BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Entertainment: Music
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Fry gets romantic about the 80s
ABC's Martin Fry
Martin Fry: "Our music was definitely escapism"
By BBC News Online's Helen Bushby

Martin Fry, the ABC frontman who made teenage girls swoon in 1982 when he sang The Look of Love, is back in the limelight.

As well as supporting Robbie Williams on his summer tour, Fry, 42, is also presenting a BBC Radio 2 series called, unsurprisingly, The Look of Love: The Story of the New Romantics.

For anyone too young or old to remember the era's music, it heralded the age of synthesisers, drum machines and samplers.

Its pouting stars were the epitome of glamour and hedonism - and were not averse to a bit of eyeliner and lipgloss.

Fry was, of course, more than a bit of gold lamé-clad decoration for the band.

martin fry
That famous gold lamé suit...
He is also etched on pop history for contributing to ABC's highly successful album The Lexicon of Love, which was produced by Trevor Horn.

The singer, who has weathered well, is delighted that the early 80s are being taken seriously rather than just remembered for some of the "silly haircuts".

"It was a really revolutionary time," he told BBC News Online.

"The technology changed almost overnight and it was the start of deconstructing pop groups - the drums, bass and guitar of The Beatles was over.

Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams: Invited ABC after agent saw a show
"An affordable synthesiser meant you could make music a lot more easily than learning to play the guitar."

The programme also explores what was going on socially when ABC, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, The Human League and Culture Club were top of the pops.

The early 80s were clouded by unemployment, riots and the miner's strike - under the watchful gaze of former Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher.

It was certainly a far cry from the glamour of the era's music.

"Our music was definitely escapism, not just a generation sipping cocktails in a newly opened wine bar and voting for Thatcher - it was the opposite," Fry said.

Duran Duran
Duran Duran: "Epitomised new romantic style"
"There was a generation that had seen the Sex Pistols and The Clash and wanted to create something very different for themselves."

The radio series provides comment from the likes of journalist and broadcaster Robert Elms and DJ Rusty Egan, as well as clips of some classic songs.

But Fry does not see Sheffield band ABC - "like the Full Monty but we didn't have to take our clothes off" - as having been new romantics.

"I think Duran Duran epitomised the new romantic style in the public eye," he said.

Fry toured with Culture Club
ABC toured with Culture Club in 1998 on a sell-out tour
"We were definitely a product of the times - and I guess our music had a romantic edge, but I wasn't up there in a Pierrot outfit."

Fry chose instead to bedeck himself in his now famous gold suit, which he unceremoniously flushed down a toilet in Tokyo in 1983.

"I probably wanted some space in my suitcase," he laughed, adding that he has since toured in another gold suit, but it's rather bogged down with Shake and Vac "as I can't dry clean it".

And he has no problem with how he looked back in the 80s.

Human League
He also toured with The Human League
"Album sleeves are like going back to your old school photographs - the cringe factor's gone for me now," he said.

Fry has definitely not lost his passion for music, even if he does not top the charts like he did in his youth.

He is delighted that the early 80s "influenced the stars of today, insisting you can "hear Kraftwerk in Madonna's music".

Some of his favourite songs to emerge from the early 80s include the haunting Vienna by Ultravox and Adam and the Ants' Prince Charming, "which still sounds fresh today".

Duran Duran
Duran Duran are also making a comeback
He was too modest to mention his own music, although he is proud to have been asked to support Robbie Williams, who is "showbusiness - he does it all".

But although he is supporting rather than headlining the tour, Fry is content with his lot.

"Although I'd love to have been an airline pilot or a lawyer, I've come full circle," he said.

"There's only one person that can do Martin Fry and that's me."

The Look of Love: The Story of the New Romantics begins at 2200 BST on 17 May on BBC Radio 2 and runs for seven weeks.

Martin Fry
"It's going to be a wonderful feeling to get up and sing"
See also:

03 May 01 | Music
Robbie requests 80s revival
11 May 01 | Music
Duran Duran to reform
28 Sep 98 | New Music Releases
Depeche Mode
03 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Let's hear it once again for the Eighties
16 Mar 01 | Music
Soft Cell return to the stage
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Music stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Music stories