Tag Archives: Martin Kemp

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.

Click any pic below to launch slideshow

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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2017 ➤ Tony Hadley pulls the plug on Spandau Ballet – but the band will rise from the dead

pop music, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, split, reunion, Steve Norman, John Keeble, Martin Kemp,

Spandau Ballet in happier days, their 2014 reunion: John Keeble, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp. (Photography Scarlet Page)

pop music, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, split, reunion, Steve Norman, John Keeble, Martin Kemp,

BREAKING NEWS TODAY IN TWO WAVES: At midday 57-year-old singer Tony Hadley suddenly tweeted that he was “no longer a member of Spandau Ballet”, the London band who pioneered the New Romantic movement in the 1980s. Two hours after the star quit the band, its official website announced a Lazarus-style miracle: that the remaining four musicians “have now made the decision to move on as a band” without Big Tone. If they can indeed rise from the dead, who can possibly replace his signature bel canto baritone which has been central to the supergroup’s musical signature for almost 40 years?

When Spandau’s Soul Boys Atonement Tour ended in 2015, Hadley immediately returned to touring his solo act, is currently playing summer festivals as a solo artist with his own supporting band and touring the USA during August. Each member of the band has also looked to his own projects. Then in August 2016 Martin Kemp told ITV in a very relaxed way that another Spandau get-together was unlikely. When asked: “You’ve not fallen out again, have you?” Martin said: “We fall out when you come back off the tour and you pick up your case at Heathrow Airport and then we walk away, say ‘See you a bit later then’. We fall out, that’s how it works.”

Speculation about a successor is rife. Watch this space for further news.

➢ Vote here at Shapersofthe80s
for Tony’s successor

pop music, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, split, reunion, Steve Norman, John Keeble, Martin Kemp,

THE MIRROR HAS THE BEST INSIDE STORY:
WAS HE PUSHED OR DID HE JUMP?

➢ Tony Hadley quit Spandau Ballet ‘amid bitter spat with band’ and they only found out on Twitter – Ashleigh Rainbird reports a source claiming:

The band were offered a string of lucrative opportunities that Tony didn’t want to be involved with. There was talk of a new album and tours including a huge US headline tour – the UK’s biggest festivals had offers on the table, too. But Tony opted to focus on his solo career, meaning everyone missed out.

Tony has been billed as being ‘formerly of’ Spandau Ballet on several tour posters. There had been tensions brewing between Tony and the rest of the group for almost two years, since he decided he did not want to perform with them. This was the final straw, and Tony had an ultimatum – take part in Spandau or quit entirely.

Things have festered over the past year or so and relations have been at an all-time low. By declining Spandau’s opportunities, Tony was pulling the strings for the entire group. But now he is no longer a member they can continue without him.

WE ALL SAW THIS COMING: REMEMBER
THOSE EARLIER HADLEY BOMBSHELLS

➢ May 2017, “We got back together, of course, but we’ve done that now and are getting on with our own solo careers. Great band, great legacy.”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2015, bombshell from Hadley

➢ 2012, future of Spandau doubtful

➢ 2011, Another bombshell for Spandau

➢ 2011, Bombshell for fans as Hadley unwinds

➢ 2011, Hadley tosses out interview squibs

➢ MESSAGE FROM STEVE NORMAN
ON HIS OWN WEBSITE, 7 JULY

Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, split, Tony Hadley, pop music, 2017,

THOSE SPANDAU BOYS:
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Sonya Keating, Paul Brough , Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet,TV, wedding

Hadley: serenading newly weds Paul Brough and Sonya Keating in a live TV broadcast from the Shard for This Morning viewers last week. (Photo: Rex)

Spandau Ballet, Gary Kemp, TV, documentary, Mick Ronson

Gary Kemp: culture vulture and broadcaster fronting his April TV documentary for Sky Arts titled Passions: Mick Ronson, directed by Paul Bernays

Martin Kemp, Spandau Ballet, touring

Martin Kemp: is touring the UK all year with his Q&A event, An Audience with himself

John Keeble, Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys, tour

John Keeble: here bidding farewell to Perth in May 2015 as the last Spandau tour ended. He had missed a handful of dates because of fatigue. (Photo: Matt Glover)

Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, live, festivals, saxophonist

Steve Norman: has curated the odd summer festival and pursues a vigorous programme of live appearances, here billed for Milan this week

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➤ The Kemp quartet: a happy family George Michael helped to create

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Happy family 2012: As Martin Kemp sets off for the Celebrity Big Brother house his wife Shirlie, and children Harleymoon and Roman can’t bear to part with him. (Selfie courtesy of Roman)

➢ On 26 December, Howell Davies reported in The Sun:

“ George Michael planned to have a Boxing Day dinner with his ex-Wham! bandmate Shirlie Holliman, husband Martin Kemp and son Roman before tragic death. Late singer’s health did not stop him from organising a festive get-together with Shirlie and his godson.

Michael was discovered dead at his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day after a long battle against drug and alcohol addition – aged just 53. However, George’s health had not stopped him from organising a festive get-together with Shirlie, 54, one half of pop duo Pepsi and Shirlie, her husband and fellow 80s star Martin Kemp, 55, their daughter Harley, 27, and son Roman, an up-and-coming Capital FM DJ and TV presenter who is also the Faith singer’s godson.

Speaking before George passed away, Roman, 23, said: “We’re going to George’s house on Boxing Day.”

On 26 Dec Roman also tweeted: “To me, you do the Christmas rounds and you see all those people who are big influences on my life. I speak to him quite often. He speaks to my mum every week. He’s just family to me, fame is not a big deal. I know it sounds strange but I’ve known him my whole life. We love you Yog”…

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THE KEMP FAMILY TWEET THEIR OWN TRIBUTES

Martin Kemp, actor, bassist with Spandau Ballet – “My whole family and I are devastated at the loss of our beautiful friend Yog! We will miss him so much! We are all heartbroken!”

Shirlie Kemp, née Shirlie Holliman of Wham! – “Words can not express how sad we all are, only last week I saw him laughing and happy. My heart is broken to lose someone so special.”

Roman Kemp, son of Martin and Shirlie, George’s godson, TV host and radio deejay – “The man who toured the world with my mum; her best friend. / The man who introduced my parents; who forced my mum to call my dad. / The man that took me and Harley around the world; just to see us smile. / The man we all love. / We love you Yog.”

Harleymoon Kemp, daughter of Martin and Shirlie, photographer – “Such a kind, special man who has played such a huge part in our family history and shared with us nothing but love. We are all very sad.”

GEORGE THE MATCHMAKER TELLS ALL:

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
2016, London’s young guns remember George Michael

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s: Thank you, George, says Paul Simper. You left me wanting to dance like you

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s: 2011, Wham!’s cunning plan for a Christmas No1 as climax to the 80s revival

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2016 ➤ Britain stunned by sudden death of George Michael, our biggest pop superstar of the 80s

GEORGE MICHAEL
25 June 1963–25 December 2016

George Michael, Wham!, pop music,

Wham! on The Tube, 1983: George Michael with his partner Andrew Ridgeley on guitar (Photo: ITV)

“ Five albums in 25 years is not exactly prolific
but I think pretty good in terms of quality. . .
The body of work is safe now. If I get hit
by a bus tomorrow, people will remember
what I have done and they’ll still enjoy it ”
– George Michael, 2008

WHAM! SOLD 40 MILLION RECORDS WORLDWIDE in four years after emerging from London’s innovative clubbing scene in 1982. As a solo singer-songwriter George Michael then sold another 100 million records, scored seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits in the US. He ranks among the best-selling British acts of all time, with Billboard magazine ranking him the 40th most successful artist ever. And he won every major world music award, often more than once. Yet his career was sporadic, interrupted by odd breaks, bouts of melancholy, health problems and in recent years a series of run-ins with the law over reckless driving, drugs and sex.

On his music, disc jockey Paul Gambaccini says: “George is likely to be remembered in two different ways: in Britain he’s a pop star and in America he’s a soulboy.” On his hedonism as propaganda, author Mark Simpson in Rolling Stone concludes: “Whatever the long term effects on his happiness, being ‘openly closeted’ for so long seems to have been key to not only making Michael a commercially-successful artist but also a surprisingly subversive one. And perhaps it also lay behind his determination, once out, not to go back into the biggest closet of all: respectability.”

