Tag Archives: Gary Kemp

2018 ➤ Revealed: The secret role of Shapersofthe80s in the rise and rise of Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet, 1980,Scala Cinema, performance,

A photograph never before published: sharply styled Spandau Ballet in 1980 playing the dramatically lit Scala Cinema gig that eventually brought the record companies scrambling to sign them. Photograph by Steve Brown

FIRST COMES THIS UNAUTHORISED BOOK that tells the world there were two bands called Spandau Ballet back in 1979 and turns over the whole myth about where their name came from. There are a least two huge marmalade-dropper revelations, plus several dozen eye-openers about the birth of Blitz culture, however well you think you knew the early 80s. The author David Barrat even knows John Keeble’s middle name. In fact he gives us everybody’s middle name, just to prove his overdue diligence. Barrat is also very revealing about the band’s legal falling-out that ended in the high court before an apparently congenial judge who quite liked their music.

Then out of the blue I find there are about 100 shockingly well-informed pages not exactly about me, long before this website existed, but following my every footstep through every month of 1980 as the second SB with the stolen name takes its first tentative steps toward a record deal and the UK charts all within a single year – which was indeed good going for a new band by any standards. Very flatteringly Barrat suggests that I am waving some Invisible Hand behind the scenes to make the Spandau magic happen and actually writes that “their success can be pinned on one Evening Standard journalist”. Talk about blush!

New Romantics Who Never Were: The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet, David Barrat, Orsam Books, pop music, historySo what we’re doing here today is offering a modest extract from Barrat’s book for you to read how he theorises about my ducking and diving as a regular young journalist about town who suddenly fell into five years of rollicking night-clubbing. Then on an inside page you can read my own parallel account of falling under the spell of the real Svengali, Steve Dagger, Spandau’s manager. I blow the gaff on his game called Squeeze the Lemon.

David Barrat says he became “just an ordinary fan of the band” at the age of 16, who two decades later created a cult SB-related MSN group online called Deformation. It focussed on three subjects: 1, origins of the band’s name; 2, whether SB were real “New Romantics” or not, as a friend’s mum claimed; 3, the legal battle that tore the band apart in the late 1990s. He tackles other questions such as “When was Gary Kemp visited at home by a bishop? What was the real story behind Bob Geldof’s idea for the Band Aid Christmas single?” All the while he unnervingly debunks myths put about by celebrities with faulty memories.

He has also dug up a mass of colourful detail about London clubland in the past when the police were as dodgy as the club-owners, the notorious Roxy in particular, which adds quite a bit to the sum of human knowledge.

So tuck into Barrat’s own book in the extract embedded here as a PDF which will open in a new window. Then contrast it with my own account at the link below.

David Barrat

Click on this image to read the David Barrat book extract

WHEN YOU’RE READY FOR MY OWN STORY…

➢ 1980 was one frantic year – Follow my version of Spandau Ballet’s unprecedented rise, penned by the Invisible Hand of Shapersofthe80s

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Spooky or what? When two bands went by the name of Spandau Ballet – the most amazing revelation made in Barrat’s book

Spandau Ballet , Papagayo Club,pop music, St Tropez

Spandau Ballet on the beach in St Tropez 1980: a fortnight in the sun courtesy of the Papagayo Club before they’d even signed a deal! (Photographer unknown)

➢ Click to buy New Romantics Who Never Were: The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet, by David Barrat, from Orsam Books, 330pp, £16.99

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2018 ➤ The Spandau show must go on and Oh, the Wild voice! Oh, the Wild biceps!

TABLOIDS GET THEIR MAN: ROSS WILLIAM WILD
HERE SINGING The Show Must Go On, 2012

➢ A talented Elvis impersonator has been brought in to sing Spandau Ballet’s hits like True and Gold – Daily Mirror

Spandau Ballet, vocalist, Ross William Wild, Martin Kemp,

Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild met Martin Kemp when they both appeared in Million Dollar Quartet

The identity of the new Spandau vocalist has been cracked: He is a 30-year-old former Aberdeen Grammar School pupil, born in February 1988, whose original name is Ross William Davidson. He has a sister Lucy Indiana Wild living in Canada (and it’s sheer coincidence that today he has a friend called Will Davidson). Ross trained for the stage at Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre from the age of 10, and then studied Musical Theatre at Glasgow Academy of Music Theatre Arts.

