You Say It's Your Birthday: Joanne Catherall of Human League

Celebrating her 35th birthday today is Human League vocalist Joanne

Catherall. She was born in Sheffield, England. Catherall came to Human

League in 1980 after a major personnel change for the band. 1979's

Reproduction and 1980's Travelogue did well with critics but

were both met with public indifference in England, in spite of an opening

spot on a Siouxsie and The Banshees tour. Founding members Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware left after Travelogue was released and went on to found the English pop band Heaven 17. Phillip Oakey, the vocalist, and

Phillip Adrian Wright, the band's stage visuals man, were determined to

tour Europe, so Ian Burden was hired as a bassist and synth player and Jo

Callis was signed on to play guitar. In addition, they recruited Susan

Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall to dance and sing back-up, both of whom

were discovered while dancing in Sheffield's Crazy Daisy disco.

The addition of the female vocalists lightened up Human League's reputation

as brooding Kraftwerk wannabees and brought them their biggest hits.

Dare was released in 1982 in the U.K. and 1983 in the U.S. and was a

huge hit on both sides of the pond. The album's first single, the

he-said-she-said dance song "Don't You Want Me?," topped the charts and

allowed the Human Leaguers to tour Europe and the U.S. In 1983, the group

hit again with Fascination!, which contained more synth heavy dance

songs such as "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and "Mirror Man." 1984's

Hysteria featured guitarist Callis actually playing on a few songs,

including the minor hit "The Lebanon." 1986's Crash was the band's

attempt at a comeback, with hit producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis behind

the mixing board. "Human" hit #1 in that year, but the Human League all but

disappeared afterwards. They released Romantic? in 1990 and

Octopus in 1995, both of which failed to make a dent in charts now

dominated by grunge rock and gangsta rap. It is unclear if the Human

League exist anymore, but Virgin Records continues to issue greatest hits

packages for them, including this year's Soundtrack To A Generation.

Other birthdays: Frankie Avalon, 58; Alan King (Ace), 51; Kerry Livgren

(Kansas), 48; Martin Bendle (Cutting Crew), 36; Ian Spice (Breathe), 31 and

Ricky Bell (Bell Biv Divoe/New Edition), 30.