SPANDAU BALLET – THE 80s PHENOMENON
Pioneers of the 80s Romantic movement, Spandau Ballet formed in 1978 and had numerous chart topping singles and albums all over the world, some of the most memorable being the singles “Gold”, “Only When You Leave”, “Lifeline”, the epic “Through the Barricades” and of course the international number one “True”; the latter famously sampled by PM Dawn in 1991 and featured on Paul Anka’s Rock Swings in 2005.
As lead singer of Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley has, over the years, earned the accolade of being one of pop music’s greatest vocalists. In addition to all the band’s songs, many will remember his prominent vocal contribution to the Band Aid UK charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and subsequent 1985 London appearance at Live Aid. He also performed solo at the Nelson Mandela Concert at Wembley in June 1988.
Spandau Ballet reformed in April 2009, and their sold out ‘Reformation Tour’ kicked off in October 2009 with 13 UK Arenas, including three nights at London’s O2, followed by Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain, then on to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UAE.
The tour ended in June 2010 with the band performing their first festival date at the Isle Of Wight.
A LIFE IN MUSIC
Turning the page on Spandau Ballet (after they disbanded in 1990), Tony has stuck to the same raw instincts that brought him early success. Tony is now a solo artist in his own right who has spent the past twenty years entertaining audiences all over the world with his stunning rich voice that has lost none of its power.
He has continued to write and record, and to date has released four solo studio albums; ‘State of Play’ on EMI Records, two albums through Universal Records, a self-titled album in 1998, and ‘True Ballads’ in 2003. In 2006, on his own label, Slipstream Records, he released his long-awaited swing album ‘Passing Strangers’. He has also released three live albums, two live DVDs and has had European success with several dance music collaborations.
On the live music front Tony is a regular performer, delighting audiences at home and abroad with such events as the ‘Night Of The Proms’ in Holland & Belgium, orchestral tours of Europe and South America, as well as his own UK & European solo tours.
In 2005 Tony’s contribution to the music industry was officially recognised with the award of a Gold Badge from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters.
Subsequently, in 2007 he won a new legion of fans following his critically acclaimed performance as Billy Flynn in Chicago on the West End stage. Tony’s appearances in the show gave the musical one of its most successful runs ever and earned him an invitation to perform in the 10th Anniversary Show in 2008.
In August 2011 he played his first solo shows in the US, performing Spandau Ballet songs there for the first time since 1986.
In 2013 Tony played a series of sell-out Orchestra shows with culminated in a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall
BOYS ON TOUR
As well as the conventional shows Tony has played some extremely unusual venues for British, NATO and UN Troops on active service in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland. From aircraft hangers & tank workshops to bombed-out theatres & derelict sports halls to name but a few, Tony felt it was a real honour to give something back and be asked to entertain our troops.
A PASSION FOR SWING
Aside from his own live band, Tony also has a passion for ‘Swing’; Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Jack Jones being just a few of his personal favourites and has performed with some of the greatest jazz orchestras in Europe, including London, Holland, Italy and Spain.
In 2006 Tony released his long-awaited swing album ‘Passing Strangers’. It was a personal project that had been months in the planning and truly reflects his passion for swing. The album features some of his favourite songs and was released to coincide with Tony’s first UK Swing tour, aptly-named ‘Swinging True’.
TV, RADIO AND PUBLISHING
Tony’s talents as an artist extend beyond the stage and in recent years his profile has increased dramatically in the UK. His participation in the UK reality TV show ‘Reborn In The USA’, which saw him travelling across The US in a tour bus with eight other British artists, eventually won him the public vote and the overall “crown”.
He also became a successful Radio DJ, firstly at Virgin Radio and now Absolute Radio. He brings his own brand of chat and music to the national airwaves every Saturday night. Tony is currently working on his own radio show to be syndicated around the world.
In May 2004 Macmillan Books released Tony’s autobiography ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’. The book charted Tony’s youth, his early days in the school band, and the heady heights of worldwide super stardom as lead singer of Spandau Ballet. The book was a popular success entering the Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers chart.
