Thompson Twins

The Thompson Twins are a British band which emerged in the 1980s in the immediate aftermath of New Romanticism, scoring a string of hits and conquering the USA in the process.

They were originally a new-wave act who, after the founding threesome moved south from Sheffield, had so little money that they lived as squatters in London, with the personnel rising to seven members. After a lucky break, they were signed up to Arista records and group leader Tom Bailey (born January 18, 1956) paid off four of the members in return for their instruments.

The remaining trio - singer and main musician Bailey; lyricist and percussionist Alannah Currie (born September 20, 1959); and multi-instrumentalist and stylings guru Joe Leeway (born November 15, 1957) - broke into the UK charts at the beginning of 1983 with "Love On Your Side". Further hits from debut album "Quickstep And Sidekick" followed, with Bailey's flame-red hair and bright ponytail and Currie's wasp-swatting style at the xylophone swiftly becoming endearing images of an exciting new act.

At the end of 1983, a single "Hold me Now" was released. It defied the trends of the electronic pop which was still dominating the charts, relying almost wholly on an emotive piano, some clever percussion from the New Zealand-born Currie and a heartfelt vocal from Bailey. It hit the Top 3 and remains one of the more timeless singles from an era and decade which tends to date a little more easily than others. Three equally as mature singles followed into 1984 - the poppy "Doctor Doctor"; the quirky, accordion-dominated "You Take Me Up" (at No.2, their biggest UK hit); and the haunting "Sister Of Mercy". The corresponding album, "Into The Gap" was one of the best sellers of the year. The trio had peaked.

In 1985, they had three hits which were palpable compared to the previous year's highs, but still made headlines when they performed at the American end of Live Aid and were joined onstage by the fresh-faced Madonna, who was in only her second year of fame. As the most talked about and hippest woman on the planet at the time, her appearance with the Thompson Twins should have helped their cause further, but by the end of the year, by which time they'd enjoyed three US Top 10 hits, they'd plummeted substantially.

Leeway left and the remaining duo soldiered on for another seven years, only occasionally puncturing the singles charts and never again making the Top 40.

Bailey and Currie, despite years of denying romantic inclinations at the height of their fame, got married and now raise their family in New Zealand while still occasionally dabbling in music under the name Babble. The band have, however, declined to follow the examples of many of their contemporaries and reform to tie in with a nostalgic rebirth of the 1980s. The two divorced in 2004.

Much merriment was gained from their name (they took it from the detectives in bowler hats who featured in the Tintin comics) as there were three in the band; none of them were twins; and none of them were called Thompson.


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Much merriment was gained from their name (they took it from the detectives in bowler hats who featured in the Tintin comics) as there were three in the band; none of them were twins; and none of them were called Thompson. Ultra Nate has amassed five #1 hits, including "Free", on the Billboard club charts, between 1994 and 2001. The two divorced in 2004. The song peaked at #75 on the Hot 100. The band have, however, declined to follow the examples of many of their contemporaries and reform to tie in with a nostalgic rebirth of the 1980s. The song enjoyed heavy airplay throughout the rest of the millennium, not only in clubs, but on rhythmic and mainstream radio stations across the country. Bailey and Currie, despite years of denying romantic inclinations at the height of their fame, got married and now raise their family in New Zealand while still occasionally dabbling in music under the name Babble. It here that "Free", her biggest mainstream hit in America, was released in 1997.

Leeway left and the remaining duo soldiered on for another seven years, only occasionally puncturing the singles charts and never again making the Top 40. However, when Warner Brothers tried to push her in a more R&B, less house, direction, Ultra Nate left the major label and fled to the independent dance label, Strictly Rhythm. As the most talked about and hippest woman on the planet at the time, her appearance with the Thompson Twins should have helped their cause further, but by the end of the year, by which time they'd enjoyed three US Top 10 hits, they'd plummeted substantially. She found some American club success and European success there with a string of singles. In 1985, they had three hits which were palpable compared to the previous year's highs, but still made headlines when they performed at the American end of Live Aid and were joined onstage by the fresh-faced Madonna, who was in only her second year of fame. She began her recording career on a major label, Warner Brothers. The trio had peaked. Ultra Nate is noted for taking the opposite path than what most musicians take.

The corresponding album, "Into The Gap" was one of the best sellers of the year. Though she has had club success in America, she has found the majority of her singles and, especially, album sales success in Europe. Three equally as mature singles followed into 1984 - the poppy "Doctor Doctor"; the quirky, accordion-dominated "You Take Me Up" (at No.2, their biggest UK hit); and the haunting "Sister Of Mercy". She is also remembered in America for her team-up with Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez on a 1999 cover of "If You Could Read My Mind", which was also a mainstream American hit. It hit the Top 3 and remains one of the more timeless singles from an era and decade which tends to date a little more easily than others. Ultra Nate (originally from Baltimore) is a popular American house musician who is best known in her home country for her monsterous 1990s dance crossover smash, "Free", which features the memorable chorus "'cause you're free/ to do what you want to do/ you've got to live your life/ and do what you want to do". It defied the trends of the electronic pop which was still dominating the charts, relying almost wholly on an emotive piano, some clever percussion from the New Zealand-born Currie and a heartfelt vocal from Bailey.

At the end of 1983, a single "Hold me Now" was released. Further hits from debut album "Quickstep And Sidekick" followed, with Bailey's flame-red hair and bright ponytail and Currie's wasp-swatting style at the xylophone swiftly becoming endearing images of an exciting new act. The remaining trio - singer and main musician Bailey; lyricist and percussionist Alannah Currie (born September 20, 1959); and multi-instrumentalist and stylings guru Joe Leeway (born November 15, 1957) - broke into the UK charts at the beginning of 1983 with "Love On Your Side". After a lucky break, they were signed up to Arista records and group leader Tom Bailey (born January 18, 1956) paid off four of the members in return for their instruments.

They were originally a new-wave act who, after the founding threesome moved south from Sheffield, had so little money that they lived as squatters in London, with the personnel rising to seven members. The Thompson Twins are a British band which emerged in the 1980s in the immediate aftermath of New Romanticism, scoring a string of hits and conquering the USA in the process.

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