Bananarama recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary and their achievements speak for themselves. Two Band Aid appearances, an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful female band worldwide with the most charting singles, all of which were international hits, four hitting the US Billboard Top 10 including a No.1 with Venus. To date they have had 32 Top 40 UK hits.
They have released 10 albums and sold 30 million records.
A singular talent for directing their own fate Bananarama formed in London when teenagers and childhood friends Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward met Siobhan Fahey. Sara and Siobhan were studying journalism at the London University of Arts (London College of Fashion) and Keren was working at the BBC. About to be thrown out of the YWCA for ‘keeping late hours’ Sara and Keren bumped into ex Sex Pistol Paul Cook in the club Taboo and he offered them a place to stay above the Sex Pistols old rehearsal room. He ended up producing their first single ‘AIE A MWANA’. One early radio play from legendary DJ John Peel was all it took to catch the attention of ex Specials singer Terry Hall who tracked the girls down and asked them to perform on The Fun Boy 3s single ‘It Ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it’. They went on to support everyone from Iggy pop to Paul Weller (Weller went on to pen a track for the band’s first album) appearing on numerous tv shows while still being so skint they were using the baths at the local swimming pool for £1 a throw.
For the next ten years the girls were everywhere and so were their hits. They became international hot property when hits ‘Cruel Summer’ hit the US Billboard Top 10, with their video filmed in NYC , ‘I Heard a Rumour No.4 ,Venus No. 1. And ‘Robert de Niro’s waiting (talking Italian)’ paved the way for the now legendary meeting between the girls and the Hollywood superstar.
Identifying the right producers/collaborators at the right point in their career has always been their strong point from Jolley and Swaine who produced their debut album ‘Deep Sea Skiving ‘ and follow up “Bananarama’ to Stock/Aitken/Waterman who produced the Platinum selling ‘WOW’, to Youth with ‘Pop Life. As recently as 2005 they were picking out Swedish hitmakers Murlyn to produce the album ‘Drama'(singles ‘Move in my Direction’ & ‘ Look on the Floor’ Top 20 UK, US Billboard dance No. 2) and in 2009 they found a perfect foil in Ian Masterson (Pet shop Boys, Girls Aloud, Kylie) who produced the album ‘VIVA’ .
In 2012 popstars fetishise prescribed notions of credibility and fall over themselves to prove their songwriting talents – back then Bananarama didn’t ever really shout about their own songwriting, firstly because they actually did write massive hits (Cruel Summer, Robert de Niro’s waiting, I heard a Rumour, Love in the first Degree, I want you back, ‘Last thing on my mind’, a huge hit for the group Steps and many more…..) and secondly why wouldn’t they have written their own material. Bananarama like the Go Gos and the Bangles were not a manufactured band but three friends who came from the London Club scene with a Punk attitude and were always in control of their own destiny.
Bananarama have appeared in the hit ITV comedy ‘Benidorm’ and have recently headlined the prestigious ‘Rock the Moor’ series of festivals in the UK. Plans for a big US tour are in discussion, as well as a number of one off shows around Europe.