Tony likes to donate time to support charitable causes.
As Vice-President of Shooting Star CHASE, Childrens’ Hospices he has worked and performed annually at their fund raising events over the past 12 years.
Tony also has a major involvement with Action Medical Research, participating in their treks to Machu Picchu, The Lost World (Venezuela) and in 2009 the Eden Trek, trekking from the Pacific to Caribbean coasts in Costa Rica, resulting in a huge sum of money being raised for the charity’s “Touching Tiny Lives” campaign, looking at research into and help for premature birth. Each Autumn, Tony hosts his own celebrity golf day to raise money for this charity.
In June 2010 Tony Hadley began his year as President of TRIC, the Television & Radio Industry Club. TRIC, established in 1931 is an organization that aims to promote mutual understanding and goodwill amongst those engaged in the audio, visual, communications and allied industries. Tony took over from the TV Presenter, Sian Williams. TRIC has an unrivalled track record of charitable support with its members channeling their energies and using their influential contacts to benefit good causes.
Tony is also a Patron of The Lowe Syndrome Trust and supports Huntington’s Disease Association, Willow Foundation, NSPCC.
As father of five children, Tony likes to keep fit and keep up with the kids!! He regularly runs and exercises. He loves his annual ski holiday and savours scuba and water skiing in the summer. One of his biggest passions is football – he’s a regular at all the Arsenal matches – and plays for Arsenal ex-Professional and Celebrity XI team whenever he can. His speciality is the “own goal”!
Two of Tony’s highlights In 2012 were when he performed at the Royal Albert Hall.
Firstly in front of The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge in the “Our Greatest Team Rises” spectacular, to promote and raise funds for Team GB and then again a couple of week’s later as a guest of Dionne Warwick to support The Hunger Project.
Tony was very proud to perform at Team GB House for both our Olympic and Paralympic athletes on the Closing Ceremony nights with “Gold” becoming the unofficial Athletes song.
He finished 2012 with some successful solo shows in Japan, the first since his Spandau Ballet days.
The highlight of 2013 had to be Tony and his band’s sell-out series of incredible orchestral shows with the 40 piece Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by the legendary Anne Dudley. Performing the hits of Spandau Ballet and some of Tony’s personal favourites the audiences were treated to some magical performances.
Tony’s 2014 diary saw him travel all over the world to perform. There were his first ever performances in Chile, a return to Australia and the Philippines in addition to most of Europe. Following the success of the orchestral shows in 2013, Tony took the show back on the road for ten dates, wowing audiences across the UK.
He and his Spandau Ballet bandmates were busy in 2014 also, spending the end of the year promoting their documentary ‘Soul Boys of The Western World’, which was premiered in March 2014 at SXSW in Texas where the band performed their first concert in North America since 1985.
Directed by long-time Julien Temple producer, George Hencken, her archive-only feature documentary combines newsreel footage of the time with unseen video from the band’s home movies, along with long lost material newly discovered. The film takes us into the heart of the era and the cultural, political and personal landscape that formed the backdrop to the band’s story.
The UK premiere combined with a mini gig at The Royal Albert Hall sold out and was an exciting evening for them all.
They announced their 2015 Soul Boys of the Western World World Tour which ran from January to the end of September 2015.
MOST RECENTLY Tony had the great honour to be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet HM The Queen. He says:
” It was a great honour in my role as Vice President for Shooting Star Chase to be invited to Buckingham Palace by HM The Queen. It was a privilege to be presented to Her Majesty and acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful work of our Royal Patron HRH The Countess of Wessex.” Shooting Star Chase Childrens Hospice Care makes a true and significant difference to the lives of families caring for children with life-limiting and terminal illness, creating some wonderful and lasting memories for the families who need the vital lifeline of their care service.
Right now he is busy putting finishing touches to his long overdue new solo album which will be released next Spring on Universal Records.
For the next ten years the girls were everywhere and so were their hits. They became internationally hot property when hits Cruel Summer hit the US Billboard top 10, with their video filmed in NYC, I Heard a Rumour (number 4), Venus (number one), and Robert de Niro’s Waiting (Talking Italian) paved the way for the now legendary meeting between the girls and the Hollywood superstar.
