Adam Ant played a “One night only” show at the famous Eventim-Apollo theatre in Hammersmith, London on 19th April 2014. This was the last concert of his 2014 UK tour.
The band was expected to cover all the songs from the first Adam and the Ants album “Dirk Wears White Sox” (1979) but they went much further, reviving many of the Ants classics, delivering a concert to be remembered.
Fans that followed Adam over the years came from all over the world and were in for a treat. After the show, you could hear people say: “Best gig I’ve ever been to!!” and “I waited for this day for more than 30 years, I can now die with a smile on my face.”
The band made an effort as this was a special occasion:
- The show was being filmed and interviews were given for an upcoming DVD
- Adam invited the famous musician and producer Boz Boorer to join the band for the second part on acoustic guitar and vocals
- We remembered Mathew Ashman, one of the members of the band, who also played with “Bow Wow Wow” and died of complications of diabetes in 1995
- Adam’s mother, Betty Kathleen Smith was in the audience
Mojo magazine posted the following comment about the show (14 March 2014):
“Ant’s April 19 show at the Hammersmith Apollo – at which he’ll play Dirk Wears White Sox in its entirety – coincides with Record Store Day, which sees the release of the 1979 album as a 5,000 limited edition (3,000 white vinyl) mastered by Adam and including a special bonus insert package containing publicity items from Adam’s personal archive. An apt rebirth for the album that topped the very first UK Independent Albums Chart when it debuted in Record Week in 1980.”
The new band called “Adam Ant and the Mad and the Lovely Posse” played the UK tour starting in Manchester (1st April) and ending at the Hammersmith Apollo. They were:
Jola [centre] on drums
Dave Barbarossa [back-row right] on drums (original drummer of the band, played the last gig of Adam and the Ants in 1979 and also played with BowWowWow)
Leigh Gorman [front-row right] on bass (original bass guitarist of the band, later played with BowWowWow)
Adam Ant [centre-back] on vocals and guitar
Will Crewdson [front-row left] on guitar
Tom Edwards [back-row left] on guitar
Boz Boorer [not on this picture] on acoustic guitar (guest musician and producer, played and co-wrote with Morrissey)
New member [not on this picture] on keyboards + saxophone)
Adam's concert Setlist as taped to the stage floor, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 9 April 2014.
Photo © Rene Gonzales, 2014.
01. Car trouble parts 1 & 2
02. Digital tenderness
03. Nine plan failed
04. Day I met god
05. Table talk
07. Catholic day
08. Never trust a man
09. Animals and men
10. Family of noise
11. The idea
12. Whip in my valice
13. Stand and deliver
14. Ant music
15. Vive le rock
16. Beat my guest
19. Dog eat dog
20. Goody 2 shoes
21. Kings of the wild frontier
23. Desperate not serious
24. Red scab
25. Get it on
26. 20th Century boy
THE GIG – Hammersmith Apollo, London, 19 April 2014
Boz Boorer (guest, acoustic guitar), Leigh Gorman (bass), Adam, Tom Edwards (guitar), xx (keyboards, saxophone), Will Crewdson (guitar), Jola (drums), Dave Barbarossa (drums).
Photos © Rene Gonzales, 2014.
Jola joined the band in 2010 and has been touring with Adam since. She enjoys playing with another drummer and was impressed with the enthusiasm of the fans at their last gig at the Apollo.
Although she usually plays a “Gretsch New Classic” drum set, she played a goblet-shaped Middle-Eastern Doumbek drum at an acoustic gig at London's 100 Club. The drum sounded surprisingly well at the gig.
Adam Ant was born as Stuart Goddard in 1954 in a working class area of North London. His parents divorced when he was 7 and he lived with his mother, who had various jobs including domestic cleaning. She was briefly employed to work at Paul McCartney’s house. His father was a chauffeur by profession and a heavy drinker, who was absent for most of his life. Not surprisingly, Stuart ended up avoiding alcohol, smoke and drugs and when the time came to become a father, he dedicated his time to his daughter Lily, giving her the paternal support he craved when he was a young boy.
Stuart’s talent for graphic art was recognised very early in his life. In primary school, he was a difficult child who was surprisingly creative in art and crafts. In secondary school, he wasn’t assigned the subjects he wanted for his A-levels so he demanded from the head-master to be given Arts, a bold move that was very important in his life. When he finished school, he went to Hornsey College of Art in London to study Graphic Design. His expertise was in the design of product-packaging, a skill that came handy in his musical career.
At college, he played the bass with the rock’n’roll revival band “Bazooka Joe” until one day in November 1975, when “The Sex Pistols” opened the show for them at a gig in Saint Martin’s School of Art. Stuart was so impressed with their style, lyrics and sound that he quit his band and couldn’t wait to start his own.
Around that time, Stuart suffered recurrent episodes of severe depression. At age 21, he was admitted to hospital after attempting suicide, overdosing on medication. His diagnosis was Manic Depression, now known as “Bipolar Affective Disorder”, and was due to receive electric shock, a common treatment at the time. Scared about the prospect of having the procedure, he discharged himself from hospital.
Reflecting on his situation, he made some drastic decisions. He committed whole-heartedly to his work and accepted that moment as the end of Stuart Goddard. In order to start afresh, he adopted the name of “Adam Ant,” a tribute to Adam, the first man, and to Ants, “because they are tough, resilient and intelligent little characters and they stick together … they can even survive the atomic bomb!” Carol Mills, Stuart’s wife, whom he married while at Art School, changed her name to Eve.
