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Spandau Ballet is a Britishmarker band formed in London in the late 1970s. Initially inspired by the New Romantic fashion, their music has featured a mixture of funk, jazz, soul and synthpop. They were one of the most successful bands of the 1980s, achieving ten Top Ten singles and four Top Ten albums in the UK between 1980 and 1990. The band split acrimoniously in 1990 but announced their reunion in March 2009, complete with a tour that began in October 2009.


Formation and first successes

The band was formed in 1976 and was originally called 'The Cut', with Gary Kemp as singer/songwriter and Steve Norman on guitar, later saxophone and percussion. Kemp and Norman were both attending Dame Alice Owen's Schoolmarker, Hertfordshiremarker, and were close friends, as they shared a similar interest in music and a common desire to form a band. They were joined by fellow student John Keeble, who had met Norman through storing his drum kit in the school's music room and would regularly meet at lunchtimes to practice. John was followed by bass player Michael Ellison. Tony Hadley, who knew Norman, then joined as lead singer. After a few months, Richard Miller replaced Michael Ellison on bass, before Kemp's brother, Martin Kemp, finally took over the role, joining the band a couple of years later. By this time, the band had already gained some live experience. Steve Dagger, a friend of the band members, was then asked by Steve Norman and Gary Kemp to manage them. He was to be an integral part of the band's initial and continuing success.

The band was called 'The Makers' in the early years, but profess to having changed their name after a friend of the band, journalist and DJ Robert Elms, saw the name scrawled on the wall of a nightclub lavatory during a visit to Berlinmarker(It has also been said that the name Spandau Ballet came from a nickname for a popular form of suicide at Germany's Spandau Prison; specifically, hanging oneself). The new Spandau Ballet, with Martin Kemp and Tony Hadley, began performing with this name and generating a positive buzz around London. Their music prior to then was in the style of the early Rolling Stones or The Kinks, but became more electronic as they began to hang out in clubs such as Sally's and Blitz, where they would listen to bands like Kraftwerk and Telex. The Blitz was regarded as the birthplace of a new 1980s music and fashion phenomenon called New Romanticism.

The band was involved in a major bidding war, but eventually signed to Chrysalis Records and released "To Cut a Long Story Short", produced by the electronic musician Richard James Burgess. Released just ten days after the band emerged from the studio in order to meet the huge demand created by the buzz they had established, "To Cut a Long Story Short" was an instant British top 5 hit in 1980. This was followed by hits with "The Freeze", "Musclebound" and the well-received and Gold-certified album Journeys to Glory in 1981. The sound of Journeys to Glory was typified by chanted vocals, a splashy snare drum sound, strongly rhythmic guitar parts and a lack of guitar solos; the hallmarks of what would become known as the New Romantic sound and the sound of the early eighties.

The follow-up album, Diamond, also produced by Burgess, was released in 1982. This album was certified Gold by the BPI and featured the funk-flavoured single "Chant No. 1". The band had Burgess remix every single from both albums for inclusion on each single's B-side and for twelve-inch club releases. These mixes were later released as a boxed set. However, times were changing. The second single from Diamond was "Paint Me Down", which broke their run of top 20 hits by stalling at #30, and the third single, "She Loved Like Diamond", failed to make the UK Top 40 at all. Trevor Horn remixed the track "Instinction", which was released as the fourth single from the album. This returned the band to the UK top ten after the poor chart performance of their previous two singles and of the Diamond album in general, which had peaked at #15.

International fame

With a slicker, more soulful sound, the band released their third album True, produced by Tony Swain and Steve Jolley, in March 1983. It was at this point that Steve Norman began playing saxophone for the band. The album topped the charts all around the world, and launched several international hit singles, such as "Gold" and the aforementioned title track which reached number 1 in several countries. In 1991, P.M. Dawn sampled the song "True" in "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", which also became a hit song.

