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Adam and the Ants were a British rock band band during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were one of the bands at the time that marked the transition from the 70s punk rock era to the New Wave/post-punk era.Immensely popular in their time, they scored 11 UK hit singles between 1979 and 1982, including six top four singles (two of which were UK Number 1 hits). Their style was quite original and especially notable for their double-drum sound. At the height of their popularity, their success was boosted by imaginative and flamboyant music videos, which included 18th century styles and pantomime pastiche. This is particularly evident in the videos made for their biggest two hits during 1981 ("Stand and Deliver" and "Prince Charming"). The band's fashion sense and lyrics often exemplified this fun historical angle.

History

Formation

Prior to the Ants, Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) played bass in pub rock group Bazooka Joe, now primarily known as the band that headlined when the Sex Pistols played their first concert on 6 November 1975 at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Designmarker. After witnessing this, Adam immediately quit the band with the intention of forming his own, inspired by the Sex Pistols.

Tentatively called the B-sides, they practiced regularly over the following months, but, lacking a drummer, never managed to play a gig. Meanwhile, Adam Ant had befriended some influential figures in the burgeoning London punk scene, most notably Jordan, who worked in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's SEX boutique shop. The Ants eventually formed in early 1977 consisting of Lester Square (guitar), Andy Warren (bass guitar) and Paul Flannagan (Drums). Lester Square left to finish Art school and to later form The Monochrome Set just before the Ants played their first gig on 5 May 1977, at a bedroom in Muswell Hill.. Mark Ryan replaced him on guitar and played the first formal gigs and recorded 'Plastic Surgery' (along with a few other unreleased demos) until he was replaced by Johnny Bivouac in October 1977.

Early recordings

The band made their radio debut on the John Peel show on 23 January 1978. The following day they re-recorded Deutscher Girls (and overdubbed a guitar solo onto the above mentioned version of Plastic Surgery) for the Jubilee soundtrack. Touring extensively around the UK, often with Siouxsie & the Banshees, they proved to be unpopular with much of the British music press who disliked their fetishistic lyrics and imagery. The band struggled to find success or even a record deal until 1978 when they were signed to Decca and released their first single Young Parisians to confused reviews and little success. Apparently unable to satisfactorily market the band, the label soon let them go. Many of their early recordings and demos would eventually surface on bootleg records. The Ants went through several lineup changes before eventually settling on the semi-stable lineup of Adam Ant (vocals and guitar), Matthew Ashman (guitar), Andy Warren (bass guitar) and Dave Barbarossa (Drums), before Warren also left to join Square in The Monochrome Set. It would be this lineup that recorded their debut album Dirk Wears White Sox. They also recorded three John Peel Sessions between 1978 and 1979 which were released in 2001 on The Complete Radio 1 Sessions.

Dirk Wears White Sox

Late 1979 saw the release of their debut album Dirk Wears White Sox (1979, Do It Records). The title references Dirk Bogarde. The album was somewhat dark, with post-punk riffs and some vestiges of glam rock, as well as attempts to fuse this sound with funk and soul. Lyrically it attempted to address subjects such as fetishism, historical figures like Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy and Cleopatra as well as art history, particularly the Futurism movement. It gained a cult following rather than commercial success, leading a frustrated Adam to hire Malcolm McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols) in the hope of more widespread recognition.

In January 1980, McLaren convinced the rest of the band, then comprising guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman and drummer Dave Barbarossa to leave the Ants and form Bow Wow Wow, fronted by Annabella Lwin.

Kings of the Wild Frontier

A new version of the Ants was formed with Marco Pirroni (an ex-member - for short time - of Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Models, Rema Rema and Cowboys International) (guitar), Kevin Mooney (bass guitar), and two drummers, Terry Lee Miall and Chris Hughes (ex-The Blitz Brothers, future Tears For Fears producer), called also Merrick. Pirroni would become an influential member of the group, co-writing many of their songs with Adam Ant.

The band signed a major label deal with CBS Records and began recording Kings of the Wild Frontier. That album was an enormous hit in the United Kingdommarker and put the band at the forefront of the New Romantic movement. The album reached #1 on the UKmarker album charts on 24 January 1981.

