Black Lace (band)

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Black Lace
Origin Yorkshire, UK
Genres Pop, novelty
Years active 1975–present
Labels EMI / Flair / NOW Music /Lace Record
Website [1]
Members Colin Gibb
Gordon King
Past members Alan Barton
Terry Dobson
Ian Howarth
Steve Scholey
Rob Hopcraft
Dene Michael

Black Lace are a British pop band, best known for novelty party records, including their biggest hit, "Agadoo". The band first came to the public eye after being selected to represent the UK in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest, in which they finished seventh with the song "Mary Ann". With numerous line-up changes, Black Lace went on to have success with novelty party anthems such as "Superman" and "Do the Conga".

AllMusic wrote, "If you're looking for the band with the least street credibility in the world, whose name alone makes people cringe, then look no further than Black Lace, the equivalent of the naughty seaside postcard, who would record almost any song, whatever damage it did to their image".[1]

Pre-Black Lace (1973–1975)[edit]

Terry Dobson and school friend Ian Howarth formed The Impact, as a five-piece pop group in 1969, with Alan Barton, Steve Scholey and Nigel Scott. The group also performed under the names Penny Arcade and Love or Confusion.

Howarth left the band for a short while but returned to the line-up in 1974, Dobson also left to be replaced briefly by Neil Hardcastle. Dobson then re-joined and Scott left in 1975; that same year the band adopted the name Black Lace. Howarth left the band for good in 1976, and was replaced by Colin Gibb (born Colin Routh, 8 December 1953).[1]

Black Lace (1976–1981)[edit]

After turning professional at the beginning of 1976, the band, managed by Keith Mills, played their first summer season at the Skegness Bier Garten. The following year their summer season would take them to Butlins in Filey North Yorkshire and Skegness, Lincolnshire and they recorded an EP that was to be sold at their shows, The group were voted Yorkshire Band of the Year by BBC Radio Leeds, and best clubland group playing at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.

In 1979, Black Lace recorded their first single, "Mary Ann", for ATV music and a recording contract followed with EMI. As the song required a more 'throaty' vocal, Alan Barton was switched to being lead singer, with Steve Scholey moving to backing vocals for the band's recordings, but remained as lead singer on live performances. The song won the BBC Television's A Song For Europe. Other television appearances around this time included Nationwide, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Top of the Pops and Juke Box Jury. At the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Israel, the band finished seventh and "Mary Ann" peaked at No. 42 in the UK Singles Chart,[1][2]

The band's follow-up single, "So Long Suzy Baby", failed to chart in the UK, but achieved success in Europe. Black Lace found great success with live performances, notably in Poland and Bulgaria, and on TV shows in East Germany, West Germany and Spain.

The band toured Denmark in 1980, supporting Suzi Quatro and working with Tommy Seebach, a Danish entertainer. Black Lace and Seebach recorded "Hey Hey Jock McRay" for the Danish singles market, but an intended 1980 tour of Poland was called off because of political unrest in the country.

Chart success (1981–1987)[edit]

In 1981, the band split. Dobson joined the Castleford rock band Stormer who had a recording contract with Ringo Starr. Scholey departed, leaving the others to settle huge debts incurred whilst touring. The band became a duo of Gibb and Barton.[1] It was this line-up that would give the band its biggest chart success.

The duo played the Northern club circuit using pre-recorded backing tracks. Initially they used the name Lace, but soon reverted to Black Lace and recruited a new manager, John Wagstaff. They recorded an instrumental single based on the "Chicken Dance". It was released as "Birds Dance" in 1981. However, the record was beaten to the charts by another version of the song by The Tweets released as "The Birdie Song". "Birds Dance" has since been retitled "The Birdie Song" and included on Black Lace albums.

Black Lace's 1983 "Superman" single was their first on under their own name on the Flair label,[1] and a promotional video was shot at Casanova's nightclub in Wakefield. One of the hired dancers was the then unknown singer Jane McDonald. "Superman" reached No. 9 in the UK chart,[2] but an attempt at a follow-up single "Hey You!" failed to chart. Black Lace received a silver disc for sales of "Superman". They proceeded to tour Denmark with Danish stars Laban.

