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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 January, 2002, 14:05 GMT
Adam Ant: Not just a painted face
Adam Ant
Portrait of the artist as a young man: Adam Ant
Eighties pop star Adam Ant is given a community rehabilitation order and told to pay £500 after threatening drinkers at a pub in north London.

Adam Ant will be forever remembered as the Dandy Highwayman, the Prince Charming of early 1980s pop.

The sight of Adam and the Ants on Top of the Pops in 1980, sporting Jimi Hendrix-style brocaded hussar's jackets and Red Indian warpaint, is certainly memorable.

But there was always more to Adam and the Ants than the cartoon image that propelled the band to fame on a tide of lipgloss, teen adulation and hit singles.

The Ants - whose name may have owed a debt to the 1966 BBC TV series Adam Adamant Lives! - had an edginess that belied the prevailing view of them as squeaky-clean, pouting poster boys.

Ant singles
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Dog Eat Dog
Antmusic
Young Parisians
Car Trouble
Zerox
Stand and Deliver
Prince Charming
Ant Rap
Deutscher Girls

Adam Ant - real name Stuart Goddard - was an authentic veteran of the late 1970s punk scene - and his band were considered controversial even by the frayed standards of that turbulent time.

The singer would take to the stage stripped to the waist and sporting a leather mask that zipped up to obscure his whole head.

This persona proved too much not only for some venues, but also for the music press.

Like their contemporaries, The Stranglers, the Ants were accused of exploiting women - a charge they did little to rebut, cheerfully adopting the imagery of fetish artist and feminist bÍte noir Alan Jones.

Adam Ant
Adam Ant sans trademark white stripe across the nose

But the chances of Adam and the Ants achieving anything greater than cult status - even backed, as they were, by John Peel - were negligible.

Goddard went back to the drawing board, and with the help of Malcolm McLaren - the self-styled Dr Frankenstein figure behind the Sex Pistols - reinvented himself as the King of the Wild Frontier and rebuilt the Ants from scratch.

On guitar now was Marco Pirroni - another punk survivor.

Pirroni had played in the original line-up - with Sid Vicious on drums - of the band that would eventually become Siouxsie and the Banshees, at the punk festival at London's 100 Club in September 1976.

Along with the band's new, piratical image came a distinctive drum sound that was reminiscent of both rock 'n' roller Bo Diddley and the drummers of Burundi.

Success came quickly, and from 1980, Stuart Goddard's story was played out in public.

The transformation from plastic-masked punk pariah to airbrushed pop idol was complete as Adam Ant stared down from the walls of a million teenagers' bedrooms.

The Two Ronnies as Adam and Marco
The sincerest form of flattery: The Two Ronnies

Adam Ant's transition from band frontman to solo artist was equally smooth after he dispensed with the Ants in 1981 following the Prince Charming Revue tour.

Goddard continued to enjoy hits, including Goody Two Shoes, Friend or Foe and Vive Le Rock.

In 1984, he began to concentrate on acting, and went to the US, where he tried for the next three years, with limited success, to develop a television career.

The role for which he will probably remain best known as an actor was already behind him.

In 1977, he had appeared, alongside a then unknown Toyah Wilcox in Derek Jarman's film Jubilee - which has since been hailed as the one decent celluloid product of the brief punk era.

In 1987, Adam Ant, returned to his native north London, where he remains.

His creative partnership with Marco Pirroni has stood the test of time.

He continues to write, record and perform, and has a committed fan base.

See also:

13 Jan 02 | England
20 Dec 01 | Entertainment
17 May 01 | Entertainment
03 May 01 | Entertainment
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