Adam Ant Part Two
I remember back when I was on my deathbed, which was two months before I was born, I would play my Adam Ant albums, and my Adam and The Ant. albums, which I’m playing now, for my new blog, Adam Ant Part Two, and remembering, all those songs and videos, that I watch over and over again.
Adam Ant Music Career
1977— 1982: Adam And The Ants
Adam and the Ants began as part of the burgeoning punk rock movement. Ant later on acted in Derek Jarman‘s influential “punk“ film Jubilee in 1977, as Adam and the Ants was starting to gig around London with manager Jordan from the SEX Boutique on Kings Road. His debut as a recording musician was the song “Deutscher Girls“, which included on the film‘s soundtrack, together with “Plastic Surgery“ which was performed in the film itself. “Deutscher Girls“/“ Plastic Surgery“ was re-released as a single in 1982. The band toured extensively around the UK however showed to be undesirable with much of the British music press that disliked their fetishistic lyrics and images. Late 1979 saw the release of their début album Dirk Wears White Sox (1979, Do It Records), with Matthew Ashman on guitar, Andy Warren on bass as well as Dave Barbarossa on drums.
Adam Ant approached Malcolm McLaren (the manager of The Sex Pistols) and also asked him to manage the band. McLaren consequently took the remainder of the Ants from the original band when he introduced the singer Annabella Lwin and started the process of developing Bow Wow Wow for chart success. Later on Adam appeared to have reconciled with the fact. “I like to use the word ‘mutiny‘. My band was happy to go. Malcolm tried to see if I could fit into Bow WowWow, but I never could‘ve or would‘ve. I might have had a broken heart at the time, but Malcolm didn’t leave me with nothing. He mentored me. He said: ‘Look,what do you want?‘ I said: ‘I wanna sell millions of records‘, and he said, ‘Well, you‘re going the wrong way about it. This (debut album Dirk Wears White Sox) is the kind of esoteric stuff you do when you‘ve done eight albums, you‘re living on a yacht, and you can do what you want‘,“ he remembered later.
A new version of Adam and the Ants was formed with Marco Pirroni (guitar), Kevin Mooney (bass guitar), and also two drummers, Terry Lee Miall and Chris Hughes (ex-Dalek I Love You), that made use of the name “Merrick“. The band signed a major label deal with CBS Records as well as recorded Kings of the Wild Frontier throughout the summer of 1980. That album was a huge hit in the UK and also the “Antmania“ that occurred placed the band at the forefront of the New Romantic movement. The single “Antmusic“ went to No. 2 on the UK singles chart by December 1980, however made it to No. 1 in the charts in Australia. Following the sudden departure of Mooney in February 1981, the popular bassist Gary Tibbs, formerly of Roxy Music, joined the band.
In November 1981, Adam and the Ants released another very successful album, Prince Charming. The album included two UK No. 1 singles— “Stand and Deliver“ as well as the title track “Prince Charming“— along with the No. 3 UK hit “Ant Rap“. This trio of singles was promoted by some of the most lavish music videos of the period and also led the way for Adam Ant‘s later acting career The work schedule Adam Ant imposed upon himself was punishing. “I took no holidays— and I mean no holidays. When Kings of the Wild Frontier took off, I was halfway through making Prince Charming, and so on, because we had to bring out an album and four singles a year. But the price you pay … I split my cartilage in Cleveland doing “Goody Two Shoes“, it was my body saying, ‘Look, no!‘ Then I was back onstage doing the Motown 25 (in 1983) show 10 days later, having had the operation. Nobody could have stopped me, or make me do it. I did it. I was very, very bad at pacing,“ he later on remembered.
In March 1982, knowing band members “lacked enthusiasm“ Ant disbanded the band. A couple of months after the split Ant launched a solo career (though he retained Marco Pirroni as guitarist and co-songwriter). Merrick went back to the band Dalek I Love You as well as consequently produced many hits for Tears for Fears.
1982— 2001: Solo Career
After the split, Ant went solo, taking his songwriting partner Pirroni with him. Merrick also briefly remained aboard as drummer/producer for the UK version of the first solo hit single “Goody Two Shoes“ (that made it to No. 1 in the UK) as well as demos for the upcoming Friend or Foe album prior to moving on to other production work, while Miall and also Tibbs‘ contracts were left to expire. The “Friend or Foe“ album likewise produced an additional top ten single, “Friend or Foe“, which reached no. 9 in September 1982.
