Today is the 39th birthday of the Thompson Twins' percussionist and singer
Alannah Currie. She was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, the
daughter of a hard living dock worker who left the family when she was
five. Before moving to the U.K. in 1979, she had worked as a factory
worker, a tobacco picker and a radio journalist. Having moved to London in
the peak of the punk rock era, she soon found herself playing wailing,
emotional but untrained saxophone in the all-girl punk band the
Unfuckables. Thompson Twins bassist and lead singer Tom Bailey met
Currie in 1980 and encouraged her to play a few live shows with his band.
She blended in well with the group's sound and officially joined the band
as their saxophone player a few months later. In the summer of 1980
Thompson Twins roadie Joe Leeway began to play bongos on stage and soon
after became a full member of the band. While the Thompson Twins are now
well known for being a trio, when Leeway joined the band it brought the
grand total up to seven.
In 1981 the band signed with Arista Records and released their first album,
a commercial flop called A Product of. . .. After 1981's Set
(released in the U.S. as In The Name Of Love), the band's extraneous
players were fired and all that remained were Currie, Leeway and Bailey.
The new Thompson Twins released their first album in 1983, the synth-pop
tour de force Quick Step And Side Kick (released as Side
Kicks in North America). The album was a huge hit, based on the
strength of the singles "Lies," "Love On Your Side," and "We Are
Detective," and helped to usher in a musical era dominated by synth playing
musicians from England with big hair. 1984's Into The Gap was also
a success, selling over 5,000,000 copies worldwide and producing such hits
as "Hold Me Now" and "Doctor! Doctor!" Bailey collapsed from nervous
exhaustion while producing the follow-up LP, Here's To Future Days,
and Nile Rodgers was brought in to help finish the job. When it was finally
released in 1985, Here's To Future Days gave the Thompson Twins one
last hit, "Lay Your Hands On Me." Leeway left the Thompson Twins in 1986,
making the Twins a duo, quite literally. Currie gave birth to Bailey's
child in 1988 and the Thompson Twins continued onward, mostly by
contributing songs to soundtracks and charity compilations. In September
1991, Bailey and Currie released their last album under the moniker of the
Thompson Twins, a dance-pop collection titled Queer. Masquerading
as "Feedback Max" in the U.K., the first single "Come Inside" reached #1
on the U.K. Dance Charts before people discovered the band's true identity.
The album, subsequently, was never released in England. In 1994, Bailey
and Currie resurfaced as members of an ambient act called Babble. Babble
released The Stone in 1994 and Ether in 1995, both of which
did nothing on the charts or in the ambient scene. The band finally called
it quits earlier this year.
Other birthdays: Gogi Grant, 73; Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann's Earth Band),
51; Chuck & John Panozzo (Styx), 48 and Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden), 29.