The band's biggest success came in 1984 with the single "Agadoo" selling over one million copies worldwide, and reaching No. 2 in the UK chart.[2] "Agadoo" was a hit in Europe, South Africa and Australia. Having been presented with a gold disc for sales in the UK, the duo recorded their first album Black Lace in Denmark. Around this time their record company went into receivership, leading to Black Lace losing hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid royalties for "Agadoo".[citation needed]

The band's follow-up single, "Do The Conga", reached No. 10 in the UK chart,[2] and the accompanying album Party Party – 16 Great Party Icebreakers sold over 650,0000 copies in the first five weeks, reaching double platinum status, and leading to the band doing TV shows in Germany, Luxembourg, France and Denmark.[1] During an interview with broadcaster Richard Whiteley, Gibb is referred to as – 'Mr Agadoo' – as Whiteley forgets his name. (The title was later adopted for himself by Dene Michael)

In 1985, another single, "El Vino Collapso" was released, with the video shot in Skegness. It failed to reach the top 40, stalling at No. 42 in the UK Singles Chart.[2] Further releases "I Speaka Da Lingo" and "Hokey Cokey" reached No. 49 and No. 31, respectively.[2]

Black Lace also participated in recording of the UK No. 1 hit "You'll Never Walk Alone" as part of the charity ensemble, The Crowd, to raise funds for the families of the victims of the Bradford City stadium fire.[1][3]

Black Lace's second album Party Party 2 was released for Christmas 1985, and television appearances included a Black Lace special on the BBC Two rock show The Old Grey Whistle Test, plus on 3-2-1, ITV Telethon, Miss Yorkshire, International Disco Dance Championship, Pebble Mill at One and Top of the Pops Christmas Special, Because of such a work load, Barton and Gibb found it necessary to charter a private aircraft to meet the deadlines but the band's success led to a tax demand of over £100,000.

In 1986, Dene Michael (as a session singer rather than an actual band member) replaced Gibb, who took time out of live work with Black Lace to concentrate on other projects.[4][5] During this time, Gibb promoted the act Party Party with the singer and guitarist John Strike, playing two tours of Germany, after which Gibb disbanded his new act.

Another single, "Wig Wam Bam", reached No. 63 in the UK chart,[2] but "Viva La Mexico", which was released to capitalise on the 1986 FIFA World Cup football competition, flopped when England was knocked out. Black Lace (Barton and Michael) appeared as themselves in the 1987 film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, which featured "Gang Bang" and "Have a Screw", which had been recorded by Barton and Gibb the previous year. The band had a UK hit with their album Party Crazy.[2]

Later career (1987–present)[edit]

1987 saw a switcharound; Gibb returned whilst Barton left to join Smokie.[1] Michael became a full-time member of Black Lace and he and Gibb released the single "Jammin' the Sixties" under the name Barracuda. The record was BBC Radio One Record of the Week, but failed to hit the chart.

Summer seasons at the Blackpool Tower followed in 1989 and 1990, along with the release of the single "I Am The Music Man", which peaked at No. 52 in the UK.[2]

In 1990, Michael left the band, to be replaced by Rob Hopcraft, again, as a session singer as opposed to an actual member,[1] Black Lace released the single "Penny Arcade" penned by Sammy King, which had originally been a hit for Roy Orbison. The band appeared on the BBC's Children in Need programme. Meanwhile, former band member Michael formed a new group using the name Barracuda, but disbanded it shortly afterwards. In 1992, Black Lace toured Australia, but Hopcraft was unhappy with a hits album released by an Australian record company, as it featured a photograph of his predecessor Dene Michael.

1994 saw the release of the single "Bullshit (Cotton Eyed Joe)", but the race for the charts was won by the Swedish band Rednex, with another version of the same song. An album, Saturday Night, followed.

In 1995, Barton died as a result of a coach crash in Germany while touring with Smokie.[6] Also in that year Black Lace shot a promotional video for the single "Electric Slide" in Benidorm, the first video not to be filmed in the UK, and played on British breakfast station GMTV live from Torremolinos in Spain.

Black Lace played one-off shows in 1996 at DJ conventions in Canada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. They released the Action Party and Best Of albums. Gibb was presented with a special Agadoo guitar to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary, but in 1996 Gibb was also made bankrupt by the Inland Revenue.[5]

15 August 1997 was deemed Agadoo Day. Black Lace played 20 shows in 24 hours in Manchester, London, Watford, Northampton, Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield, and Leeds, finishing at the Frontier Club, Batley. The event raised over £25,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Peugeot used "Agadoo" in a TV advertisement for the new 106 car, and Black Lace re-recorded the track which spent one week in the UK chart.[2]

A 1999 Black Lace charity reunion concert was organised by their former drummer, Terry Dobson, to celebrate 20 years since the band represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Live television interviews took place with ITV's Calendar, and the BBC's regional news programmes, on the day of the event. The late Alan Barton's son, Dean, took Alan's place in the band, but original member Steve Scholey declined to attend.

