Front 242's Patrick Codenys

Front 242, with Patrick Codenys on keyboards, made a big impression in the '80s in the U.K. with their electronic "body" or techno music.

Codenys, who turns 40 today, was born in Brussels, Belgium. He was a design student with no previous musical experience when he was tapped in 1981 by Front 242 founder, producer Daniel Bressanutti (Daniel B.), to be part of his concept of an industrial music group. Singer Jean-Luc De Meyer also joined shortly after.

Front 242 were influenced by techno wizards Kraftwerk and Devo. Codenys and Company's first LP was 1982's Geography. Later that year, Front 242 began playing live. They soon started to use video, flashy lighting and stage plots to enhance their concerts. In 1983, former roadie Richard 23, also known as Richard JK, joined as drummer and singer.

The independent American label Wax Trax!, which came to be home to a number of U.K.-based industrial acts, issued the Front 242 EP No Comment (1985). The record marked the group's movement from synthesizer-based pop to more angry, rhythmic techno music. Wax Trax! also reissued earlier U.K. Front 242 records in the States as Back Catalogue (1987). In the same year, the band released an album of new material, Official Version. The LP included the club hits "Masterhit" and "Quite Unusual."

Front by Front (1988) was more song-oriented than earlier Front 242 efforts, and featured the alternative dance hits "Headhunter" and "Never Stop." In 1990, Front 242 became the first Wax Trax! act to sign with a major label when they inked a deal with Epic. Tyranny For You appeared the following year. By that time, Front 242 had become, along with Ministry and Skinny Puppy, one of the best-known acts making industrial music.

Richard 23 departed in 1993 after Front 242 completed their stint with the Lollapalooza Festival. Also that year, the band released two albums, the pop-like 06:21:03:11 Up Evil and the tough 05:22:09:12 Off. Despite the growing popularity of industrial sounds at the time with the success of Nine Inch Nails, these Front 242 albums were not embraced by critics or the public. De Meyer quit two years later.

In 1997, Front 242 released the remix album, Mut@ge Mix@ge. This year, they issued the live Live Code (including tracks such as "Skin" and "Crapage"), a recording of a show in Holland, and toured North America. Re-Boot Live '98, on Cleopatra Records, also appeared this year.

Other birthdays: Winfred "Blue" Lovett (Manhattans), 55; Mani (Stone Roses/Primal Scream), 36; and Pattie Santos (It's a Beautiful Day), 1949-1989.