Tag Archives: Wham!

1980–2014 ➤ Ten inspirational reminders from the 80s to stir today’s young to action

Waldorf Hotel, Spandau Ballet, Blitz club, New Romantics, youth culture,Blitz Kids , To Cut a Long Story Short, London, clubbing, DJs,

Waldorf Hotel 1980: seated at centre, Spandau Ballet, house band of Covent Garden’s Blitz club, home of the New Romantics movement, plus support team of Blitz Kids who helped put their first single To Cut a Long Story Short into the UK singles chart at No 5, on 6 Dec 1980. Average age 20, everyone had a specific role to play in staging and promoting the band: seven musicians, six designers, three media and management, three club-hosts, two DJs, one crimper and 22 egos. Photographed for the Evening Standard © by Herbie Knott

◼ TEN OF THE MOST POPULAR POSTS visited here during 2014 confirm Shapers of the 80s as an “invaluable website” in the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook. Grounded in the 1980s – the most explosive decade for British youth culture since the Swinging 60s – our eye witness reports and monthly reviews of British nightlife were originally published in magazines such as The Face, the “style bible” of its day. Our recent commentaries monitor fresh interest in the revival of 80s music and attitude during the past five years. Year-ending visit figures at Shapers of the 80s during 2014 have increased year-on-year by 16% to total 210,000.

Much unseen vintage video footage was discovered by the producers researching Spandau Ballet’s biopic, Soul Boys of the Western World, which proved an eye-opening slice of social history when it was released this year. Every frame reveals the sheer energy and commitment to hedonism and creative self-expression that characterised a generation of school-leavers who in the economic gloom of 1979 faced the threat of no jobs ever in their adult lives. The parallels with Britain’s protracted austerity today are obvious and we might hope the lessons of the 80s will again inspire the young to take their fate into their own hands.


Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open a Top of the Pops performance of Wham Rap! in another window … In the original music video (no longer viewable in the UK !!) “man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the video, pictured, by reading our landmark Face cover story on The Making of UK Club Culture, now reproduced at Shapers of the 80s. (Screengrab © Sony BMG)

➢ Read: 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture

Blitz Kids, No Sacrifice, Chenil gallery,Kim Bowen, Jeremy Healy, Stephen Jones, fashion, London

No Sacrifice was an alternative fashion show in 1980 organised by Iain R Webb and mounted for art-school refusés: outside Chelsea’s Chenil Gallery, Kim Bowen as ever sports a hat by Stephen Jones (right), Jeremy Healy at centre. Photographed © by Mick Hurd

➢ Who’s who among the Blitz Kids: 50 crucial nightclubbers who set the style for a decade

Terry Doktor , Carmel Johnson, Rhonda Paster, Axiom, fashion Underground club, Spandau Ballet, gig

New York 1981: Before Spandau Ballet introduced America to electro-diskow at Manhattan’s Underground club, the Axiom fashion cooperative staged a runway show of New Romantic outfits. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, first Blitz invasion of the US by Spandau/Axiom

London,Sullivan,Dirt Box, Mud Club,Wag club,White Trash,Sallon,Nightlife ,The Face,Swinging 80s, clubbing

First published in The Face No 39, July 1983

➢ 1983, Who’s who in the new London nightlife boom

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road in London by Steve Johnston

➢ 1980, ‘Your own i-D counts more than fashion’

Blitz club, London 1979, Iain Webb, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth,

Real Blitz Kids versus the TV version: George’s boyfriend Wilf and Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy

➢ 1983, Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace

➢ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

➢ 1982, “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

➢ 2014, Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW

➢ 2009 till now – Index of all posts at Shapers of the 80s


➤ Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!


➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly being read here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983


The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — This much-recycled account originally penned by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved. Spandau Ballet songwriter Gary Kemp responded: “A superb piece. It will be referred to historically.”


➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts


Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after this heavily fictionalised life story was broadcast in 2010, Shapers of the 80s canvassed this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George myth and in doing so reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually run the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s


Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty musical Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.


David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates Slade from Bowie, the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions


2011 ➤ Wham!’s cunning plan for a Christmas No1 as climax to the 80s revival

❚ TWO REASONS TO CELEBRATE. Mother-of-two Shirlie Kemp has just exhumed a load of fab clothes from her heyday with Pepsi Demacque as the all-jiving all-singing girls in Wham! She has piled a load of glam photos of her stage clothes on to her otherwise sedately titled blog, No Place Like Home. We see her Melissa Caplan sheath from the 1982 Top of the Pops debuts of herself as Shirlie Holliman and of the clubland group’s single Young Guns in the lucky TV turning point [above] that broke the group after their first single Wham Rap! had initially failed to take off.

Shirlie Kemp, fashion, Kahn & Bell,Wham!