OBITUARY HIGHLIGHTS

➢ Singer who became Britain’s biggest pop star
– Guardian obituary:

George Michael, who has died aged 53, was Britain’s biggest pop star of the 1980s, first with the pop duo Wham! and then as a solo artist. After Wham! made their initial chart breakthrough with the single Young Guns (Go for It!) in 1982, Michael’s songwriting gift brought them giant hits including Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Careless Whisper, and they became leading lights of the 80s boom in British pop music.

From the late 1990s onwards Michael was beset by a string of personal crises and clashes with the law caused by drug use. He had always felt ambivalent about the demands of stardom, and found it difficult to balance his celebrity status with his private life. After years of concealing his homosexuality, he eventually came out in 1998, after being arrested for engaging in a “lewd act” in a public lavatory in Beverly Hills, California. . . / Continued at The Guardian


➢ One of the more enduring musicians of the 80s generation – BBC obituary:
His talents as a singer, songwriter and music producer made George Michael one of the world’s biggest-selling artists. Blessed with good looks and a fine singing voice, his stage presence made him a favourite on the live concert circuit as he matured from teen idol to long-term stardom.

After early success in the duo Wham! he went on to build a solo career that brought him a string of awards and made him a multi-millionaire. But there were times when his battle with drugs and encounters with the police made lurid headlines that threatened to eclipse his musical talents. He admitted that he often went out at night seeking what he called “anonymous and no-strings sex”. . . / Continued at BBC online

“ Outside of Elton John, I’d say he is
probably the greatest philanthopist
in popular music ” – Paul Gambaccini

➢ Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline founder:
For years now George has been the most extraordinarily generous philanthropist, giving money to Childline, but he was determined not to make his generosity public so no-one outside the charity knew how much he gave to the nation’s most vulnerable children. Over the years he gave us millions and we were planning next year, as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations to create, we hoped, a big concert in tribute to him – to his artistry, to his wonderful musicality but also to thank him for the hundreds of thousands of children he helped through supporting Childline.

Kenny Goss , George Michael,

George with Kenny Goss in happier times… they met in 1996 and broke up in 2009 (Photo: Rex)

“ The truth is my love life has been a lot more turbulent than I’ve let on ” – George Michael

➢ Spending time together with love of his life – The Sun:
George Michael had secretly become close again with the love of his life Kenny Goss, just weeks before his death. George had reached out to Kenny following their difficult split. A close friend revealed: “George and Kenny are back spending time together again and it’s an exciting time for those of us who have been so worried over the last few years. The pop superstar split from Texan art dealer Kenny in 2009 after 13 years and his life quickly spiralled, culminating in a lengthy stint in the world’s most expensive rehab clinic in Switzerland last year.

On the opening night of his Symphonica tour in 2011, the singer admitted: “In truth Kenny and I haven’t been together for two and a half years. I love him very much. This man has brought me a lot of joy and pain”. . . / Continued at The Sun online

➢ Jim Fouratt, US 80s club host and activist:
No one seems to remember the incident between George Michael and the president of Sony Music America, Tommy Mottola. I do. George Michael set up a meeting with Mottola, having sold 80 million records worldwide, reaping huge profits for the company. Michael was not happy with how his new album was being marketed. Suddenly, from behind closed doors, the Sony staff could hear Mottola shouting: “Get this faggot out of my office!”

George left. Mattola’s homophobia shocked him. He went back to England. Sued Columbia and spent six years without a release in the US. Finally David Geffen signed him to his new label Dreamworks after settling the lawsuit which gave Dreamworks all rights in the US for a new George Michael album. A hit. George Michael was back on the charts in the US. Then the arrest in a public bathroom in Beverly Hills made headlines across the world. Michael (finally) came out.

Very sad to learn of George’s passing. But he stood up for himself after he was very publicly outed. Yes, he could have come out earlier – but Mottola’s action gives one insight into why he did not.

➢ Owen Jones, Guardian writer:
The popstar’s openness about his sex life, and his campaigning for LGBT rights, offered a liferaft to many – particularly at a time when anti-gay sentiment was rife. As a closeted teenager back in 1998, it is impossible not to recall the courage and defiance of George Michael. A talented and much adored musician, yes. But also a gay man, and a gay icon, who made the lives of so many LGBT people that little bit easier.

