Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman and Mike Stock in their heyday. (Photo: PA)
❚ DO CATCH THE SIZZLING NEW TV DOCUMENTARY about Stock Aitken Waterman, the three musical geniuses who only had to press all the right buttons for an unknown singer, and inject a dance beat into their music to create one Top 10 hit after another. From 1984 the writing/producing team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were to publish over 100 hit singles, producing and launching the pop careers of Hazell Dean, Dead or Alive, Bananarama, Sinitta, Princess, Mel & Kim, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. International stars such as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Chic and Depeche Mode became external clients.
The detail of how SAW evolved their production line with Phil Harding at PWL Studios makes for awesome viewing in two programmes of 90 minutes each, the second going out on Channel 5 next Saturday. Pete Waterman compared their output to Motown in the 1960s: “Every five days we had to churn out a hit.”
Golden years: Martin Kemp escaping fans after Spandau Ballet played at The Palace, Los Angeles, in 1983
❚ MARTIN IS THE YOUNGER BROTHER of the two Kemps, the good-looking one with the easy charm that has opened doors into a television career that included EastEnders. Gary is the older one with such a strong sense of self that as recently as 2017 it wrecked the last of several reunions for Spandau Ballet, by shedding their talented and popular singer Tony Hadley who now thrives with his own band. In 1978 Gary had invited Martin to learn to play bass then join his former school band the Makers 18 months before it was renamed Spandau Ballet and went on to international success.
Today The Guardian interviews Martin Kemp aged 61 about his third book, Ticket to the World: My 80s Story (HarperCollins £11), which sounds more cosy than you might expect following Kemp’s distressing surgery to remove two brain tumours during the 1990s. He can’t stop telling us how much he loves everybody in his life, even after fist fights with Gary. What does he have to say about why Tony Hadley left the band in 2017, after several previous break-ups? ➢ The interviewer Paula Cocozza reports:
“ “It’s something that I’d never spoken to him about. But I do feel guilty when I look back.” In the book, Kemp stops short of an apology. “Oh, listen,” he says immediately. “I would apologise to Tony, absolutely, for the way that he was treated. I think it was really poor.”
Why doesn’t he pick up the phone and say all this to Hadley? He really sounds as if he wants to. But he says: “I haven’t spoken to Tony for ages. I reach out to him, but I rarely hear back. I send little messages” – he mimes texting – “if I get two words back, I’m happy.
“Tony is lovely,” he says. “He is a lovely man. I will always, always love him, in the same way I love all the rest of the band. But you drift apart, don’t you?” ”
Nowhere in the interview does the name of Ross William Wild get mentioned, the singer who succeeded Hadley during 2018 following Martin Kemp’s recommendation, and was silently dumped after a trial series of concerts and subsequently contemplated suicide. When might he, too, expect an apology from the band who blanked him?
October 2018: What proved to be vocalist Ross William Wild’s last outing with Spandau Ballet at the Hammersmith Apollo
Gary Kemp at 61: new suit too on his taster for the solo single
“Don’t you love it when your heart isn’t making sense? Running on the power of innocence…”
❚ TODAY WE GOT TO HEAR Ahead Of The Game, the new single from singer-songwriter Gary Kemp who goes solo more than two years after his pioneering 80s band Spandau Ballet last performed live. At the age of 61, Kemp describes the song as a love-song for his wife, inspired by Yacht Rock – previously known in the 1970s-80s as West Coast AOR – in other words yuppy escapism with a lush orchestral presence. “I wanted to write a big feelgood song. I unashamedly love elements of Yacht Rock. I don’t like writing songs unless I feel they’ve got a hook in there somewhere so they’ve got hooks. There is a big sound on the album.”
The single was premiered today before Kemp was interviewed by Steve Wright during In The Afternoon on BBC Radio 2 (fast forward online to 2h40m). An album titled InSolo follows on in July on the Columbia label, only Kemp’s second since Little Bruises in 1995.
LISTEN HERE TO Ahead Of The Game
TWEET FROM CRITIC NEIL MCCORMICK
❏ That was a really lovely dive into Gary Kemp’s very long awaited forthcoming sophomore solo album (just 26 years after the first). Shades of Steely Dan, Pink Floyd & Gary Moore mixing it up with the smooth Spandau prog soul. Lush.
