Andy McCluskey

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Andy McCluskey
McCluskey with OMD at the Royal Albert Hall in London, 2016
McCluskey with OMD at the Royal Albert Hall in London, 2016
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Andrew McCluskey
Born (1959-06-24) 24 June 1959 (age 61)
Heswall, Wirral, Cheshire, England
OriginMeols, Wirral, England
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • bass
  • guitar
  • keyboards
Years active1976–present
Associated acts

George Andrew McCluskey (born 24 June 1959) is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. He is best known as co-founder, lead singer and bass guitarist of the electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD).

McCluskey also founded pop girl group Atomic Kitten, for whom he served as a principal songwriter, and has collaborated with various popular acts. Described as an "electro pioneer",[1] McCluskey is an Ivor Novello Award-nominated songwriter whose work has topped charts in the UK and internationally.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark[edit]

Andy McCluskey was born on 24 June 1959 in Heswall, Wirral, and grew up in Meols on the northern coast of the Wirral Peninsula in England. McCluskey met Paul Humphreys at Great Meols Primary School,[2] in Elwyn Road, and played with him in several bands, including Hitlerz Underpantz, VCL XI and the Id. McCluskey then attended Calday Grange Grammar School in West Kirby. McCluskey briefly joined Dalek I Love You as their lead singer, but left because he wanted to sing his own songs. McCluskey teamed up with Humphreys again to form OMD in 1978, achieving global success.

Humphreys and the rest of the band split with McCluskey in 1989, with McCluskey retaining the OMD name:[3] he disbanded the group in 1996. McCluskey single-handedly wrote the OMD hits "Enola Gay",[4] "Joan of Arc" and "Maid of Orleans", and co-wrote the successful singles "Locomotion", "Talking Loud and Clear", "If You Leave",[5] and "Sailing on the Seven Seas".


McCluskey and Humphreys reformed OMD for a performance on German TV in June 2005, with the promise of more gigs to follow. 2007 saw the first tour of the reformed OMD, including Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes, commemorating the twenty-sixth anniversary of the release of their seminal album Architecture & Morality. The album itself was remastered and re-released to coincide.

The band released a CD and DVD of their Hammersmith Apollo (London) live gig from the 2007 reunion tour in the spring of 2008 before undertaking a short tour to celebrate thirty years as a band in the autumn of 2008, concluding at London's historic Roundhouse venue on 7 October 2008. A compilation of their singles and videos, Messages: Greatest Hits, was released to coincide with the tour. On 20 September 2010 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark released their 11th studio album History of Modern, their first in 14 years.

Live performance[edit]

McCluskey developed a popular and distinctive onstage dance routine, dubbed by the BBC's Stuart Maconie as the "Trainee Teacher Dance".[6] Rock trio ZZ Top, who shared a studio with OMD on a 1980 edition of BBC2 show The Old Grey Whistle Test, adopted the routine as part of their live set (and also played OMD's self-titled debut album over the PA prior to concerts).[7] Maconie wrote that the "jerky, leg-snapping" dance became "the dance-floor routine of choice" for teaching students in the early-to-mid 1980s.[8] Rolling Stone observed "the infectious manic energy of [OMD] frontman Andy McCluskey, a walking encyclopedia of New Wave dance moves".[9] McCluskey said: "I find that it becomes part of the show. It's got to a point where I am now in a shamanistic shaking ritual. I just get physically involved."[6]

In live shows, McCluskey often plays bass guitar and occasionally, keyboard instruments and guitar. He is right-handed, but originally learned to play bass guitar on a left-handed model. As a result, he plays with the strings "upside down" (i.e., with the lowest-pitched string on the bottom and the highest-pitched one on top), counter to normal practice.[10]

Atomic Kitten and the Genie Queen[edit]

In 1998, McCluskey founded the UK pop group Atomic Kitten. Their song "Whole Again", co-written by McCluskey, was his first UK No.1,[11] and he and his fellow songwriters were nominated for the Ivor Novello Award for excellence in songwriting.[12] McCluskey was also a writer of the Atomic Kitten hits "Right Now", "See Ya", "I Want Your Love" and "Cradle". He parted ways with the group during the recording of their second album, Feels So Good (2002).[13]

