Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet are an English sophisti-pop/soul band that was initially active during the 1980s. The band released four albums and numerous singles between 1980 and 1984 on Reformation, a subsidiary label they established in association with Chrysalis.

They emerged from the fashionable Blitz scene that set London alight at the dawn of the 1980s. Led by the cosmopolitan suave of vocalist Tony Hadley, the band became a club favorite with their precision-fueled, modernist mix of art pop and blue-eyed soul. With Landscape mastermind Richard James Burgess at the console, the band cut their first single, “To Cut a Long Story Short,” in 1980.

In 1983, Spandau Ballet scored back-to-back stateside triumphs with the melodramatic rush of “Gold” and the epic romanticism of “True,” which stormed Billboard during the Second British Invasion.

Members: Tony Hadley (lead vocals, synthesizer, 1979-2017), John Keeble (drums), Martin Kemp (bass), Gary Kemp (guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals), Steve Norman (guitar, saxophone, percussion)

Spandau Ballet  stemmed from Roots, a punk-pop band formed in late 1976 by guitar-playing friends Gary Kemp (b. 1959) and Steve Norman (b. 1960), both students at Dame Alice Owen’s secondary school in Hertforshire. They were joined by schoolmates Tony Hadley (b. 1960, vocals), John Keeble (b. 1959, drums), and Michael Ellison (bass). Active primarily at school parties, they played sped-up covers of R&B/beat classics by The Beatles, The Animals, and The Rolling Stones.

In 1977, Ellison split and Roots underwent a sequence of name-changes (The Cut, The Makers) with a setlist comprised of Kemp/Norman originals, inspired by the Small Faces. The following year, Gary’s younger brother Martin Kemp (b. 1961) joined as their permanent bassist. During the summer of 1978, they gigged as Gentry.

That fall, they came into the orbit of budding scene impresario Steve Strange and his DJ partner Rusty Egan (ex-Rich Kids), who hosted Bowie/Roxy nights at the club Billy’s in Soho. Around this time, the band renamed itself Spandau Ballet at the suggestion of a writer friend who saw the phrase written on a Berlin building. By 1979, they were the resident band at The Blitz (aka Billy’s), where they honed their newfound electro-pop sound to the club’s ultra-stylish denizens.

In 1980, Spandau Ballet played a series of exclusive shows at cinema houses and cruisers like the HMS Belfast. These efforts sparked an industry buzz that prompted Chrysalis to sign the band. They linked with Landscape mastermind Richard James Burgess, who produced their debut single “To Cut a Long Story Short,” released that November.



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