In 2001, Hopcraft left the band and Gibb was joined by the female singers and dancers Katy & Cameil. Gibb also joined Eagles tribute band, The B-Eagles, playing bass guitar.

In 2002, Colin Gibb emigrated to Tenerife. Semi-retired, he played Black Lace party shows in hotels and restaurants on the island, occasionally visiting the UK for TV appearances.[1] In 2003, an adult-themed album called Blue, originally recorded in the UK years previously by Gibb and Michael, and 'banned' by their own record label) was released in Tenerife. In 2004, Gibb took the Black Lace show to mainland Spain, to appear alongside Elvis tribute artist Mike Young and other guest acts at The King Lives On cabaret bar on the Costa Blanca, returning to Tenerife for contracted shows in 2005. In 2007, Gibb married in the UK his long-time girlfriend Sue Kelly. In 2008, Gibb was invited to play bass with the Tenerife-based five-piece rock band The Phoenix, and with the duo To The Limit. More recently, he played in the blues rock band Traveler, in addition to performing the Black Lace Show.

In 2009, Michael started performing again as Black Lace alongside a new addition, the Liverpudlian singer Ian Robinson. They released a new mambo version of "Agadoo". In the accompanying video Bruce Jones, played a cameo role and directed the event. Roy "Chubby" Brown and Kevin Kennedy also made cameo appearances in the video, as did several members of the cast of the ITV situation comedy, Benidorm. On 4 November 2009, the new incarnation of Black Lace was filmed by the British airline easyJet, performing a re-written version of "Agadoo", launching a new air service between Gatwick Airport and Agadir in Morocco, for release on the video-sharing website, YouTube. Dobson's book, And Then Came Agadoo, was published by Authorhouse in November 2009.

Michael and Robinson recorded a new version of "I Am The Music Man" for the BBC Children in Need appeal in 2009. In 2010, they recorded yet another version of "I Am The Music Man", this time entitled "We Are The England Fans", as an unofficial England supporters' song to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2011, Michael and Robinson recorded a television advertisement for The Trainline.com. This led to a new recording of "Do The Conga". In December that year, Michael teamed up with Crissy Rock and recorded a Christmas single called "Christmas Time" and an accompanying video. In 2012, Michael recorded two solo records, Life Force, and The First Christmas Light, both of which failed to reach the UK chart.

In 2013, Gibb teamed up with Phoenix musicians Kevin Alan and Paul Marley to form the trio, We'll Be Back. Kevin Alan died in November the same year.

In 2014, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "Agadoo", Gibb released a limited edition Black Lace Live album, which was recorded and mixed in Tenerife.

On 24 January 2015, Dene Michael auditioned for the reality TV show, The Voice, where he sang George Benson's, "Never Give Up on a Good Thing". He was asked back by the show's producers to perform "Agadoo" along with panel. However, he failed to progress beyond the blind auditions stage.[7]

In November 2015, the Black Lace combination of Gibb and King released "Agadoo (The Space Mix)". A television advertisement for Walkers crisps was shown on British TV, featuring "Agadoo" with Dene Michael, now fronting tribute duo Old Lace and appearing alongside Gary Lineker.[8]

In 2016 Gibb celebrating 40 years with Black Lace and teamed up with guitarist and vocalist Gordon King for live shows, making the original Black Lace a duo again. Dene Michael appeared on the reality court room TV show, Judge Rinder, being 'sued' by his wife.[9][10]

On 27 June 2016, Dene Michael was jailed for six months for benefit fraud. While performing solo shows with Old Lace and filming the Walkers crisps ad, as well as working during the day as a van driver. he had been claiming disability benefit and had received £25,000 over a two-year period.[11] After serving his sentence the ex-Black Lace singer, now works part time as a solo singer and DJ.to pay back his fraudulent claim.

In popular culture[edit]

The group were famously lampooned in the UK No. 1 chart single "The Chicken Song", recorded as part of the Spitting Image programme. A parody of Black Lace's style, it contained a specific reference to the band with the line "those two wet gits with their girly curly hair".

