Heaven 17

Heaven 17 were an English synthpop/sophisti-pop trio from Sheffield that released five albums on Virgin between 1981 and 1988. The band was formed by the instrumental half of the original Human League, musicians Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who concurrently recorded as the British Electric Foundation. The trio was completed by vocalist Glenn Gregory, whom the pair had originally wanted for the Human League.

Members: Martyn Ware (synthesizer, percussion, backing vocals), Glenn Gregory (vocals), Ian Craig Marsh (synthesizer, percussion, saxophone, 1981-2007)

Heaven 17 were the brainchild of electronic musicians Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who first teamed up in early 1977 in the impromptu band the Dead Daughters. Armed with a miniKORG 700, they performed on several occasions before friends in their Sheffield musical circle. They changed their name to The Future and recorded a clutch of minimal-wave demos, including seven tracks that were later compiled on the archival disc The Golden Hour of the Future with early recordings by their next band, The Human League.

Marsh and Ware formed the Human League in late 1977 with Philip Oakey, a local scenester with no prior musical experience. They first wanted singer Glenn Gregory, but he was busy at the time with a band called 57 Men, which also included Jack Hues and Nick Feldman, later of Wang Chung. The Human League cut a pioneering electro-pop single (“Being Boiled,” 1978) and expanded to a four-piece, cutting two albums and an instrumental EP on Virgin in 1979/80. After their 1980 release Travelogue, tensions erupted and Marsh and Ware left the Human League nameplate in the hands of Oakey and slide-projectionist Adrian Wright.

In early 1981, Marsh and Ware pitched another offer to Gregory, who’d played with Marsh eight years prior in the teen shock-rock band Musical Vomit (with future 2.3 frontman Paul Bower). With Gregory now on board, the trio took their name from The Heaven Seventeen, a fictional pop band in the 1961 Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange.


  • Penthouse and Pavement (1981)
  • The Luxury Gap (1983)
  • How Men Are (1984)
  • Pleasure One (1986)
  • Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho (1988)


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