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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984They 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
An “invaluable website” — historian Dominic Sandbrook, 2012
A UNIQUE HISTORY➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates
➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU AT TOP to go deeper into the past
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❏ 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
TOLD FOR THE FIRST TIME
◆ Who was who in Spandau’s break-out year of 1980? The Invisible Hand of Shapersofthe80s draws a selective timeline for The unprecedented rise and rise of Spandau Ballet –– Turn to our inside page
- 2019 ➤ Ever wondered how Rusty Egan does what he does?
- ➤ A double act is born – Sulls & Elms, take a bow!
- ➤ After his Spandau ordeal, singer Ross shakes off the blues
- ➤ How Nile Rodgers “rearranged” Bowie’s Let’s Dance into a stonking hit single
- ➤ The makings of Scarlett, a perfect muse for the Eighties
- ➤ Ross Wild retunes to Gatsby’s Roaring Twenties
- ➤ New from Prince: Holly Rock single and video, plus album of demos
- ➤ Those ‘things’ Blade Runner’s Hauer had seen…
- ➤ Duran rock NASA’s Rocket Garden, feet firmly on Planet Earth
- 2019 ➤ Lawrie’s Eleven talk candidly of being young black and gay in ways many of us never knew
- 2019 ➤ The nerve of Neil Matthews! Offering bunny ears to those oh-so cool Eighties pop stars
- ➤ Ross leaps out of the Ballet into the cauldron of grunge
SEARCH our 700 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 new 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
LANDMARK FAREWELLS. . . HIT THE INDEX TAB UP TOP FOR EVERYTHING ELSE
✱ “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah – Obituaries and key videos on the godlike one
Archive — Many publication dates are arbitrary, so click and take pot luck!
Category Archives: Tipping points
◼ ONE WEEK UNTIL YET MORE unseen Blitz Club pix by Terry Smith – this time in black and white – go on show at the Lucy Bell Fine Art gallery in St Leonards, Sussex. All for sale, various sizes, contact Lucy (pictured here) about the 7 June PV.
◼ EVEN AMONG THE UK ROCK PRESS, few of its music historians have conceded that the New Romantics amounted to an ambitious subculture that changed the rules of the game – largely because the rockists completely missed the boat by idolising guitar idols, never went to nightclubs, and what’s more, couldn’t dance.
The most audible consequence of the clubbing underground was to fundamentally change the rhythm of the pop singles charts within a year – from the rock guitar to the bass-and-drum, namely, to dance music. After 1981 scarcely any significant new rock groups made the singles charts, only the old dinosaurs, if at all. Rock was relegated to the album chart and new dance-music stars such as Madonna and Prince transformed the pop music of the new decade.
The other New Romantics keynote was the central role of image with the dawn of MTV as a platform for music videos. A band became the leaders of fashion, while their style-conscious nightlife followers collaborated in promoting them through the clubbing grapevine. As synth-pop pioneers during 1980 Spandau Ballet pushed a button for the fashion-conscious young. They were signalling that the language of pop called for new styles as much as new sounds.
During the first five years of the decade, more than 100 “image bands” and acts entered the UK charts – most of them new, led in the South-East by Ultravox, Linx, Spandau Ballet, Visage, Landscape, Depeche Mode, Kid Creole, Blue Rondo a la Turk. Many more emerged from clubland across the UK: Duran Duran, Soft Cell, Heaven 17, Altered Images, Imagination, Eurythmics, Thomas Dolby, ABC.
During Spandau’s North American tour in November 1983, alongside their hit True among the Billboard Top 40 singles in the USA, there were 17 other British bands – more than the Swinging 60s ever knew. Insolence and narcissism lit a torch that led a generation of school-leavers through what threatened to be Britain’s dark age of unemployment. As clubs became workplaces and nightlife the essential engine of cultural evolution, they liberated music, design and, especially, ambition for the young.
◼ LAST NIGHT STEVE NORMAN’S POP-UP UK TOUR played its third set at a packed Pizza Express in Holborn. Spandau Ballet’s percussionist and joker Steve is pictured here alongside his girlfriend, manager and vocalist Sabrina Winter, and actor son Jaco Norman on bass, while his mum Sheila, daughter Lara and relations cheered from their corner. We enjoyed a generous 2hour-37minute show including a frank yet good-humoured Q&A (the first single he bought was Double Barrel by Dave and Ansil Collins, OK?), with only one twitchy moment which his old mucker on bongos Joe Becket reckoned was a “domestic” at the couple’s mics.
Steve met Joe at his best mate Deuce Barter’s Sunday clubnight called Passion at La Valbonne in Maidenhead in 1988 not long before the final tour which signalled the Spandau Ballet split. Steve joined Joe on percussion with him one night, and the same night Steve asked Joe if he would like to join Spandau’s tour on percussion. And so he did. They have been firm friends ever since and once more last night they indulged in a battle of the bongos reminiscent of Deuce’s club during a choppy version of Chant No 1. Jaco closed in to complete a trio for a thrilling percussive climax.
Guitarist Paul Cuddeford also plays in Holy Holy and Steve Harley’s band and has worked as producer with Steve on various projects. Last night he pumped guts into a range of soulish covers from Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together and Nick Cave’s Where The Wild Roses Grow to All the Young Dudes, The Passenger, Absolute Beginners and Come Together. He totally walloped astonishing new life into the Spandau hit True, as did Steve who excelled with his trademark dirty tenor sax.
Steve introduced three new songs during the set: L’Apprendista Di Nettuno, written for a swimming event and proving a soaring sensation on soprano sax; I Get Up I Get Down; and the evening closed with a snappy new potential hit titled If Looks Could Kill where he alternates vocals with that sax – well out on its own stylistically!
◼ EXPECT A NEWS TSUNAMI TODAY when Spandau Ballet, the New Romantic heroes of the 80s, announce who is going to replace the finally departed Tony Hadley as their singer. AND the date of their first gig together as a revitalised new line-up.
A shortlist of hot tips for the Spands’ new voice was discussed at Shapersofthe80s last summer. Since then we’ve learnt that he/she is not going to be an old 80s has-been. So who’s still in the frame for the key job without which Spandau’s legacy will remain all behind them? Could it really be Brandon Flowers who is known to have discussed a future with Spandau? Or Will Young whose recently acclaimed stage experience in Cabaret might bring a fresh note of theatre to Spandau performances?
Or could it be one of these burgeoning young talents?
* George Maguire, recently touring as Marc Bolan, who also won the Olivier Award for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical in 2015?
* Rami Malek, the 36-year-old star of Mr Robot?
* Layton Williams, who stole all the curtain calls as Angel in Rent, the touring musical?
* Mo Adeniran, the 21-year-old former hotel worker whose show-stopping performance of Iron Sky wowed judges in the blind auditions on The Voice UK?
* Giles Terera, the British actor and musician best known for originating the character of Aaron Burr in the London production of Hamilton for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical?
* Martin Lewis, who sang Gold brilliantly in Stars in Their Eyes?
* Adam J Bernard, who won Best actor in a supporting role in a musical for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre?
* Tyrone Huntley, 2016 winner of the Standard’s Emerging Talent Award, also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre?
The choice is yours! Sorry, no it’s not. The choice is Spandau’s. And he’s already been hired!