In 2012 popstars fetishise prescribed notions of credibility and fall over themselves to prove their songwriting talents – back then Bananarama didn’t ever really shout about their own songwriting, firstly because they actually did write massive hits (Cruel Summer, Robert De Niro’s Waiting, I Heard A Rumour, Love In The First Degree, I Want You Back, Last Thing On My Mind, a huge hit for the group Steps and many more) and secondly why wouldn’t they have written their own material. Bananarama, like the Go Gos and The Bangles, were not a manufactured band but three friends who came from the London Club scene with a Punk attitude and were always in control of their own destiny.
Then came the second single What Is Love? which reached number 2 in the UK and the third single, the enigmatic Hide and Seek which showed the spiritual side of Howard Jones’ writing. This was followed by the first album Human’s Lib which came straight in at number one in the UK in April 1984, eventually going platinum and which took the synthesiser and Howard to a new plateau. This success spread across the globe with Human’s Lib going gold in the USA, Japan, Germany, Italy and Australia.
With a large and loyal fanbase and album sales now exceeding eight million, this consummate musician and writer has maintained an admirable independence, writing, recording, performing and touring in the way only he knows how. He has proved that he is one of the most talented writers and performers out there. His independent attitude and his ability and willingness to take risks ensure that he continues to operate on the cutting edge of today’s music.
Single successes included ‘Chequered Love’, ‘Water On Glass’, ‘Cambodia’, ‘View From A Bridge’, ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ – a worldwide success and a number one in the USA – ‘Another Step (Closer To You)’ (a duet with Junior Giscombe), ‘You Came’, ‘Never Trust A Stranger’ and ‘Four Letter Word’.
In 1983 Kim was voted Best British Female Singer at the BPI Awards, while “live” highlights include performing to over 2 million people on a five month European stadium tour with Michael Jackson in 1988, and supporting David Bowie across Europe on his 1990 Greatest Hits Stadium Tour.
A sabbatical from the music industry – prompted by marriage and motherhood – gave Kim’s passion for horticulture an opportunity to ‘blossom’, leading to the publication of two books (‘Gardening With Children’ and ‘The First Time Gardener’), numerous gardening columns and yielded a Gold Medal and Best in Show in 2005 at The Chelsea Flower Show
After a huge hit duet single with the German vocalist, Nena, in 2003 Kim was encouraged to make a new solo album and, having signed to EMI Germany in 2005, she enjoyed a Top 20 Album (‘Never Say Never’) and single (‘You Came 2006’) in the summer of 2006.
In 2007 she took this project “on the road”, performing over 50 live concerts – including two solo tours – with dates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark and numerous Festival appearances across Europe. In December 2008 Kim appeared alongside Robin Gibb, Tears For Fears and 10cc – with a 40 piece orchestra and the Angels of Harlem Gospel Choir – in 20 arena shows for the annual ‘Night Of The Proms’ tour in Germany, and she completed another solo European Tour in April 2009.
In September 2008 Kim was signed up by the UK’s number one London commercial radio station, Magic 105.4; five years later she still presents a weekly show, “Secret Songs” every Sunday from 10am-2pm.
Kim’s first album of entirely new and original recordings in 15 years, ‘Come Out & Play’, was released across Continental Europe in September 2010 and attained Top Ten status in Germany and Switzerland and the ‘Come Out & Play Live’ Tour performed to packed houses in February-March 2011.
A new album, ‘Snapshots’, comprising cover versions of Kim’s favourite songs from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and noughties was released in late 2011. Again a Top 20 album, Kim took the ‘Snapshots & Greatest Hits’ show on the road in 2012.
2013 saw the re- packaging and re-release of a collector’s bonus edition of Kim’s biggest-selling album, ‘Close’ – which celebrated it’s 25th Birthday earlier that year – and the year ended with the release of album number thirteen; ‘Wilde Winter Songbook’ is a collection of Christmas classics plus brand new original seasonal songs.
