Sade are an English jazz–pop–soul band fronted by namesake Nigerian–British singer Sade Adu. They achieved fame with their 1983–85 singles “Your Love Is King,” “Hang On to Your Love,” “Smooth Operator,” and “Sweetest Taboo.” Their first two albums, Diamond Life and Promise, each topped global charts and sold ten million copies. After their 1988 release Stronger Than Pride, they resumed at lengthy intervals with Love Deluxe (1992), Lovers Rock (2000), and Soldier of Love (2010), all to renewed fanfare.

Members: Sade Adu (vocals), Stuart Matthewman (guitars, saxophone), Andrew Hale (keyboards), Paul S. Denman (bass)


Sade was born Helen Folasade Adu on January 16, 1959, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria; the second child of Adebisi Adu (a Nigerian lecturer) and Anne Hayes (English nurse). Adebisi met Anne in London, where they married in 1955 and moved to his native land.

In Nigeria, locals referred to young Helen by her middle name, Folasade (Nigerian for “crowned by wealth”). Her parents shortened her name to Sade. After their 1963 separation, Anne moved Sade and her elder brother, Banjie, to Coldchester, Essex, to live with their grandparents. At eighteen, Sade moved to London and enrolled in the fashion design program at Saint Martin’s School of Art.

Upon completion of the three-year fashion program, Sade landed work as a model. She moonlighted as a backup vocalist for Pride, an unsigned Latin jazz-pop ensemble formed in 1979 (as Ariva). Pride featured guitarist Ray St. John and two London transplants from Kingston upon Hull: guitarist–saxophonist Stuart Matthewman and bassist Paul Denman. Matthewman played beforehand in The Odds, a mod-ska band that released four 1979–81 indie singles.

Sade and Matthewman formed a songwriting partnership and performed as a duo on select Pride dates, including a December 12, 1982, show at London’s famed Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. She also collaborated with St. John on one song, “Smooth Operator,” which caught the attention of A&R reps. (St. John later formed Halo James, which scored a 1990 UK hit with “Could Have Told You So”).

In early 1983, Sade and Matthewman broke from Pride and formed a quintet with Denman, keyboardist Andrew Hale, and drummer Paul Cook (not the onetime Sex Pistols drummer). Sade’s early shows drew round-the-block queues. On May 12, they made their US live debut at New York’s Danceteria nightclub. That autumn, Sade Adu signed with Epic Records, which signed her band-mates in early 1984 after the completion of their debut album.

Diamond Life

Sade released their debut album, Diamond Life, on July 16, 1984, on Epic. It features six songs co-written by Sade Adu and guitarist–saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, including “Frankie’s First Affair” and the singles “Your Love Is King,” “Hang On to Your Love,” and “When Am I Going to Make a Living.”

Side Two contains the group-written “Cherry Pie” and the Timmy Thomas cover “Why Can’t We Live Together.” Side One opens with the band’s signature song, “Smooth Operator,” co-written by Adu and her onetime Pride collegue Ray St. John.

1. “Smooth Operator” (4:58)
2. “Your Love Is King” (3:41)
3. “Hang On to Your Love” (5:55)
4. “Frankie’s First Affair” (4:39)
5. “When Am I Going to Make a Living” (3:27)
6. “Cherry Pie” (6:20)
7. “Sally” (5:23)
8. “I Will Be Your Friend” (4:45)
9. “Why Can’t We Live Together” (5:28)

Recorded October–November 1983
Studio Power Plant (London)

Sade Adu – vocals
Stuart Matthewman – saxophone, guitar
Andrew Hale – keyboards
Paul S. Denman – bass

Additional musicians
Dave Early – drums, percussion
Martin Ditcham – percussion
Paul Cooke – drums
Terry Bailey – trumpet
Gordon Matthewman – trumpet

Robin Millar – production
Mike Pela – production engineering
Ben Rogan – engineering

Chris Roberts – photos
Graham Smith – sleeve design

“Your Love Is King” / “Love Affair with Life” (4:35)
Released: 25 February 1984
UK and Dutch 12-inch maxi single
A1. “Your Love Is King” – 3:58
B1. “Smooth Operator”/”Snake Bite” – 7:28
B2. “Love Affair with Life” (recorded live) – 4:35
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 2
Italy (Musica e dischi)[15] 5
UK Singles (OCC)[17] 6
Ireland (IRMA)[14] 7
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[19] 8
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[12] 11

“When Am I Going to Make a Living” / “Why Can’t We Live Together” / “Should I Love You”
Released: 26 May 1984

