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The Babys were a Britishmarker rock/pop group that broke through in the U.S. in the fall of 1977 with their hit, "Isn't it Time", followed by Everytime I Think of You", both of which reached #13 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The 1976-1978 Babys line-up consisted of vocalist/bassist John Waite, drummer Tony Brock, Keyboard player/guitarist Michael Corby, and guitarist Wally Stocker. From 1979-1981, the Babys line-up consisted of vocalist Waite, drummer Brock, bassist Ricky Phillips, guitarist Stocker and keyboardist Jonathan Cain.

John Waite went on to produce a major solo hit, "Missing You", in 1984.

Origin

Broken Heart (1977)
There are two stories regarding the origin of the band and the source of the band's name.

Founding member Mike Corby places the origin of the idea for the band at Smalls Café on the Fulham Road in London in 1973 during a chance meeting with manager the late Adrian Millar. An agreement was signed between Corby and Millar on September 4, 1974 and auditions were held to fill out the remaining members. The names "Cry Babys" and "Big Babys" were also proposed with Millar ultimately deciding on "The Babys."

In a 1979 Hit Parader magazine interview, Waite stated,

[T]he name was meant to be a joke. We took the name simply because the record companies wouldn't listen to any bands they thought were rock & roll. I mean, they wanted sure-fire teen bands, pre-teen bands. We couldn't get anybody down to hear us to get a record deal, so we called ourselves The Babys. We thought we'd keep the name just for two weeks. Then, the word got around in London that there was a band playing rock & roll called The Babys and it seemed so off the wall, so completely crazy, that it was worth taking a shot with. It really appealed to everyone's sense of humour.


Chrysalis Records signed the band in 1976.

Career

The Babys eponymous first album (highlighted by the single "If You've Got The Time") was recorded in Toronto, Canadamarker with producers Brian Christian and Bob Ezrin and released in January 1977, although it appears that Millar and Corby were unhappy with the production.

Some critics felt the teen-friendly packaging on their second album Broken Heart may have affected the group's appeal to wider audiences, although it is claimed that it was part of an experiment by Corby with group members looking like characters from the film A Clockwork Orange. As far as record sales were concerned the Babys seemed to live in the shadow of other Chrysalis artists Blondie, Pat Benatar and Leo Sayer. The Babys second album, Broken Heart, (released in September 1977) produced a top 20 U.S. hit "Isn't it Time" written by Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy, which peaked at #13 on the Billboard chart. They continued to tour the U.S. successfully with the Babettes who included singers from Andrae Crouch and the Disciples: Lisa Freeman Roberts, Myrna Matthews and Pat Henderson. The album spent two weeks at number one in Australia but did not produce another top 40 single.

Disputes with Chrysalis management resulted in the firing of original manager Millar in 1978.

Corby's Sacking and the third album

Eventually on Monday 28th of August 1978 it was Corby who was asked to leave, Evita Corby details the events of the day:

I believe they lured him out under the auspice of a ‘photo-shoot’ because he spent a lot of time getting ready, makeup, jewelry, etc. On this particular day I’d say he was ‘dressed-to-kill.’ The humility of being dolled up, only to have been led to the lions, getting booted from ‘His’ band was all too much for him to handle, and in my opinion…it ruined him. It’s sad when I think back to fans in the audience holding signs that read: ‘WE LOVE YOU MICHAEL.’ He really was a beautiful Man. I also think that jealousy played a significant role in his firing. In the end Corby was ‘difficult’ and Waite was ‘easy’ and record companies don’t want the ‘Heathcliffs.'



Corby describes the day:

In the morning I received a phone call requesting my presence for a meeting at the Lookout Management offices that afternoon. I called back, spoke to a secretary, and explained that I did not think I would be able to attend the meeting because I was tied up with my wife and new born son, my wife was in bed recovering from the birth, and I could not get a nurse until the evening. So I said that I would accept the decision made by the majority of the other three band members…


Despite Corby's departure, the remaining three members completed the third album, Head First (released in December 1978). Early in 1979, "Everytime I Think of You," (another Jack Conrad/Ray Kennedy composition) reached the top 20 in the United States (peaking at #13) and top 10 in Australia. A cover version of "Everytime I Think of You" was number one in the Netherlands for 5 weeks from in October 2006 and featured Marco Borsato and Lucie Silvas.

