They defined the 80s, spearheading the second British Music Invasion with more than 25 million record sales under their belt, multi-platinum albums to their credit and 23 hit singles – including True and Gold – reaching across the globe. Spandau Ballet have endured across 30 years, and following the recent release of their documentary Soul Boys Of The Western World with their latest album The Very Best Of Spandau Ballet: The Story, they return to Australian stages ready to perform their classic tracks once again. Drummer John Keeble, saxophonist Steve Norman, bass guitarist Martin Kemp, lead singer Tony Hadley and songwriter, guitarist, keys and backup vocalist Gary Kemp unite at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, live in concert as part of their Soul Boys Of The Western World Tour, Wednesday May 13.
Spandau Ballet were the sound of a new generation. In a time where social class barriers were being smashed, they projected the aspiration of doing nothing more than looking good in a club. Their sounds drew from the underground discoteques of New Romantic clubs of London, transitioning to the sounds of 60s blue eyed soul updated to the 80s with synths and electronic music rhythms. Spandau Ballet presented visually-dominated arthouse fused with pop, though their wardrobes inspired more discussion than their musical skills and talents. But with Tony Hadley’s vocal prowess paired to Gary Kemp’s songwriting skills tempered by a gregarious band with friendships stemmed from their school years, Spandau Ballet’s legacy would traverse fashion and the ages to remain still classic and fresh today. Reflecting about Spandau Ballet as an ironic conundrum here, we came across 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Spandau Ballet.
#1 The words Spandau Ballet was originally a slang term used by Allied troops in the trenches during the war, referring to Spandau Prison in West Berlin and the ‘dance’ of prisoners when shot by the German-made Spandau machine gun.
#2 Before being named Spandau Ballet, they were a punk-inspired band called The Makers. They changed their name to the Gentry when Martin joined. The final name change came about when they started playing the club circuit.
#3 Spandau Ballet got their name either when the boys, their manager Steve Dagger or journalist Robert Elms saw it graffitied on the toilet wall at a club in Berlin or London. We’re going with their manager or Bob Elms, because the boys were notoriously renown for their distaste in lack of hygiene and cleanliness – can’t you tell?
#4 In spite of their polished looks, Spandau Ballet all came from Islington, North London. To give you more of an idea of the working class suburb overcrowded with council estates, The Angel, Islington – a historic landmark and a series of buildings standing on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road – is the third cheapest property on the Monopoly board.
#5 The boys all first came together at school: Gary, Steve and John went to Dame Alice Owen’s School. Steve knew Tony and introduced him to the group. Manager Steve suggested Gary’s brother Martin take over on bass duties after Richard Miller left.
#6 Gary and Martin lived across from Anna Scher Children’s Theatre Drama Club. Gary would pop across to learn drama leading to work on TV programmes, often as the character of a cockney lad. Gary and Martin’s acting skills came in handy for the 1990s British film The Krays. in 1992, Gary would go on to feature in The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Martin would go onto more roles, including his most famous as Steve Owens in EastEnders.
#7 Gary once lived next door to Sade.
#8 Even though he comes from working-class Islington, Tony is openly right-wing Conservative.
#9 Billy Bragg became a performer after seeing Spandau Ballet on Top Of The Pops.
#10 Post Spandau, Steve went to Ibiza and worked with DJ Pippi, Frankie Knuckles and the Hed Kandi brand.
#11 Spandau Ballet were notoriously big drinkers, particularly enjoying tequila and Jack Daniels. Since 1976, they carted around The Slammer, a tequila shot kit especially encased in a flight case for all their gigs.
#12 One particular drunken escapade saw Tony perform a Starsky and Hutch roll over the bonnet of a car travelling at 15km while in Rome. He stopped laughing when the driver pulled a gun, but was saved when one of the members of his entourage, the head of Italian Anti-Terrorism, pulled out his own gun and badge.
#13 Another drinking adventure saw Tony under the influence at Bob Geldof’s wedding to Paula Yates and falling over a table of Bob’s aunts and uncles. Duran Duran‘s Simon Le Bon yelled at him over it.
#14 Spandau Ballet were such big drinkers, they drank the Beastie Boys under the table, and had a drink-off with Duran Duran the night before Band-Aid – to the point where Steve was carried off to hospital in a stretcher.
#15 But while they might have been big drinkers in their early days, they are now firm lovers of cheese, with a cheese board of every type imaginable – from triple brie to blue vein or vintages – a necessary requisite on their rider.
#16 Tony loves his drink so much – particularly real ale – he’s become a microbrewer with the Hadley Gold through Ooberstock, and most recently, the Hadley Blonde.
#17 Gary was once married to Sadie Frost, who appeared at age sixteen as the gilded nymph in the clip Gold.
#18 True was initially inspired by Gary’s crush on Altered Images‘ starlet Clare Grogan which Gary wrote to impress her.
#19 During the filming of The Bodyguard in 1991, Kevin Costner told Gary that his and his wife Cindy Silva‘s song was True. Kevin and Cindy would break up in 1994.
#20 The Bishop of Stepney Trevor Huddleston may be directly/ indirectly responsible for True. He was at a Dame Alice Owen’s School prize-giving and saw Gary performing two songs with his guitar on stage. A few days later, the Bishop arrived at Gary and Martin’s house with a cassette recorder for Gary to record on with the condition that Gary send his songs to the Bishop.