first appearance performing their first hit This Town 'aint Big Enough For Both of Us, Russell with his "boy next door" looks with Ron, looking like a 1920's caberet performer with theatrical facial expressions. Ron wrote the This Town 'Aint Big Enough for Both Of Us as a tribute to the Western movies he grew up watching.The album brought a second hit, Amateur Hour in the Summer of 1974.1975 brought two more albums, Propaganda and Indiscreet, the latter not enjoying as much success as their previous work. Sparks decided to return to the USA where further album Introducing Sparks were made in 1977.Disco swept the charts in the late 70s and Sparks teamed up with Eurodance innovative producer Georgio Moroder. The collaboration brought us Number One Song In Heaven and Beat The Clock, both chart hits in Britain and, despite a dance beat, remained unquestionably Sparks material. Ron conceded to the disco boom with a slight image change. The short moustache was still there, but he grew his hair longer on one side and had the end permed !More albums during the 80s followed, but failed to spawn any hit singles. However, Sparks continued to work on other projects including a score for a Hong Kong action film director's movie and their 1994 album, Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins was well received. Sparks will no doubt continue to hold the interest of British pop fans as they have done since that first classic appearance on Top Of The Pops. But what do I know ? If you really want to find out more about Sparks past and present, try Martin Truksa's website at www.sparks-fanatics.com
It's rare, but every so often a group of artists will move from project to project and make each one a success. 10cc are one such collection of talent.Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart had hits in the 60s with the group The Mindbenders. Gouldman also had a sizeable amount of songwriting credits to his name including For Your Love and Heart Full of Soul for the Yardbirds, plus No Milk Today for Herman's Hermits.Eric left the Mindbenders and teamed up with Lol Creme and Kevin Godley in 1970 under the name Hotlegs and delivered a UK number two hit in July of the same year, Neanderthal Man. Graham would later join them for a tour.Determined to stay in the Manchester area, Eric set up Strawberry Studios. As well as recording established artists, Kevin and Lol wrote Donna, a tongue in cheek parody of late 50s bubblegum music. Bubblegum Guru Jonathan King was impressed and released it on his own record label in 1972 and took it to number two in the UK charts.A year later, 10cc enjoyed their first number one with Rubber Bullets, a song from the same parodic mould as Donna.1974 brought further hits and proof of the versatilty as musicians with their rock based Silly Love and Wall Street Shuffle hits. But perhaps their best known hit came in 1975 with the timeless ballad I'm Not In Love.Godley and Creme left to persue solo careers in 1976 and Stuart Tosh (ex Pilot), Rick Fenn and Tony O'Malley were recruited as replacments as the hits continued. The bluesy Good Morning Judge in 1977 was followed a year later by a reggae track, Dreadlock Holiday which seemed to capture the sound of the summer of '78.Solo production projects followed in 1979 for Graham and Eric, the latter producing an album for Manchester band Sad Cafe.Godley and Creme had hits with Under Your Thumb and Wedding Bells in 1981, with a further hit in 1985 with Cry. Despite chart success, their efforts were mainly concentrated towards innovative video production for other artists and they still remain much sought after as directors.10cc continued with some of their best work in 1983 including Feel The Love, which surprisingly failed to make the charts.Graham Gouldman returned to chart fame in 1987, teaming up with Andrew Gold to form Wax and hit single Bridge to Your Heart.
It's easy to forget that many of the pre-1975 Glam acts owed much to the rock n roll of the early 60s. Alvin Stardust was probably one of the only acts to actually have roots in the rock n roll era. Indeed, he had four hits between 1961 and 1962 under the name Shane Fenton, the most popular Cindy's Birthday reaching number 19 in the charts.When Tony Blackburn was preparing to host another edition of BBC TV's weekly Top of The Pops shows in November, he thought the new artist clad in leather look familar. Shane Fenton became Alvin Stardust and he performed his debut hit My Coo-Ca-Choo which reached number two.Alvin followed up his debut single with Jealous Mind, a number one in February 1974 and further hits continued until mid 1975. The jet black hair, quiff and trademark single glove with the huge ring would soon disappear, but not after a memorable performance in a British public information film warning youngsters to take care crossing the road. (Come on, who remembers Look at those two - they must be out of their tiny minds !)Alvin was back in the top ten in 1981 with Pretend and again in 1984 with I Feel Like Buddy Holly and I Won't Run Away.
Since the 80s, Alvin has also proven to be a talented actor with parts in Godspell, The Rocky Horror Show and also many TV appearances. And the good news for Stardust fans is that he regularly tours and completed a recent sell out tour with Suzi Quatro and the Rubettes.
AND THE MYSTERY MAN !!!!!! ............Tony Burrows
You might not know the name, but I can guarantee you've heard his voice. Tony is known as The Session King and has sung lead vocals on an impressive list of hits. He once appeared on the same episode of Top Of The Pops three times (!) as singer with Edison Lighthouse, as a member of the original line up of Brotherhood Of Man and White Plains. Tony was heard on The Flowerpot Men's Let's Go To San Francisco and the 1974 smash Beach Baby by First Class.
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