James Atkins Of EMF

Today is the 31st birthday of James Atkins, frontman for dance-rock band

EMF. Best known for their hit "Unbelievable," EMF pre-dated electronica's

mix of rock 'n' roll swagger with dance beats by about five years. Born and

raised in Cinderford, England, Atkins and his EMF bandmates -- guitarist Ian

Dench, keyboardist Derran "Derry" Brownson, bassist Zachary Foley and

drummer Mark Decloedt -- all met as a

result of frequenting the same clothing boutique in Cinderford. They

formed EMF (Epsom Mad Funkers or Ecstasy Mother Fuckers, depending on

whom you believe) in 1989 and were quickly associated with the exploding

rave scene in London and Manchester, England, even though they started out

as a straight-ahead rock band and added samples and loops as an afterthought

after picking up a cheap sampler/sequencer. Their debut, 1991's Schubert

Dip, hit #12 in the U.S., fueled to that position by their #1 hit,

"Unbelievable." A follow-up single, "Lies," also was a modest hit.

EMF followed the rock-flavored dance music of their debut with

Unexplained in 1992, a darker-sounding EP that many viewed as an

effort by the group to distance itself from its new-found fans. This

trend continued with 1992's Stigma and 1995's Cha Cha Cha

(which was never released in the U.S.), both of which didn't come close to

the success of the band's debut. EMF was dropped by EMI after Cha Cha

Cha failed to chart, and the group broke up soon thereafter.

Other birthdays: John Evans (Jethro Tull), 50; Milan Williams

(Commodores), 49; and Steve Turner (Mudhoney), 33.