Belinda’s first venture into music was as the drummer for the LA punk band The Germs, under the name Dottie Danger, it didn’t last long what with drumming not being her natural forte and all so she left and joined The Go-Go’s. After the initial breakup of The Go-Go’s in 1985 Belinda picked herself up, dusted herself off and embarked upon a solo career. Her first solo album, Belinda, was released on I.R.S. Records in 1986 and it was also that year Belinda married Morgan Mason, son of the British actor James Mason. Morgan made appearances in Carlisle’s videos “Mad About You” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth”.
Belinda flaunted her glamorous image on the cover of her second album 1987’s Heaven on Earth, her second solo album (released in the United States through MCA but in the United Kingdom through Virgin). Critics and fans noticed that not only was Belinda’s image more glamorous than during her time with the Go-Go’s, but also her solo music was more polished and ‘professional’. The new sound was certainly due in part to producer Rick Nowels, who had previously worked with Stevie Nicks and would later work with Madonna amongst many others.
The first release from Heaven on Earth was “Heaven is a Place on Earth”, an enormous international hit, topping the charts not only in the U.S. but also in the U.K. and several other countries. It is to this day probably her best known song. The success of the song was furthered by its video, which, under direction of American actress Diane Keaton, showcased Belinda’s glamour that included her new red hair colour, part of an image change possibly inspired by Ann-Margret.
The next song released from Heaven on Earth was “I Get Weak”, which also had a video directed by Keaton followed promptly by “Circle in the Sand”, both were big hits. “World Without You” was well-hyped but didn’t sell as well, peaking outside the Top 30 in the US and December 1988’s follow up “Love Never Dies” also peaked outside the Top 30 in the UK.
Belinda’s next album after Heaven on Earth was 1989’s Runaway Horses. This album hit number four in the UK and number three in the US so proving that she was still much in demand. The first single “Leave a Light On” just missed the Top Ten in the U.S., peaking at eleven, but in the UK it hit the Top Five. The second single, “Summer Rain”, missed the Top Twenty (#23) in Spring 1990, but spent a long time in the Top Seventy Five and was, perhaps surprisingly, one of the biggest selling singles that year. Belinda had even better success in the U.K. that autumn when she went to number six with the remixed “(We Want) The Same Thing”, another track from Runaway Horses. This underscored perhaps that Belinda’s popularity in Europe now far surpassed both her and the Go – Go’s success in America
In 1991, Belinda released her fourth solo album, Live Your Life Be Free, to be candid the album did not sell as well as her two previous albums, though it did reach the Top Ten in many European countries. Shortly thereafter her son, James Duke Mason, (named for James Mason (Morgan’s father) and Duke Kurczeski (Belinda’s stepfather)), was born and not long after the now notorious 1992 Los Angeles riots to place. A few months afterwards virgin seized the moment and released her first greatest hit albums, the British release of which compilation topped the U.K. album charts.
Belinda’s fifth solo album, Real, was released 1993 on the Virgin label in the U.S. as well as Europe. Produced without Nowels, the album departed from her previous polished pop music formula, indeed some critics welcomed the change and noted that the new album was similar to her sound with The Go-Go’s. The week it was released “Real” reached number nine in the UK unfortunately, the album’s first single, “It’s Too Real (Big Scary Animal)”, failed to make a big impact in the U.S. but again achieved a respectable number twelve in the UK.
After the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, and after the turmoil of the riots shortly beforehand, Belinda, Mason and Dukey moved to the South of France.
Belinda returned to the recording studio and started working again with Rick Nowels. In 1996, she released her sixth solo album, A Woman and A Man, on the Chrysalis Records label. This album revitalized her solo career in Europe and included several hits. Leadoff single “In Too Deep” returned Carlisle to the U.K. Top Ten for the first time in seven years, reaching number six. “Always Breaking My Heart”, written and produced by Roxette’s Per Gessle, was another top ten smash, peaking at number eight. The album spawned two more U.K. hits, “Love in the Key of C” and “California”; the latter being a bittersweet reflection on why the singer left her home state.