Shirlie’s bling leather top for Wham! It bears the Kahniverous label. Photo from shirliekemp.com

Shirlie also shows the cowgirl fronded suede top from American Classics in Endell Street, worn in an earlier incarnation of Young Guns.

Most eye-catching of all are those skimpy, gilded, blingy black leathers by the Brummie design duo Kahn & Bell who had shops in Birmingham and Chelsea. However, after a deep search through Wham’s YouTube videos as the first Western pop group into China, we find no footage of Shirlie’s claim that she wore them onstage there in 1985  — see below for Everything She Wants filmed live in China by British director Lindsay Anderson (which is wrongly dated). By then they had achieved three number-one singles in a row in the US with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper and Everything She Wants, while the Billboard year-ending chart listed George Michael’s Careless Whisper as the US number-one song of 1985.

➢ Click pic for the fizzing Wham Rap! video in a new window

Above — “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes the  group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of their Wham Rap! video by reading The Face cover story, The Making of Club Culture, written by yours truly in the February 1983 issue

❏ The reason why we’ve been catching glimpses of Pepsi & Shirlie around the media is the second reason to celebrate. An explosive 25th anniversary comeback by Wham! themselves takes the shape of a 27-track 2-CD anniversary edition of The Final, their farewell compilation album from 1986, with its minimalist Peter Saville cover design. Embracing all four years’-worth of output, it contains six UK No 1 hits, plus both George Michael solo singles (Careless Whisper and A Different Corner). A deluxe edition includes a DVD of 13 restored videos.

Wham!, The Final, albums, Peter Saville The Final is such a double-whammy of greatest dancefloor hits that its November 28 release is a calculated pitch for the top spot in the Christmas chart. And with Duran’s magnificent comeback year all but spent musically, Wham!’s cunning plan will represent the last major chart assault by the 80s revival that has warmed our cockles for a full two years.

Wham! went out on a high 25 years ago with an eight-hour grand finale of a concert at Wembley Stadium which coincided with their farewell single The Edge of Heaven hitting No 1 in June, 1986. Pepsi says: “A lot of thought went into stopping when we did — we were at our peak, it was such a high and that’s why we can celebrate Wham! The Final now, because we all still have great memories and we’re all still great friends.”

➢ “Maybe George was going through a cowboy phase” — this week’s interview with Pepsi & Shirlie for RealMusic Blog

➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars
from the un-lucrative 80s


2011 ➤ When Shirl asked Peps if she fancied an arena tour, Peps said to Shirl, Why not?

❚ ON THE EVE OF THE HERE & NOW TOUR, Shirlie Kemp from 80s pop duo, Pepsi & Shirlie, talks to Vanessa about reuniting with Helen “Pepsi” DeMacque after 20 years — and why the reunion took so long. Answer: “Because when I had my daughter I realised that was all I wanted. I had a beautiful husband, Martin Kemp, a beautiful baby, and I wasn’t going to risk losing that.” Shirlie (née Holliman) also recalls how she joined Wham! as a backing singer to two of her former schoolmates, Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael. When Pepsi & Shirlie went their own way in 1986 their debut single Heartache went to No 2 in the UK singles chart and the American dance chart.

➢ The Here and Now 10th anniversary seven-city tour runs June 24–July 2, 2011, taking in Birmingham’s LG and London’s O2. Starring Boy George, Jason Donovan, Jimmy Somerville, Belinda Carlisle, Midge Ure, Pepsi & Shirlie and A Flock of Seagulls


➤ George Michael celebrates his golden years of Faith

❚ NEWLY RELEASED JAN 31, 2011: A remastered version of George Michael’s debut solo album, Faith, from November 1987, is out on Epic/Legacy in the UK and tomorrow the US. There is also a DVD featuring a TV special from 1987, George Michael and Jonathan Ross Have Words, a 25-minute Music Money Love Faith EPK, plus seven remastered promo videos. All available through Michael’s international online retail store.

Faith won a Grammy Award as album of its year, for which Michael wrote and produced every track except one, among them six top-five singles. The first released, I Want Your Sex, went to No 3 in the chart and not unexpectedly caused censorship problems around the world. The daddy of US pop radio hosts, Casey Kasem, refused to say the full song title on air, referring to it only as “the new single from George Michael”. Having gone solo, Michael was after all trying to lay the ghost of his teenybopper image so successully established in Wham! at the age of 20 with his best friend Andrew Ridgeley. Sample their first Top of The Pops appearance as Young Guns, which hit No 3 in 1982, below.

Michael had of course already enjoyed  two UK chart-toppers, Careless Whispers in 1984 and A Different Corner in 1986, and in all has achieved eight No 1 singles in the US, his last in 1991. Before all that stuff happened.