Those who knew Adam recall that his new persona was unrecognisable. Controlling and with little tolerance, “he was a bit of a monster; someone you wouldn’t want to see get angry.” He might come across as an unconventional and somewhat aggressive character: “he could scare you as well as he could pull you in.” On the other hand, when it came to his music, he was calm, collected and full of talent, “he knew exactly what he wanted.”
In 1977, Adam quit Art School and formed a punk rock band called “The Ants” (initially rehearsing as “The B sides”).
Their live performances gained notoriety because of his bizarre and explosive behaviour on stage, ripping off his clothes and driving the audience wild. “Everybody’s eyes were glued on him as none could tell what he was going to do next” commented a fan.
Stuart’s wardrobe style was also innovative and daring, perhaps inspired by his close connection with “SEX,” a Chelsea boutique owned by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. Pamela Rooke “Jordan”, who used to work at the shop, became a fashion icon of the punk scene in London. She influenced the fashion scene leading by example and through the shop, where “she wouldn’t sell you clothes if you didn’t look the right way.” After meeting Adam and watching the band perform, Jordan became the band’s manager. She sang with the group in early shows and later with “The Sex Pistols,” who also gravitated around the shop.
The Ants changed their name to “Adam and the Ants” and did what they could to promote themselves. Adam and Jordan secured roles in the 1977 “punk” or “anti-punk” movie “Jubilee” directed by Derek Jarman, where the band plays “Plastic Surgery.”
Left: Adam and the Ants playing "Plastic Surgery" in the movie "Jubilee" directed by Derek Jarman (1977). †† Right: Adam and Jordan in a scene of "Jubilee" (1977).
For the next couple of years, the band developed their craft creating more songs and playing at various punk venues in London. They signed up with Decca Records with the help of Mike Smith and in October 1979, Adam and the Ants released their first single “Young Parisians.”
Adam chose the jazz ballad “Young Parisians” (left) for the A side to make the point that they were not just another Punk Band and that they were defying convention. An unwise decision in retrospect because sales of the 45rpm single failed to meet the financial expectations of the record company and the band was dropped soon after. The B side was “Lady” (right), an energetic punk rock song that shows Adam’s style in vocals and music.
The single was re-promoted when the band became popular in 1980. The second time around, “Young Parisians” climbed to number 9 on the charts and Decca records, owners of the recording, made a profit in the end.
In the next year their popularity grew steadily and in November 1979 Adam and the Ants released their first album “Dirk Wears White Sox” (Do It Records) featuring Adam on vocals and guitar, Matthew Ashman on guitar, Leigh Gorman on bass and Dave Barbarossa on Drums.
|Dirk Wears White Socks (original release 1979)|
1. "Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2)"
2. "Digital Tenderness"
3. "Nine Plan Failed"
4. "Day I Met God"
7. "Catholic Day"
8. "Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)"
9. "Animals and Men"
10. "Family of Noise"
11. "The Idea"
|Bonus tracks on Remastered version (2004)|
13. "Whip in My Valise"
16. "Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2) (Hughes Mix)"
18. "Cartrouble (Single Version)"
19. "Kick! (Single Version)"
The album did not sell well, they had to do something to improve their finances. Adam sought advice from Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010), a fashion designer known for managing famous bands, including “The Sex Pistols.” They struck a deal and Malcolm was hired to manage the band for a month, for the sum of £1000. McLaren thought that the future of rock ‘n’ roll was in making video discs. He came up with the idea of changing their sound and style to something out of the ordinary. He suggested using African beats and Pirate outfits mixed with stories about Jeronimo, the American Indian that Adam was interested in at the time.
Under McLaren’s management, three members of the band, Mathew Ashman, Dave Barbarossa and Leigh Gorman “jumped ship” at one of their rehearsals. They said they left the band because they were tired of Adam ordering them about. Adam, was left in shock and anger, facing “mutiny” and effectively being kicked out of his own band. He focused on putting together a whole new band and continue on his own.
McLaren kept the band and the three ex-ants took the name of BowWowWow. As it transpired later, Malcom had a new lead singer in mind, Annabella Lwin, with whom the band did quite well for a few years, releasing 3 albums and touring the UK and USA.
Their album “The Last of the Mohicans” brought some controversy in 1982 because in an attempt to make a photo version of the famous painting “The luncheon on the grass” by Manet, they posed 15-year-old Annabela nude on the cover. Her mother contacted the police and an investigation was initiated, as a consequence, McLaren had to avoid to promote the singer as a sex symbol. The album became their best-seller in the USA.
REBIRTH OF ADAM AND THE ANTZ
In 1980, Adam joined forces with Marco Pirroni, a fellow fan of “The Sex Pistols” whom he met at concerts. Marco, also a regular at the SEX boutique, was a talented guitarist that had built up experience playing with various punk bands including “Models” and “Siouxsie and the Banshees.”
They put together a new line up for “Adam and the Ants” (Adam had rights to the name, initially conceived as “Adam and the Ants – Marc II”) with a fresh style blending the McLaren formula and their own ideas. They worked hard to polish their unique sound with Pirroni on lead guitar, Kevin Mooney on bass and two drum sets played by Terry Lee Miall (also ex-Models) and Chris Hughes “Merrick” (who was also the producer). Adam hired Falcon Stuart as their manager.
Lineup 1981: Marco Pirroni (guitar), Terry Lee Miall (drums), Adam Ant (vocals and guitar), Kevin Mooney (bass), Chris Hughes “Merrick” (drums).
