Today is the birthday of Wendy Smith, vocalist and guitarist for Prefab Sprout, who was born in 1963 in Durham, England. Founded by charismatic songwriter Paddy McAloon, Prefab Sprout was well-loved in England for their lush postmodern sound and jazzy undertones even though they never found big-time commercial success. The McAloon brothers had grown up listening to the Beatles and the Who, Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb. Starting a band seemed the obvious choice. By the end of 1982 the duo had recorded a single, "Lions in my Own Garden (Exit Someone)," under the name Prefab Sprout. A local record dealer found them a recording contract, and the McAloon brothers hired on fan Wendy Smith; soon after, they brought in Neil Conti to play drums.
The band's debut, Swoon, was released in 1984. It caught the attention of Thomas Dolby, who met up with the band and produced some of their followup work, including 1985's Two Wheels Good (which was released under the name Steve McQueen outside the U.S.). With 1988's From Langley Park to Memphis the group enjoyed a top-ten hit , "The King of Rock 'N' Roll." Since then, however, the group has failed to make an appearance on the charts. Their most recent release is 1992's A Life of Surprise.
Other birthdays: Augie Meyers (Texas Tornados), the late John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Johnny Paycheck, Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople/Bad Company), Charles Miller (War), Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul, & Mary), Corey Hart, Johnny Diesel, D.M.C. (Run-D.M.C.), Dan Pearson (American Music Club), actors Clint Eastwood, Joe Namath and Chris Elliott and actresses Lea Thompson and Brooke Shields. -- Beth Winegarner