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Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 16:40 GMT
Steps singers to form duo
Claire and H, former Steps artists
And then there were two - Claire and H go it alone
Former Steps stars H and Claire are to record as a duo, they have announced.

They are in negotiations with record companies and will be signing with a label within two weeks, a spokesman said.

The duo - whose real names are Ian Watkins and Claire Richards - will be known simply as H and Claire.

They are also in discussion with broadcasters about hosting their own comedy and music entertainment TV show.

Claire, 24, said: "We both loved being in Steps and this is a way that we can continue the Steps spirit and the Steps sound but taking it to another level."

The Steps Story
The group released its first single - 5,6,7,8 - in 1997
They had 11 consecutive top ten hits and four hit albums
Their first album went five times platinum, selling 1.5m in the UK alone
The follow-up Steptacular went four times platinum- sales of over 1.2 million
In total, they sold more than 12 million singles

Although they have been approached individually to sign solo deals, the pair decided the best course of action was to team up, the spokesman said.

There is no news on the plans of the remaining three members.

Catchy

Steps split up on Boxing Day, upsetting their legions of young fans.

In just a few years the band had notched up sales of 12 million singles and were quickly likened to Abba for their catchy songs - such as Tragedy and Better Best Forgotten - and explosive live shows.

The five were Claire (Richards), of north west London, Faye Tozer, 26, of Northampton, H, (Ian Watkins), 25, of Rhondda, Wales, Lee Latchford-Evans, 26, of Chester, and Lisa Scott Lee, 26, of St Asaph, Wales.

The band was formed after thousands of wannabe pop stars replied to an advert in the performers' bible The Stage for girls and boys for the group.

H - which stands for hyperactive - was working as a former Butlins redcoat when he answered the ad placed by pop music guru and Pop Idol judge Pete Waterman.

The five members of Steps
No news on remaining members

Their first single 5,6,7,8 did not make it into the top 10 when it was released in 1997 but its popularity with both young record buyers and line-dancing fans kept it in the top 40 for three months.

Steps' second single, Last Thing on My Mind, set them on their trademark route of covering classic songs and stamping their own brand of pop on them.

It charted at number six and sold more than 300,000 copies.

Rumours

But it was the release of their fourth single, the double A-side Heartbeat and the classic Bee Gees track Tragedy, which really put them on the pop map.

It became a disco favourite and older music fans, until then happy to shun the new 'pop froth', joined the pop phenomenon, giving the band a bizarre cult-like status.

It topped the charts in countries across the world, including the UK.

Steps managed to rack up a second British number one single, when Stomp reached the top in 2001.

In 2001, after less than half a decade in the business, they put out a greatest hits album - Gold - and rumours began to circulate of a possible break-up.

They denied the tour would be the beginning of the end but on Boxing Day came the news fans had been dreading.

See also:

28 Dec 01 | Music
Steps fans slam group
26 Dec 01 | Music
End of the road for Steps
27 Dec 01 | Music
Stepping up to stardom
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