Like “Bow Wow Wow,” “Ant music” was inspired by African Burundi drums and beats. McLaren made them listen to all types of music including African. They even had an African music expert named Simon to help them practice the beats and stick sounds. Adam acknowledged openly at interviews that he drew inspiration from Burindi and Aborigene music, he thought that native music was genuine and “from the heart,” free of commercial interest. Nevertheless, critics had their own opinion claiming that those African or native artists did not gain any profit, and that they were victims of “pop pirates in search of plunder” (New York Times, 1981).
The band toured extensively in the UK improving their sound and style. Soon they gained a following and more and more kids in the audience turned-up dressed-up copying the band’s makeup and costumes. The band changed their looks constantly, giving their fans another reason to attend.
Aware of their success, record companies started to make offers. Falcon, who was promoting the band with the demo of “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” invited a representative of CBS Records to see their show at “The Empire” in Leicester Square. He remembered Adam because he rejected his music in 1977. This time he had a different impression of the band:
"Comes the night, I walk into the ballroom to find about 3,000 rabid punks, ALL kitted out as 'sex people', fervently waiting for their man to hit the stage. 2 large drum kits on tall risers at the back of the stage created a powerful visual and finally, when the Ants walked out, dressed, and made-up to the gills, the place went berserk. The show was stunning and it took me very much by surprise. The sound was thunderous, the beat was relentless and Marco’s guitar rang loud and pure. Everybody on stage looked fit and fabulous and there was very little ‘punk’ to be seen or heard, onstage anyway. The fans went mental. It was fantastic and you'd think they were coming off a string of chart-toppers by the way the fans were behaving."Having spotted someone from Virgin Records at the concert, CBS rushed to secure a meeting with Falcon and Adam. They finally made a deal and Adam and the Ants got signed to CBS records in July 1980. The company arranged a meeting at London Zoo for the signing photos (see above).
Soon after, they released the single “Kings of the Wild Frontier” that seem to stall at first, failing to make it to the top 40. Unsure about their success, CBS were very cautious in financing other ventures like the promo videos, which Adam had to fund himself.
Their big break came on 16th October 1980 when they were invited to play “Dog Eat Dog” on “Top of the Pops,” one of the most popular television shows of the BBC.
As they arrived at the BBC London studios in Wood Green, Adam was attacked by a group of punks and security was called for his protection. The next day, the Daily Mail run a headline “Punk Stars in Top of The Pop Riot,” misrepresenting the whole event. This forced his agents to make a public clarification. The ordeal played in favour of the band in the end, increasing the impact of their appearance and expanding their popularity.
While playing on stage at the BBC, Adam realised that their moment had come; all the years of hard work and perseverance had paid off, he and the band were on their way to stardom.
Video of their big break playing Dog Eat Dog on Top of the Pops, October 1980. †† Studio view of the show with introduction by the presenter.
In November 1980, Adam and the Ants released their second album “Kings of the Wild Frontier.” With the public on their side and after an explosion of interest following their appearance on television, the album was received with open arms.
|Kings of the Wild Frontier (original release 1980)|
1. "Dog Eat Dog"
3. "Feed Me to the Lions"
4. "Los Rancheros"
5. "Ants Invasion"
6. "Killer in the Home"
7. "Kings of the Wild Frontier"
8. "The Magnificent Five"
9. "Don't Be Square (Be There)"
10. "Jolly Roger"
11. "Making History"
12. "The Human Beings"
|Bonus tracks on Remastered version (2004)|
13. "Antmusic (Alternative Mix)"
14. "Antmusic (Demo)"
15. "Feed Me to the Lions (Demo)"
16. "The Human Beings (Demo)"
17. "S.E.X. (Demo)"
18. "Omelette From Outerspace (Demo)"
Music critics and their now extensive young audience would say “There's simply nothing else like it.” It was the consolidation of their sound and style. The artwork and design of the album was splendid, full of colour and fantastic pictures.
Recorded at Rockfield Studios, their sound was fresh, and exotic, brilliantly engineered with contagious rhythms and seductive lyrics.
It was no surprise that the following year the album went to number one in sales in the UK and won Best British Album at the Brit Awards in 1982. It is included in the 2005 book “1001 Albums you must hear before you die” edited by Robert Dimery.
The album sales were certified as Platinum in the UK (over 300,000) and Gold in USA (over 500,000). Adam also went to Holland, France and Germany to accept Gold discs.
Adam and the Ants at the presentation of the gold record for "Kings of the Wild Frontier" at CBS in London, 1980.
Holding the records on the back line: Adam, Kevin Mooney, Chris Hughes “Merrick”. On the front line: Marco Pirroni and Terry Lee Miall.
THE ANTS STYLE
The look and style of Kings of the Wild Frontier came from the first line of the lyrics: “A New Royal Family of Wild Nobility,” mixed with pirates going about pillaging stuff. The Hussar jacket represented something stolen during a raid in war. The Hussars that wore those jackets were cavalry soldiers also known as “Cherry Bums” because their uniform, being the most glamorous, included very tight cherry coloured trousers. People used to ridicule them as they paraded riding their horses in Hyde Park. Adam added feathers for an Apache look, which completed the theatrical effect of something that was royal at the same time as savage.
Adam and the Ants’ music and fashion were noticed across the world, even by famous artists like Michael Jackson, whom, having heard his music, rang Adam to ask for tips on how to get the tom-tom sound and where to get his vintage army jacket. Adam directed him to his drummer/producer Chris Hughes for the sound and revealed that the jacket was a rental.
Adam’s nineteenth-century British military jacket was rented through Dave Whiteing, a friend of Adam’s who worked at “Berman's and Nathan’s” costume shop (119 Shaftesury Ave, Camden, London). At the time, they provided costumes for movies. The shop was acquired by “Angels”, a larger costume supplier in 1992. The Camden branch now renamed “Angels Fancy Dress and Costumes,” is still in business and caters for social events.