“Smooth Operator” / “Spirit” / “Red Eye”
Released: 15 September 1984
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[26] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[13] 5
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[14] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 5
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[28] 5
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[22] 6
US Cash Box Top 100 Singles[29] 6
US Top 100 Black Contemporary Singles (Cash Box)[30] 6
Europe (European Top 100 Singles)[15] 7
France (SNEP)[16] 9
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[27] 11
West Germany (Official German Charts)[31] 11
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 12
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[20] 12
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 14
Italy (Musica e dischi)[18] 16
Ireland (IRMA)[17] 17
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[12] 19
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[19] 19
UK Singles (OCC)[24] 19
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 20
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[21] 22

“Hang On to Your Love”
Released: 8 December 1984
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[7] 5
US Dance Singles Sales (Billboard)[8] 6
US Top 100 Black Contemporary Singles (Cash Box)[10] 12
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[9] 14
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[4] 18
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[5] 20
Weekly chart performance for Diamond Life Chart (1984–1985) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[51] 1
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[53] 1
European Albums (Eurotipsheet)[54] 1
French Albums (IFOP)[43] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[56] 1
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[58] 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[44] 1
Italian Albums (Musica e dischi)[57] 2
UK Albums (OCC)[39] 2
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[55] 3
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[62] 3
US Billboard 200[41] 5
US Top Jazz Albums (Billboard)[61] 5
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[50] 6
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[52] 7
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[60] 18
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[59] 20


Sade released their second album, Promise, on July 16, 1985, on Epic.

1. “Is It a Crime?” Adu Stuart Matthewman Andrew Hale (6:20)
2. “The Sweetest Taboo” Adu Martin Ditcham (4:37)
3. “War of the Hearts” Adu Matthewman (6:47)
4. “You’re Not the Man” Adu Matthewman (5:10)
5. “Jezebel” Adu Matthewman (5:29)

6. “Mr Wrong” Adu Matthewman Paul DenmanHale (2:51)
7. “Punch Drunk” Hale (5:25)
8. “Never as Good as the First Time” Adu Matthewman (5:00)
9. “Fear” Adu Matthewman (4:09)
10. “Tar Baby” Adu Matthewman (3:58)
11. “Maureen” Adu HaleDenman (4:20)

“You’re Not the Man” and “Punch Drunk” are CD only

Recorded February–August 1985
Studio Power Plant (London), Miraval (Le Val, France)
Producer Robin Millar

Sade Adu – vocals
Stuart Matthewman – saxophone, guitar
Paul S. Denman – bass guitar
Andrew Hale – keyboards

Additional musicians
Dave Early – drums, percussion
Martin Ditcham – percussion
Terry Bailey – trumpet
Pete Beachill – trombone
Jake Jacas – vocals (8, 11)
Carlos Bonell – guitar (9)
Nick Ingman – string arrangements (9, 10)

Robin Millar – production (1–10)
Ben Rogan – production (4, 8, 11)
Sade – production (4, 8, 11)
Mike Pela – production (8); mixing (11); engineering

Toshi Yajima – photography
Graham Smith – sleeve design

“The Sweetest Taboo”
Released: 12 October 1985
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[9] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[21] 1
US Top 100 Black Contemporary Singles (Cash Box)[24] 1
Argentina (CAPIF)[4] 2
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[22] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[20] 5
US Cash Box Top 100 Singles[23] 8
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[11] 9
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 10
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 11
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[17] 11
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[8] 12
Europe (European Top 100 Singles)[10] 12
Italy (Musica e dischi)[14] 12
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16] 12
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[15] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[18] 14

“Is It a Crime?”
Released: 11 January 1986

“Never as Good as the First Time”
Released: 5 March 1986
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[21] 1
European Albums (Music & Media)[22] 1
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[23] 1
Italian Albums (Musica e dischi)[26] 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[30] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[31] 1
US Billboard 200[32] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[34] 1
Argentinian Albums (CAPIF)[17] 2
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[25] 2
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[20] 3
French Albums (IFOP)[24] 3
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[27] 3
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[29] 4
US Top Jazz Albums (Billboard)[33] 4
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[19] 6
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[28] 6
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[18] 9

Stronger Than Pride

Sade released their third album, Stronger Than Pride, on July 16, 1988, on Epic.


  • Diamond Life (1984)
  • Promise (1985)
  • Stronger Than Pride (1988)
  • Love Deluxe (1992)
  • Lovers Rock (2000)
  • Soldier of Love (2010)


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