Lovich, University of Bradford, February 1979
|Birth name||Lili-Marlene Premilovich|
March 30, 1949 |
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Pathfinder / Justin Time (1989)
Stereo Society (2005)
Flex Music (2013–present)
Lene Lovich (/ /, born March 30, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter and musician of Serbian descent based in England. She first gained attention in 1979 with the release of her hit single "Lucky Number", which peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart and made her a leading figure of the new wave music scene.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Lovich moved to England at the age of 13, where she met guitarist and songwriter Les Chappell, who later became her long-time music collaborator and life partner. She developed an interest in art and theater, enrolling at the Central School of Art and Design where she took saxophone lessons. In 1975, she joined the band the Diversions and shortly afterwards wrote the lyrics to Cerrone's single "Supernature". After the band broke up, Lovich started looking for another band that would let her join and contacted the radio presenter Charlie Gillett, who got her to record a demo of Tommy James and the Shondells' song "I Think We're Alone Now" and played it to Dave Robinson of Stiff Records, who decided to sign Lovich. The song was released as a single and appeared on her debut studio album Stateless (1978), which produced the single "Lucky Number".
She released two more albums, Flex (1979) and No Man's Land (1982), on Stiff Records. In 1989, she independently released the album March, before her 15-year hiatus. She focused more on her family but came back in 2005 with the release of her album Shadows and Dust.
In 2013, she established her own publishing label, Flex Music, and released a re-mastered version of all her previous albums in a limited edition box set.
Life and career
1949–75: Early life and career beginnings
Lovich was born Lili-Marlene Premilovich (Serbian: Лили-Марлен Премиловић) in Detroit, Michigan, to an English mother and a Serbian father. After her father had health problems, her mother took her and her three siblings to live in Hull, England. Lovich was 13 years old at the time. She met the guitarist/songwriter Les Chappell when they were teenagers, and he became her longtime collaborator and life partner. In autumn 1968, they went to London to attend art school. It was there that Lovich first tied her hair into the plaits that later became a visual trademark, though at first she did it to keep her hair out of the clay when studying sculpture.
Over the following decade, Lovich attended several art schools, busked around the London Underground and appeared in cabaret clubs as an "Oriental" dancer. She also travelled to Spain, where she visited Salvador Dalí in his home. She played acoustic rock music around London, sang in the mass choir of a show called Quintessence at the Royal Albert Hall, played a soldier in Arthur Brown's show, worked as a go-go dancer with the Radio One Roadshow, toured Italy with a West Indian soul band, and played saxophone for Bob Flag's Balloon and Banana Band and for an all-girl cabaret trio, The Sensations. She recorded screams for horror films, wrote lyrics for French disco star Cerrone (including the sci-fi dance smash "Supernature", later recorded by Lovich) and worked with various fringe theatre groups. She was also one of thousands of audience members invited to sing along at the 1972 Lanchester Arts Festival at the Locarno Ballroom in Coventry when Chuck Berry recorded "My Ding-a-Ling" for Chess Records.
1976–85: Stateless, Flex, No Man's Land
In 1976 Lovich released a 7" 3-track "maxi-single" in the UK under her own name, aimed at the Christmas market: "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus/The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)/Happy Christmas" (Polydor 2058 812). In 1977, Lovich, along with recording engineer Alain Wisniak, provided lyrics for "Supernature", a song featuring music composed by French percussionist and disco music performer Cerrone. The song, with its surreal lyrics describing a world in which nature has risen to fight against desecration and destruction by humanity, is indicative of Lovich's interest in animal rights issues. In 1978, disc jockey and author Charlie Gillett presented her recording of "I Think We're Alone Now", a cover version of a song originally performed by Tommy James and the Shondells, to Stiff Records boss, Dave Robinson. Robinson immediately proposed to release it as a single on Stiff, for which Lovich and Chappell had to write and record a B-side at short notice. They came up with ""Lucky Number", which was then released as an A-side and became a Top 3 hit in the UK Singles Chart.