Michael made good use of those tips, got hold of a jacket from the shop and built his own image around it. He returned the favour by inviting Adam to his house.
A couple of years later, in 1983, both performed at “Motown 25” where Michael astounded the audience with “Billy Jean,” dancing his “Moonwalk” for the first time (find video at the bottom). See more about Michael on the article “This is It”
For his next album “Prince Charming,” Adam decided to change the look of the band. The shows were based on “Commedia dell’arte,” a theatrical Italian tradition from the 16th century that arrived in England as Pantomime. The costumes incorporated fashion from post French revolution Paris, between 1795 and 1799, a time when outrageous outfits with bold colours and high boots for men and elaborate long dresses for women appeared on the scene. The look was known as “Les ‘Incroyables et Merveilleuses’” or The Amazing and Wonderful. Adam made some drawings and combined with prints from the era, asked master tailor Dave Whiteing at Berman’s and Nathan’s to make his Prince Charming jacket. The details on the jacket are embroidered with an 18th century effect.
The tall boots in the style of the cavalry’s Jackboots with high wings, originally reinforced to protect the knees from sword wounds, were also custom made and had gold-leather inner lining to match his gold pants and tri-colour decorations, red, blue and white (ambivalently representing both UK and France).
During the Prince Charming Revue tour (1981), Adam wore both outfits on stage, which combined perfectly with their theatrical performance that included changing backgrounds, props (including a moving galleon) and lighting effects (see below).
Adam’s original “Kings” and “Dandy Highwayman” full outfits are currently on loan and on permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Theatre museum in London.
Wearing military outfits was not a new trend amongst musicians. Memorable examples of the military look from the 60’s are The Beatles (Sgt Pepper’s Heart Club Band) and Jimmy Hendrix with his famous vintage army jackets, quite similar to those worn by Adam.
Adam and the Ants fashion influence not only affected their fans, who painted their faces and dressed up for their gigs, they were also closely followed by the fashion industry that produced a multitude of concepts at the time and in many revivals since. Fellow artists also found inspiration on the band’s wardrobe, these include: Prince, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Martin (Coldplay), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Nina Persson (The Cardigans) and many more.
Adam Ant's "Dandy Highwayman" outfit on permanent display at V&A, London. His style influenced Fashion and other musicians like Beyonce, Rihanna and Chris Martin from Coldplay. Military jackets were worn before by other artists, most famously, Jimmy Hendrix in the 1960s.
Michael Jackson sought wardrobe advice from Adam Ant who gave him directions to his jacket provider in London. With this inspiration, Michael developed his new image with variants based on the military style.
Adam’s makeup evolved over the years, starting with a plain white base that covered the whole face, the eyes delineated with eyeliner and an asymmetric patch of black painted over the eyelids around the right eye. Fine lines under the cheekbones extending from the sideburns towards the corner of the mouth and random isolated “x” marks on the temples or sides of the face. The Prince Charming look required curved lines under the cheeks, coloured eye-shadow, red lipstick, and a heart over the left eyebrow.
Adam’s hair was naturally curly, he added short braids over his forehead and sides by incorporating Christmas foil and coloured ribbons.
This look was inspired by pirate Black Beard’s (Edward Thatch 1680 – 1718) as described by English author Captain Charles Johnson, in his 1724 book “A General History of the robberies and murders of the most notorious Pyrates”:
This Beard was Black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant length; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbons, in small Tails, and turn them about his Ears: In Time of Action, he wore a sling over his shoulders, with three brace of pistols; and stuck Lighted Matches under his Hat, appearing on each side of his face, his eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, made him altogether such a figure, that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from hell, to look more frightful ... Blackbeard’s unpredictable and terrifying behaviour, coupled with his frightening appearance, cultivated the notion that he was “Devil incarnate.”
Adam would wear hair extensions and longer braids, together with stripes across the face to add the Apache effect.
The painting of his face was influenced by Japanese Kabuki theatre makeup, where actors wear a solid white base over the whole face and neck and sharp black or coloured lines extending and exaggerating natural features. Another source of inspiration was the movie Clockwork Orange (1971), where Alex, played by Malcolm McDowell, wears eyeliner with exaggerated painted eyelashes on the right eye. Lastly, he included Apache American Indians' war face-paint with stripes to one side or across the face. Adam researched the American Indian Culture as part of his general interest in history and adapted some of what he found into his style.
The video on the right shows an appearance at the children’s show “TisWas” (20 Dec 1980), where Adam talks about his makeup. The interview has a surprising ending.
At current gigs, Adam wears eyeliner and black lines under the cheeks extending from the sideburns, hair extensions and a wig with plaids, secured with a bandana. A variety of hats, including a cocked Nelson-style hat are now part of his stage wardrobe.
ADAM'S GRAPHIC DESIGN AND POSTERS
Adam’s artwork was published on the covers of “Young Parisians,” the first single of Adam and the Ants, released in 1979. He drew himself and the band on the front cover and a “Lady” on the back with the lyrics of both songs in the background: “Young Parisians” and “Lady.”
The image on the right shows Adam's sketches of the logo for "Adam and the Antz" and a concept of his image on stage.
The posters announcing gigs of “The Ants” and later “Adam and the Ants” were suitably controversial. Designed by Adam, they showed a style with influences of pop-art, contemporary artists like Allen Jones, who designed erotic furniture, and Eduardo Paolozzi, who was his teacher at Hornsey and produced art with a collage style.