Ant recruited a new band for touring, including new dual drummers Bogdan Wiczling (ex-Fingerprintz) and Barry Watts (ex-Q-Tips), plus guitarist Cha Burns (likewise ex-Fingerprintz), bassist Chris Constantinou as well as the former Q-Tips brass section of trumpeter Tony Hughes and also twin saxophonists Stewart van Blandamer and Steve Farr. The new band made its debut at London‘s Astoria Theatre on 1 October 1982. A US tour started in New York on November 8, 1982. On the 19th tour date on February 20,1983 in Cleveland, Ohio, Ant suffered a knee injury onstage (a relapse of a previous injury suffered while filming Jubilee in 1977), forcing the postponement or cancellation of dates throughout February and March while he recovered. Ant eventually returned to performing, but performing as a guest on the NBC‘ show Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, joined onstage by Diana Ross. He returned to the US tour, completed on May 18, 1983 at the Bronco Bowl in Dallas, Texas.
During his recovery from the knee injury, Ant collaborated with Pirroni on new material— that formed the basis of Ant‘s second solo album Strip. With promotion on the Strip album complete, Ant minimized his band to the quartet of himself, Pirroni (currently out of retirement again), Wiczling as well as Constantinou. The latter two took on the stage names Count Wiczling and also Chris De Niro respectively and were upgraded from live backing musicians to being full time band members, included on record sleeves, logos and even in song lyrics. The LP “Strip“ produced a top ten single, “Puss ‘n’ boots“, which reached no. 5 in October 1983. Ant formally revealed a new four-piece band at the 1984 Montreux Pop Festival.
In July 1985, Ant secured a spot at the Live Aid concert— the first live performance of the “Ant/Marco/Wiczling/ De Niro“ band— however was asked to cut his set to one song, for which he selected his new single, the Vive Le Rock title track Ant later on claimed to regret playing the fundraiser, saying, “I was asked by Sir Bob to promote this concert. They had no idea they could sell it out”. Then in Bob‘s book, he stated, ‘Adam was over the hill so I let him have one number.‘… Doing that show was the biggest f ** king mistake in the world. Knighthoods were made, Bono got it made, and it was a waste of f **king time. It was the end of rock ‘n’ roll.“
A year after the top 15 hit single success of “Apollo 9“, which reached no. 13 in September 1984, the parent album Vive Le Rock was released in September 1985, to mixed reviews. As part of the promotion, the band performed a live TV session for Channel 4 music show Bliss hosted by Muriel Gray. Several songs were recorded, although only two— Miss Thing from the new album as well as Killer in the Home from Kings of the Wild Frontier— were in fact transmitted.
Ant paused his career in music at the end of 1985 to concentrate on his acting career. The Fort Lauderdale show was Ant‘s last full-length concert until February 1993. Indeed, between December 1982 and also February 1995, Ant‘s only public live concerts outside The North America were the four previously mentioned UK/Spanish shows, Live Aid, a 1987 fan club party performance, and a September 1994 EMI corporate event in Brighton. He severed ties with CBS in late 1986, following the release of the Hits audio/VHS compilation. In 1990, Ant returned with Manners & Physique, a collaboration with André Cymone, a solo performer as well as an early member of Prince‘s band. The album was another moderate success, and included the single Room at the Top, which was a Top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Rough Stuff became the second single for the USA as well as Germany as Can’t Set Rules About Love charted in the UK.
In 1995, Ant released the album, Wonderful. The title track was a successful single, as was a tour of the US in support of the album. While Ant and also his band (which retained longtime guitarist Pirroni) played in smaller venues than they had been playing in the 1980s, the houses were frequently packed with passionate fans. The tour was shortened as a result of Ant and also Pirroni both contracting glandular fever. Ant likewise played three shows at Shepherds Bush Empirein London and did a mini tour of Virgin Record Shops playing selected songs from the album Wonderful as well as signing records. Adam and also his band also played shows in Dublin, Glasgow, Middlesbrough and Stoke-on-Trent.
In 1996, Ant as well as Pirroni recorded two new songs, Lamé and also Inseminator, for the soundtrack to Ant‘s latest film Drop Dead Rock. Also around this time, they recorded a cover version of the T. Rex song Dandy in the Underworld. The duo continued to demo other songs around this time, including such titles as Tough Blokes, Justine, Picasso Meets Gary Cooper and Call Me Sausage, (the last of which leaked out right into bootleg circulation among fans). These new songs with Pirroni were for Ant‘s own new label Blend Records. Pirroni later on described these recordings as the Blend Demos. They also guested with such bands as Dweeb as well as Rachel Stamp. In 2001, following September 11th attacks, Ant recorded a charity single for New York firefighters; a double A-side of Neil Diamond‘s America with song of his own, Big Trouble. In interviews from the time, Ant talked of numerous varied plans, including beginning another new record label, reforming Adam and the Ants, and also a star-studded benefit concert for a forest in Patagonia.