➢ “We first noticed he had such a fantastic singing voice when his voice was starting to develop” – Evening Express

Ross William Wild , Spandau Ballet, vocalist,

Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild with Nile Rogers at Abbey Road Studios this year – at Instagram

✭ His first instrument was guitar when he was 8 and the first chords that he struck were the blues chords.

✭ Describes himself as musician, singer, actor, writer and adventurer. Tweeted that he enjoyed the Charles II: Art and Power exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery.

Spandau Ballet, vocalist, Ross William Wild

Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild – at Twitter

✭ In 2016 he released his debut solo album Wild Tracks which includes songs written with Trisha Ward.

✭ In 2016 Ross played Elvis Presley in the hit West End musical Million Dollar Quartet and shared the stage with Martin Kemp when he took over the role of record producer Sam Phillips who discovered Presley.

✭ Above, Ross featured as the popular and handsome Daniel in the raunchy 2011 film Downing, where he has sex scenes with a woman and a man. He speaks with a clear Scottish accent.

➢ Hunky Ross regularly shows off “his honed physique in saucy social media selfies” – according to The Mail

Spandau Ballet, vocalist, Ross William Wild

Spandau’s new boy Ross William Wild on holiday in Barcelona – from Instagram

➢ Wild has trained in kickboxing and taekwondo at a high level since the age of 15 – The Sun

➢ View Wild’s selfies at Instagram
➢ Follow the new Spandau singer at Twitter

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➤ Whither Spandau? Expect a bombshell today!

Spandau Ballet , pop music,Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman

Face wanted in the Spandau Ballet lineup: from left, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman. Might the new singer even be female? (Er, no.)

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!

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2018 ➤ Spooky or what? When two bands went by the name of Spandau Ballet

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Above: Two bands who played in London as Spandau Ballet…
SBv1 originated the name and here play their final gig at the
Hope & Anchor in 1979 with singer Mark Robinson, drummer
Gordon Bowman, bass guitarist David Wardill, (guitarist Mick Austin
off-camera) . . . SBv2, here in their previous incarnation as Gentry,
playing Camden School for Girls in December 1978, with Tony Hadley
on vocals and the chart-topping True five years in the future

DID YOU KNOW LONDON HAD TWO POP GROUPS called Spandau Ballet in 1979? The one who became famous adopted their name from the one who didn’t. A jaw-dropping new history of the New Romantics scene, unauthorised and meticulously researched by David Barrat, a long-time music fan, is published this week titled New Romantics Who Never Were: The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet.

Barrat has gathered a mind-boggling compilation of spooky coincidences and things we never knew before in his 117,000-word paperback, self-published today on his own imprint Orsam Books. Here is no mere fan, but an obsessive one who has made himself the Mastermind champion in the two themes identified in his tongue-twisting title: Who exactly were the New Romantics of the early 1980s, who many of us believe drove one of the most transformational youth cultures of Britain’s postwar years? Barrat discusses how this term came to characterise the style-leaders of British clubland when they unanimously rejected it themselves.

His second theme is the true genesis story of the Spandau Ballet five-piece from Islington who set out with a cunning plan to weave a tapestry of fictions around their launch as electro-synth popsters in 1979. At the outset the band were coolly vague about their origins and you’d have to be a fan with Barrat’s persistence to piece together spasmodic revelations during the succeeding decades. Spandau subsequently became global superstars in that momentous decade when image-conscious new British bands invaded the American pop charts, then quarrelled as pop groups do and arrived in the High Court in 1996 rowing over royalty payments. Individual members remained belligerent for years.

➢ Buy David Barrat’s
New Romantics book here

Whether or not you care for Spandau and the 80s music scene, Barrat’s forensic approach to reassessing this creative landscape is utterly hypnotic and unlike anything you’ve read by the hacks of the rock press. He has spent years in deep Holmesian research delving into official records, newspaper cuttings, TV interviews and first-hand interviews. The result is gripping, original and epic. For instance: revealing all about another band sharing exactly the same distinctive name a matter of months before Tony Hadley stepped onto the stage at the Blitz Club! Here is a well-informed juggernaut delivering into our laps mighty fact upon tiny fact, laid out for inspection and challenge. Barrat’s intent is resolute: to convince us he knows his stuff, and has purged the popular version of events of mutability.

David Barrat contacted me a few years back in order to check dates and events against my own detailed diaries and his aggregation of facts and assumptions is mostly hard to fault. His book now pays extraordinary and generous tribute to this website, Shapers of the 80s, and to myself as a former features editor of the Evening Standard who helped others recognise the potency of the youthquake erupting in 1980.