In 1997, Belinda also released a cover of “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” from Disney’s Hercules as part of that movie’s distribution in Europe. The single was only released in France and Germany.
In her career, Belinda had the opportunity to work with musicians from the 1960s. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas did backup singing for Heaven on Earth; Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys helped with the recording of the “California” track on A Woman and A Man. Although George Harrison did guitar work on two tracks from “Runaway Horses,” Belinda did not meet him or go into the studio with him.
She is set to return to the spotlight in 2006, with the release of her long awaited 7th album Voilà, her first studio album in ten years. The album is produced by John Reynolds and it’s a mix of French chanson and modern pop songs. Voilà is to be released on February 5th 2007 via Rykodisc.
Musical success is seldom measured in time spans of more than a few years so the fact that by the time Midge’s single “If I Was” went to number one in 1985 he had already crammed several musical lifetimes into a 10-year professional career speaks volumes – Slik, The Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Visage, Ultravox and of course the most famous one off group in musical history Band Aid had be then all had the guiding hand of his musical navigation.
Ultravox was a major influence on the new romantic and electro-pop movements of the early 80s and many an open-minded studio and bedroom experimentalist since. Their successful trademark was combining Midge’s powerful guitar riffs with sweeping synthesiser motifs, enigmatic imagery and state-of-the-art visuals. Throughout the first half of the 80s, they brilliantly combined the responsibilities of top 10 chartmakers and innovative style-makers.
Then came November 25, 1984, a historic day for Midge and all of pop music, as 36 artists by the collective name Band Aid gathered at SARM Studios in West London under Ure’s production. They recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” a song he had just written with Bob Geldof as the industry’s heartfelt and eloquent contribution to Ethiopian famine relief. 600,000 copies sold in its first week in the UK alone was only the beginning: 800,000 more were bought in the second week, more than three million world-wide, and the unstoppable emotion engendered by the project led to Live Aid, the summer 1985 global concert that, all exaggeration aside, spoke for a generation.
As summer 2017 beckons, it’s business as usual in camp Ure . . . which means busy busy busy!
‘We Close Our Eyes’ was released in the spring of 1985. It reached number 5 in the UK charts and became a top 10 hit in the USA. This success was followed by three further UK top 10 hits – ‘Call Me’, ‘Goodbye Girl’ and ‘Don’t Look Down’. The album ‘Go West’ sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and remained on the UK chart for 83 weeks, establishing them as one of the greatest songwriting duos to emerge in the 80’s. In 1986 they won the BRIT Award for ‘Best British Newcomer’ – the one BRIT which is decided by the listening public.
In 1992 their third album ‘Indian Summer’ was released. Written and recorded in California, it further justified legendary producer Arif Mardin’s early description of Go West as ‘modern Motown’. ‘Indian Summer’ included the single ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’, the opening song in the hugely successful film ‘Pretty Woman’. The film’s soundtrack has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. ‘King Of Wishful Thinking’ received ASCAP awards in 1991 and 1992 as one of the most played songs on American radio. ‘Faithful’, the second single from the album, received similar BMI Awards in 1992 and 1993.
Following Peter’s success on the TV series ‘Reborn In The USA’ he, Go West and Tony Hadley performed together on a 60 date UK tour in 2004.
He signed with MCA Records in 1983 and released his debut album “Human Racing” in 1984. It achieved multi platinum sales and launched Nik’s career worldwide.
The equally successful “The Riddle” followed and, in July 1985, he took the Wembley stage to perform at Live Aid.
In 1990, after four MCA albums and sales of over 8 million, Nik left the spotlight to concentrate on song writing and producing. The following years saw him working with Elton John, Chesney Hawkes, Cliff Richard, Bonnie Tyler, Lulu, Ronan Keating, Jason Donovan, Tony Banks, Michael W Smith, Connah Reeves, Nick Carter, The Hollies, Colin Blunstone, Imogen Heap, Gary Barlow and Let Loose.
He rekindled his recording career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album “15 Minutes” and has subsequently released three further albums: “To be Frank” in 2001, “You’ve got to laugh” in 2006 and recently the solo acoustic album “No Frills” in 2010.