Photocopied for distribution, the posters and fliers vividly exploited their motto “Ant music for sex people” and revolved around themes of bondage, domination and sometimes images related to fascism. They certainly grabbed young people’s attention, not to mention that of their critics.
Adam explains that most punk groups at the time used the swastika to shock the audience rather than to support fascism. His interest in Pre-World War II Berlin and S&M imagery had nothing to do with supporting the Nazis, it was just that he took inspiration from Liliana Cavani’s, 1974 film “The Night Porter” starring his personal hero, actor Dirk Bogarde.
Aware of his views, the organisers of “Rock Against Racism," asked him to support them by playing benefit gigs. RAR were trying to prevent the growth of racism that seemed to infiltrate the punk scene since 1976.
In June 1980, Adam and the Ants played 2 benefit gigs for RAR at Ealing College and South Bank Polytechnic, the latter almost ended up in a riot as skinheads were wrecking the place. Adam managed to calm the crowd down to avoid confrontation with the police as they left the building.
Sample of the posters designed by Adam between 1977 and 1980. He uses S&M imagery combined with other shocking images and phrases from their lyrics, creating a collage in a style that separated them from those of other bands.
Adam's drawing of "Miss Puss in Boots" from his design notes. On the right, Adam's storyboards with his drawings of scenes for his videos.
Following their success they embarked into the beginning of what we now call a “marketing machine.” Adam was one of the first to recognise the value of publicity and visual impact of his music. He appeared in as many interviews as he could, a task that filled up most of his waking hours. In retrospect, he attributes his incessant productivity to the manic periods of his condition.
At one of the highest point of Adam’s career, the band were invited to play at the Royal Variety Show (also known as Royal Command Performance) at London’s Palladium Theatre on 29 November 1981. After the show Adam met Princess Margaret and gave autographs to her children. The pictures gave the great exposure as they made it to all the major newspapers.
During their performance at the Royal Variety Show, Adam sang live while the band was miming (a common setup for this show). Kevin Mooney, the bassist, took the opportunity to rebel against the monarchy (he had a punk background) and started playing around with his guitar, dropping it at the end, infuriating Adam. Despite blaming a broken guitar-strap, his childish and unprofessional attitude, cost him his job with the band (he had also acted carelessly on previous shows). Gary Tibbs (ex- Roxy Music) gladly took his place.
In March 1981 Adam ant the Ants embarked on their first tour of North America. On that trip, Adam met an American Indian organisation lead by George Stonefish, who argued he was exploiting their heritage with his face-paint. Having researched American Indian history extensively when he was designing his style, Adam was able to argue his case explaining that he was paying a tribute to their spirit. After seeing him perform, they gave their consent.
The tour was a total success proving that the “Ant Invasion” had spread to America.
In November 1981 the band published their third album “Prince Charming,” which included the number-one singles “Stand and Deliver” and “Prince Charming.”
|Prince Charming (original release 1981)|
2. "Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios"
3. "Prince Charming"
4. "Five Guns West"
5. "That Voodoo!"
6. "Stand and Deliver"
7. "Mile High Club"
8. "Ant Rap"
11. "The Lost Hawaiians"
|Bonus tracks on Remastered version (2004)|
12. "Prince Charming (Demo)"
13. "Stand and Deliver (Demo)"
14. "Showbiz (Demo)"
15. "Picasso Visits the Planet of the Apes (Demo)"
16. "Who's a Goofy Bunny Then? (Demo)"
17. "Scorpio Writing (Demo)"
The album, produced by Chris Hughes (their drummer), was recorded at Air Studios. Musically, the band retained their signature sound and impacting lyrics although some of the songs showed influences from trending musical styles e.g. “Ant Rap”. The band changed their look with more flamboyant costumes, which were ideal for their promo videos. In retrospect, Adam thought that the band should have retained their style for at least a second album before making this radical changes, which probably confused their fans.
Tired of the punk-rock music scene that was getting monotonous, depressive and with political overtones, Adam wanted to bring back the glamour of showbiz. He wrote scripts and designed storyboards to make “short Hollywood movies” instead the typical “Promo Videos,” which commonly showed the band playing on stage or in studio. He would visualise the stories as he wrote his songs resulting in videos that depicted a world of fantasy as almost literal translations of the songs and lyrics.Adam co-directed the videos with Mike Mansfield, a well-known movie maker of the time. The expensive venture proved to be a worthy investment and most of the videos propelled the songs to the top of the music charts in the UK and abroad. Those videos were the pioneers of the genre of Music Video that in time would become a pre-requisite for songs that wanted to make it to the top (see Singles in the UK chart below)
Music video: "Stand and Deliver" showing Adam's Dandy Highwayman costume. Amanda Donohoe "Mandy," his girlfriend at the time, appears as the passenger in the carriage (1981). †† The making of Stand and Deliver + interview with Adam and Director Mike Mansfield, Oxforshire, 1981.
Interview on BBC’s Nationwide, just before their Prince Charming Revue UK tour, Dec 1981. †† Interview with Tom Snyder, shortly before their USA tour in 1982.
“Prince Charming,” another of his most famous videos, featured famous artist Diana Dors and a lavish cast wearing costumes and a dance sequence that became the band’s trademark. The signature moves choreographed by Stephanie Coleman symbolised Adam and the Ants completely: “Pride, courage, humour and flair.” These steps are quite popular in Adam Ant Fans' Flash Mobs all over the world.