The follow-up album, Parade, was released in June 1984 and its singles were again big successes in the charts in Europe, Australia and Canada. The album's opening song, "Only When You Leave", also became the band's last American hit. At the end of 1984, the band performed on the Band Aid charity single and in 1985 they performed at Wembley Stadiummarker as part of Live Aid. During this same year, Spandau Ballet achieved platinum status with the compilation, The Singles Collection, which kept the focus on the band between two studio albums and celebrated their five years of success.In 1986, Spandau Ballet signed to WEA/Universal and CBS Records and released Through the Barricades, which saw the band trying to move away from the pop and soul influences of True and Parade and more towards rock. The album, the title track and the single "Fight For Ourselves" were big hits in Europe and Australia, but not in the United States.

The break-up

After a hiatus from recording during which the Kemps established themselves as credible actors in the gangster film The Krays, the band released Heart Like a Sky in September 1989. The album was not widely released (not at all in the US) and was for the most part disregarded. It did, however, do well in Italy. Afterwards, Spandau Ballet, from whom Gary Kemp was already feeling estranged, split up for good.

Later developments

Martin Kemp went on to land an acting role in the UK soap opera EastEnders, while Tony Hadley tried to establish a solo career. Gary Kemp did a little more acting, appearing in a supporting role in the Whitney Houston hit The Bodyguard, and in 1995 he released his first and only solo album, Little Bruises.

In the 1990s, Hadley, Norman and Keeble launched a failed court case against Gary Kemp for a share of Kemp's song-writing royalties. Although initially vowing to appeal the verdict, they later decided against this. The three non-Kemp members toured as a trio, but as they had to sell their shares in Spandau Ballet's company to Gary Kemp to pay off legal debts, and that company owned the rights to the name of Spandau Ballet, they had to tour under the moniker of 'Hadley, Norman and Keeble, ex-Spandau Ballet'.

After leaving Eastenders, Martin Kemp became the face of SCS sofa stores and continued acting. Gary Kemp wrote songs with Paul Stratham, who had previously written songs for Dido, continued acting on stage, in film and in television, and worked on the musicals "Begbug" and "A Terrible Beauty" with Guy Pratt. Steve Norman moved to Ibiza, where he formed a lounge band, Cloudfish, with Rafa Peletey and Shelley Preston in 2001. Tony Hadley released three studio albums, landed the lead role in the musical Chicago and won the ITV reality show Reborn in the USA. In 1999, Hadley appeared as a guest vocalist on the Alan Parsons album The Time Machine, performing lead vocals on the song "Out Of The Blue".


In early 2009, there was much speculation that the band was set to reform later that year. Although the band did not initially comment on these reports, the official Spandau Ballet website encouraged fans to sign up "for an exciting announcement", fuelling rumours that a reunion was imminent. Jonathan Ross also mentioned during his BBC Radio 2 programme on 21 March 2009 that he was aware that the band were re-forming and had been invited to the band's reunion party.

The band eventually confirmed the rumours at a press conference held on 25 March 2009 on board HMS Belfastmarker in London (a return to the venue of one of their first ever gigs) to announce their comeback tour . The band began a world tour in October 2009, starting with eight dates across Ireland and the UK, the first of which was in Dublin on 13 October 2009. The tickets for the UK and Ireland shows went on pre-sale on the official Spandau Ballet website on 25 March 2009. These then went on general release on 27 March 2009. For the general release tickets, the London O2 arenamarker tickets sold out within 20 minutes and an extra two dates were added there because of demand. The band also announced an extra date in Birmingham and added Liverpool to the tour. They gave their "first public performance and interview anywhere in the world for 19 years" on Jonathan Ross's BBC television show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 24 April 2009.

The group released both their new album Once More, which featured reworked versions of their previous material, and the single of the same name on 19 October 2009.

