Kajagoogoo

Kajagoogoo were an English New Wave/synthpop band from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, that released two albums on EMI in 1983 and 1984, followed by a third on Parlophone under the abbreviated name Kaja in 1985. Vocalist Limahl left the band after the first album for a brief solo career.

Members: Steve Askew (guitar), Nick Beggs (bass, vocals), Stuart Croxford Neale (vocals, synthesizer), Jez Strode (drums, percussion, 1978-84), Limahl (vocals, 1982-83)


Background

Kajagoogoo emerged from Art Nouveau, a post-punk band from Leighton Buzzard, formed in 1978 by bassist Nick Beggs with guitarist Steve Askew, drummer Jez Strode, and keyboardist Stuart Croxford.

Beggs (born December 15, 1961) formed his first band, Johnny & The Martians, at age ten in his native Winslow. Orphaned weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday, Beggs worked as a dustman to care for his younger sister. He named his new band after Art Nouveau, a popular European style of illustration and furniture design of the Belle Époque (1880s–1914), characterized by sinewy lines and floral motifs.

In 1981, Art Nouveau self-released the single “Fear Machine” (b/w “Animal Instincts”) on self-press Gimpy Dak Records. “Fear Machine” is a mid-tempo minimal wave number with primitive lo-fi synthesizers, echoing riffs, and machine-gun percussion. “Animal Instincts” is a mite faster with clipped guitars, lopsided drum patterns, and beeping keyboards. Beggs sings low-mix vocals on both tracks, which fuse the DIY electro-pop of Thomas Leer with the decorative fills of Dalek I.

Months after the single, the still-unsigned band placed a Melody Maker ad that brought them Wigan native Chris Hamill, an aspiring actor–singer who recently appeared as an extra in the video for “Stand and Deliver” by Adam & The Ants.

Hamill (born December 19, 1958) was part of the Westcliff-on-Sea Palace Theatre Repertory Company. He toured with their production of the Tim Rice  / Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 1980, he appeared in “Something Blue,” a Series 2 episode of the ITV detective drama The Gentle Touch.

Hamill drifted through embryonic bands (Vox Deus, Crossword) and joined the formative lineup of Brooks, a pop-vocal boy band with managerial ties to the Eurovision acts Co-Co and the New Seekers. Hamill left before Brooks cut five 1979–80 singles on Polydor. (Bandmate Mike Nolan surfaced with Co-Co’s Cheryl Baker in Bucks Fizz, the 1981 Eurovision winners.) In 1979, Hamill dueted with a female singer named Christine (Kidd) on the MOR pop ballad “Strange Kinda Love,” recorded under the band moniker Kris as a UK candidate for the Eurovision Song Contest.

With Hamill’s arrival, Art Nouveau became Kajagoogoo, which Beggs chose an an onomatopoeia for baby talk (“gaga googoo”). Hamill adopted the mononym Limahl, an anagram of his surname.

In 1982, as Kajagoogoo gigged and wrote material, Limahl worked part time as a waiter at London’s Embassy Club, where he met Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes, who agreed to co-produce their first single. By July, Kajagoogoo signed with EMI, Duran’s label.


Discography:

  • White Feathers (1983)
  • Islands (1984)
  • Crazy People’s Right to Speak (1985)

Sources:

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