1 Pride: Right foot forward, Right wrist above the head >
2 Courage: Left foot forwards, Left wrist touches Right above or in front of the forehead to form a cross >
3 Humour: Right foot forwards, Right pointing index travels from nose to point down to the ground in front, Left hand goes to rest on hip >
4 Flair: Left foot forwards, Wrists start on cross in front of the forehead, Right hand stays up with elbow going back behind the head, Left arm extends forward to point ahead.
This outstanding track was not free of controversy. A musicologist determined that the song “War Canoe,” published in 1965 was musically identical to “Prince Charming.” The revelation was aired on “The Danny Baker Show” in 2010 (BBC Radio 5). The guest was Rolf Harris, the Australian author of War Canoe, who described that he received a large sum of royalties as an out-of-court settlement. Harris is a well-known singer, composer, painter and television personality currently living in the UK.
Prince Charming official video (1981) †† Rolf Harris reveals the settlement when interviewed by Danny Baker on BBC Radio 5 (27 March 2010) †† Original song "War Canoe" (1965).
In a new post-punk scene, the popularity of Adam and the Ants seemed to have no limits, they toured the UK, USA, Australia, Japan and other countries. Everywhere they went they were known for choosing venues that would not sell alcohol in the hope of promoting a healthy attitude in their young audience, breaking the link between music, alcohol and drugs. Adam led by example and many of his followers embraced his attitude. Only in his late 40s he opened his mind to drinking and smoking, having abstained since he started college.
”The Prince Charming Revue,” released in 1982, is a video of their tour of the UK when Adam and the Ants were at the peak of their career. It shows the theatrical production prepared only for that tour and depicts the style of the band and their charisma. Adam paid £250.000 for the tour and the album made £2.7 million for CBS, of which only 10% went to Adam. The record company owned the recordings so they could do what they pleased with them. Other bands at the time had similar or worse arrangements with their labels.
And Adam and the Ants - Live in Tokyo (1981) (Published 1994)
CBS Records, the company they signed-up with, was delighted with their hard work and their sells of up to 15 million copies of their 2 albums “Kings of the Wild Frontiers” and “Prince Charming”, but success came at a price; the relentless pace led the young members of the band to exhaustion and tension amongst them. In 1982, despite their peak on the charts, Adam and the Ants disbanded.
Lineup 1982: Chris Hughes “Merrick” (drums), Terry Lee Miall (drums), Adam Ant (vocals and guitar), Gary Tibbs (bass), Marco Pirroni (guitar).
In two years, they had taken the music scene by storm, changed the course of fashion and transformed the way songs were presented to the public.
ADAM GOES SOLO
Adam started a solo career and kept writing with Marco. He released a few albums with moderate success including songs that reached good positions on the charts in the UK and USA. The albums include: Friend or Foe (1982), Strip (1983), Vive le Rock (1985).
Album cover of "Friend or Foe" (1982). †† Single cover of "Strip" (1983). †† Album cover of "Vive le Rock" (1985).
The most popular songs from that period were “Goodie Two Shoes” from the album Friend or Foe; “Puss in boots” and “Strip” from Strip, and “Apollo 9” from Vive le Rock. Each album had a flavour of its own, which reflected the changes in the music scene of the 1980s. Thanks to his association with Marco, they retained their unique style although gradually departing from the influence of African beats.
Music videos: “Goodie Two Shoes” from the album "Friend or Foe" (1982). †† “Puss in boots” and “Strip” from the album "Strip" (1983). †† “Apollo 9” from the album "Vive le Rock" (1985).
During that period, Adam toured the UK and also the US and participated in large events like the charity concert “Live Aid” organised by Bob Geldorf in 1985. Disappointingly, his contribution was cut short to a single song, “Vive le Rock.”
A couple of years earlier he appeared as a guest in “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” (25 March 1983), a television special that commemorated the 25th anniversary of “Motown Records”, a label that traditionally published music by black artists. Adam sang a cover of “Where did our love go,” originally by the black group “The Supremes”. To the pleasant surprise of everyone, Diana Ross, former Supreme, joined him dancing on stage. His energetic performance was followed by Lionel Richie, The Jackson Five and Michael Jackson, the star of the show (see Adam's performance presented by Jose Feliciano starting at 1:05:37 or rewind to see the full show).
ADAM’S ACTING CAREER
Following an interest in theatre, Adam starred as “Sloane” in Joe Orton’s play “Entertaining Mr. Sloane,” presented at the “Royal Exchange” theatre in Manchester from May to June 1985. He played one of his favourite roles with Sylvia Simms (Kath) and James Maxwell (Ed) (pictured above), under the direction of Gregory Hersov. Almost 10 years later, he played the lead role in Steven Berkoff’s play “Greek” (1993).
Building upon his start in drama, he grasped the opportunity to explore the world of film. He decided to move to Los Angeles and took acting lessons with the legendary acting teacher Harry Mastrogeorge (picture on the left), who’s pragmatic approach to teaching is based on the view that “Acting is a State of Mind” resulting from a blend of Innocence, Imagination and Vulnerability.
Adam’s popularity and fame secured him a number of roles over the years, and although his training served him well, it did not overshadow his musical career.
On the big screen, he appeared in:
- the horror film “Nomads” (1986) with Pierce Brosnan
- the thriller “Slam Dance” (1987) with Virginia Madsen and Tom Hulce (Amadeus)
- the thriller “Sunset Heat” (1992) with Dennis Hopper
- the comedy “Love Bites”(1993), in which he starred as a vampire with Kimberly Foster (watch the film here).
Poster of comedy film "Love Bites"(1993) starring Adam Ant, who appears as a vampire above. The second lead actor was Kimberly Foster on her last role on the big screen.