He has received accolades from such legends as Eric Clapton and Miles Davis and has been nominated for four Brit Awards.
Maizie, original singer from the very birth of Boney M, is now joined by three dynamic singers who are celebrating the success of the second Boney M re-mixed album, The Greatest Hits Of Boney M, which included 14 tracks of the best loved songs and was re-mixed by the original founder of the group, Frank Farian.
It was obvious from the vast number of record sales that the magic of Boney M was still there and now being enjoyed by a new generation. Maizie thought it was time for this new audience to see the energy that goes with each and every one of the group’s songs, and decided that they would tour. Audiences in Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Australia and many other countries have since thrilled to the energetic visual performances of all the well loved songs.
Maizie, most definitely the M in Boney M, and the group have revitalised the songs while keeping the same lyrics, giving them a new and modern sound that will have all generations tapping their feet and moving to the new funky beat.
So get ready to sing and dance along to their amazing repertoire, which includes ten top ten hits Brown Girl In The Ring, Ma Baker, Rivers Of Babylon, Daddy Cool, Ra-Ra-Rasputin, Sunny, Belfast, Mary’s Boy Child, Painter Man, Hooray Hooray It’s A Holi-Holiday, and have a great time!
TV/Radio. Appearances have included judging on Britain’s Got More Talent, BBC Breakfast, London Tonight, VH1, Question of Pop, Loose Women, The Wright Stuff, Weekend with Aled, This Morning, BBC’s The Cinema Show and Big Brother’s Big Mouth. Radio interviews include Jonathan Ross, Steve Wright, Edith Bowman, Colin Murray, Claudia Winkleman, Paul Ross, Janice Long, Clive Anderson, Alex Zane, Scott Mills, Jamie Theakston, and Dermot O’Leary. He has presented two shows for VH1/MTV and has taken part in a celebrity edition of The Weakest Link. Chesney also took part in Channel 4’s ‘The Games’ emerging a medal winner, and he performed on the Granada/LWT show ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’ Further appearances include the Ant & Dec Show, The One Show, Daybreak, The Graham Norton Show and in June/July 2015 Chesney took part in Celebrity Masterchef also guesting on ‘Lorraine’ on ITV.
Film/Theatre. Chesney’s first acting role was as Buddy in the rock ‘n roll movie ‘Buddy’s Song’ which featured a cast of young actors destined to make their mark. These included Nick Moran and Julia Sawhala, who went on to create the character Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous, as well as Lee Ross, long before he appeared with Catherine Tate and in Eastenders. Heading the cast was The Who lead singer, Roger Daltrey, playing the role of Chesney’s dad. Chesney’s subsequent career has been firmly rooted in music but he has worked on various comedy drama TV productions including The Spa on Sky 1 with Rebecca Front and Panto on ITV with John Bishop.
Songs/Compositions. Chesney has worked with writers and producers from a broad section of the industry, among them Mark Goldenberg (The Eels), Jesse Valenzuela (The Gin Blossoms) and Counting Crows producer Marvin Etzioni. Other collaborators include Howard Jones, the Police’s Stuart Copeland, Nik Kershaw, Bijou Phillips and more recently Rob Davis (co-writer of Kylie’s Can’t Get you out of My Head). Artists continue to cover his songs and he has had material recorded by three international Pop Idol winners. English band ‘Hepburn’ covered “Next Life”, which Chesney co-wrote with Phil Thornally. (Phil co-wrote “Torn” for Natalie Imbruglia). Caprice charted with “Once Around The Sun” which Chesney co-wrote with Eric Pressley and he also collaborated with Tricky on his ‘Mission Accomplished’ EP. Another of Chesney’s songs, “Almost You”, was in the film “Jawbreaker” starring Rose McGowan and Marilyn Manson and “Missing You Already” was in the film “The Night We Never Met”, starring Matthew Broderick. In mid 2007 Chesney co-composed an orchestral piece commissioned by Lexus Cars for a live presentation. The piece was recorded at AIR Studios by the London Symphony Orchestra. The Duncan Jones movie Source Code, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, features a Nik Kershaw/Chesney Hawkes production of The One and Only.