The Americans: Cain and Phillips

Equipment Manager Ray Sheriff states:
Almost immediately after the sacking, the remainder of the band went into auditions for a replacement. In fact, two other musicians were hired, with the idea, I believe, of promoting John Waite. Jonathan Cain in fact became Mike’s successor but I am sure he had not been selected until after Mike left. The other musician was Ricky Phillips who played bass. I think from what John, Wally and Tony said that it was they and not Chrysalis who selected these two successors. And I think that at about this same time Lookout Management ceased to be the band’s managers.



Two Americanmarker musicians became a part of the lineup in the ensuing year; keyboardist/guitarist Jonathan Cain replaced Corby, and bassist Ricky Phillips (of "Nasty Habit") joined in 1979, making the band a 5-piece. Because Corby and Millar had the original documents for the band Cain and Phillips were never contracted. The band's fourth album Union Jacks (released in January 1980) had a more punchy sound similar to fellow label-mate Pat Benatar with the single "Back On My Feet Again" spending a very short time in the top 40. During an extensive tour in 1980, The Babys opened for the supergroup Journey, a band that Jonathan Cain would soon join. The band's fifth and final album, On the Edge was made during the 1980 tour and released in October 1980. The single "Turn and Walk Away" only reached the top 100.

Breakup

During a performance in Cincinnati, OHmarker on December 9, 1980 (the day after John Lennon had been murdered), John Waite was pulled from the stage by an overzealous fan during an encore and seriously injured his knee. Following a subsequent final performance by the group in Akron, OHmarker, the remainder of the tour was cancelled. The group disbanded following the tour. Although different members of the group have given various reasons for the band's demise, the general issue seems to have been disillusionment that the group never really achieved the success they felt they deserved given the quality of their albums and live shows. Waite later mused, "We were better than people thought we were." The band's marketing image as a teen pop band (reinforced by their name) was also out of sync with the twin and opposing styles dominating the popular music of the time: punk and disco.

John Waite, Ricky Phillips and Jonathan Cain later played together in the hard rock/glam rock-infused supergroup Bad English. By this time, Cain had already gone on to enjoy great success with Journey. Tony Brock spent many years drumming for Rod Stewart, as well as drumming and co-producing for Jimmy Barnes and producing for Keith Urban. Wally Stocker went on to play guitar for Rod Stewart and Air Supply as well as a reformed version of Humble Pie in the 1990s. Wally Stocker and Tony Brock have not worked with John Waite since the breakup and there have been no rumours of any kind of reunion for the 1979 lineup. And given the persistant acrimony surrounding Corby's departure from the group, there is also little chance of the original 1976 lineup ever getting together again. Queen guitarist Brian May chose "Back on my Feet Again" as one of his Desert Island Discs. The Archives have the final word from the late Adrian Millar on the band's demise:
The inherent built-in design fault that's always going to come back and trip you up, electrocute or drown you in a cup of coffee was the fact that Mike Corby had all the looks and should have been the lead singer. The only problem here was that Mike didn't [rather couldn't] sing, and it just goes to show how a tiny little element can change everything. If Mike had been the one with 'the voice,' it would have balanced the status quo between him and John. Then, if you want to look at the bright side of things, we wouldn't have been forced into employing somebody like John Waite...A person who was so completely opposite of Mike Corby.



Discography

Albums

Year Album US Record Label
1977 The Babys 133 Chrysalis
Broken Heart 34
1979 Head First 22
1980 Union Jacks 42
On the Edge 71
1981 Anthology 138
2006 The Official Unofficial BABYS Album - ORK
2007 Live in America - Store for Music


Singles

Year Title US Hot 100 UK Singles Album
1977 "If You've Got the Time" 88 The Babys
"Isn't it Time" 13 45 Broken Heart
1978 "Silver Dreams" 53
"Everytime I Think of You" 13 Head First
1979 "Head First" 77
"True Love True Confessions" Union Jacks
"Back On My Feet Again" 33
1980 "Midnight Rendezvous" 72
"Turn and Walk Away" 42 On the Edge
"—" did not chart

References



External links








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