I just so happened to have my list of my favorite cover songs from the 80s. These are songs released in the 80s that, whether you realized it or not, were originally performed by another artist. Some cover songs are great versions of a particular song, but some are just great songs no matter who sings them. In general, cover songs are often looked down upon, but history has proven to include some great ones. The list of great ones is much longer than you would expect. Some of the most popular include "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, "Twist and Shout" by The Beatles, "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix, "With a Little Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker, "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston and "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley to name just a few. The 80s had its fair share of good ones with a few great ones sprinkled in as well. So without further ado, here is OLD SCHOOL'S TOP 10 COVER SONGS OF THE 80s (+ Bonus 30)
39. "Can't Get Used To Losing You" (1980) by The Beat. Original artist: Andy Williams (1963)
38. "La Bamba" (1987) by Los Lobos. Original artist: Mexican folk song most famously by Ritchie Valens (1958)
37. "Venus" (1986) by Bananarama. Original artist: Shocking Blue (1969)
36. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1986) by Kim Wilde. Original artist: The Supremes (1966)
35. "Sweet Jane" (1988) by Cowboy Junkies. Original artist: The Velvet Underground (1970)
34. "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" (1985) by David Lee Roth. Original artist: Louis Prima (1957). Honorable mention goes to "California Girls" (1985) also by David Lee Roth originally by The Beach Boys in 1965.
33. "Gloria" (1982) by Laura Branigan. Original artist: Italian song by Umberto Tozzi (1979)
32. "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" (1980) by The Blues Brothers. Original artist: Solomon Burke (1964)
31. "The Tide Is High" (1980) by Blondie. Original artist: The Paragons (1967)
30. "We've Got Tonight" (1983) by Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton. Original artist: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (1978)
29. "Got My Mind Set On You" (1987) by George Harrison. Original artist: James Ray (1962)
28. "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" (1984) by Power Station. Original artist: T-Rex (1971)
27. "Cum On Feel the Noize" (1983) by Quiet Riot. Original artist: Slade (1973)
26. "Sea of Love" (1985) by The Honeydrippers. Original artist: Phil Phillips (1959)
25. "Red Red Wine" (1983) by UB40. Original artist: Neil Diamond (1968)
23. "I've Done Everything For You" (1981) by Rick Springfield. Original artist: Sammy Hagar (1978)
22. "Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me" (1983) by Luther Vandross. Original artist: Delaney & Bonnie ("Superstar" 1969) and Stevie Wonder ("Until You Come Back To Me" 1967). Honorable mention goes to "If This World Were Mine" (1982), a Luther Vandross duet with Cheryl Lynn originally by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1967.
21. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (1980) by Hall & Oates. Original artist: The Righteous Brothers (1964)
20. "Always On My Mind" (1987) by Pet Shop Boys. Original artist: Brenda Lee (1972), but most notably Elvis Presley also in 1972.
19. "Kiss" (1988) by Art of Noise with Tom Jones. Original artist: Prince (1986)
18. "China Girl" (1983) by David Bowie. Original artist: Iggy Pop (1977)
17. "Heart and Soul" (1983) by Huey Lewis & the News. Original artist: Exile (1981)
16. "Jacob's Ladder" (1988) by Bruce Hornsby & the Range. Original artist: Huey Lewis & the News (1986), though the song was actually originally written by Bruce Hornsby.
14. "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (1985) by Robert Palmer. Original artist: Cherrelle (1984). Honorable mention to "You Are In My System" (1983) also by Robert Palmer originally by The System in 1982.
13. "Some Guys Have All The Luck" (1984) by Rod Stewart. Original artist: The Persuaders (1973)
12. "All Through the Night" (1984) by Cyndi Lauper. Original artist: Jules Shear (1983)
11. "Der Kommissar" (1982) by After the Fire. Original artist: Falco (1981)
9. "You Can't Hurry Love" (1982) by Phil Collins. Original artist: The Supremes (1966)
8. "I Love Rock n' Roll" (1981) by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Original artist: Arrows (1975). Honorable mention to "Crimson and Clover" also by Joan Jett originally by Tommy James & the Shondells in 1968.