Unlike so many of her 80’s contemporaries, Jaki’s hits have remained fresh, uncomplicated and modern. Set Me Free remains an ageless pop classic to this day after rocketing to No.7 in the British charts in May ’86, an anthem of that era. Breaking Away followed and offered her first location shoot abroad. It also charted at a respectable No.14 in August ‘86. Step Right Up brought Jaki back to her trademark high energy, up tempo pop hits and gave her yet another Top 20 hit in November ‘86. Her third album with EMI, From Now On was produced in 1987. One track entitled The Better Part of Me was an exceptionally beautiful ballad, with many in the entertainment business convinced that this was Jaki’s firstNo.1, guaranteed! However, surprisingly the changing climate of EMI dictated some often incredibly ill thought out ideas and both the video and album were shelved after three weeks. This decision coincided with Jaki achieving a Guinness World Record for being the first black British female solo artist to have 6 consecutive Top 10 / 20 hits, unheard of by a black British female at that time. In the same year, Michael McDonald came into Jaki’s life looking for a female singer to accompany him on the track ‘On My Own’ for his UK Tour. Michael, who has worked with some of the most influential names in showbiz including Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklin, personally chose Jaki over a stream of other UK female vocalists. After hearing her voice, he was quoted as saying that Jaki was ‘one of the best singers Britain has ever produced’. A deep friendship and mutual respect grew between the two artists and to this day, Michael’s first choice for a UK singing partner remains Jaki. Towards the end of the 80’s, sales and figures provided by Billboard magazine had established Jaki as Britain’s most successful black female artist ever. Not surprisingly, Jaki’s success was not limited to the shores of the United Kingdom. People of every culture and language from every corner of the globe loved her natural vocal perfection. The distinct, powerful delivery, coupled with her warm and compassionate ease seemed to melt the barriers of language, colour and creed. Denmark, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Africa – places she had only ever dreamed of visiting – loved her and her fan base grew worldwide.
This marked a turning point and in Japan, Jaki was particularly successful and released albums and singles there that England never even knew existed . Her first album Real Life sold more than 800,000 copies in less than four weeks. By today’s standards, this record is only surpassed by the elite few. Furthermore, tickets for her Japanese tour sold out in 20 minutes flat, outselling some of her well known US contemporaries. In true down to earth style, her reaction was simply, ‘For real?’ Real Life gave Jaki many international hit singles and elevated her status further. Ain’t Nobody did exceptionally well in the United States reaching No.1 in the Billboard dance charts for 5 weeks, with its impressive video also rocketing to the Top 5 in the American Black Entertainment Charts (BET). In retrospect, it is a pity that England never had the chance to hear Jaki’s work at the time as it showed growth, professionalism and a polished depth not heard from Jaki before. In fact, it represents some of her best work (and at the same time least known to UK fans). This album, along with those that followed however, are now available on digital release in the UK, USA and Canada. Ain’t Nobody, Absolute E-Sensual, Real Life and You Can Count On Me are outstanding tracks which were released in 1994. Jaki had effortlessly slipped into the 90’s era of music and as a result, won over a new legion of eager fans worldwide. Sales of Ain’t Nobody reached gold in Australia, Japan and the USA and her next album Best Shots released only in Japan, responded quickly to her popularity with a greatest hits album. Michael McDonald also contributed album tracks specifically for Jaki, with Through Your Eyes in particular being a classic that still stands the test of time. When Jaki appeared on a German TV show with Boy George, he summed her up completely saying ‘You’ll never meet a harder working artist than Jaki Graham’. In ‘95, Jaki released her next Japanese CD entitled Rhythm of Life, followed by My Life in ‘96 and Hold On in ‘98. Sweden also took a great interest in her by releasing singles unique only to that country such as The Christmas Song and Seek and You Will Find which are now rare and highly sought after by collectors. During this period, Motown signed the album Kiss the Sky, which featured Jaki on lead and backing vocals, and has since gone on to sell in excess of a million copies worldwide, meaning the girl from Handsworth was now officially Motown.
