|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2008)|
|Origin||San Francisco, California|
|Genres||New wave, synthpop|
|Labels||Mercury Records, Polydor Records|
|Associated acts||Red Zone, Device|
|Website||Animotion Web Site|
|Past members||Paul Antonelli
Animotion is a 1980s American new wave/synthpop band from San Francisco, California best known for their songs "Obsession," (written and performed originally by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres) "Let Him Go," "I Engineer," (written by Holly Knight, Bernie Taupin and Mike Chapman) and "Room to Move" (written and originally performed by Climie Fisher).
Formed in 1983 from the remnants of a retro science-fiction band called Red Zone, they signed a record deal with Polygram Records in 1984 and made three albums.
Animotion originally had six members, four of whom (lead singer Astrid Plane, keyboardist Paul Antonelli, bassist Charles Ottavio, and drummer David "Frenchy" O'Brien) had originally been members of the band Red Zone. After the demise of that band, the four aforementioned members set about creating a new group. Lead singer/guitarist Bill Wadhams joined soon thereafter to co-front the new band with Plane. After the formation of Animotion around this nucleus, lead guitarist Don Kirkpatrick was brought on board, completing the line-up. They released their self-titled debut album in 1985. That year, a single from this album, "Obsession," written by hit songwriter Holly Knight and noted British singer/actor Michael Des Barres (who originally cut the song themselves as "Knight and Des Barres" for the 1983 movie A Night in Heaven), became a worldwide success and the band's first Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten single. The follow-up single from this album, "Let Him Go" also cracked the U.S. Top 40. The radio edit of "Let Him Go" was remixed for release in order to sound more like its predecessor, "Obsession."
Session keyboardist Greg Smith, who had played on the band's debut album, became an official member of the band prior to the recording of the follow-up album, Strange Behavior (1986), which also saw Jim Blair replacing O'Brien on the drum kit. While several singles were released from this album, its success in the U.S. paled in comparison to the debut album, whereas the band became very famous in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Africa, thanks to the LP's single "I Engineer," another Holly Knight composition which was co-written with Bernie Taupin and Mike Chapman. "I Engineer" reached the Top 20 (and sometimes the Top 5) in those countries. During 1986 and 1987, Animotion toured extensively, appearing alongside such performers as Phil Collins, Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, Genesis, Howard Jones, INXS, and Simply Red.
In the midst of recording their third album, Animotion went through personnel changes, as all three of the remaining founding members (Bill Wadhams, Astrid Plane and Charles Ottavio) departed. Following their departure, Ottavio and Plane married. Actress/dancer/singer Cynthia Rhodes, known for her performance as the character "Penny Johnson" in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, replaced Plane as female lead singer, and former solo artist/Device member Paul Engemann replaced Wadhams as the male lead for Animotion's second self-titled album, informally known as "Room to Move" (due to the success of this song) to distinguish it from their first LP. Incidentally, Engemann's former band, Device had also included Holly Knight (co-writer of "Obsession"). By the time of this third album's release, only Kirkpatrick and Smith remained officially in the "band" backing Rhodes and Engemann, and other session musicians were used during its recording. The single "Room to Move," a remake of a 1988 song by the group Climie Fisher, became a radio hit in April 1989, and their second Top 10 hit in the U.S., aided by its inclusion in the movie My Stepmother is an Alien. However, the album itself failed to chart, and Animotion broke up after that.
Many of the original members reunited for the first of several reformations on February 8, 2001, in response to a request from Alex Hart and 94.7 NRK Radio Station in Portland, Oregon, performing for a sold-out crowd. In the summer of 2005, founding members Wadhams, Plane and Ottavio appeared as "Animotion" in the American version of the TV show Hit Me Baby One More Time, performing their hit "Obsession" and a cover of Dirty Vegas' "Days Go By."
In 2008, Animotion again reunited in a line-up including original members Wadhams, Plane, Ottavio, and Kirkpatrick; veteran keyboardist Greg Smith; and drummer Kevin Rankin for a few touring dates aloe West Coast.
In 2009, Animotion was thrust into pop culture again as it was featured on VH-1's Top 100 One Hit Wonders of the 80s (in spite of the fact that Animotion are technically not one-hit wonders, as their second single "Let Him Go" made it into the top 40 in 1985, and "Room to Move" cracked the top ten in 1989, albeit with an almost entirely different line-up). Animotion came in at No. 12 with the hit "Obsession." Both Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams were interviewed and featured.
UK based specialist reissue label Cherry Red Records re-released deluxe editions of both the Animotion (1985) and Strange Behavior (1986) albums via its Cherry Pop imprint on 17 August 2009 (UK) and a week later in the US (according to Amazon.com). Extensive sleeve notes are by long-time fan Steve Thorpe; some visual archive material for the booklets was supplied by Charles Kennedy of Invisible Hands Music. The audio was remastered by Tim Turan in Oxford UK. The CDs each include several bonus tracks including 7" remixes and 12" remixes gathered from various singles released between 1984 and 1986 in Europe and the United States.
Original frontman Bill Wadhams worked as a graphic designer at NBC, BBD&O, Wieden & Kennedy for a while. He's kept a hand in music composition and production, and currently manages Animotion. Wadhams, a Portland, Oregon resident, has three sons and one daughter. The two older sons, Charlie and Chris Wadhams have formed their own band in Los Angeles, Rex Aquarium.
Astrid Plane & Charles Ottavio
Original frontwoman Astrid Plane married bassist Charles Ottavio shortly after they both left Animotion in the latter half of the 1980s. They are currently living on the West Coast, raising their daughter Victoria. When not playing with Animotion, Astrid is still involved in the music business, having released the three song EP If I Was Magic in May 2007. She also gives voice lessons at The Voice Shop in Fresno. She also has a MySpace page.
Full-time Animotion drummer since 2002, Kevin Rankin has been a member in a series of other successful bands, including guitar phenom Jennifer Batten and Columbia Recording artists Craving Theo. Rankin also owns a successful Web design agency, Silver Lining Media, LLC  based in Portland, Oregon.
Original keyboardist Paul Antonelli, who left the band sometime in the mid-1980s, began composing and directing music for various TV series programs. Immediately after leaving Animotion, Antonelli had played in the band Radio Werewolf. While he does not currently participate in Animotion reunion tours, he has attended some of the band's recent performances. Antonelli composed music for As the World Turns, a daytime drama on CBS.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart
|1989||Animotion (Room to Move)
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|1996||Obsession: The Best of Animotion
|2006||20th Century Masters: The Best of Animotion
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|1985||"Let Him Go"||39||—||—||—||—||41||—||—||78||—||"Holding You"|
|1986||"I Engineer"||76||—||27||—||19||2||—||6||—||4||"The Essence"||Strange Behavior|
|"I Want You"||84||—||—||—||—||27||—||—||—||—||"Staring Down The Demons"|
|1989||"Room to Move"||9||46||—||11||—||—||34||—||87||—||"Send It Over"||Animotion (Room to Move)|
|"Calling It Love"||53||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||"The Way Into Your Heart"|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
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- Official Website
- Bill Wadhams' Website
- Bill Wadhams Interview following Hit Me Baby One More Time appearance
- Brief Don Kirkpatrick Bio
- Booking Agency