7. "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (1989) by Simply Red. Original artist: Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (1972)
6. "Greatest Love of All" (1986) by Whitney Houston. Original artist: George Benson (1977)
5. "Walk This Way" (1986) by Run-DMC. Original artist: Aerosmith (1975). Aerosmith had many hits in the 70s including "Walk This Way", which had reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, but had fallen way out of the spotlight during the early 80s. The Run-DMC cover served to confirm rap's mainstream appeal and resurrected Aerosmith's career by introducing them to a new generation. The new version charted higher on the Billboard Hot 100 than the original version, peaking at #4 in the summer of 1986 becoming the first rap song to crack the top 5. The landmark collaboration catapulted Run-DMC into mainstream stardom and would influence rap music for years to come as well as paving the way for future rap/hip-hop singles to have pop success. The song's crossover success helped the Raising Hell album go triple platinum and reach #3 on the Billboard album chart. It is a monumental song in music, not to mention pop culture, history.
4. "Hazy Shade of Winter" (1987) by The Bangles. Original artist: Simon & Garfunkel (1966). Written by the great Paul Simon, the original reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1966. The Bangles had been performing the song at live shows for quite a while before they chose to record and release it on the Less Than Zero soundtrack in 1987. This version was very different from the original as you might expect being produced by Rick Rubin with a harder edge rock sound and removing most of the bridge section. When released as a single in November 1987, it became a huge hit, surpassing the popularity of the original version, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
3. "Always Something There To Remind Me" (1983) by Naked Eyes. Original artist: Lou Johnson (1964). The song, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, was first recorded by Dionne Warwick as a demo in 1963, but not originally released until Lou Johnson in 1964 whose version reached #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 that summer. Also, Michael McDonald actually made his recording debut singing lead vocal on a 1968 single version by the Del-Rays. Then almost 20 years after Johnson's original, Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher covered it and released it as their first single in January of 1983. It would peak at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June and is one of my favorites from the entire 80s decade.
2. "Everytime You Go Away" (1985) by Paul Young. Original artist: Hall & Oates (1980). Be sure to check out my interview with Paul Young where he discusses his biggest hit. The song was written by Daryl Hall and originally recorded for his 1980 Hall & Oates album Voices. It was not released as a single by Hall & Oates and most were not aware of the song until Paul Young released his version in February of 1985 and on his The Secret of Association album. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on July 27, 1985 and is another one of my favorites of the decade.
1. "Tainted Love" (1981) by Soft Cell. Original artist: Gloria Jones (1965) - Many do not even realize that this iconic song which is so connected with the 80s decade was actually a cover song. Soft Cell's version is drastically different from the original and was released in July of 1981. It quickly climbed the UK charts and reached #1 by September as well as reaching #1 in 16 other countries. It took a little longer to catch on in the U.S. entering the Billboard Hot 100 in January of 1982 and taking 19 weeks to even reach the top 40. It would only peak at #8, but would spend a then record-breaking 43 weeks on the chart. It would be the only pop hit for Soft Cell and ranks highly on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders list. It is immediately recognizable by the opening "bink bink" beat and has to be considered one of the most memorable and representative songs of the decade.
There's my list. I included the videos for the top 5, but you can surely find all of the others on YouTube as well as many of the original versions. Are there any cover songs from the 80s that you feel I have overlooked? If so or if you'd rank any differently, please leave them in the comments section below or on Facebook. A couple songs would've made the list, but were actually released in the late 70s like "Take Me To The River" (1978) by Talking Heads, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1977) by Devo, "You Really Got Me" (1978) by Van Halen, and "Got To Get You Into My Life" (1978) by Earth Wind & Fire. There were a couple that just missed on the other side being in the early 90s like "Nothing Compares 2 U" (1990) by Sinead O'Connor, "Hard To Handle" (1990) by The Black Crowes, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (1991) by Guns n' Roses, "Once Bitten Twice Shy" (1990) by Great White, "Everybody Knows" (1990) by Concrete Blonde and "Signs" (1990) by Tesla. I could also publish my list of my favorite cover versions of original 80s songs. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so in many cases these covers (even though most are not imitations by definition) are a testament to the originals. As I said at the beginning, some cover songs are great versions of a particular song, but some are just great songs no matter who sings them.
That does it for another issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: Thanks to slashfilm.com, I was made aware of this awesome video by Matt Mulholland performing an a capella version of the skateboard chase scene in Back to the Future. All audio is replaced by a one man audio multi-track and the result is pretty slick. Hope you enjoy...
