ABC are an English new wave/soul-pop band that burst onto the scene with the 1982 Mercury album The Lexicon of Love, scoring hits with “The Look of Love” and “Poison Arrow.” In 1983, they took an edgier turn with Beauty Stab and the songs “That Was Then But This Is Now” and “Unzip.” Their third album, How to Be a … Zillionaire!, charted with the late-1985 hits “Be Near Me” and “(How to Be A) Millionaire.” They scored a final hit with the Motown-tinged “When Smokey Sings” from their 1987 album Alphabet City.
Members: Martin Fry (vocals), Mark White (guitar, keyboards, 1980-92), Stephen Singleton (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, 1980-84), Mark Lickley (bass, 1980-81), David Robinson (drums, 1980-81), David Palmer (drums, percussion, 1981-83, 1985, 2004-?), Eden (backing vocals, 1984-85), David Yarritu (backing vocals, 1984-85)
ABC evolved from Vice Versa, a Sheffield minimal-wave combo formed in 1977 by synthesizer players Stephen Singleton and Mark White. They played their first gig at the Doncaster Outlook club as the opening act for Wire. Shortly thereafter, they double-billed with local newcomers The Human League at a Sheffield University event dubbed “Wot, no Drummers,” so named because both acts used beat boxes in lieu of actual drummers.
In 1979, Vice Versa issued the EP Music 4 on self-press Neutron Records. Martin Fry, a local writer for fanzine Modern Drugs, contacted the band for an interview. Soon after, they asked him to join as a third keyboardist. With Fry on board, they played the Futurama 2 Festival in Leeds in September 1980. Afterwards, they morphed into ABC with Fry on vocals, Singleton on sax, and White on guitar and keyboards. In early 1981, they hired bassist Mark Lickley and drummer David Robinson.
In October 1981, ABC debuted with the single “Tears Are Not Enough” (b/w “Alphabet Soup”) on Neutron/Vertigo. Soon after its release, Robinson cleared way for drummer David Palmer.
The Lexicon of Love
ABC released their debut album, The Lexicon of Love, on June 21, 1982 on Neutron Records (UK), Mercury (US, Japan), and Vertigo (Europe, Canada).
Released: 5 February 1982
“The Look of Love”
Released: 7 May 1982
“All of My Heart”
Released: 27 August 1982
Released: 1982 (Japan only)
ABC released their second album, Beauty Stab, on November 14, 1983, on Neutron, Mercury, and Vertigo.
“That Was Then but This Is Now”
Released: October 1983
Released: January 1984
How to Be a … Zillionaire!
ABC released their third album, How to Be a … Zillionaire!, on October 4, 1985, on Neutron, Mercury, and Vertigo.
“(How to Be A) Millionaire”
Released: 26 October 1984 (UK)
“Be Near Me”
Released: 1 April 1985 (UK)
Released: June 1985 (UK)
Released: 3 January 1986
ABC released their fourth album, Alphabet City, on October 12, 1987, on Neutron, Mercury, and Phonogram.
“When Smokey Sings”
Released: 22 May 1987
“The Night You Murdered Love”
Released: 24 August 1987
“King Without a Crown”
Released: November 1987
ABC released their fifth album, Up, on October 16, 1989, on Neutron, Mercury, and Phonogram.
“One Better World”
Released: 15 May 1989
“The Real Thing”
Released: 11 September 1989
- The Lexicon of Love (1982)
- Beauty Stab (1983)
- How to Be a … Zillionaire! (1985)
- Alphabet City (1987)
- Up (1989)
- Abracadabra (1991)
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1 thought on “ABC”
“Evolving out of electro-futurist Sheffield combo Vice Versa, ABC fashioned an ultra sleek, lamé-suited concoction of ’50s nightclub chic and metro-modern dance-ability in their first formation, which yielded the 1982 chef d’oeuvre The Lexicon of Love.
Garnering transatlantic accolades for their lavish, theatrical songs and cinematic videos, the band were an iconic cornerstone of MTV’s golden age thanks to clips for the carnival-eque “The Look of Love” and the melodramatic “Poison Arrow.” (Spring, 2018)