SO WHO WERE THE OTHER BAND?

❑ The musicians originally called Spandau Ballet (hereafter called SBv1) were four lads who met in 1978 during their teens in Bedfordshire: guitarist Mick Austin, singer Mark Robinson, drummer Michael Harvey and punky bass guitarist David Wardill. They agonised for ages over a band name and Austin remembers a “eureka” moment using the Dadaist method of juggling words on random scraps of paper. They arrived at the darkly Germanic first word (originally with an incorrect umlaut over the U in Spandaü) and paired it with “the softer, romantic” word Ballet. The package was deemed “nicely decadent”, a debut gig was planned for 30 August 1978 and accordingly Robinson designed a poster for it, which we see below. Wardill declared his ambition: “We were going to go to London and become rock stars.”

So how on earth did their oddball band name transfer itself to a five-piece from Islington? The reader’s mind boggles at the number of spooky coincidences that Barrat’s book uncovers. Wardill had fallen in love with journalism graduate Deanne Pearson who rented a flat at 32 Sibley Grove in East Ham so in October 1978 he moved in and members of SBv1 often came to crash on the floor. Coincidentally – this flat was shared with the yet-to-become seminal Blitz Kids – while freshers at St Martin’s School of Art – Kim Bowen, Lee Sheldrick and others, who migrated in the spring to Battersea’s Ralph West student hostel, along with graphics student Graham Smith and future Wag club director Chris Sullivan.

Click any pic below to view complete images

In her forthcoming autobiography Kim relates how, in mid-1979, accompanied by “a trio of self-described Nelly Queens”, she penetrated an empty Georgian house in Fitzrovia to establish the legendary squat in Warren Street, a leisurely walk away from St Martin’s. “Within weeks the creme de la creme of young London was living there,” Kim writes, and her bold manuscript spares no detail. This stylish property became the hub of social life for the Blitz Kids who were meeting every Tuesday at the Covent Garden Blitz Club since Steve Strange’s Neon Nights had begun that February. As milliner Stephen Jones’s mannequin de vie, the wild and startlingly elegant Kim elevated herself to Queen of the Blitz. Many of the Kids’ high-style antics were documented by Graham Smith while he – coincidentally – became the official photographer of the second Spandau Ballet (SBv2) who announced their name only for their first public concert on 5 December that year. (Smith’s lavish photo-book We Can Be Heroes was published in 2011 and remains an unbeatable record of both style and excess).

In October 1978, the Beds boys SBv1 had started working as busboys as well as rehearsing at The Venue, Virgin’s new club in Victoria where they immortalised their band’s name by spraying it in green paint on the toilet walls and on other public walls elsewhere in central London. Amid all the ancient myths about where SBv2 found their name, the band’s early propagandist and future broadcaster Bob Elms has said he first spotted the phrase Spandau Ballet as graffiti variously on prison walls or toilet walls in the Spandau district during a soulboy group trip to Berlin in summer 1979.

Coincidentally – however, during an interview way back in 1984 one prominent Blitz Kid told me the graffiti had been very visible on the toilet wall of The Hope, a favourite pub in Tottenham Street, not far from the Warren Street squat. “Some boys from north-east London were using that name in a school-type band.” Also coincidentally – along the same block as The Hope stood the trendy new Scala cinema, whose programmer then was 22-year-old Stephen Woolley (today a major player in the British film industry), who was a contemporary of SBv2 manager Steve Dagger and their stage designer Simon Withers, all of whom attended Dame Alice Owen’s school in Islington and grew up there with the other members of SBv2 – Gary and Martin Kemp, Tony Hadley, John Keeble and Steve Norman.

This fabulous cascade of coincidences throws up at least SIX PRIME SUSPECTS in The Ballet Great Mystery: Who really fed the name Spandau Ballet through to the Islington band SBv2, who through 1978–79 were known as the power-pop combo, Gentry? Barrat’s new book draws its own conclusion.

PS: EVEN MORE SPOOKILY ON MY DOORSTEP. . .

pop music,

David Wardill: bass guitarist who joined The Passions in 1980

❑ Scroll forward a few years from the birth of SBv2. . . After my day-jobs in journalism, I taught an adult evening class in Creative Writing for 16 years in west London, after which it was traditional for the more entertaining students to continue the evening at a nearby pub. Among several who became long-standing friends was – coincidentally – the same David Wardill of SBv1 (also visible in the video below). His musical background meant we had lots to discuss in 1989, including his earlier life in East Ham with Kim Bowen and Lee Sheldrick.