Quote of the day: "Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation." -Mason Cooley
As I say each time, I am so pleased that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is David Frank. He is likely best remembered as one half of the 80s duo The System, along with Mic Murphy, who had a smash hit in 1987 with "Don't Disturb This Groove". He is considered by many to be a founding father of electronic R&B due to his pioneering and revolutionary use of synthesizers and synchronized instruments. He has also contributed as a keyboardist, composer, producer and arranger for a number of other artists' hit songs. You will find out more about how The System came together, created their biggest hit and many of the other things he's been involved with over the years as we get on to some selections from my interview with David Frank...
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? When and how did you get your start in the music industry?
David: I sort of knew since I was 6 or 7 years old but I finally decided for sure when I was 18. I got in a motorcycle accident and broke a bone in my left hand. I took one look at my hand and vowed to do nothing but play and write music for my career. I played in Band since High School, played on my first major label record when I was 26 and had our first hit when I turned 30.
Q: I read that you started as a classical piano player. How and when did you make a move into R&B/Soul music?
David: Although I loved classical music as a kid, when I was 13 or so I started to lose interest because other kids teased me about still taking piano lessons. In desperation my Mom got me started taking jazz and pop-oriented piano lessons. It worked. I became interested in playing rock and rhythmic music.
Q: Please discuss your personal musical influences and who molded and inspired the artist you have become.
David: My personal musical influences were my piano teachers. Among them Sonia Klosek, Artur Medoff and Bruce Sutherland are the names of the teachers I value the most. Later in my teens and 20s, I became obsessed with the likes of Keith Emerson, Yes, James Brown Band, Steve Winwood and producers like Arif Mardin.
Q: Please also discuss how you had the inspiration to create and master the "one-man electric rhythm section" and using the synthesizer to create incredible multi-part bass grooves.
David: I really did that because it was finally possible when the Oberheim DSX DMX OBXA came out. I got the first of each in New York City and decided I would learn every possible thing that could be done with these instruments and do my best to make music never heard before. I knew that it might just be a dream but I tried anyway.
Q: What can you tell us about your former upstairs neighbor, none other than pre-stardom Madonna, and your relationship with her? Back then, could you have expected the superstar that she became?
David: She was actually a very good person, very charismatic and determined to succeed. We had a good rapport. I tried out for her band and she liked the way I played. Yes, she was always destined to be famous. We couldn't stop talking about her.
Q: Was she really originally slated to sing lead vocals on "It's Passion" which would go on to be the first single from The System? What caused that to not happen?
David: Yes, but it was not the same melody or lyrics and was called "In Times of Passion" as I remember. She backed out the night before and I called Mic Murphy. He came and wrote a new top line.
Q: So that's how you ended up forming The System. How did you originally meet Mic Murphy? How and why was the band name The System chosen? When you were starting out, did you expect that you would be together for 7 years and achieve the success you did?
David: I met Mic at a recording session at Media Sound in New York City. He was working with the band [Kleeer] that I was doing keyboard overdubs on. Mic came up with the band name and I liked it. I was hoping it would work, but we were both thankful every step of the way.
Frank and Murphy went into the studio for a marathon session recording their first single in one day then staying up all night mixing it. The following day, Murphy took the master tape to an engineer friend who transferred it to a record and suggested he take it to Jerry Greenburg's Mirage Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic. The duo had a record deal the next day and within a few weeks "It's Passion" was getting massive airplay on New York radio. This led to their 1983 debut album, Sweat, which would also include their R&B hit "You Are In My System" (later successfully covered by Robert Palmer). They did a lot of work with other artists and would have another R&B hit with "This Is For You" from their third album in 1985. The System would finally find pop success of their own in 1987.
Q: The System is probably best recognized for your 1987 hit single "Don't Disturb This Groove." As most of your songs, you and Murphy are credited as the song's writers. Please take us back to when the song was written and recorded. What is the back story about how that song was conceived and written?
David: It was a musical track that I did first. I spent the better part of three days working on different ideas and options and I remember wondering whether I was wasting my time. Mic liked it and wrote the lyrics and melody over the track. It needed a link between the verse and chorus so we worked out the "hang a sign up on the door" section. It took a long time to get it right but it was worth it. Our manager and record company didn't think it should be first single but Mic and I did and we won out on that, thank goodness.
