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|Genres||Reggae, ska, pop|
|Associated acts||Coming Up Roses|
Amazulu were a British reggae/ska/pop band from the 1980s made up of five women and one man. They achieved success in the UK charts with four top-20 hits, the biggest being "Too Good to Be Forgotten" in 1986.
Early days and success
The name Amazulu is taken from the Zulu language word for the Zulu people, also meaning Mother of the Zulus. They originally wanted to be named Amazon but an American rock band already had the name. The name Amazulu came about when Sharon and Lesley went to see a South African play by the same name and met with the playwright who gave his permission to use the name. The band was started by Sharon Bailey, the band's original manager, Rose Miner, the original lead singer, and Lesley Beach, the saxophone player. All members were female, at first with Debbie Dread on drums. Later Rose was replaced by Anne Marie Ruddock and Debbie was replaced by John "Nardo" Bailey, who they called their token male. Rose went on to become a dancer, dance teacher and percussionist. She performed with Quilombo do Samba in the UK and Brazil. Falcon Stuart, the former manager of X-Ray Spex and Adam and the Ants, was one of their early managers and helped promote their first single, "Cairo", to modest success in the UK, which included airplay from BBC Radio 1's John Peel.
The band started gaining appearances on television, including on The Young Ones (1984) and Top of the Pops several times, which helped to widen their fame. They achieved hits that included "Excitable" and "Too Good to Be Forgotten", the latter of which was originally recorded by The Chi-Lites. The band achieved a minor success in the United States with "Montego Bay" (a cover of the 1970 song by Bobby Bloom) in 1986; early the next year, it became a surprise hit in Canada, climbing to No. 6 on their singles chart. That year their eponymous full-length album was released on Island Records, although it failed to chart highly.
Line up changes and break up
The group trimmed down to a trio of Anne-Marie Ruddock, Sharon Bailey and Lesley Beach during 1986 as they were enjoying their greatest success. In 1987, Beach left the band and Ruddock and Bailey continued as a duo for another year, scoring the minor hit "Mony Mony". Afterwards, Amazulu recorded their second album Spellbound which was released in designated Asian countries including Hong Kong in audio cassette format under EMI Records. The album contained the singles "Mony Mony", "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" and "My Heart Belongs to You" (which was released under Ruddock's name only in 1988). In early 1988 they split.
Sharon, Anne Marie and Lesley Ruddock appeared in the 1987 Alex Cox film Straight to Hell. After travelling the world and living in Brazil and Rome, Sharon Bailey now lives in Buckinghamshire. She drums from time to time and is still involved in the music industry. Lesley Beach moved to Tucson, Arizona, after taking a break in the hills of Ibiza with José Padilla. She went on to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree from Prescott College for the Liberal Arts, the Environment and Social Justice and worked as a social worker in Tucson. Rose and Lesley reunited and played drums and percussion in the Samba band Quilombo do Samba, who won the Best Band in the 2002 Notting Hill Carnival. The band member who achieved the greatest commercial success in music was Clare Kenny, who joined Coming Up Roses and became a session player with Sinéad O'Connor, Shakespears Sister and Damien Dempsey. Margo Sagov went on to graduate as an architect, played guitar with several bands and is currently playing with Rock Candy.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Smiley Stylee"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Single only|
|"Don't You Just Know It"||15||—||—||24||—||—||—||—|
|1986||"The Things the Lonely Do"||43||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Too Good to Be Forgotten"||5||27||31||6||26||39||—||—|
|"All Over the World"||78||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Wonderful World, Beautiful People"||97||—||—||—||56||28||—||—|
- Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 25. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 21. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Amazulu Mbiography Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
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