Mark White, Martin Fry, Stephen Singleton of the British group ABC
Martin Fry (vocals)
Mark White (guitar)
with David Robinson (drums), David Palmer (drums), Graham Broad (drums), Andy Newmark (drums), Mark Lickley (bass), Brad Lang (bass), Alen Spenner (bass), Stephen Singleton (saxophone), David Clayton (keyboards), David Yarritu, Fiona Russell-Powell.
"From gold lame suits and new pop . . . to optimistic house, ABC have attempted to purvey stylish dance music that knows where it's coming from." -- i-D Magazine
"We wanted pop music to be more than just a mediocre nursery rhyme." -- Martin Fry
ABC is formed early in 1980 when Martin Fry (b. 3.9.58, Manchester, Lancs.) interviewed Mark White (b. 4.1.61, Sheffield) and saxaphonist Stephen Singleton, members of the band Vice Versa, for his fanzine Modern Drugs. When asked to do so, Fry joins the band as lead singer. Renamed ABC, the group survives its debut live performance in Sheffield, England.
The band's first hit single, "Tears Are Not Enough," makes it to the #19 spot on the UK charts.
A second hit single, "Poison Arrow" climbs to #6 on the UK charts.
"The Look of Love" makes it to #4 on the UK charts.
ABC's first album, The Lexicon of Love is a solid hit, establishing the band in the front ranks of the New Romantic movement. It will be certified gold in 1995. Studio musicians on the album include three members of the future group, Art of Noise: Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik and Gary Langan. The album shoots to #1 in the UK and will remain on the U.S. charts for eight months.
The band embarks on a successful world tour and makes a film called Man Trap.
"The Look of Love" climbs to #18 on the US singles chart, and the popular video gets much airtime on MTV.
ABC's second album, Beauty Stab, makes it to the #12 spot on the UK charts. The first single, "That Was Then But This Is Now" peaks at #18 (UK). The new album has a heavier rock sound than Lexicon, and gets mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.
Fry and White, the only remaining members, move to New York City; Beauty Stab has not fared all that well in the US, peaking at #69 on the LP chart.
A single from the upcoming third album, "Be Near Me," reaches UK #26.
ABC's third album, How To Be A Zillionaire, zooms to #28 in the UK and #30 in the US, while the ballad "Be Near Me" becomes the bands first Top Ten hit (peaking at US#9), and is a popular dance mix.
Having struggled for all of the previous year with Hodgkin's Disease, Fry rejoins White to begin work on a fourth album.
"When Smokey Sings," a tribute to Smokey Robinson, makes it to #5 on the US singles chart; previously it had reached the #11 spot in the UK.
ABC releases its fourth album, Alphabet City, which hits #7 in the UK but does not do nearly as well in the US, topping off at #48 on the LP chart.
"King Without A Crown" starts at UK #44, and goes downhill from there. Fry and White turn to producing -- an album for Lizzie Tear called Enter The Lizard and songs for the debut solo album of Paul Rutherford, formerly of Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
"One Better World" grinds to a halt at UK #32.
The album Up, containing only seven tracks, reaches UK #58.
The Lexicon of Love (1982, Neutron)
Many Happy Returns
Tears Are Not Enough
The Look of Love (Part I)
All Of My Heart
4 Ever 2 Gether
The Look of Love (Part IV)
A "masterpiece of orchestral songcraft and audacious lyrical insights"
"Bursting with hooks, clever lyrics, and synthetic funk-inspired grooves that hold up better than most any others from the early '80s."
Beauty Stab (1983, Neutron)
That Was Then But This Is Now
Love's A Dangerous Language
If I'd Ever Thought You'd Be Lonely
Power of Persuasion
By Default By Design
Bite The Hand
"Beauty Stab may be one of the few really excellent albums of '83."
"ABC makes additional overtures towards Roxyish guitar rock but with little aptitude in direction, identity or grace."
How To Be A Zillionaire (1985, Neutron)
Fear of the World
Be Near Me
15 Storey Halo
A to Z
How To Be A Millionaire
Tower of London
So Hip It Hurts
Between You and Me
"A mixed bag of sarcasm and sweetness on which the prime new influence is American hip-hop."
"Zillionaire may not be as lush or as dramatic [as The Lexicon of Love] but it's rather fab all the same."
Alphabet City (1987, Neutron)
When Smokey Sings
The Night You Murdered Love
Rage and Then Regret
King Without A Crown
"Martin Fry has grown as a lyricist while Mark White produces imaginative guitarplay."
United Dutch Press
"An easygoing, confident modern soul record."
Up (1989, Neutron)
Never More Than Now
The Real Thing
One Better World
Where Is The Heaven?
The Greatest Love of All
I'm In Love With You
"Up is a dance record with draught and definitely the best ABC since Lexicon of Love."
"A heaven sent shock of helium-high pop."
The 1990 BBC-TV documentary, That Was Then, This Is Now, was devoted to the band.
In 1997, Fry contributed his version of "Thunderball" to David Arnold's album, Shaken Not Stirred, which featured James Bond movie themes.
In 1999, ABC joined two other famous Eighties bands, Culture Club and Human League, for a 10-date nostalgia tour in the UK.