There were several hit singles from this LP, including "Dog Eat Dog" (reaching #4 on the UKmarker singles charts in October 1980), "Antmusic" (#2 in January 1981),which was only held off of #1 due to the re-release of "Imagine" after the death of John Lennon, and "Kings of the Wild Frontier" (#2 in March 1981). In addition, "Antmusic" made it to #1 in Australia for five weeks.

Bassist Kevin Mooney left the band in 1981, and was replaced with Gary Tibbs who joined just in time to record the hit single "Stand & Deliver".

Prince Charming

In November 1981, Adam & the Ants released another highly successful album, Prince Charming. The band had two United Kingdommarker #1 singles. "Stand and Deliver" was the #1 single in the UK for 5 weeks in May 1981 [790707], followed by "Prince Charming", which topped the UK charts, for 4 weeks in September 1981. [790708] "Ant Rap" reached #3 in January 1982. [790709]

Breakup

In early 1982, the band received a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist. [790710] In March 1982, feeling certain band members "lacked enthusiasm", Adam Ant disbanded the group. Newspaper articles at the time offered various explanations for the motivations behind the split. Initially Adam was quoted as saying that the split was amicable but later he was to say that "the interest just wasn't there anymore. It might have been Adam and the Ants on the billboards but not on stage." In addition, it is said that Pirroni quit as he was tired of touring. [790711]. A few months after the split Adam Ant launched a solo career (though he retained Marco Pirroni as co-writer). Merrick rejoined Dalek I Love You.

Post breakup activity

  • In 2000, Antbox a retrospective box set spanning Ant's career from the late 1970s through the 1990s, was released. The box set included 66 tracks on three CDs, and quickly sold the initial 10,000 units.


  • In 2003 the Antbox set was re-released in a different form (with the same tracks) and sold once again with success.


  • 2004 saw the digitally remastered re-release of the albums Dirk Wears White Sox, Kings of the Wild Frontier, and Prince Charming, with bonus material in the form of previously unreleased demo songs. These were overseen by Marco Pirroni, and Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming were remastered by Chris Hughes (a.k.a Merrick in the band's line-up).


  • On 10 September 2008, The Daily Mail give-away for Prince Charming was released with the newspaper.


Legacy

Adam & The Ants have served as a major influence on many artists that have emerged during the band's short career, including Robbie Williams, The Charlatans, Dirty Pretty Things, Elastica, Republica, Nine Inch Nails & Suede.

An affectionate short film, featuring Nick Moran, called Ant Muzak was made in 2002 featuring Adam and the Ants visiting a supermarket late at night at the same time as Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Gary Tibbs appeared in the film as Dirk, the supermarket Manager, and naturally he wore white socks. The film is available on DVD with two similar parodies.

Adam & The Ants have also been made into cartoon characters: Antcomics [790712], a webcomic by Amy Hankins, made its debut on the DrunkDuck webcomics site in May 2007. Antcomics is a comical and almost entirely fictional depiction of Adam Ant and his bandmates struggling to gain fame during their early formative years.

In April 2009, No Doubt performed a cover of Stand and Deliver on an episode of the American TV show Gossip Girl and intend to perform it again live at the Bamboozle music festival, New Jersey, USA, in May 2009, although they have no plans to release the song as a single.

Music Videos

The band seized the opportunities provided by music videos on the new MTV channel to develop a theatrical, charismatic on-screen persona. With romantic costumes and heavy make-up, the band was an early example of the New Romantic movement but they still showed their punk roots. Lavish videos were produced for the Prince Charming singles, including "Stand and Deliver", "Prince Charming", and "Ant Rap". All Adam & The Ants music videos were produced and storyboarded by Adam Ant. These videos helped break the band in the United Statesmarker when MTV began airing them.

Discography



Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1982 Adam and the Ants Grammy Awards: Best New Artist
Kings of the Wild Frontier BRIT Awards: Best British Album
Stand and Deliver Ivor Novello Awards: Songwriters of the Year


References



External links




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