➢ 20 essential songs: The best of the pop icon George Michael’s hits – at Rolling Stone:
George Michael swiftly transitioned from teenage pretty boy to outspoken pop force. “It says something for the power of the music,” he told Rolling Stone after the release of his smash 1987 solo debut, Faith, “that I’ve managed to change the perception of what I do to the degree that I have in this short a time. Because it’s something that a lot of people thought wasn’t possible. . . / Continued online

CELEBRITY TRIBUTES

Andrew Ridgeley, schoolfriend, partner in Wham! – “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. He had a voice that would transport you, he was the finest singer/songwriter of his generation & has left the best of himself for us. RIP.”

Michael Lippman, Michael’s manager, told Billboard that he died of heart failure and was found “in bed, lying peacefully”. . . “I’m devastated.”

Spandau Ballet – “We are incredibly sad at the passing of our dear friend George Michael. A brilliant artist and great songwriter.”

Simply Red – “It’s hard to take in. One of our most talented singer- songwriters has left us. Such sad, tragic news.”

Mark Ronson – “George Michael was one of the true British soul greats. A lot of us owe him an unpayable debt.”

Paul McCartney – “George Michael’s sweet soul music will live on even after his sudden death. Having worked with him on a number of occasions, his great talent always shone through and his self-deprecating sense of humour made the experience even more pleasurable.”

Tony Visconti, producer – “I lived through early grief of my pop idols dying on me. Nothing, however, prepared me for this year. Of course the biggest blow was when David Bowie passed. He was my colleague, but more importantly a friend for 48 years. I’m just barely in the acceptance stage with that; my philosophical attitude, ‘this just happens’, helped a lot. But today, with the death of George Michael, this is a little too close to home. Wham made their first album in my Good Earth studios with Chris Porter engineering and he eventually producing George Michael. As my office was in the studio I would pop my head in and say hello. This has happened too much this year. As of today it feels like a damn conspiracy.”


Chaka Khan – “Performed a few shows with George Michael when he was with Wham in the 80s. Here’s a clip of him covering Ain’t Nobody from 1991.”

Sir Elton John – “I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist.”

THE TERRY WOGAN SHOW, 1984

TALKING ABOUT A FILM OF HIS LIFE, 2005

‘MY OWN SELF-DESTRUCTIVE STREAK’, 2007

➢ 2016, London’s young guns remember George Michael

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2010, Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s

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➤ Steve Strange remembered by Martin Kemp

Steve Strange, tribute, Martin Kemp, New Romantics. Blitz Kids,Swinging 80s, London, nightlife

Steve Strange, right, and Martin Kemp at Tokyo Joe’s in London in 1981. Photograph by Robert Rosen/Rex

➢ Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp recalls the Visage frontman, nightclub host and New Romantic pioneer who kickstarted his band’s career – in today’s Observer:

It’s lovely being asked to talk about Steve now, because I couldn’t right after he died. I’d start, but then I’d just burst into tears. He was one of my best friends and he created a big part of my personality. He showed me how exciting life could be, but how you could be a decent person with it. I also genuinely believe that everything that the 80s was, he started it. What people wore, how they did their hair, the decade of excess – that was all him. . .

Steve Strange, pop music, gravestone

Steve Strange’s gravestone erected 18 December in Porthcawl, South Wales

We were both working-class boys who had always wanted to do something else and here he was, doing it brilliantly. I looked up to him. He’d set up punk gigs back home in Wales, came up to London to work for Malcolm McLaren, and now he was carving out his own path away from punk. . . He succeeded because he was smothered in charisma. It drew everyone to him – the working class and the middle class loved him, but even the most upper-class people were immediately in the palm of his hand.

London made Steve, but it wasn’t good for him. He was a very intelligent man, but he got scrambled and crossed the line with drugs. . . The saddest thing is that I could see the end of Steve’s story long before it had been told. I’d waited for the phone call for years, so it wasn’t a shock. But to go to his funeral in Wales… it was incredibly sad. . . / Read the full tribute at the Observer online

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange – read exclusive tributes to the King of the Posers

➢ Read the story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer, by Yours Truly

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