Invited by Robinson to participate in the forthcoming Be Stiff Route 78 Tour in 1978, Lovich quickly recorded her first album for Stiff, Stateless, which contained "Lucky Number" and another Top 20 hit, "Say When". Lovich's musical style combined her own quirky inventions with contemporary punk rock and new wave styles. She then recorded the albums Flex and No-Man's-Land for Stiff over the next few years, as well as an EP titled New Toy, the title cut penned by touring band member Thomas Dolby. She also recorded vocals for "Picnic Boy" by The Residents as "Sandy Sandwich".
Lovich co-wrote with Chappell and Chris Judge Smith and performed Mata Hari, a play/musical at the Lyric Hammersmith, London, October/November 1982. During this time she was having disputes with Stiff. The success of the show and pressure from Epic, her US label, persuaded Stiff to release and promote No Man's Land.
Following her departure from Stiff, Lovich released "Don't Kill The Animals," a single with Nina Hagen, with whom she had previously appeared in Cha Cha, a film that also starred Herman Brood; together, the three created the film's soundtrack.
In 1989, after an absence of several years due to raising a family, she recorded the album March on Pathfinder Records. It was only moderately successful and was not released until nearly a year after the album's single "Wonderland" had been issued and had become an American dance hit. She also toured the US three times immediately before, during and shortly after the release of March, giving US fans their only glimpse of her for many years to come. All three tours culminated with benefit concerts for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Her tours supporting March were done with a semi-full band, featuring the electronic duo Tanz Waffen as her backup band in addition to herself and Chappell.
In 2005, Lovich appeared on Hawkwind's Take Me to Your Leader CD, as well as appearing occasionally on stage with them. Lovich's first album since March, entitled Shadows and Dust, received a limited release on the Stereo Society label on September 13, 2005. She played for the first time in many years with a full band at the Drop Dead Festival in 2006.
In 2007, MVD Visual released Lene Lovich: Live from New York, a DVD featuring a performance Lovich gave at Studio 54 in 1981. In late 2007, both Lovich and Chappell produced a new edge recording of their hit "Lucky Number". The version was performed by rock group Eastroad, and was used by BBC Television for its coverage of the 2008 World Snooker Championship.
In 2012, Lovich began performing with a new band comprising Subterraneans frontman Jude Rawlins on guitar, bassist Lydia Fischer, keyboard player Kirsten Morrison, and Morgan King on drums. The Lene Lovich Band made their live debut at London's 12 Bar Club on October 29 that year. In 2013 the band undertook their first high-profile tour, concluding with shows in London and Berlin, and was the fifth act to be announced for Rebellion Festival 2013.
In September 2013, Lovich and Rawlins started a record label together, Flex Music, giving Lovich control of her back catalogue for the first time. Flex Music was launched with a limited edition handmade CD box set of her first three albums, plus a bonus CD of rarities, entitled Others: Volume 1.
- Stateless (1978) (UK #35, AUS #13, NED #17, NZ #19, US #137)
- Flex (1979) (UK #19, AUS #81, GER #39, US #94)
- No Man's Land (1982) (US #188)
- March (1989)
- Shadows and Dust (2005)
- New Toy (1981)
- The Stiff Years – Volume 1
- The Stiff Years – Volume 2
- The Best of Lene Lovich (1997)
- The Very Best Of (1997)
- Lucky Number – The Best Of (2004)
- Lene Lovich: Live from New York (2007)
|1976||"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1978||"I Think We're Alone Now"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||Stateless|
|"What Will I Do Without You"||58||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1981||"New Toy"||53||29||–||–||–||–||–||–||New Toy|
|1982||"It's You, Only You (Mein Schmerz)"||68||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||No Man's Land|
|1986||"Don't Kill The Animals" (feat. Nina Hagen)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1999||"Shapeshifter" (feat. Comical Brothers)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||Shadows and Dust|
|Film and television|
|1982||Rock (TV movie)||Lola|
|1993||Queen of Fruit (TV short)|
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- Lene Lovich Official website
- Lene Lovich at Stereo Society
- Innovation in New Wave: Lene Lovich, Perfect Sound Forever