"Don't Disturb This Groove" was rightfully the first single released from their album of the same name. The System would end up with one of the biggest hit songs of 1987 achieving regular radio rotation airplay on both R&B and Top 40 radio stations. The single would reach the top of R&B Singles chart in May and peak at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July. It is certainly one of my favorite songs from that year and it brings a smile to my face each time I hear it. Here is the video for "Don't Disturb This Groove" by The System...
Q: When you first recorded "Don't Disturb This Groove" did you have a feeling it was going to be something special?
David: It was always something special. I thought it might be too quirky to succeed, but I was also confident that it was the best we had ever done.
Q: What are your feelings regarding "Don't Disturb This Groove" today almost 25 years later?
David: It's still awesome and my most satisfying achievement!
Q: Your list of contributor credits is very impressive. What was your role on the 1984 hit "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan? What can you tell us about your experience working with her on that great cover of a Prince song?
David: I played the bassline, sound effects in the rap section, chord pads and the staccato single note part in the rap section. Reggie Griffin did the main arrangement and he did an awesome job! I worked directly with Chaka more on other songs than on "I Feel For You".
Khan's version of "I Feel For You" would reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as #1 on both the U.S. R&B and Dance charts. It featured an all-star supporting cast. In addition to keyboard and bass guitar by David Frank, it also featured rapping from the great Melle Mel and harmonica playing by the legendary Stevie Wonder. The repetition of Khan's name by rapper Melle Mel at the beginning of the song was originally a mistake made by producer Arif Mardin, who then decided to keep it. Also from the same Chaka Khan album, Frank and Mic Murphy wrote the song "This Is My Night" which would reach #1 on the U.S. Dance chart.
Q: What was your role on the 1985 hit "Sussudio" by Phil Collins? What can you tell us about your experience working with the legendary Collins on that song and album?
David: I believe I played and arranged all the instruments besides guitar, horns and drums. It was great. Phil is a wonderful fun guy. Hugh Padgham was brilliant. He suggested that we do two tracks of Minimoog bass which really made the sound what it was!
Q: How about Steve Winwood's 1986 hit "The Finer Things" and Back in the High Life album? What can you tell us about your experience working with him and on that album?
David: I arranged the horns on "Higher Love", "Take It as It Comes" and "Freedom Overspill". Russ Titelman is a great producer and Steve Winwood was one of my primary influences coming up with Traffic, Blind Faith, Spencer Davis, etc. It was a dream come true.
This is just a few examples of how Frank and Murphy were becoming both in demand and accomplished as songwriters, producers and musicians. They were still continuing to create their own music as The System at the same time. In addition to their five studio albums, they also contributed several songs to movie soundtracks including "Rock & Roll Me Again" in Beverly Hills Cop (1984), "Baptise the Beat" in Beat Street (1984) and the title track in Coming to America (1988). That last single, "Coming to America" was actually written by Nile Rodgers and would crack the Billboard Hot 100 as well as reach #23 on the R&B chart. This would be the last hit single by The System to date.
Q: In 1989, you and Murphy decided to disband The System. What caused that decision to be made?
David: We had done five albums together and many more by other artists so it was time for a break. Styles had changed around us and Mic made a solo album.
Q: Do you still maintain a close relationship with Mic Murphy? I know you reunited briefly in 2000, but do you ever expect another reunion of The System to perform together and/or release new music?
David: Yes! We are recording another album now!! I am writing new material all the time both with and without Mic.
Q: You are still very active in the music industry. You seem to be much more into producing and songwriting than performing in recent years. Please tell us a little about where your music career has taken you since The System.
David: After moving to Los Angeles, I began working with songwriters Steve Kipner and Pam Sheyne. Together we had several big hits including "Genie In a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera [which held the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for an entire month in 1999], "The Hardest Thing" by 98 Degrees [which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999] and "He Loves U Not" by Dream [which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001] among others.
Q: What else is David Frank up to nowadays?
David: Other than working with Mic on the new album, I just recently completed work on my son Griffith's album called En Fermant Les Yeux. It's a different style, but I think you may enjoy his voice and the tracks. The album will be available on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon. You can check him out on YouTube with "Unusual Way" by Griffith Frank.
