Friday, 9 September 2011

Heaven 17 Radio

Heaven 17 have launched their own weekly radio series on Absolute 80s entitled “Electronic 80s with Heaven 17.” Click here for more info about the series - 

The hour long radio show will see Heaven 17 play the best of electronic 80s music from Kraftwerk, Human League to Scritti Politti and Blancmange. Each week the show will include a special guest. This week’s guest on the Sunday September 11th show is Kim Wilde, who, along with a number of other guest vocalists, will also participate in the “B.E.F. presents “Music of Quality & Distinction” concerts at the London Roundhouse on October 15th.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Return of Twiggy!

Twiggy is back on the music scene - says the BBC News...

Twiggy was, of course, one of the faces (and figures!) of the '60s. She also featured in Ken Russell's film, The Boyfriend and was on the cover of Bowie's Pinups album.

 And in the '70s she had a hit with this...

Welcome back Twiggy!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Green Door – What’s That Secret You’re Keeping?

Thirty years ago this week, Shakin' Stevens had a Number One UK hit with a song from the '50s. But there's more to the Green Door than may, at first, appear. I wrote an article about it a few years ago on the previous version of The 80s Empire Blog. I thought it might be worth repeating. So here it is...

The Green Door was more than just an invented song lyric – the door really did exist. The song is an extended tease, constantly asking what is behind it but never quite answering the question:
“Midnight, one more night without sleepin'
Watchin' till the mornin' comes creepin'
Green door, what's that secret you're keepin'”
 The song tells us there’s a piano playing behind the door and people laughing; but knock as much as he might, they just won’t let ol’ Shaky join the fun… 
“Saw an eyeball peepin'
Through a smoky cloud behind the green door
When I said Joe sent me
Someone laughed out loud behind the green door
All I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the green door
Wish they'd let me in
So I could find out what's behind the green door” 

It’s really not surprising that they laughed when he said Joe sent him. Joe Meek was the record producer who worked on the original recording of Green Door which was first a hit (Number 2 in the charts) for Frankie Vaughan way back in November of 1956. Joe is best known for his 1962 hit, Telstar (under the name, The Tornados). I’m not certain if the Joe in the song was meant to refer to Joe Meek. If it was then it was done with a certain irony as Joe was gay. Which brings me back to that Green Door…

In real life, the door belonged to The Gateways Club in the Kings Road, Chelsea. This, it turns out, was one of the most famous lesbian meeting places in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. I don’t think either Frankie Vaughan or Shaky would quite have blended in, somehow. The club itself featured in the 1968 film, The Killing Of Sister George, which was one of the first British mainstream films to feature lesbian characters in central roles. The Gateways finally shut its Green Door in 1985. And thus closed a little slice of pop trivia history…

There is even a book all about the club :: From the Closet to the Screen

And here, by way of comparison is the recording by Frankie Vaughan which got to Number Two in the UK charts in 1956...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley: 'I earn more today than in the Eighties'

Tony Hadley is interviewed in the 'personal finance' pages of today's Telegraph.

This is the bit I liked...


Earlier in my career I bought some ridiculous clothes for thousands of pounds. In the Eighties, bands were so competitive and always trying to outdo each other. One way was to spend silly money on clothes that you could only wear once on telly because they were so identifiable.

Spending £2,000 on just one outfit was crazy. At the time I thought I looked great and even now occasionally think it's pretty cool, despite looking like something out of Robin Hood.
Actually, back in the '80s I bought some suits from one of the same tailors Spandau Ballet used. But I never paid £2000 for one!!!!

Read on... Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley: 'I earn more today than in the Eighties' - Telegraph

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Glam Assassin - murder, mayhem and Glam Rock

My new novel is now available on Kindle...

This is the second in the 'New Romantic Murder Mysteries' series set in early eighties London. Available from Amazon US and UK...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

New Romantics and Blitz Kids (again)

At the time I have to admit that I thought the Blitz was a pretty pokey little place. Fun to go to for a night out in your most outrageous clothes but not something that anyone would remember 30 years later. How wrong I was! The more time passes, the more the glitzy glamour of Blitz nostalgia increases. Yeah, it was a fun time, I guess. We just didn't realise how transient it would be. Anyway, I just came across this vid on YouTube. It gives you a flavour of the Blitz and its clientèle in its heyday. See if you can spot Steve Strange, Boy George and Marilyn. I don't think I'm in it though... or if I am, I'm not admitting to it! ;-)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Boy George opens Isle Of Wight Festival

Boy George launched the Isle Of Wight Festival with a concert in the Big Top last night.