Interview on “The Little Picture Show,” where Adam talks about his recent leading role as Zac, a vampire in the comedy movie “Love Bites” in 1993.
In the small-screen, he worked on some episodes of various television series including: The Equalizer, Sledge Hammer!, Tales from the Crypt and Northern Exposure.
While living in America at the end of the 1980s, Adam found himself in the middle of a scandal. A female fan appeared at his door one day claiming she had married him and demanding to get rid of his girlfriend Heather Graham (also a student of Mastrogeorge’s – see picture on the left). The stranger vandalised his friend’s car and was said to have poisoned his fish (a koi carp), threw razorblade-laced meat to his dogs, and even broke into his house to leave a cake with a message “Get the whore out of the house”. The authorities intervened and the woman was arrested and convicted for stalking. Three months later, after her release, she reappeared with her brother, an LA gangbanger. Adam was one of the first celebrities that spoke out, leading to the introduction of anti-stalking laws in California.
The ordeal affected him severely, he broke-down with depression and required admission to the psychiatric ward of Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Upon discharge, his relationship with his girlfriend ended and he decided to return to England.
In 1990 he released the album, “Manners & Physique” and in 1995 “Wonderful.”
Album cover of "Manners & Physique" (1990). †† Inside cover of the same album. †† Album cover of "Wonderful" (1995).
Adam embarked on a series of promotional interviews and appearances to announce a new tour of the USA in 1995.
Interview in Los Angeles (march 1995), Adam talks about the upcoming album Wonderful and plays "Wonderful" and "Alien." †† Adam on "The Big Breakfast Show" 1995, talks about his acting career, the inspiration behind the song Wonderful and how he met Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1978.
The most notorious singles from the first album were “Room at the Top,” “Can’t Set Rules About Love” and “Rough Stuff.” The songs “Wonderful” and “Gotta be a sin” from Wonderful also made it to the charts. This album was a collaboration with Marco Pironni and was recorded at Abbey Road studios in London, mostly on acoustic guitars.
Music videos: “Room at the Top,” “Can’t Set Rules About Love” and “Rough Stuff.” from the album "Manners & Physique" (1990). †† “Gotta be a sin” and “Wonderful” from the album "Wonderful" (1995). The latter is a new version I made of the video to the CD soundtrack for better audio quality (48kHz 32bit 320kbps).
The American tour had to be cut short because Adam and Marco contracted glandular fever. An uncommon viral infection in young adults that they believe they caught by drinking contaminated water (ice cubes on their drinks).
In 1997, Adam married again, this time to Lorraine Gibson, a PR assistant to Vivianne Westwood. The following year they had a daughter, Lily Caitlin. Taking his new role as a father seriously, he took five years off to look after his child.
A few years later, another stalker appeared on the scene, causing increasing disruption to his life. Fearful for the safety of his daughter, Adam went to the police and the woman soon had to answer for her actions.
ADAM IN THE NEW CENTURY
The new century arrived bringing bad news. Adam separated from his wife and if that wasn’t enough, he was also dropped by his record company. Not surprisingly, he suffered another breakdown, ending up in hospital. His condition seemed to have re-activated throwing him into a period of hypomania with ideas and thoughts that clouded his judgment.
In 2002 he threw a car alternator through a window of the Prince of Wales pub in London, he claimed he responded to provocations and earlier refusal to entry as the manager failed to recognise him. After the altercation, he left the pub chased by some people and he pulled out an imitation WWII gun that belonged to his father to scare them away. Police was involved and he was detained in possession of the imitation gun. He was admitted to hospital for his own protection under the 1983 mental health act.
Against all odds, he decided to contact the media from the hospital ward. The newspapers wasted no time in making the most of the incident with sensational headlines like “I’m locked in the Alice in Wonderland ward” (The Sun, 14 January 2002). He was released to family shortly after.
Months later, he appeared at London’s Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), where he pleaded guilty to affray (fighting in a public place, disturbing the peace). Once again, the newspapers reported his case under exaggerated titles: “Adam Ant pulled gun on drinkers”. In the end, most of the charges were dropped but he had to serve 28 day in hospital as part of a community rehabilitation order.
Other incidents in the following years seemed to indicate that he required further psychiatric intervention, which he fortunately received, gradually improving and regaining control of his life.
In 2006 he published his auto-biography “Stand and Deliver” where he gives his point of view on the events of his life.
The book is packed with revelations, putting the record straight on the public image that was built by the media around Adam over the years. It starts with a dramatic recollection of his suicide attempt in 1975 and then guides the reader through the ups and downs of his life with honesty, humour and detail. Many of his thoughts were faithfully recorded on his diary, which he kept since his youth, which was probably a crucial reference for this book.
This excellent read was a success in 2006, highly rated on reviews. It lead to a second edition the following year with an update on his life up to that point. Adam reads the book himself in the audio CD version.
Fighting a constant battle with his disease, Adam found the stability that allowed him to get back into music, the passion of his life. He slowly re-built his musical career and started appearing at increasingly more events.
In 2010, Adam started his new record label “Blue Black Hussar” and signed a few start-up bands. The following year, he assembled his own band and started a UK tour.
In 2012 he extended his horizons and decided to tour the USA on a “proper rock-n-roll tour”. This was part of the promotion of his latest album.
In January 2013 he released his new album “Adam Ant is the Blue Black Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter.” The name represents his new character, the Blue Black Hussar, who is the young rider with a stripe across his face (apache warline) but 35 years later, having gained maturity and wisdom. The old naval term “Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter” refers to a punishment that consisted in being put over the ship’s gun, a cannon, and whipped “This is a metaphor for signing yourself up to record labels.”