David and I drifted apart but had a sudden email reunion while I was building this website in 2009. He told me that soon after completing the writing class he sent a story to the BBC which turned up two years later as a film from BBC Birmingham. These days he was a father and teaching art in a secondary school.

As for SBv2, he admitted: “I never really cared much that they had borrowed our band’s name, as I didn’t see much chance of us wanting it back.” SBv1 ground to a standstill in May 1979 and David soon joined another band called The Passions who enjoyed airplay by Radio 1’s influential deejay John Peel and eventually made it to Top of The Pops in 1981 with their song on Polydor, I’m in Love with a German Film Star, which reached No 25. (CoincidentallySBv2 arrived at No 17 with Musclebound in the same edition of TOTP and are announced at the end of the clip below. Oo, er.)

David added: “The Passions reunited recently for a day at a studio in Shepherd’s Bush. That laid a lot of ghosts to rest. Our main song has been covered by the Foo Fighters and Pet Shop Boys. Strange how the past hangs around, although I find the continued interest gratifying, as well as financially useful.” Spoken like a star.

❑ And here today we still have not given away the truly spookiest coincidence among those that Barrat reveals about SBv1 & v2 when their paths almost crossed – it’s a goose-pimples moment that stops you in your tracks. More reflections on this vital addition to our bookshelves will follow here at Shapers of the 80s as we read on…

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Just don’t call us New Romantics
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Who’s Who in the Pits – Harry Cool’s Guide to the New Glitterati

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2017 ➤ So who can fill Tony Hadley’s big Ballet shoes?

Spandau Ballet , pop music,Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman

Face wanted in the Spandau Ballet lineup: from left, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman. Might the new singer even be female?

AFTER YEARS OF HINTING that his career as Spandau Ballet’s frontman was over, both during and after two world tours – all of his bombshells reported here at Shapersofthe80s – today Tony Hadley finally quit with a single tweet. Immediately, the Spandau management declared that the other four resting band members will rise like Lazarus to “move on as a band”. Er, well, perhaps, but Big Tone’s suave 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) frame leaves not only a physical hole in the five-piece line-up, none of them especially noted for their singing voices, but an inevitable audible gap too. The four Spandau remainers provide the complementary blue-eyed soul music to a big balladeering voice, albeit described as a “dramatic warble” by Dan LeRoy at AllMusic, or that of a “top crooner” by somebody at BBC Somerset.

➢ Earlier at Shapersofthe80s:
Today’s Hadley bombshell

So who’s in the frame for the key job without which Spandau’s legacy will remain all behind them? It has to be either a dead ringer who plays to fans’ expectations, or a radical candidate who will set a new direction. One obvious contender is Paul Young as a singer who built a strong reputation for vocal interpretation during the same renaissance of British pop music that made Spandau an international supergroup. His covers of Marvyn Gaye and Jimmy Ruffin well qualify him at 61 to become the big brother of the Spandau dad-band.

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Less obvious but no less talented is Brandon Flowers, 36, former frontman of the Killers with whom he helped repopularise the sounds of the 80s in the noughties. His charismatic presence and fashion sense would sit comfortably with the Spandau heritage.

Amazingly, Will Young has reached the ripe old age of 38 in minutes seemingly, but as a respected vocalist and former Pop Idol winner he can claim four UK number-one albums and two Brit awards, while his recently acclaimed stage experience in Cabaret might bring a fresh note of theatre to Spandau performances.

Olly Alexander, pop music,

Olly Alexander at Glastonbury (Getty)

But if Spandau really want to inject some millennial youth into their daddy line-up they could consider the chirpy presence of actor-vocalist Olly Alexander, 26, whose sheer energy would trigger a mighty refresh. Olly describes himself as a “real left-winger” which should sit well with the millionaire Spands whose working-class roots reach back to Islington.

Of course, they could just as easily invite on-board one of those Hadley impersonators who wowed viewers of the Saturday night talent show Stars in Their Eyes – such as Martin Lewis who sang Gold brilliantly in 1997 or Steven Houghton who sang the same number in 1998.

NOW NOMINATE SPANDAU’S NEW VOCALIST

❏ Who would you like to see as the next vocalist with Spandau Ballet? Many fans today have been wailing how irreplaceable Big Tone is, while others have condemned him harshly for robbing his former schoolmates of their pensions. Clearly the band believe they have one more album and tour ahead of them, but who will lead them on through the barricades? Please leave your comment below.

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