In a Marks & Spencer window: Father and son Martin and Roman Kemp model shirts
In the Waitrose Weekend magazine: Gary Kemp at home in his library
Posted on 21 June 2021 ❚ FROM HUMBLE WORKING-CLASS BOYS to self-made taste-makers. . . Above, we see Martin Kemp looking snappy in the window of Marks & Spencer with his Capital Radio deejay son Roman, while their own unique double act finds other outlets advertising Volkswagen cars, chatting on their Weekend Best show for ITV and Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox. . . Further along the high street Mart’s brother Gary Kemp marks his 60th year with an intensely personal solo album and this interview in the current Waitrose Weekend magazine, pictured here at home in his library. . . Onwards and upwards.
GARY KEMP SEES HIS SOLO ALBUM AS SEVERING THE PAST
Gary Kemp today: “If I write lyrics first then they’re for me”
Posted on 7 July 2021 ❚ INTERVIEWED ON TODAY’S BBC Breakfast show Gary Kemp – essentially promoting his new album InSolo – explained why it’s been 25 years since his last solo album:
“ I didn’t feel the need to do that… I always felt connected with Spandau Ballet, and even though we went through all those troubles and fights then getting back together, everything I was writing was put away for them. And it wasn’t until I started working with Nick Mason from Pink Floyd that I really felt I could sever the past and while on that tour I started writing lots of lyrics and if I write lyrics first then they’re for me and they were about me. Then when I got back from tour I set them to music. I wasn’t going to make the album but when lockdown came it was, Right I’d better finish this.
I was at home working remotely and getting in touch with artists which no one had ever done before – Roger Taylor from Queen said Yes I’ll play on one of your tracks. So I worked remotely with him and other bass players and started to build the album and when the studios reopened in the summer we managed to get in and do a lot of stuff for real. ” ➢ Watch today’s nine-minute interview with
Gary Kemp on BBC Breakfast
Primed for action in 2021: Roger, John, Simon and Nick
15 APRIL UPDATE: These Duran40 shows were originally
planned for broadcast in April. They are now planned
for broadcast on Radio 2 at 9pm on Saturday 8 & 15 May.
❚ NEXT MONTH Duran Duran talk in depth to super-fan Claudia Winkleman about their biggest hits and best-loved tracks, to celebrate 40 years together as a band. Each member of the group reveals secrets about the songs and Simon Le Bon gives a rare insight behind the lyrics that he has penned. The guys take us through their catalogue along with chat from Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers and more. Tune into BBC Radio 2 on Saturday 8 May at 9pm and again Saturday 15th for another hour’s worth.
Duran Duran was formed in Birmingham by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor in 1978 and in 1980 happily joined the New Romantic Scene. The group have sold over 100 million records and have had over 14 singles in the UK Top 10. They recently dropped a tribute cover of David Bowie’s Five Years with Mike Garson on piano, none of them looking a day over whateva.
➢ Duran Duran’s show at the Isle of Wight Festival has now been rescheduled to Sunday 19 September 2021. Tickets are on sale now. All existing tickets will remain valid for September so please keep hold of them. If you cannot make the new dates please contact your ticket provider for a refund.
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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapers of the 80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
“The (velvet) goldmine that is Shapers of the 80s” – Verdict of Chris O’Leary, respected author and blogger who analyses Bowie song by song at Pushing Ahead of the Dame
“The rather brilliant Shapers of the 80s website” – Dylan Jones in his Sweet Dreams paperback, 2021
A UNIQUE HISTORY
➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s ➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates ➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU at page top to go deeper into the past ➢ FOR NEWS & MONTH BY MONTH SEARCH scroll down this sidebar
❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
VINCENT ON AIR 2022
✱ Deejay legend Robbie Vincent returned to JazzFM on Sundays 1-3pm in 2021… Catch Robbie’s JazzFM August Bank Holiday 2020 session thanks to AhhhhhSoul with four hours of “nothing but essential rhythms of soul, jazz and funk”.
SEARCH our 800 posts or ZOOM DOWN TO THE ARCHIVE INDEX
UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
✱ Jawing at Soho Radio on the 80s clubland revolution (from 32 mins) and on art (@55 mins) is probably the most influential shaper of the 80s, former Wag-club director Chris Sullivan (pictured) with editor of this website David Johnson
LANDMARK FAREWELLS. . . HIT THE INDEX TAB UP TOP FOR EVERYTHING ELSE
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