Category Archives: Swinging 80s

1984 ➤ How SAW pumped up the volume during the Swinging Eighties

Channel5, Mike Stock, Pete Waterman , Matt Aitken, TV, documentary

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.”

➢ Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop – Catch up with the first episode on the C5 website now

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➤ Hottest Shapers during 2022

Andrew Ridgeley , 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 group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the Wham video by reading my cover story on Club Culture first published in The Face in 1983 and in recent years the No 1 read at Shapers of the 80s!

❚ OVER THE PAST 14 YEARS Shapers of the 80s has received 2.2 million views, according to year-ending stats measured by our host, WordPress. Our 850+ published items total half-a-million words, which is several times more than most books, so it pays to explore the various navigation buttons. Here are the half dozen posts which remained among the most popular with readers during 2022…

➢ Photos inside the Blitz Club, exclusive to Shapers of the 80s

FACE No 34,club culture ➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – evolution of the once-weekly party night (1983)

➢ Why Bowie recruited Blitz Kids for his Ashes to Ashes video in 1980 from the club-night founded by Steve Strange and Rusty Egan

➢ 20 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

➢ First Blitz invasion of the US —
Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)

NYC,Axiom,Melissa Caplan, Sade, Elms, Tony Hadley, Ollie O'Donnell

At the Underground club in NYC 1981: Melissa Caplan rehearses Bob Elms, Mandy d’Wit and Sade Adu for the Axiom runway show. Right, Ollie “the snip” O’Donnell goes to work on singer Tony Hadley’s hair. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)

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➤ Captured in 1983: the Westwood-McLaren showdown

Over two weeks I watched fashion gurus Westwood
and McLaren go their separate ways. Daggers-drawn,
they both talked exclusively to the Evening Standard…
Mine were the final pix of them together

Paris fashion, 1983, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren, Worlds End, post-punk

Their last dance, Paris 1983… Westwood says: “Malcolm has one more chance to be good.” McLaren says: “I’m not incapable of designing the next collection myself.” Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Click here to read my enhanced version about the day
the King and Queen of Outrage realised
the end was nigh, in 1983

First published in the Evening Standard, 4 Nov 1983

➢ Obituary for Dame Vivienne Westwood 1941-2022 at The Guardian

➢ BBC’s in-depth tribute to Vivienne – the godmother of punk

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2022 ➤ Farewell Terry Hall, chronicler of social unrest in the Eighties

Terry Hall, ska, pop charts, Swinging Eighties, obituary, singer

Terry Hall on the cover of The Face in July 1981 (Photo © Davies/Starr)

❚ IN POST-PUNK 1979 The Specials and their 2 Tone Records label were just about the only credible sounds in the blandly irrelevant pop charts of the time. This ska-revival band from Coventry defined the anger characterising the concrete jungle in recessionary Britain from their debut single Gangsters to Ghost Town in 1981. They notched seven chart hits while the fashion-conscious stylists who turned London’s Blitz Club into a poser’s paradise set about creating employment among their own ranks by reinventing the UK music scene itself.

The frontman of The Specials, Terry Hall, who from the outset felt uncomfortable becoming a pop celebrity, died on Sunday aged only 63 after a tough and often traumatic life. Yet his singing voice and charisma as a political militant, also expressed with the ironically named Fun Boy Three, ensured a substantial following in later life so that a comeback album titled Encore topped the UK chart in 2019.

Here’s how today’s Guardian obituary of Terry Hall starts, written by Adam Sweeting: “Singer with the Specials whose chart-topping Ghost Town evoked the sense of social collapse gripping Britain at the turn of the Eighties”

Famously deadpan, dour and slightly menacing, Terry Hall, who has died aged 63 after a short illness, shot to fame at the end of the 1970s with Coventry’s ground-breaking multi-racial band the Specials. They emerged in the aftermath of punk, with a fizzing, politically charged mix of ska and new wave, and enjoyed instant success with their debut album, The Specials, which reached No 4 on the UK chart. For a time, the Specials’ 2 Tone Records operation became the UK’s most successful record label, with releases from Madness, the Beat and the Selecter alongside the Specials’ own.

Hall commented that “I don’t believe music can change anything” because “all you can do is put your point across”, but the Specials caught the fraught and dangerous atmosphere of the turn of the 1980s with an eerie intensity. Ghost Town in particular chillingly evoked the sense of social collapse and economic decline gripping a riot-torn Britain.

The Specials found themselves in the eye of the storm, with neo-Nazis frequently targeting their gigs. Hall and the band’s keyboards player, Jerry Dammers, were both arrested when they waded in to try to break up fighting between fans and security guards at a gig in Cambridge. They were found guilty of “incitement to riot” and fined £400 each… / Continued at Guardian online

HALL AS SOLO ARTIST IN 1994:

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1981, Chant No 1 – Spandau revive the rumble of funk while hard times loom

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2022 ➤ Martin Kemp on a life full of love but lacking two vital apologies

Martin Kemp, Spandau Ballet, Los Angeles, pop music, live concerts,

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?

Spandau Ballet, Ross William Wild, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, pop music,

October 2018: What proved to be vocalist Ross William Wild’s last outing with Spandau Ballet at the Hammersmith Apollo

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2020, Singer Ross reveals how Spandau drove him to try ending it all

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