The former lead singer of Culture Club perfomed Everything I Own and Do You Really Want To Hurt Me. Also appearing last night were 1980s act ABC...

Read More: Boy George opens Isle Of Wight Festival - Telegraph

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Clare Grogan to present 80s Rewind Festival

Clare Grogan, lead singer of 80s pop band Altered Images, has been confirmed as the Main Stage presenter at Rewind Scotland – The 80s Music Festival, featuring twenty-five iconic 80s bands and artists at Scone Palace in Perthshire, Scotland from July 29 – 31st.

Grogan will present both days at Rewind Scotland on Saturday July 30th and Sunday July 31st, by introducing artists including Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, Rick Astley, the Human League, Howard Jones, Bananarama, Toyah, The Real Thing, Cutting Crew, Kim Wilde, T’Pau, Heaven 17, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and many more.

For further details, visit the official festival website:

Monday, 30 May 2011

Duran Duran cancel UK tour dates

Simon has voice problems, apparently, and has been told to take a rest.
See: BBC News

Saturday, 28 May 2011

New Romantics, a Bluffer's Guide

Everything you need to know in two and a half minutes...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Heaven 17 - 30th Anniversary Tour

Just got this press release...
Following the success of Heaven 17’s ‘Penthouse and Pavement 30th Anniversary Tour’ in 2010, Martyn Ware’s production project, ‘British Electric Foundation’ (B.E.F.) is proud to present ‘Music of Quality and Distinction Live’, a 2-day festival at London’s prestigious Roundhouse from October 14-15th, celebrating 30 years of seminal electronic music and unique collaborations.

Heaven 17 will perform the world premiere of their 1983 album ‘The Luxury Gap’ on Friday October 14th, followed by B.E.F.’s first ever live performance featuring tracks from the albums ‘Music of Quality & Distinction Vol. 1 & 2’ on Saturday October 15th.

Tickets go on sale Thursday April 12th at 10am. Ticket hotline: 0844 844 0444. Book online: Day tickets: £23.50. Weekend tickets: £42.50.

And here's a nice video to go with it....

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Depeche Mode or Depech-ey? How's it pronounced?

You say Depeche, I say Depech-ey. So who's right? I think the little video should settle the matter....

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Flexipop!, Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget

I just discovered this fab recording from an old Flexipop! cover disc dating from 1981. I was a writer for Flexipop! back in those days and each month the magazine carried exclusive tracks on its cover disc. You can read my Flexipop! interview with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan in Neon 80s - a collection of some of my old interviews - available for Kindle or in paperback.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Adam Ant: back from the brink

According to The Daily Telegraph, Adam Ant is considering creating 'a third version of Adam & the Ants' but, sadly, this won't include Marco Pirroni (“He did something to me which I won’t forgive him for. I’ll never go on stage with him again in my life”).

More: Adam Ant: back from the brink - Telegraph

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Adam Ant to headline Guilfest stage - Telegraph

Eighties star Adam Ant will continue to resurrect his career after 15 years in the wilderness by performing at this year's Guilfest.
The previously swashbuckling 'Prince Charming' will be expected to 'Stand and Deliver' as he headlines the Good Time Guide Stage on Friday 15th July, with new back-up band The Good The Mad and The Lovely Posse.
More in Daily Telegraph

Book Of 80s Pop Star Interviews now on Kindle

Up to now, my book, Neon 80s, which reprints many of my published interviews with 80s stars was available only in paperback. I'm pleased to say, it is now also available for Kindle. Compendiously illustrated with photos and reproductions of the pages and covers from the magazines in which they originally appeared in the early '80s, Neon 80s contains interviews with Adam Ant, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, ABC, Toyah, Modern Romance, Limahl, Marilyn, Boy George, David Sylvian, Divine and many other stars.

Monday, 4 April 2011

New Romantic Murder Mysteries - interview

Who am I? Why do I write New Romantic murder mysteries. These and other questions are answered (well, more or less) in this interview:

Interview With Author – Huw Collingbourne

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Adam Ant, Hovis, Milk and More - 1981

The Daily Telegraph does a pictorial history of 1981 today. Not sure why. But what the heck... here it is:
1981: What was the price of a pint and who was top of the pops? - Telegraph

Monday, 28 March 2011

Adam Ant, Goody Two Shoes, Number One this week...

UK Number One this week in 1982. Well, that's a good excuse for this fab song from Adam!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

New Romantics - so what’s New Romanticism anyway?

New Romantic, Futurist, The Cult With No Name...

The ‘New Romantic’ movement never really existed, of course. It just happened that, towards the beginning of the 1980s, various young people decided they liked dressing up in funny clothes, wearing makeup and going to clubs that played Bowie, Roxy and electronic music rather than (for example) wearing safety pins through their noses, listening to The Sex Pistols and spitting at one another.