Following years of travelling the world and continuing to constantly perform live, 2009 marked a hectic year for Jaki. After being approached by the BBC to work with the BBC Big Band as part of their Radio 2 special, Jaki had only a couple of months to prepare to perform Gershwin classics, that would finally give her the opportunity to sing Jazz! Following her Gershwin & Soul concert in October 2009, people were amazed, having not heard her perform in this genre until now, and not even realising that this too was in her repertoire. Only two weeks after the concert was put out across the airwaves, she received a phone call again from the BBC and the second concert was confirmed, having received a phenomenal worldwide response from the first performance.
March 12th 2010 saw Jaki again performing with the BBC Big Band, this time for an evening of Duke Ellington classics. March also saw the international release of Jaki’s 3 Japanese albums. Until this point Real Life, Rhythm of Life and My Life had only been available in limited territories which had meant that many fans have never heard some of her finest recordings. 2010 continued to be a hive of activity as Cherry Pop records released a special edition CD of Jaki’s 1986 album Breaking Away. In addition to the original 12 track album, 5 bonus tracks were added, 3 of which were exclusive to this release. The summer of 2010 also saw Jaki accompany Michael McDonald and Al Green on their UK Legends Arena Tour which included Birmingham LG, Manchester MEN and London’s O2 Arena, as Michael’s Special Guest. Jaki was invited to join Sir Cliff Richard on his successful Soulicious Arena Tour in October 2011, as his only British Special Guest alongside soul legends James Ingram, Percy Sledge, Freda Payne, Lamont Dozier and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr of Fifth Dimension, which is available on DVD, having been filmed across 2 nights at London’s O2 Arena.
As for 2012, Jaki had a busy year! SET ME FREE 2012 by DJ Paul Rudd feat. Jaki Graham, was released in May, having been approached to re-vocal the 1986 classic. Jaki was also finally back in the studio and finished recording her first, long awaited studio album in over 10 years. For Sentimental Reasons was released in October, giving Jaki the chance to pay homage to some of the classics she was herself brought up listening too, only this time with a more contemporary Jazz twist. This also tied in with Jaki being honoured on Birmingham’s Walk Of Stars joining the likes of Julie Walters, Ozzy Osbourne, Jasper Carrott, Bev Bevan and more.
Following her intimate ongoing For Sentimental Reasons UK tour in 2013, Jaki received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Wolverhampton University in recognition of her Outstanding International Contribution to R&B, Soul and Dance. Her life represents so much to so many different people. Her story is an inspiration, showing what a disadvantaged black girl from a socially deprived background can achieve. Her resilience and strength of character in conquering prejudice and ignorance in her mixed race marriage gives hope and strength to people worldwide facing similar struggles. No matter where you’re from or what struggles you may have encountered, it is for this reason that Jaki has amassed a fan base from all walks of life. Her ability to become the conqueror rather than the victim makes her an attractive role model in a society whereby it seems so few remain. Her music embodies people with a positive energy and inner strength and her voice has united and embraced nations and cultures worldwide. Of all people, Jaki would be the one who would least see these special gifts in herself. In her own words ‘I’m nothing unique….
Captain Sensible proved more charming than any other veteran of the punk scene. His 1985 vegetarian-oriented single “Wot! No Meat?” was a success, and over the years he also recorded a series of albums, The Power of Love(1983), Revolution Now (1989), and The Universe of Geoffrey Brown (1993), that were good sellers and critical favorites, though only in England — in an era in which the Damned were little more than a cult act on the other side of the Atlantic, Captain Sensible barely registered on anyone’s radar screen in America. He and his band — Paul Gray on bass, Malcolm Dixon on organ and synthesizer, and Garrie Dreadful on drums — became famous for the reckless abandon and prodigious musicianship of their live shows, which were spiced by the Captain’s savage wit. In 1994 he released Live at the Milky Way, the best album of his solo career and one of the finest live albums of the era, followed by Meathead in 1995 and Mad Cows & Englishmen in 1996.