One might put Limahl in the same bracket as Boy George, Phil Oakey or
Margaret Thatcher as having one of the defining bouffants of the era! But, the
original duo tone spiky mullet man was oh, so much more than his legendary
hair and of the band he fronted…. so much more than their crazy name and angular
From the smugness of hindsight it is all too easy to write off bands like
Kajagoogoo, Visage and A Flock Of Seagulls as fashion victims.
However, music mattered and for a while Limahl was a real contender. Five
chart hits over two years and here’s the roll-call :- ‘Too Shy’ (no’1) – ‘Ooh To
Be Ahh’ (no’7) – ‘Hang On Now’ (no’13) – ‘Only For Love’ (no’16) – ‘The
Neverending Story’ (no’4).
Big chart hits too possums, look, all top 20!! A five-hit wonder, but no flash in
the pan. For a small time, a big star!! Instantly recognisable and obviously
talented as co-writer of all the music & lyrics.
Kajagoogoo’s million selling début album ‘White Feathers’ spawned the
deliciously catchy single ‘Too Shy’ which stormed to the top of the charts all
over the world including top 5 in America.
The band’s eye-catching image struck a chord with a whole generation
inspiring Kaja–Mania and a new wave of sometimes dodgy imitation haircuts!
Mainstream popularity brought platinum sales awards and the accolade of
performing at prestigious industry and public events alike. One such early
career highlight was an invitation to perform at the 1983 Children’s Royal
Variety Show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London in the presence of HRH
Princess Margaret. The momentum of that breakthrough year culminated in
Kajagoogoo winning the ASCAP Award (American Society for Composers,
Authors and Publishers) for having written one of the most played songs of
the year on American radio.
Far from being the one-hit wonder predicted by the more vociferous critics,
their two follow-up singles ‘Ooh To Be Ah’ and ‘Hang On Now’ charted
respectfully, proving that the band were no manufactured overnight
sensation. Not only could these guys play their instruments, for an all too brief
moment in pop history, they shared an intense and professional musicality; songwriting skills that burnt with a commercial brightness that in the pop culture climate of the time seemed set to assure a measure of longevity.
Alas, this was not to be. Sometimes the fickle finger of fate makes fall guys of
the famous as fans flood away when fashions change. Sadly for Kajagoogoo it
was at the height of their popularity when the band seemed to self destruct.
The public face of Kajagoogoo and arguably, one of the faces of the 80’s was
fired, but not forgotten!!
Although the premature dissolution of Kajagoogoo Mk.1 has left us with one
of the most delicious “what if” questions in the history of modern pop, what
better incentive did Limahl need to embark on a solo career than a task to which
he addressed himself with his customary gusto?
The self-penned ‘Only For Love’ gave him his first solo chart hit. Significantly,
it was while performing this song at the Tokyo Music Festival that Limahl met
legendary songwriter/producer and three-time Academy Award winner
Giorgio Moroder who was working on a new film soundtrack and invited him
to perform a then unknown song, ‘The Neverending Story’.
After reaching no’1 in over seventeen countries, Limahl’s “velvet tones” and
“quietly flamboyant” image were now indelibly printed in the memories of
millions of music lovers.
Between 1998 – 2008, Limahl was still in demand as a solo performer and
then the unthinkable happened; Kajagoogoo reformed in its original line-up
embarking on a series of highly successful festival gigs (including Scotland’s
‘Retrofest’) that culminated in a tour of Germany in 2009 and the band’s first
UK tour in 25 years. Both were high profile and resoundingly successful
leading to the band performing at several big music festivals in 2010: Back To
The 80’s (Tamworth Castle – July) and the Rewind Festival (Henley On Thames
On the back of all this activity, their original record company EMI Records
released a Kajagoogoo/Limahl compilation which included two newly
composed songs ‘Dreaming’ & ‘Space Cadet’ – the latter of which was made
into a pop video and included in the package.
But, for Limahl, ever eager to expand his horizons, this was not enough. A
couple of years ago he experimented with a new style of show using classic
80’s tracks as the basis for what was to become ‘Limahl and his 80’s Swing
Show’. The premise was stunningly simple; deliver a sophisticated, classy
evening of the best music from the 80s but with a twist.
2011 proved as intense as ever with numerous live gigs throughout the UK,
Denmark and Poland. Limahl came to national attention in the UK with his
contribution to the BBC’s ratings-busting ‘Let’s Dance For Comic Relief’ in
February as part of an 80’s Supergroup with Toyah, Clare Grogan of Altered
Images and Chesney Hawkes.
Just a few months later and mainstream national TV exposure beckoned
again, this time twice in Germany! On their biggest, retro-music show called
‘The Ultimate Chart Show’, Limahl performed his 80’s evergreens ‘Too Shy’ and
‘The Neverending Story’ live with his customary gusto and attracted a whole
new audience of fans, many of whom bought the hit spin-off CD of the TV
show’s featured tracks!
But, Limahl is far from being a mere retro act and uses the persona of the past
to ignite the creative fires of the future. A new co-written single called ‘1983’
puts that past into glorious perspective and is released on the 12th of January
2012 – 29 years to the day after the release of ‘Too Shy’.
And, that is not all!! Keep watching the website for
news of the fruition of his new jazz show where he tackles songbook
standards with an uplifting pop / soul twist. His voice has never sounded
stronger or as adept in wringing out the nuances of every dramatic phrase in
those timeless tunes – an evolution in his theatrical abilities that will also be
brought to bear on the comedy musical set in the early 1980’s, that is also in
Limahl was on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! (2012)
For Limahl, the best is yet to come…….