Tag Archives: Wham!

➤ 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!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 890,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 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 ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

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.”

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ 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 O’Dowd a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before their band 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

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

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.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

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

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

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❚ 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

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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

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➤ 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.

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2010 ➤ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s

❚ ONLY THREE MUSICIANS FROM THE 1980s are included in the annual Rich List of Britain’s top 50 music millionaires, published today by The Sunday Times. The richest musician of the decade who holds his own amid the older gods of rock is singer-songwriter George Michael who is worth £90m ($138m) today. He sits at No 25 in the ST’s top 50. George is pictured above in Wham!’s Club Tropicana video (where “the drinks are free”). His group’s “pure pop” epitomised the sybaritic style which by 1983 was signalling the divide in British music between electronic earnestness and full-on hedonism.

Rich List, 2010The other two richest stars from the 80s are each estimated to be worth a relatively puny £35m ($54m). They are Lancastrian Mick Hucknall of Simply Red (their summer tour climaxes with a farewell concert on Dec 19 and is booking now), and pop diva Kylie Minogue who found fame in the UK through the Australian TV soap, Neighbours. The Sunday Times justifies Kylie’s presence in this UK list, as someone who often seems “more British than the British”. She herself has regarded the UK as “my adopted home” almost since 1988 when her debut single, I Should Be So Lucky, went to No 1 and set her on the path to becoming the most successful female artist in the UK charts. She was honoured by the Queen with an OBE in 2008.

Mick Hucknall

Simply Red’s Hucknall: a December farewell

Since the 2009 Rich List, three 80s stars have dropped out from the top 50 musicians: Annie Lennox, Simple Minds vocalist Jim Kerr and Sade – though her sensational album comeback this year is likely to be reflected in next year’s list. Astonishingly the creative genius behind Kylie and the huge stable of Stock Aitken and Waterman acts – Pete Waterman – last appeared in the Rich List in 2007.

Should we assume creativity does not equate to profitability? From a musician’s perspective the 80s have been the least lucrative decade in pop history, apart from the Noughties from which only TV impresario Simon Cowell emerges as a multi-millionaire (£165m). Inevitably, older musicians have had longer in which to sell records and accrue proceeds, so the 1960s yield 20 musicians in the Rich List who are still millionaires today, led by Sir Paul (£475m, $731m), Sir Mick (£190m) and Sir Elton (£185m). From the 1970s there are ten in the top 50, with Sting way out in front (£180m).

Among the richest artists from the 90s is Victoria (“Posh Spice”) Beckham (£145m whose fortune the ST oddly entwines with her footballing husband’s). Robbie Williams is now worth £85m and Gary Barlow £35m – both started out in boyband Take That. The Gallagher brothers of Oasis are worth £55m, and Jay Kay of Jamiroquai £35m.

Kylie Minogue, 1987, Lucky

Getting lucky in 1988: Kylie went straight to No 1 and never looked back. Photograph © by PAL Productions Ltd

The Rich List names 13 moguls ruling the UK biz, led by former songwriter and Warner Music Group chairman, the American Edgar Bronfman who has made his home in London, and is worth £1,640m ($2,522m). The ST reports him as being “well placed to snap up the beleagured EMI”, effectively Britain’s last homegrown record company, founded in 1931.

Leaders among the younger British businessmen are Simon Fuller (£350m, $540m), the former Spice Girls manager who struck gold as creator of TV’s Idol franchise which has been sold worldwide during the past decade, and Jamie Palumbo (£150m, $231m) who founded the Ministry of Sound clubbing empire.

➢➢ Summary of The Sunday Times Rich List Musicians 2010

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