You Say It's Your Birthday: The Human League's Ian Burden

Today is the birthday of Human League bassist and

keyboardist Ian Burden, born in 1957 in Sheffield, England. Although the Human

League's success -- based on its synth-driven sound and frontman Phil Oakey's

ominous vocals -- was mostly limited to the U.K., the group broke through to

the U.S. charts in 1982 with "Don't You Want Me."

The group's debut,

1979's Reproduction, included Oakey on vocals and Philip Wright, Martyn

Ware and Ian Marsh on keyboards. Oakey decided that performing live using

prerecorded tape was dishonest; Marsh and Ware departed the Human League,

making room for Burden and two female vocalists, Suzanne Sulley and Joanne

Catherall. The group recorded Dare in 1982; despite that the groups main

songwriters worked slowly, follow-ups were seen about every year, including

1982's instrumental-only Love and Dancing and the brief, five-song 1983

release Fascination!.

In 1986 Oakey began working with disco

sounds, and the Human League hired on R&B masterminds Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

(Janet Jackson) to produce Crash. That album included the group's

biggest hit "Human," written by Jam and Lewis, which hit #1. Although the group

has almost totally disappeared since 1990, they can be heard on the 1995 album

Octopus. Other birthdays: The late Lee Dorsey, Lemmy Kilmister

(Motorhead) and Jan Akkerman (Focus). -- Beth Winegarner