Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory

Today is the 40th birthday of Glenn Gregory, singer for the '80s

synth-pop group Heaven 17. The U.K. techno trio sprang from the

experimental dance project the British Electric Foundation. Ex-Human

League members Ian Craig Marsh (sax/synthesizer) and Martyn Ware

(synthesizer) formed the BEF in 1980. After ex-photographer Gregory

joined, they changed the band's name to Heaven 17, one of the fictitious

groups in the famed novel and film "A Clockwork Orange." The band's

politically charged first single, "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove

Thang," spurred interest for its first album, 1981's Penthouse and

Pavement. Despite being named Record of the Year by the British

music magazine Melody Maker, the LP stiffed.

After working with Tina Turner under the BEF moniker for a few sessions

that sparked her career revival, the trio returned as Heaven 17 with

1983's The Luxury Gap, a popular album spawning many U.K. hits,

including "Temptation" and "Crushed By The Wheels of Industry." In 1984,

How Men Are also performed well in Britain, but by 1986 the group

had fallen on hard times. Gregory's 1985 collaboration with Propaganda's

Claudia Brucken was a commercial failure as was Heaven 17's teaming with

Jimmy Ruffin on "The Foolish Thing To Do." Practically abandoning

electronica for 1986's Pleasure One didn't help Heaven 17's hopes

for popular success. The album and its follow-up, Teddy Bear, Duke

& Psycho, failed to chart significantly and the group called it

quits. In the ensuing years, Ware produced Terence Trent D'Arby and

others and recorded with Marsh under the BEF name. Gregory spent his

time with the dance band Ugly, which never broke through commercially or

artistically. In late 1992, a remix of "Temptation" landed in the U.K. top

5,

and early the following year a similarly revamped "(We Don't

Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" was a minor U.K. hit. In 1997, the

trio re-formed for Bigger Than America, which came and went

without much notice. Heaven 17 are reportedly at work on a remix album

of some of their earlier songs as well as on an album of new material.

Other birthdays: Isaak Holt (Ramsey Lewis Trio), 66; Pervis Jackson

(the Spinners), 60; Billy

Cobham, 54; Robert Fripp (King Crimson), 52; Barbara Lee (the Chiffons), 51;

Jonathan Richman, 47; Janet Jackson, 32; and Joey Kibble (Take 6), 27.