Black Lace (Barton and Gibb) have also been voted in the top five all time; 'Best Party' songs, 'Best Holiday' songs and 'Worst Records of all time'

Personnel[edit]

Current members
  • Colin Gibb
  • Gordon King
Former members
  • Alan Barton (d. 1995) – guitar, lead and backing vocals (1973–1987)
  • Terry Dobson – drums, backing vocals (1973–1981)
  • Ian Howarth – lead guitar (1973–1974) bass guitar
  • Steve Scholey – lead vocals (1973–1981)
  • Dene Michael – lead vocals-guitar (1987–1991)
  • Rob Hopcraft – lead vocals (1991–2000)

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • 1979: "Mary Ann" (UK #42)
  • 1979: "So Long Suzi Baby"
  • 1980: "Hey Hey Jock McRay" [Denmark only]
  • 1982: "Birds Dance" (aka "The Birdie Song") (As 'Buzby')
  • 1983: "Superman (Gioca Jouer)" (UK #9)
  • 1983: "Hey You"
  • 1984: "Agadoo" (UK #2)
  • 1984: "Do The Conga" (UK #10)
  • 1985: "El Vino Collapso" (UK #42)
  • 1985: "I Speaka Da Lingo" (UK #49)
  • 1985: "Hokey Cokey" (UK #31)
  • 1986: "Viva La Mexico"
  • 1986: "Wig Wam Bam" (UK #63)
  • 1989: "Gang Bang"
  • 1990: "I Am The Music Man" (UK #52)
  • 1991: "Jamin the 60's" (As 'Barracuda')
  • 1992: "Penny Arcade"
  • 1994: "Cotton-Eyed Joe"
  • 1996: "The Electric Slide"
  • 1997: "Macarena"
  • 1997: "Agadoo – 106 Mix" (re-recording) (UK #64)
  • 2000: "Follow The Leader"
  • 2009: "Mega-Mega Mix" [Spain only]
  • 2009: "Agadoo Mambo" (Dene Michael)
  • 2009: "Music Man 2009" (Dene Michael)
  • 2010: "We Are The England Fans" (Dene Michael)
  • 2011: "Do The Conga (Trainline mix)" (Dene Michael)[2]
  • 2015: "Agadoo 2015 (crisp mix)" (Dene Michael)
  • 2015: "Agadoo (The Space Mix)"

Albums[edit]

  • 1984: Black Lace
  • 1984: Party Party – 16 Great Party Icebreakers (UK #4)
  • 1985: Party Party 2 (UK #18)
  • 1986: Party Crazy (UK #58)
  • 1987: 16 Greatest Party Hits
  • 1990: 20 All Time Party Favourites
  • 1993: Action Party
  • 1995: Saturday Night
  • 1997: Greatest Hits
  • 1998: What a Party
  • 2000: Black Lace's Greatest Ever Party Album
  • 2006: Black Lace: Greatest Hits
  • 2010: The Blue Album – Banned in the UK [World-wide distribution]
  • 2013: The Blue Album – Banned in the UK – 'Re-Release' [World-wide distribution][2]
  • 2014: Black Lace 'Live Beach Party' (limited edition)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Biography by Sharon Mawer". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 60. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 128. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "The awful curse of Agadoo; THEY SANG TERRIBLE SONGS AND WORE DREADFUL CLOTHES BUT DID ANYONE REALLY DESERVE WHAT HAPPENED TO BLACK LACE?". Goliath.ecnext.com. 14 December 1996. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  6. ^ Pierre Perrone (18 April 1995). "Obituary: Alan Barton". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  7. ^ Shahid, Sharnaz. "Black Lace frontman Dene Michael is supported by Coronation Street's Les Battersby as he fails to get through the blind auditions on The Voice UK". Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Walkers Crisps Advert – 2015 'Agadoo' Bring It Back Commercial | TV Ad Songs". Tvadsongs.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Judge Rinder (2014– ) : Episode #4.12". IMDb. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ "Dene Michael From Black Lace Talks About Singing 'Agadoo' | Judge Rinder". Retrieved 15 March 2016 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Aga-done! Black Lace frontman jailed for claiming £25k in benefits while playing gigs". Yorkshire Post. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Co-Co
with "The Bad Old Days"
UK in the Eurovision Song Contest
1979
Succeeded by
Prima Donna
with "Love Enough for Two"