I am sincerely honored that David took some time to answer my questions so I could share them with you here. You can find out lots more about him at his official website www.davidfrankmusic.com. Personally, I am looking forward to hearing the new album that they are working on. I want to take this opportunity to again thank David Frank for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through "Don't Disturb This Groove" and, even more, for going back to the 80s for a little while with us here as well.
That'll do it for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying the interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: There has been quite a bit of commotion surrounding the small changes made to certain scenes in the release of the Star Wars trilogies on Blu-ray. Here is one scene that does not actually appear in The Empire Strikes Back, but it would be pretty funny if it did...
Quote of the day: "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe." -Abraham Lincoln
As I say each time, I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is Nick Beggs. He is best remembered by 80s fans as the bass guitarist and later lead vocalist for the band Kajagoogoo. He co-wrote many of the band's songs and is even responsible for coming up with the band's unique and memorable name. Kajagoogoo, which also included Steve Askew (lead guitar), Stuart Neale (keyboards), Jez Strode (drums) and Limahl (lead vocals), was signed to a record label in July 1982 and their debut single, "Too Shy" was released in 1983 becoming a smash hit. In the U.S., the band is widely considered a one-hit wonder and originally split up back in 1986. Beggs has gone on to be a well-respected musician and world-renowned bassist as he continues to perform regularly. You will find out more about Kajagoogoo's rise to fame and some of what he has done since then as we get on to some selections from my interview with Nick Beggs...
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? When and how did you get your start in the music industry?
Nick: I knew at the age of 15 that I wanted to be a pro-player. I turned professional at 20 and moved to London with Kajagoogoo in 1982 on signing our deal with EMI.
Q: Please discuss your personal musical influences and who molded and inspired your voice, your bass playing and career.
Nick: My first musical influences were the BBC Radiophonic workshop. I bought the Doctor Who theme as a 45 rpm single and played it to death. I still have it. Later I fell in love with Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge by Mike Oldfield. I used to play drums along to them. I also bought "Son of My Father" by Chickory Tip and David Bowie "Fame". However the biggest influence came when I heard Close to the Edge by Yes. It was at that point I knew I wanted to do that for a living. Chris Squire became my bass hero. Later Jaco Pastorius, Tony Levin, John Paul Jones, Geddy Lee, Roger Waters, Geezer Butler, Burke Shelly and Roger Glover all had their affect on my development.
Q: When and how did you meet Steve Askew, Jez Strode and Stuart Neale? Then at what point did Limahl join the group?
Nick: I knew all of them from our home town. They were older than me and played in bands that I would go and see in the locality. I looked up to them as a younger aspiring player. Limahl was found after we held auditions for a front man. Steve and I had been doing it up to that point but it wasn't working.
Q: What were your goals/intentions for the band when you were first starting out?
Nick: To make a living. So we had two bands. One was a covers band that played the workingmen's clubs, called the Handstands. The other was earlier Art Nouveau and later called Kajagoogoo.
Q: How and why was the band name Kajagoogoo chosen? What inspired it?
Nick: I came up with it and it was voted as a cool name at the time. I just pulled it out of the air actually.
Q: What are your thoughts on the band name today and have you ever regretted choosing it for any reason?
Nick: I can't really comment. Would it have been more successful another way or not at all? I'm grateful that I'm still making money from something I dreamt up 30 years ago.
Q: Did you really take a day job as a trash collector prior to Kajagoogoo being signed to EMI Records?
Nick: Yes, after I dropped out of art school and my Mum died. I had to support my sister and run a house. I always was and still am a pragmatist.
Q: How did you get hooked up with Nick Rhodes to produce your debut album? Were you a fan of Duran Duran at that time (or since)? What impact do you feel that either Rhodes or Colin Thurston had on the success of White Feathers?
Nick: Limahl ran into Nick at a London night Club and gave him our demo. Yes, we all were Duran Duran fans. It was a very important contribution actually. Colin and Nick did a great job.
Q: Your debut single, "Too Shy", would go on to be the band's biggest hit. You are credited as the song's co-writer with Limahl. Please take us back to when the song was written and recorded. What is the back story about how that song was conceived and written?