The cover of the album is the painting “Girl in a Cocked Hat” bought by Adam from the author Mary Jane Ansell. The painter is a graduate of the University of Brighton (Illustration 1994) and has her studio in the North Laine in Brighton. She exhibited privately and in groups including the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2005 and 2007) and in the BP Portrait Award in 2004 and 2009.
A number of gigs followed and he experimented with various band members. He recruited musicians he met early in his life and by 2014 he assembled a band that replicated and improved on the original sound of Adam and the Ants.
When Adam was asked what he thought was the key to staying at the top, he responded: “success, survival, longevity and consistency,” qualities shared by most bands that retained their place in show business over decades.
Adam's new band "Adam Ant and the Mad and the Lovely Posse" and its lineup of 2013.
Poster announcing the last show of the UK tour on 19 April 2014. Photo of "Girl with a Cocked Hat" from the video "Cool Zombie" 2013.
SINGLES ON THE UK MUSIC CHARTS
In the early 1980s, Adam and the Ants’ were regularly in the top 100 music charts in the UK:
In 1980, when “The Police,” “Blondie” and “David Bowie” were in the top 20:
- In February: “Kings of the wild frontier” was number 48
- In April: “Dog eat dog” was number 4 and “Young Parisians” was number 9
- In May: “Antmusic” reached number 2, behind the re-release of “Imagine,” which made it to the top following the assassination of John Lennon
In 1981, the band had 6 songs in the top 100:
- In March: “Prince Charmin” was number 1 for 4weeks, followed by
- “Stand and Deliver,” as number 1 for the next 5 weeks
- “Kings of the wild frontier” climbed to number 2
- “Ant rap” was number 3
- “Car trouble” was number 33
- “Zerox” was number 45
In 1982 there were still 5 singles in the top 100:
- In April “The Antmusic EP” was number 46 and in June “Deutcher girls” was number 13
- In August, Adam’s own single “Friend or foe” was number 9
- In November, “Goody two shoes” reached number 1 again and stayed there for 2 weeks
- “Desperate but not serious” landed as number 33
Adam was still on the charts in 1983:
- In June, “Strip” reached number 41
- In November “Puss ‘n’ boots” was number 5
In 1984, “Apollo 9” reached number 13
In 1985, “Vive le rock” was number 50
In 1990, “Room at the top” was in number 13 and “Can’t set the rules about love” was number 47
Again in 1995, Adam’s “Wonderful” reached 32 and “Gotta be a sin” made it to number 48
ADAM ANT VIDEOS
This is a taste of the real experience at one of the current shows of "Adam Ant and the Mad and the Lovely Posse."
Adam recovers like a true pro after he falls off stage during a gig in London (26 May 2011). He didn’t miss a beat singing “Beat my guest” and then “Kick.”
On an interview at Bestival 2012, Adam talks about meeting Michael Jackson when he was filming Thriller. Michael rang Adam looking for tips on his band’s drum sound and his vintage military jacket.
The connection secured him a visit to the Jackson’s house and a place in the television special “Motown 25” in 1983, where Michael unveiled his “moonwalk” dance for the first time.
Interview on ABC News segment “What’s the Buzz” in 2012, shortly before his American tour to promote his upcoming album "Adam Ant is the Blue Black Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter."
Adam talks about taking a break and becoming a house-dad for 5 years when his daughter was born in 1998 and about the influence that the death of Michael Jackson and the movie “This is It” had in his decision to return to the stage.
Adam Ant on Jools' Annual Hootenanny, 31 December 2012 – Adam plays: Vince Taylor, Antmusic and Stand and Deliver.
Adam presents his new album "Adam Ant is the Blue Black Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter" in January 2013. The video shows his copy of the painting by Mary Jane Ansell, which appears on the cover and the goodies that come with the DVD and the Vinyl versions.
Adam Ant on an interview with Jonathan Ross, February 2013: He talks about his career and his Dandy Highwayman costume displayed at the Victoria and Albert museum in London.
Adam Ant interviewed on “British Masters” by John Doran, published on April 2013: Adam talks about how he created the sound of Adam and the Ants and the experimental nature of his studio sessions. His inspiration on African and Tribal sound and vocals that were looped and layered to create their signature sound. In 1977 he asked Jordan, his manager, to carve a four-letter word on his back after learning about African rituals where they insert stones under the skin. He explains how this unusual event led him to get a part on the film Jubilee where Jordan was cast and his band had the chance to perform.
Adam Ant interviewed by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on ITV’s “This Morning” show on 14 February 2014.
They announce the concert of 19th April 2014 at the Hammersmith Apollo theatre, where Adam would play all the songs from the album “Dirk Wears White Sox.” The date coincides with the release of a limited edition re-mastered vinyl version of that album. After the interview, he played “Antmusic” with his new band.
Adam’s favourites. An interview with Marco Pirroni for the 2001 Ants Convention. This video was featured on the Digital Tenderness DVD, 9 October 2001.
The complete discography can be found at Adam’s official website “AdamAnt.net,” where every single/album is shown with images of its covers and of the item itself e.g. vinyl, cassette, DC, DVD. The description includes the list of tracks and comments relevant to that item or its different versions. There are also rare covers, limited editions and even bootlegs. A thorough and comprehensive resource for collectors.
VIDEO CLIPS FROM THE CONCERT AT HAMMERSMITH APOLLO, LONDON, 19 APRIL 2014
Find a set of video clips from the concert at Superglued.