McCluskey subsequently formed the White Noise records and publishing label where he worked with Liverpool girl group, the Genie Queen.[14] He also bought a recording studio, the Motor Museum, in Liverpool.[15]

Other work[edit]

McCluskey has written with, and provided session musicianship for, various artists. Some of his collaborators include: Gary Barlow, with whom McCluskey wrote the song "Thrill Me" for the soundtrack of the film Eddie the Eagle (2016);[16] The Lightning Seeds, for whom he played keyboards on their debut album Cloudcuckooland (1990);[17] and Karl Bartos, whose record Esperanto (1993) – released under the Elektric Music moniker – features McCluskey as co-writer on "Show Business" and "Kissing the Machine" (and as lead vocalist on the latter track).[18] Bartos also co-wrote the song "The Moon & the Sun", which featured on OMD's Universal (1996). "Kissing the Machine" would later appear in a reworked form on the OMD album English Electric (2013).[19]

Personal life[edit]

McCluskey's father was of Scottish origin and was a railway worker. He was born in 1924 and died at the age of 79.[20]

McCluskey's girlfriend in the late 1970s was the Id bandmate Julia Kneale.[21] She wrote the lyrics to "Julia's Song",[22] which appeared on OMD's eponymous debut album (1980).

McCluskey later married Toni,[23] with whom he had two children.[24][25] A prominent reason for OMD's reformation was that his children had never seen him on stage; in 2007 he said: "I was happy to stop working to be with the kids, but strangely enough they have been the most vocal in encouraging me back."[24]

The couple divorced in 2011 and Toni returned to her native San Diego, California, with the children.[25] Their son, James McCluskey, is a founding member, bass player and backing vocalist of the group MiG 15, named after the fighter jet of the same name.[26]


  1. ^ "OMD Interview". Clash. 12 March 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Macantosh, Dan. "ANDY MCCLUSKY OF OMD". Songfacts. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b Fulton, Rick (12 May 2013). "Manoeuvring back on scene". Sunday Mail. The Free Library. Retrieved 12 October 2013. Fans love your distinctive dancing, which Stuart Maconie called the 'Trainee Teacher Dance'.
  7. ^ Waller; Humphreys, p. 70
  8. ^ Maconie, Stuart. Cider With Roadies. p.142. Ebury Publishing. 2004.
  9. ^ "Coachella 2013: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wu-Tang Clan Brave Sandstorm". Rolling Stone. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  10. ^ "A Message from Andy McCluskey of OMD". Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009. I play bass with the strings upside down even though I am right handed....because my first bass was a left handed Wilson Rapier...
  11. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Atomic Kitten – Whole Again". Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  12. ^ "Gray and Healy battle for Ivors". BBC News. 23 April 2002. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  13. ^ Ulibas, Joseph (13 August 2015). "Atomic Kitten is back and they're playing a few dates for The Greatest Hits tour". AXS. 2929 Entertainment. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Three Wishes for Genie Queen". BBC. 9 October 2003. Archived from the original on 9 October 2003. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Studiofile: Motor Museum, Liverpool, UK". Future Music (224): 22. March 2010.
  16. ^ Fly: Songs Inspired by the Film Eddie the Eagle. AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  17. ^ Cloudcuckooland. AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  18. ^ Esperanto. AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  19. ^ English Electric. AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  20. ^ "Andy McCluskey - Conversation taken from TTA1 - SS 2011". THE TRAVEL ALMANAC. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  21. ^ Clarkson, John (11 January 2009). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Interview". Pennyblackmusic. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  22. ^ "Auction - Julia's Song Lyric Sheet". OMD. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  23. ^ Price, Pete (26 July 2007). "Manoeuvres in the dark... on new knees". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  24. ^ a b Key, Philip (26 January 2007). "New Manoeuvres are on the cards". Liverpool Daily Post. TheFreeLibrary. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  25. ^ a b Lindgren, Hugo (10 May 2013). "The Plot Against Rock". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  26. ^ "MiG15". MiG 15. Retrieved 7 October 2019.