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80’s Superstars – The Thompson Twins

This British music group was formed in April, 1977 and initially were New Wave. They switched to a more mainstream Pop sound and were very popular in the mid-1980’s, scoring a string of hits in the United Kingdom, the United States, and around the globe.

The band was named after the two bumbling detectives in Herge’s comic strip, The Adventures of Tintin.. We know this extremely talented band as “The Thompson Twins.”
At various stages, the band had up to seven members though their best known incarnation was as a trio between 1982-86. Becoming a prominent act in the so-called Second British Invasion, the band performed at Live Aid where they were joined on stage by Madonna.

Early Days – In 1977 the line-up consisted of Tom Bailey on bass and vocals, Pete Dodd on guitar and vocals, John Roog on guitar, and Jon Podgorski (aka “Pod,”) on drums. Dodd and Roog met when they were both 13 years old. They arrived in London with very little money, and lived as squatters in Lillieshall Road, London. Allanah Currie, from Auckland, New Zealand lived in another squat in the same street, and it was there she met Tom Bailey. They lived in a ramshackle and run-down house and they found an illegal way of “borrowing” electricity from the house next door.

Bailey described them as “on the dole,” – unemployed back then, and they were living on very little, scavenging everything they could lay their hands on. He even said that the only instruments they had were bought, or had been stolen or borrowed. Pete Dodd managed to get a “council flat” close by. Their “roadie,” at the time was John Hade, he lived in the same house, and later became their manager.

Jon Podgorski decided to stay in the north, so the group auditioned several drummers at the Point Studio in Victoria, London. Andrew Edge joined them on drums for less than a year, and left the band to join Savage Progress, who later toured with the Thompson Twins as their support act on the 1984 UK tour.

The line-up by 1981 was Bailey, Dodd, Roog, Bell and two new members: former band roadie Joe Leeway on congas and percussion and Jane Shorter on saxophone.

This line-up recorded the first Thompson Twins album “A Product of. . .(Participation)“, documented in the film, “Listen to London” (1981). Allanah Currie, who had been with the band for years, played and sang on the first album, but was not a full member. After the first album, the band’s line-up shifted yet again. Saxophonist Jane Shorter left, percussionist Currie was made an official member, and bassist Matthew Seligman, a former member of The Soft Boys and The Fallout Club, joined. Bailey moved to keyboards and guitar in addition to serving as lead vocalist, with Leeway handling vocals on a few tracks. The band signed to Arista Records and released the album “Set”. Thomas Dolby played some keyboards on “Set” and on some live gigs, since Bailey had little experience with synthesizers before then. “Set” contained the single, “In the Name of Love”, sung and largely written by Bailey. It became a No. 1 dance club hit in the US, and an album entitled “In the Name of Love”, consisting mainly of tracks from “Set”, with two others from “A
Product of . . . (Participation) was released in the US to capitalize on the song’s popularity. It entered the US Billboard 200.

After the success of “In the Name of Love”, manager Hade convinced Bailey Leeway and Currie to downsize the Thompson Twins to three, in April, 1982. The other four members of the band were notified, they were paid 500 pounds and were allowed to keep their instruments and equipment in exchange for an agreement not to perform together under the name “Thompson Twins”. The remaining Thompson Twins went to the Bahamas where they recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau with the producer Alex Sadkin.


The band broke in the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983 with “Lies” and “Love on your Side”, which became the band’s first UK Top 10 single. They then released their third album, “Quick Step and Side Kick” (it was called “Side Kicks” in the US), and peaked at Number 2 in the UK and was later certified platinum. Several singles followed, “We Are Detective” (another Top 10 UK hit) and “Watching” (UK#33). All three band members received songwriting credits, though the band publicly acknowledged Bailey as the songwriter, with Currie contributing lyrics and Leeway focusing on the stage show. During 1983, the band opened for The Police concert tour in the US.

“Hold Me Now”, was released in late 1983. The song was an international chart success, peaking at No. 4 in their native UK, where it became the band’s largest seller, earning a “Gold Disc”, and reached No. 3 in the US in the Spring of 1984 becoming their biggest US hit. The band’s new album, “Into the Gap”, was released in early 1984 and became one of the year’s biggest sellers, selling five million copies worldwide. It topped the US Albums Chart and was later certified double platinum there. Further hit singles from the album followed with “Doctor! Doctor! (UK No. 3) and “You Take Me Up” (UK No. 2 their highest UK singles chart placing and which earned a “Silver Disc”). Other singles included a new version of the album track “Sister of Mercy” (UK No. 11), and “The Gap” (though this was not released in the UK).

The band embarked on a world tour in support of the album, which had also made the US top ten. A brand new single, “Lay Your Hands On Me”, was released in the UK in late 1984 and reached No. 13 in the UK charts. Following this, the band parted company with their producer Alex Sadkin and opted to produce their new album, “Here’s To Future Days, by themselves in Paris.

However, in March 1985, while promoting their new single “Roll Over” and the forthcoming album, Bailey
collapsed in his London hotel room from nervous exhaustion. The “Roll Over” single was then canceled at the last minute and the new album postponed. Nile Rodgers was called in to rework the album with them and was eventually released in September, 1985, reaching the UK Top 5 and US Top 20, though failed to come close to the success of “Into The Gap”. Other singles that were made was “Don’t Mess With Doctor Dream” (UK No. 15), followed by “King For A Day” which peaked at No. 22 in the UK, but reached No. 8 on the US chart. Other singles included a new US version of “Lay Your Hands On Me” (US No. 6) and an unsuccessful cover of The Beatles’ 1968 hit “Revolution” which became the band’s first single to fail to make the UK Top 30 in three years.

The planned Summer 1985 tour of the UK (and a headlining appearance at the Glastonbury Festival) had to be canceled due to Bailey’s collapse from exhaustion (fans with tickets received a free live album as compensation), international dates were re-scheduled and the latter half of 1985 were sell out tours for the band in the US and Japan. A second planned tour of the UK in 1985 was also scrapped due to the promoter declaring bankruptcy.


Leeway left the band in 1986, and the remaining duo of Bailey and Currie carried on making music for another seven years. 1987 saw the release of “Close to the Bone” and the single “Get That Love”, which climbed to No. 31 in the US but failed in the UK.

#WEATNU Digital Magazine – By Kathryn S

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