Band members


Studio albums

Year Album Chart Certification
UK Albums Chart
1981 Journeys to Glory 5
1982 Diamond 15
1983 True 1
  • BPI: Platinum
1984 Parade 2
  • BPI: Platinum
1986 Through the Barricades 7
  • BPI: Platinum
1989 Heart Like a Sky 31
2009 Once More 7


Year Song UK Singles Chart United Statesmarker
Hot 100
Singles Chart
Singles Chart
1980 "To Cut a Long Story Short" 5 - 15 - Journeys To Glory
1981 "The Freeze" 17 - - -
"Musclebound" 10 - - -
"Chant No.1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)" 3 - 30 - Diamond
"Paint Me Down" 30 - - -
1982 "She Loved Like Diamond" 49 - - -
"Instinction" 10 - 30 -
"Lifeline" 7 - 68 - True
1983 "Communication" 12 59 24 -
"True" 1 4 4 9
"Gold" 2 29 9 16
"Pleasure" - - - 61
1984 "Only When You Leave" 3 34 12 26 Parade
"I'll Fly For You" 9 - 38 -
"Highly Strung" 15 - 83 -
"Round And Round" 18 - 16 -
1986 "Fight For Ourselves" 15 - 16 32 Through the Barricades
"Through The Barricades" 6 - 50 14
1987 "How Many Lies" 34 - - -
1988 "Raw" 47 - - - Heart Like A Sky
1989 "Be Free With Your Love" 42 - - 52
"Empty Spaces" 94 - - -
1990 "Crashed Into Love" 96 - - -
2009 "Once More" 82 - - - Once More
"Gold (2009 Version)" TBD TBD TBD TBD

Compilations & live albums

Year Album UK Albums Chart United Statesmarker
Albums Chart
Albums Chart
1985 The Singles Collection 3 -- --
1986 The Twelve Inch Mixes -- -- --
1991 The Best of Spandau Ballet 44 -- 41
1999 The Collection -- -- --
2000 Original Gold -- --
2001 Gold - The Best Of Spandau Ballet 7 -- --
2002 Reformation -- -- --
2004 The Collection II -- -- --
2005 The Ultra Selection -- -- --
2005 Live From The N.E.C. -- -- --
2006 Singles, Rarities & Remixes -- -- --

Awards and nominations

See also



  1. True: the Autobiography of Martin Kemp, p.44
  2. Spandau Ballet in court over royalties BBC News, 27 January 1999, retrieved 6 May 2009
  3. Spandau court bid fails BBC News, 30 April 1999, retrieved 6 May 2009
  4. Spandau three drop royalties appeal BBC News, 15 October 1999, retrieved 31 December 2008
  5. Gordon Smart, Is it act II of Spandau Ballet?, The Sun, 5 January 2009, retrieved 16 March 2009
  6. Gordon Smart, Spandau are Nou Romantics, The Sun, 13 February 2009, retrieved 16 March 2009
  7. Spandau Ballet to re-form 30 years on with hopes of 'doing a Take That', The Daily Mail, 15 February 2009, retrieved 16 March 2009
  8. Spandau Ballet Official Site, retrieved 21 March 2009
  9. "Loads of the old bands [are] getting back together, going back out on the road. It's quite an exciting time. Well, I'm not sure if I can announce the other band that I know are getting back together. They're making a proper announcement. You know the ones I'm thinking of, don't you? Silly trousers, haircuts. I don't know if it's true or not but they might be getting back together. I want to cut this long story short. I'll find out if they've announced their tour yet. It would be gold, wouldn't it? I'll find out whether we can talk about them [...] I got an invite recently to a band that have recently reformed who were a big band in the 80s. I can’t tell you their name but it involves the words ‘Ballet’ and ‘Spandau’. The invite said that “we’re going to party like it’s 1982”." Transcribed from Jonathan Ross, BBC Radio 2, 21 March 2009
  10. Spandau re-form for a world tour, BBC News online, 25 March 2009, retrieved 1 April 2009
  11. Spandau Ballet's homecoming gigs sell out in 20 minutes,, 27 March 2009, retrieved 1 April 2009
  12. Programme Details:
  13. Chart Stats - Spandau Ballet Chart Stats (, retrieved 28 September 2009

External links

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