Along came groups ranging from the hard-core electro Depeche Mode to the funkier Spandau Ballet. On the face of it, many of these groups had very little in common with one another. But they weren’t punk, they weren’t heavy metal and they weren’t progressive so they must be something new and different and so what the heck were we supposed to call them?

There were various attempts at finding a name: Power Pop, Futurist, The Cult With No Name, New Wave, The Now Crowd, The Blitz Kids and so on. But ‘New Romantic’ was the name that stuck. According to legend, it was Richard James Burgess, the man who produced early Spandau Ballet songs and went on to have a hit with Landscape’s 'Einstein A Go Go' who came up with the term ‘New Romantic’ while producing Spandau’s first album. I really don’t know if that is the case or if there is any way of proving it, but it’s been said often enough that we may as well accept it as, well, moderately possible, at any rate.

On the other hand, I distinctly recall that the terms ‘Neo-Romantic’ and ‘Nouveau Romantic’ were also being bandied about in the early days. In his autobiography (Blitzed, page 54) Steve Strange seems to give the impression that the term ‘New Romantic’ was in use as early as 1979 which would have pre-dated the first Spandau album by over a year. Who knows?

I remember when I interviewed Duran Duran in 1982, they insisted that they weren’t a New Romantic group. Which is curious since the first song I know of in which the term “New Romantic” appears is Duran Duran’s debut single (1981), Planet Earth – and here it is...

Friday, 11 March 2011

New Romantic Murder Mystery - the video

Here's a little video to promote my new Kindle novel, Killers In Mascara. For more info go to

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New Romantic Murder Mysteries

If you fancy immersing yourself in the ‘Futurist’ (aka New Romantic) club scene of the early ‘80s you might like to read my new novel, just published for Kindle. It’s called ‘Killers In Mascara’ and it’s the first of a series.

Here’s the Blurb:
New Year's Eve, London, 1979. In the exclusive Spivz nightclub the city's trendiest trend-setters prepare to drink and dance their way into the new decade, unaware that a killer is in their midst. When the dead body of a young man is discovered, there is no motive and far too many suspects. But there is one deadly clue - a bottle of mascara. The hunt is on: "Find the mascara and you find the murderer!" Killers in Mascara leads the reader on an extraordinary journey into a decadent and glittering subculture where even killers do it with style!

Anyway, it’s available for immediate download from Amazon USA and Amazon UK at the bargain price of 99 cents/70p. If you grab a copy, read it and like it, suffice to say I’d be most incredibly grateful if you would write a review on Amazon.

The Dark Neon web site (which used to contain my old interviews with 80s pop stars has now been changed to provide more info on my books – and you can also download a map of the murder scene). Meanwhile, the 80s interviews have been moved over to their own area of the 80s Empire web site.

I hope you enjoy reading all this 80s stuff! :-)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Blancmange: Blanc Burn new album

Blancmange are back with their first album since (gulp!) 1985. I always rather liked Blancmange so I'll bee keen to hear their new stuff. the album is called Blanc Burn and there's a teensy reviewette in The Guardian.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Wild Boys Bring Back The 80s!

So you're having a party and you really want Duran Duran to do the entertainment but, guess what, they are busy on a world tour or lying around on palm fringed beaches somewhere, so what do you do? You hire an 80s retro band, of course! Well, here's a UK 80s band I've just come across: Wild Boys. Their repertoire takes in everything from Wham! to Madonna. Their music sounds pretty good but their wigs, it has to be said, make Limahl's two-tone mullet look positively tasteful. Anyway, this is their web site:

And here they are in action...

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Former Japan bass player Mick Karn loses battle with cancer

Mick Karn, former bass player with the band Japan, died of cancer yesterday surrounded by friends and family at his home in London, his website and Facebook page announced last night.
The 52-year-old musician, born Adonis Michaelides in Nicosia, Cyprus, had co-founded the band with schoolfriends from Catford but after its first demise in 1982, briefly formed Dali's Car with vocalist Peter Murphy, previously with postpunk bank Bauhaus.
More on The Guardian: Former Japan bass player Mick Karn loses battle with cancer | Music | The Guardian

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Gerry Rafferty dies

"Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty has died at the age of 63 after suffering a long illness. His career high came in the 1970s and included the anthemic Baker Street and Stuck in the Middle with You, recorded with his band Stealers Wheel. Rafferty had battled a drink problem and spent time in hospital in Bournemouth with liver failure."
Full story: BBC News - Gerry Rafferty dies at age of 63