Nick: I thought of the chorus and what became the second verse and sang them to Limahl. He responded instantly to it. We then developed the arrangement with the guys. Stuart's synth opening came much later and the song was demo'd four times before it came close to what you now know. I was playing around with alliterative sounding phrases and liked the sound of shy shy. Pop is founded on repetition and so I wanted a hooky chorus for the song.
"Too Shy" was released in January of 1983 as the band's debut single which would be included on their album White Feathers. It was an immediate hit reaching the top of the UK Charts by the end of February and holding that spot for two weeks. The single would spend five weeks at the top of German pop charts and would peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. making Kajagoogoo a worldwide success. The iconic song ranked at #27 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s and at #9 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s lists. Here is the video for "Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo...
Q: What inspired "Too Shy"? How long did it take to write? How did it evolve during the process?
Nick: The desire to write a pop hit actually inspired it. It was rewritten and rewritten over six months. Even in the studio on the day of the final takes we were still working it out. It grew very naturally from session to session. I can remember taking the final mix next door to play to Thomas Dolby. He sat very still and listened to it intently. At the end he nodded his head. He later emulated the bridge bass section on "Dissidents". I love that track!
Q: When you recorded "Too Shy", could you have ever anticipated the incredible reaction this album would have? Not just in the UK , but in the U.S. as well?
Nick: Not really. But I remember thinking we had captured something of the time. We would have been happy with a Top 20 record.
Q: What do you feel makes this song so special and loved by so many?
Nick: It encapsulates the memory of a time for millions of people. That is what music should do.
Q: When you have a mega hit song like that, do you (or did you) ever get sick of playing them? What are your feelings regarding "Too Shy" today 28 years later?
Nick: Yes, naturally you can get sick of playing it. But that song and the Kajagoogoo catalog has fed five families and it still is. How can you knock that, even if you don't like it? All I ever wanted to do was make a living as a player. 30 years on I'm happy to be doing so and thanks in part to "Too Shy".
Q: How did things change for you personally and for Kajagoogoo after this song's incredible worldwide success? Were you prepared for all of the attention? Did you enjoy all of the attention?
Nick: We had personal security men wherever we went in various cities. We had police escorts and VIP treatment invites anywhere we wanted. No, I was not really prepared for it and I didn't much like it either. It doesn't suit me.
Q: Now how does the band go from having one of the hottest debut albums to firing the lead singer? This had to be more than your average tension between band members to fire Limahl. Please describe the circumstances surrounding this transition.
Nick: That's a good question and it was a difficult choice to make. But things had become unbearable. I feel that it would be ungentlemanly of me to go into too many details. Suffice to say things could not continue as they were.
Q: You took over as lead singer at that point. Was this something you really wanted at that time?
Nick: No. The band told me that if I took over vocal duties they would have a Chapman Stick made for me to play on the next album, so I agreed.
Q: Even though you had several other hits in the UK, were you surprised or frustrated that Kajagoogoo would not have another pop hit in the U.S.?
Nick: Not really. The writing was on the wall because Frankie went to Hollywood. But I think we all enjoyed the recording process for those last two albums irrespective of their chart positions. We were happier for a while at least.
Q: Some 80s pop superstars "run away" from the 80s and some embrace the success and fans from that decade. If at all, how do you personally deal with and keep the 80s alive and in perspective?
Nick: I have no desire to keep the 80s alive or in perspective. 70s Prog was, is, and always will be the music I value most of all. The 80s was the decade in which I became a professional player but I don't have any great passion for the music.
Q: I am a big fan of Howard Jones. I read that you and he became friends back in 1996. What can you tell us about Howard Jones as a musician and as a person? How was your experience touring with his band?
Nick: He is a dear friend and someone who has taught me a lot about music, life and spiritual being. My experience with him is amongst the best I've ever had. He is someone I value very much in my life, even though we don't see each other very much these days due to geography.
Q: The lists of artists/bands you have worked with is quite impressive especially to an 80s fan like I am. What can you tell us about your work with any of the following: Martin Fry & ABC, Belinda Carlisle, Go West, T'Pau, Tina Turner, Tony Hadley, Alphaville (just to name a few)?
