Adam and the Ants

Adam and the Ants were an English New Wave rock band that was active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Led by the charismatic, self-styled Adam Ant, the band recorded a string of singles and three albums between 1978 and 1981.

Amidst several iterations, Adam and the Ants evolved from the taut, abrasive theatricism of their early lineups to the martial/tribal comedic pop of the Marco Pirroni era. The latter approach garnered the band and its frontman home-country fame with the album Kings of the Wild Frontier and the singles “Antmusic” and “Stand and Deliver.” The videos for both songs became staples of MTV’s golden age.

Members: Adam Ant (vocals, guitar, piano), Andy Warren (bass, 1977-79), Paul Flannagan (drums, 1977), Lester Square (guitar, 1977), Mark Ryan (guitar, 1977), David Barbe [Dave Barbarossa] (drums, percussion, 1977-79), Johnny Bivouac [John Beckett] (guitar, 1977-78), Matthew Ashman (guitar, piano, 1978-80), Leigh Gorman (bass, 1979-80), Marco Pirroni (guitar, vocals, 1980-82), Chris Hughes (drums, 1980-82), Terry Lee Miall (drums, 1980-82), Kevin Mooney (bass, 1980-81), Gary Tibbs (bass, 1981-82)

Adam and the Ants evolved from an early punk band called The B-Sides, formed in the spring of 1976 by London scenester Adam Ant (aka Stuart Goddard, b. 1954). Ant previously played bass in the retro ’50s rock n’ roll band Bazooka Joe with (future Vibrators) guitarist John Ellis. That band headlined over the debut performance by The Sex Pistols at St. Martin’s School of the Art on November 6, 1975.

The B-Sides split without playing any gigs because they couldn’t find a drummer. However, Ant befriended some key figures on the nascent punk scene, having long been a fixture at Malcolm McLaren’s SEX shop at World’s End. One such individual was SEX sales assistant Jordan, who became Ant’s manager.

In early 1977, he assembled The Ants with guitarist Lester Square, bassist Andy Warren, and drummer Paul Flannagan. Square and Flanagan soon cleared way for guitarist Mark Ryan and drummer Dave Barbarossa. For their second gig that May, Ant secured a lunchtime slot at the Institute of Contemporary Art by claiming he fronted a country band. Instead, he took to the stage in a leather mask and belted out their early performance piece “Beat My Guest.”

The Ants spent July 1977 filming scenes for Derek Jarman’s punk dystopian film Jubilee, released the following February. Ant himself plays the roll of Kid, an aspiring punk frontman who ultimately gets killed. Two of their songs, “Deutscher Girls” and “Plastic Surgery,” appeared on the movie soundtrack alongside cuts by Brian Eno and Chelsea. That October, Ryan was swapped for drummer Johnny Bivouac, after which the band became Adam and the Ants.

By early 1978, Adam and the Ants were a popular draw on London’s club circuit, along with fellow newcomers (and frequent touring mates) Siouxsie and the Banshees. The lineup now featured Ant, Warren, guitarist Matthew Ashman, and drummer Dave Barbe. That year, the Ants recorded two Peel sessions (1/23/78 and 7/10/78). They eventually signed to Decca, which issued their debut single, “Young Parisians” (b/w “Lady”), that October. Despite recording numerous demos and an intended second single, “Zerox,” a bewildered Decca dismissed the band in early 1979.


Non-album shortplayer sides:

  • “Young Parisians” / “Lady” (1978)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *