You Say It's Your Birthday: John Ashton of the Psychedelic Furs

Today is the 40th birthday of Psychedelic Furs guitarist John Ashton.

The Psychedelic Furs, an English band, are best remembered for

contributing the title track to the Pretty In Pink Soundtrack,

but are also noted for being one of the first bands to combine punk

sensibilities with art-rock style. After graduating from art school in

1978, vocalist Richard Butler decided he wanted to pursue a career in

music but, in the great rock and roll tradition, had no experience as a

musician. He enlisted his bass playing brother Tim, and birthday boy

Ashton signed on later that year. Drummer Vince Ely completed the

quartet, who at first wrote long and aimless dirge-like melodies that

were described by the band as "beautiful chaos."

Their first, self-titled album was released in 1980 and didn't sell very

well, in spite of a warm buzz from the critics. 1981's < I>Talk, Talk,

Talk featured the original version of "Pretty in Pink," which would

be remade and used a few years later as the theme for the John Hughes

movie of the same name. 1982 brought the Todd Rundgren-produced

Forever Now to record stores and the band's first hit single,

"Love My Way," climbed to No. 44. In 1987, the group released

Midnight To Midnight and scored their biggest hit with

"Heartbreak Beat," which reached the No. 29 spot on the charts. Although

MTV placed the band in heavy rotation, their albums achieved only

moderate commercial success . But the Psych Furs continued recording,

releasing two more albums, including 1991's World Outside. Later

that same year, they disbanded, and the Butler brothers went on to form

Love Spit Love. Earlier this year, the band released a retrospective

collection entitled Should God Forget.

Other birthdays: Noel Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul & Mary), 60; Leo Lyons

(Ten Years After), 54; Robert Grill (Grass Roots), 53; Roger Glover

(Deep Purple/Rainbow), 52; Richard Barbieri (Japan), 39; Stacey Q., 39;

Des'ree, 33; and Paul Wheeler (Icehouse), 32.

[Sat., Nov. 29, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]