Nick: Martin Fry asked me to join ABC in 2002. I stayed with them for five years despite collapsing on stage one night and vomiting into a bucket due to a viral infection. Belinda Carlisle took me to Malibu to record her  album A Woman and a Man. We spent a month there living in luxury during a spectacular recording session that included Brian Wilson and Isaac Hayes. It was very demanding playing for Go West as Peter Cox wanted every last note to be just so. Even though I had transcribed the parts, he was very detailed in what he wanted on top. He was quite amazing. I have a lot of respect for that guy. I had a band called Ellis, Beggs & Howard which toured with T'Pau in 1988. Later on, I played for Carol Decker on tour. Her voice can lift the roof off any venue. I played a session for Terry Briton on a track called "Something Beautiful Remains" by Tina Turner. I don't think he liked what I contributed however and don't even know if I ended up on the record. Tony Hadley and I go back a long way. Spandau Ballet and the Goo were always running into each other on the road. I played bass for Tony a couple of times live in later years. It's a funny old world. I was Musical Director for Alphaville for a few weeks and would fly to Berlin to work with Marion Gold in preparation for a tour. However, when Belinda Carlisle asked me to join her band, I jumped ship. But the guy I put in my chair is still with them.
Q: I also see that you are currently a member of the Kim Wilde band. What can you tell us about your experience working with Kim Wilde?
Nick: I've been with Kim for five years. She is like a sister to me. We have a lot of fun touring. I think I've had more fun with the Wilde Bunch than any other band I've toured with. Toooooo much fun!
Q: What has your experience been performing at the Festivals with those other great bands who had such great success in the 80s? New appreciation for each other's music? New friendships?
Nick: Mark King is a good pal of mine. His influence can never be overstated. Kajagoogoo played a tour with Level 42 back in 1984. Last year, we played two shows with the band again. It was like old times.
Q: Please tell us about the role you feel the bass plays in a great song and how you go about playing that role.
Nick: The very nature of bass dictates what the chord is, so for that reason it is a very important instrument. Good bass players usually have an original sound, so that is equally important in making a song sound good. But most of all I think you have to be prepared to take chances.
Q: After over three decades in the business, from your perspective, how has the music industry changed over that time? And how do you see the future?
Nick: The industry has become more corporate on one hand. Margins are paramount. I worked as an A&R man for PolyGram Records for a while and saw just how it works on the inside. But that's the same the world over. It will become harder and harder to make a living in the music industry. But the industry will have to adapt. There a lot of people who all want a bit of a tiny, tiny cake. And the cake is shrinking. The music business will need original thinkers.
Q: In 2004, the original 5 members of Kajagoogoo reunited for the VH1 Bands Reunited show. Then, not too long after that, Kajagoogoo including Limahl decided to reunite and in 2008, the band recorded a 4 track EP of new material and toured Europe together again. What brought about this reunion and what are your feelings towards this experience?
Nick: It was the desire to work together again as we once did 28 years ago. I'm glad we did it. I have no regrets. It was fun once again. Now we are all on good terms. And that's the way it should be.
Q: Is there the possibility of more new music from Kajagoogoo to come?
Q: What else is Nick Beggs up to nowadays?
Nick: I've written and illustrated a children's novel which I hope to publish next year. I have a great literary agent. I'm playing for Steve Hackett [ex-Genesis guitartist] and touring with Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree. Kim Wilde also has asked me to tour with her this December and March. In addition, I'm looking forward to presenting my own new band. It's rather special. We are recording right now.
I am honored that Nick took some time to answer my questions so I could share them with you here. Special appreciation goes to his wife Ann Beggs for helping to coordinate the interview. You can find out lots more about him at his official website www.nickbeggs.co.uk or more about Kajagoogoo at their official website www.kajagoogoo.com. I want to take this opportunity to again thank Nick Beggs for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Kajagoogoo and, even more, for going back to the 80s for a little while with us here as well.
That'll wrap up another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying the interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: Most kids today do not even know what a boom box is let alone a cassette tape. I came across this picture of what it might be like if the iconic scene from Say Anything would be filmed today. Lloyd might be holding some form of iPod or MP3 player over his head and it just wouldn't be the same...
Quote of the day: "Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great." -Orison Swett Marden
COPYRIGHT Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
IMAGES All images on Kickin' it Old School were used with best intentions and are readily available in various places on the Internet and believed to be in public domain. Images posted are believed to be posted within the rights according to the U.S. Copyright Fair Use Act (title 17, U.S. Code.) If you believe that any content appearing on this blog infringes on your copyright, please let me know immediately.