Thursday, 16th October 1980, millions of living rooms across the UK, were set on fire by the blazing performance on Top of the Pops by Adam and the Ants. After 3 ferocious, minutes of ‘Dog Eat Dog’ the phenomenon immediately began and they would go on to dominate the charts for the following few years with extraordinary success.
But this was no ‘overnight success’, Adam Ant had been working hard behind the warpaint and feathers for his moment. It had been the culmination of years of toil; the journey had started at Hornsey College of Art, where Adam had teamed up with some college friends to form the band Bazooka Joe. With Adam on bass guitar, they played the pubs and colleges around London and it was on a cold November night, in 1975, that Adam saw a group that was to change his life forever.
The Sex Pistols played their first ever gig, supporting Bazooka Joe, at St Martins College of Art and the explosive punk band inspired Adam to start something new. He formed The Ants and performed live repeatedly, at many venues including the Vortex and The Roxy before getting a Thursday night residency at the famous Marquee club in London. The band built a huge cult following despite being unpopular with the established music press, and in 1979 they released their debut album, Dirk Wears White Søx, which topped the independent chart. It has been said that if Adam and the Ants had got on television at this time, then they would have ‘made it’ but the moderate success, made the rest of the band despondent and in early 1980, the Ants left Adam, after an offer to work with the former Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren.
With a new sense of freedom and clarity, Adam immediately put his ideas for a new ‘warrior’ sound into practice and within months had put together fresh band, including two drummers.
The new band signed a major label deal and recorded the album ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ which became a huge hit, spending 12 weeks at number one and won a ‘Best New Artist’, Brit Award. ‘Antmania’ swept the nation and Adam Ant became one of the most publicised faces in Britain.
‘Stand and Deliver’, hit the number one spot for 5 weeks, winning Adam, an Ivor Novello award, ‘Prince Charming’ went straight to number one and a further 12 singles went top 30 .... at one point, Adam had 8 singles in the top 40 in one week!
Goody Two Shoes’ was also a number one in both the UK and Australia and in 1982 Adam celebrated his continuing success in the United States with a ‘Best New Artist’ Grammy nomination.
At a time when videos were the most popular way to promote music, Adam’s charismatic performances in some of the most lavish visuals of the period paved the way for his acting career. His first solo album, ‘Friend or Foe’ continued Adam’s success in the USA, delivering 3 top twenty hits on the Billboard Top 100 and in 1983 he appeared on NBC Television Network’s, ‘Motown 25 Special’, alongside Michael Jackson.
Second solo album ‘Strip’ produced the top 5 UK hit ‘Puss in Boots’ but the BBC banned both the video and the song for the follow-up single ‘Strip’.
While recording his third solo album ’Vive Le Rock’, with producer Tony Visconti, Adam set out on an acting career by appearing in a theatre production of ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’ by Joe Orton at The Royal Exchange in Manchester.
In 1985 Adam performed ‘Vive Le Rock’ at Live Aid and the next few years were spent concentrating solely on acting in a string of films including Nomads, Love Bites and Slam Dance as well as appearing in several US TV shows such as The Equalizer, Tales from the Crypt and Sledge Hammer!
During the 1990’s Adam, again, split his time between acting and music chasing the performing roles whilst returning to the studio to record and release the album, ‘Manners and Physique’, which included the UK top 20 hit, ‘Room at the Top’. The follow up album; Persuasion, remains in limbo without an official release to this day, but in 1994 Adam set about recording ‘Wonderful’, his next album, in London’s Abbey Road studios to be issued the following year along with its self-titled single and the follow up ‘Gotta Be A Sin’ which were accompanied by successful tours of the United Kingdom and the United States.
It would be twelve years before Adam would play live again, with an acoustic show, in 2006, at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, where he read extracts from his recently released autobiography Stand & Deliver. The book laid bare Adam’s childhood and his well-documented battles with bi-polar disorder.
In 2008, Adam was presented with the ‘Q Music Icon Award’ placing him alongside fellow recipients Paul McCartney and Bryan Ferry.
This rekindled recognition resulted in a series of low key gigs in 2010 which enabled Adam to select a new band and to perform several sell-out shows in London.
In 2011, the new incarnation, Adam Ant and The Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse, performed at the Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park and continued playing to thousands of people last year. After his recent successful tour of Australia, Adam will be appearing at the Rewind Festival before embarking on a US Tour in September followed by a UK Tour in November.
In October 'Cool Zombie', Adam's first single in 16 years, will be released on BlueBlack Hussar Records, followed soon after, by the album 'Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter'.