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The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
A Decade in the Life
of
Tears For Fears

Curt Smith (left), born 6.24.61 in Bath, Somerset and Roland Orzabal de la Quintana, born in Portsmouth on 8.22.61, first met at 13 when Orzabal recruits Smith as vocalist for a school band in Bath, a resort town 100 miles west of London. In 1980 they join the ska-revivalist band Graduate, which is signed to the Precision label. Graduate releases an album entitled Acting My Age and several singles which fare well in Spain. When Graduate breaks up the following year, Orzabal and Smith stay together, call themselves History Of Headaches at first, and then change their name to Tears For Fears, derived from a chapter in Arthur Janov's book on primal scream therapy entitled Prisoners of Pain. Dave Bates of Phonogram Records hears the demos for "Suffer The Children" and "Pale Shelter" and signs the band with the Mercury label. Joined by Ian Stanley (keyboards) and Manny Elias (drums), both formerly of Interview, for live performances, Tears For Fears releases "Suffer The Children" as its first single in late 1981. The duo will go on to great success in the 1980s as purveyors of synth pop that deserves to be taken seriously. According to Trouser Press, the band makes "clever, memorable records with startling, thought-provoking lyrics about alienation, psychological analysis and failed romance."


March 1982
The single "Pale Shelter" is released.
November 1982
The band embarks on its debut UK tour, supporting the Thompson Twins, while the single "Mad World" climbs to UK#3.
December 1982
The band is named Most Promising New Act in the Smash Hits poll and signs a management deal with Paul King.
February 1983
"Change" soars to UK#4.
March 1983
The band's debut album, The Hurting, reaches UK#1 in only its second week on the chart. Produced by former Adam & The Ants drummer Chris Hughes, and with all the tracks penned by Orzabal, the album will remain on the chart for 65 weeks. It will stall at US#73, however.
May 1983
A remixed "Pale Shelter" is released and peaks at UK#5.
August 1983
"Change" becomes the band's first US single; it makes US#73 before fading.
January 1984
"The Wat You Are" climbs to UK#24.
September 1984
Utilizing a sampling of strings from a Barry Manilow record, "Mothers Talk" reaches UK#14.
January 1985
"Shout" soars to UK#4.
March 1985
Produced by Chris Hughes and inspired by the TV mini-series Sybil, Songs From the Big Chair peaks at UK#2. It will eventually earn triple platinum status in Britain.
April 1985
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World," written by Orzabal, Smith and Hughes, makes it to UK#2.
May 1985
The band launches an 18-month world tour.
June 1985
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" climbs to US#1. (In 1994, BMI will recognize the song for having two million radio broadcast performances.)
July 1985
Songs From the Big Chair reaches the top of the US album chart, where it will remain for five weeks. The album will eventually sell over five million units (quintuple platinum.) "Head Over Heels" peaks at UK#12.
August 1985
"Shout," the bands second consecutive chart-topper in the US, remains at #1 for three weeks.
October 1985
A new version of "I Believe" climbs to UK#23. Next month, "Head Over Heels" hits US#3.
February 1986
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" is named Best British Single at the 5th Annual BRIT Awards in London.
April 1986
Orzabal is named Songwriter of the Year at the 31st Annual Ivor Novello Awards in London.
May 1986
A remixed version of "Mothers Talk" peaks at US#27.
June 1986
A rewritten version of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" (entitled "Everybody Wants To Run The World") is the theme for Sport-``Aid Week and the worldwide run to raise funds for African famine relief. It reaches UK#5.
November 1986
After two years of non-stop touring, both Orzabal and Smith take an extended break to spend time with their wives. In 1987, Orzabal will work on new material  with keyboardist Nicky Holland.
January 1988
In an out-of-court settlement, Smith receives damages fromThe Daily Star, News of the World and The Sun, which had in 1986 had printed false stories about his childhood. He gives the money to his mother.
February 1988
With a new producer (David Bascombe), Orzabal and Smith begin work in London on material for their third album. Backup musicians include Manu Katche on drums, Neil Taylor on guitar, Pino Palladino (bass), Carole Steele (percussion), Simon Clark (keyboards) and Oleta Adams, whom the duo had discovered in a Kansas City Hyatt Regency restaurant club.
September 1989
The first release from the third album, The Seeds of Love, mixed in July at London's Mayfair Studios, is "Sowing The Seeds Of Love," a tribute to The Beatles. It climbs to UK#5.
October 1989
The Seeds of Love enters the UK album chart at #1 and remains there for a week. It will peak at US#8, and will be certified platinum by the RIAA next month. "Sowing The Seeds Of Love" climbs to US#2.
December 1989
Featuring Phil Collins on drums, "Woman In Chains" makes it to UK#26. In February 1990 it will peak at #36 in the US.


The Hurting (Mercury, 1983)
The Hurting
Mad World
Pale Shelter
Ideas As Opiates
Memories Fade
Suffer The Children
Watch Me Bleed
Change
The Prisoner
Start Of The Breakdown

"Blending sizzling, memorable melodies with sensitive, sensible lyrics, Tears For Fears bring a sense of purpose and a feeling of passion to glossy pop."
Sounds

"Orzabal's songs -- largely derived from Janovian primal scream theory and other aspects of modern psychology -- discuss only somber topics of deep pain and sorrow....It's disconcerting to find yourself humming along with such misery, but The Hurting is an excellent, mature record."
Trouser Press

Songs From the Big Chair (Mercury, 1985)
Shout
The Working Hour
Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Mothers Talk
I Believe
Broken
Head Over Heels/Broken (Live)
Listen

"They build rhythmic catchphrases and wonderful melodies upon sturdy song structures and sing with compelling conviction."
Smash Hits

"A calculated and brilliant peak, a quintessence of their polished pop putty....a marvellous, seamless, vindicating triumph."
NME

The Seeds of Love (Fontana, 1989)
Woman In Chains
Badman's Song
Sowing The Seeds Of Love
Advice For The Young At Heart
Standing On The Corner Of The Third World
Swords And Knives
Year Of The Knife
Famous Last Words

"[A] highly changed sound on The Seeds of Love ... shunned their earlier electronic approach and attempted to weave together huge piano and vocal chords in a style reminiscent of the Beatles."
The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music


In October 1991 it is announced that Orzabal will continue as Tears For Fears with other musicians, since Smith is leaving to pursue a solo career. He signs on with Mercury as a solo artist in 1992 and releases his debut album, On Board, the following year.

In 1995, Tears For Fears breaks away from Mercury, after selling 16.5 million records with that label, and signs on with Epic.