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Imagination were a three piece band, who came to prominence in the early 1980s. They had chart hits in 28 countries, earning four platinum discs, nine gold discs and more than a dozen silver discs around the world between 1981 and 1983.
Singer/keyboardist Leee John was working as a backing vocalist for The Delfonics, Chairmen of the Board, The Velvelettes and The Elgins when he met Ashley Ingram, a guitarist/bassist (born 27 November 1960, Northampton). John and Ingram formed a songwriting partnership, resolving to start their own 'slinky, sexy and erotic' group, working in a short-lived band called Fizzz. Whilst they were auditioning for another short-lived band, Midnight Express, they met drummer Errol Kennedy (born 9 June 1953, Montego Bay Jamaica) who, at a very young age had learned to drum in the Boys' Brigade and Air Training Corps. Kennedy was a member of the London based soul-funk band TFB (Typical Funk Band) later known as Central Line prior to co-founding Midnight Express.
Formed in 1981, the trio took a demo tape of a track called "Body Talk" to producers Jolley & Swain. It was released as a single in April 1981 under the group name Imagination, a name that the group chose as a tribute to John Lennon. The track reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1981, selling 250,000 copies in the UK and spending eighteen weeks in the Top 50. They had two more hit singles that year, "In and Out of Love" (September) and "Flashback" (November), both of which peaked at number 16, all from their debut album, also called Body Talk.
Their biggest hit, "Just an Illusion", peaked at number two in March 1982 ("Just an Illusion" would later be used as the end title song to the 1986 film, F/X); followed by "Music and Lights" (number five in June), "In the Heat of the Night" (number 22 in September, also the name of their second album) and "Changes" (number 31 in December). This was accompanied by a sell-out concert tour of Europe, with 22 dates in the UK. The trio frequently appeared on BBC Television's Top of the Pops, and other pop music television programmes, with a distinctive exotic style, reminiscent of Roman senators, harem orderlies and slaves. John made a guest appearance on Doctor Who in 1983. They were also known for their esoteric album sleeve notes.
Following this the success of the group in the UK waned, but they continued to perform, tour and record. In 1987, they were signed to RCA Records and recorded two albums and seven more singles. At the end of 1987 Kennedy left the band. John and Ingram continued and recorded a last album Fascination of the Physical, in 1990, which was a commercial failure. This caused the band's split in 1992.
On 5 May 2013, Kennedy released Imagination's official anniversary single "Just An Illusion" (featuring T'Mar), which is a re-production of what had become Imagination's biggest hit. Kennedy had also announced that the single was taken from the forthcoming anniversary album, New Dimension to be released later in the year.
- 88-Keys sampled Imagination's song, "All Night Loving", for his hit song, "Stay Up! (Viagra)", from 88-Keys' debut album, The Death of Adam (2008).
- The hit song "Get Your Number", co-written by Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox, and recorded by Carey for her album The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), is built around a sample of "Just an Illusion" by Imagination.
- British band VS sampled Imagination's song, "Body Talk" in their song "Call U Sexy" taken from their debut album All Kinds of Trouble (2004).
- Finnish hip hop group JVG sampled Imagination's "Music & Lights" on their track "Töttöröö", which featured Ruudolf and Karri Koira.
- Nu-disco duo Tiger & Woods sampled Imagination's "Music and Lights" on their track "Gin Nation", in their debut album Through The Green.
|Year||Album details||Peak positions||Certifications
|1982||In the Heat of the Night||7||12||26||16||
(re-titled New Dimension for the US market)
|1989||Imagination – All The Hits||4||-||-||-||
|1992||The Fascination of the Physical||-||-||-||-|
|"In and Out of Love"||16||–||–||–||–||–|
|1982||"Just an Illusion"||2||102||27||15||7||8|
|"Music and Lights"||5||–||52||–||18||12|
|"In the Heat of the Night"||22||–||–||–||48||14|
|1983||"Looking at Midnight"||29||–||64||–||–||–|
|1984||"State of Love"||67||–||–||13||–||–|
|"This Means War (Shoo Be Doo Da Dabba Doobee)"||–||–||29||22||–||–|
|"Thank You My Love"||22||–||–||–||–||–|
|1985||"Found My Girl"||83||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Last Days of Summer"||99||–||–||–||–||–|
|1987||"The Last Time"||93||–||88||–||–||–|
|"I Know What Love Is"||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Hold Me in Your Arms"||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1989||"Love's Taking Over"||100||–||–||–||–||–|
|1990||"I Like It"||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1991||"Call on Me"||–||–||–||–||–||–|
- List of Billboard number-one dance hits
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance chart
- Flick, Larry (14 February 1998). "U.K.'s Leee John Branches Out into Song writing, Producing". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 110 (7): 24. ISSN 0006-2510. "the U.K.-rooted John is best known to dance enthusiasts as the leader of famed post-disco trio Imagination"
- Larkin, Colin (2011). "Imagination". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
- "Imagination's Flashback Set Pus New Songs". SongLink International. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- Kellman, Andy. "Imagination – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 267. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "The Emancipation of Mimi by Mariah Carey". BlueBeat Music. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- "Imagination". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "Discografie Imagination". Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "Discography Imagination". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "Discography Imagination". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "Certified Awards". BPI. Note: User needs to enter "Imagination" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- "Imagination – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 8 June 2014.