on stage in 1983
|Genres||Pop, pop-rock, MOR, AOR|
|Years active||1981 - present|
|Labels||RCA, Polydor, Sony/BMG|
|Associated acts||Co-Co, Brooks|
Bucks Fizz are an English pop music group, formed in 1981 to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest that year. They won with "Making Your Mind Up", which is still their best-known song. The group was initially made up of four vocalists: Bobby G, Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston, whose gimmick was that they were all blond. The group went on to have a successful career around the world, although their biggest success was in the UK where they had three No.1 singles and became one of the top-selling groups of the 1980s. Worldwide their record sales exceeded 15 million.
In late 1980, Nichola Martin and Andy Hill sought to create a new group to enter their song "Making Your Mind Up" in the Eurovision Song Contest. The first member to be recruited was Mike Nolan, who was known to Martin. Together they recorded a demo of the song and entered it for inclusion in A Song for Europe - the preliminary heats for the contest. Realising that a name was needed for the performing artists, Martin quickly decided on Buck's Fizz, as it was her favourite drink. In January, Martin contacted Cheryl Baker to join them, while auditions were underway. At the end of these auditions, Martin had found a male singer, Bobby G and female, Jay Aston. Unsure of which female vocalist to use, she ultimately decided to use both and Martin stepped down from the group in order to team up with Hill for another line-up as they had two songs in the competition. The four members met for the first time on the 11th of January 1981. An associate of Martin's, Jill Shirley agreed to manage the group.
During rehearsals, a dance routine was devised for the song which went on to become famous for the moment where the girls skirts are ripped off halfway through. The routine itself was choreographed by Chrissie Wickham, a former member of dance troupe, Hot Gossip, although Martin, Baker and Aston have all since laid claim to the skirt-rip idea.
On 11 March, A Song for Europe took place with the unknown Bucks Fizz competing against well known act Liquid Gold, as well as Hill and Martin's own group, Gem. "Making Your Mind Up" became an easy winner and the group recorded the song with Hill as producer. Later in the month it was released as a single and entered the charts at No.24. By the time the contest was staged, the single had risen to No.2.
On 4 April, Bucks Fizz represented United Kingdom in the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Dublin. Although they were favourites to win, the song faced stiff competition and after a vocally unsound rendition, the early votes were poor. Halfway through the voting process, Bucks Fizz took the lead, although they remained close throughout. Ultimately, Bucks Fizz won the contest by a small margin of four points, beating Germany into second place. "Making Your Mind Up" became a major hit around the continent, reaching No.1 in the UK as well as eight other countries. It charted highly in other territories such as Australia, eventually selling four million copies worldwide.
With Shirley remaining as the group's manager, Hill as producer and Martin as co-songwriter, they worked with record company RCA to continue the group's success, determined that they would not become another Eurovision one-hit wonder. A follow-up single was recorded amid promotional tours and the group's image was revamped. In May, the single "Piece of the Action" was released. The song boasted a contemporary pop sound and high production values, in contrast to the rock'n'roll style of "Making Your Mind Up". As Baker has stated: "Our follow-up single was nothing at all like 'Making Your Mind Up', it was a good, strong, contemporary pop song" "Piece of the Action" became an immediate hit and quickly rose to No.12 in the UK charts, making it the most successful follow-up to a Eurovision song ever. It also charted highly across Europe. Buoyed by this success, the group launched into recording their debut album with producer Andy Hill. Released in July, the self-titled album also became a top 20 hit in the UK charts as did their third single, "One of Those Nights". In November 1981, they won the Best Song Award at the Yamaha Song Contest in Tokyo with the song "Another Night".
In late 1981, Andy Hill with former King Crimson member Peter Sinfield came up with the fourth Bucks Fizz single. Titled "The Land of Make Believe", the song was produced by Hill and featured a strong melody. Released in November, it hit the charts and by Christmas was in the top five. In January 1982, it overtook The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" to reach No.1. It stayed there for two weeks and remained in the UK charts for 16 weeks - becoming the group's biggest selling single and one of the top selling singles of the decade. It also reached No.1 in the Netherlands and Ireland and became the group's best-selling single in Germany. The song has since been hailed as an "Eighties classic" and is regarded as the group's best song by critics.
Early in 1982 the group were awarded 'best group' at the Daily Mirror Rock and Pop awards ceremony and received a nomination at the Brit awards. In March they released their fifth single. "My Camera Never Lies" swiftly rose up the charts and became their third number one single. With this they became the first British group of the 1980s to score three number ones within a year. Further success followed in May with the group's second studio album Are You Ready which went Gold and became their first top ten album. This album received particularly good reviews including a 10 out of 10 rating in Smash Hits. Attempting diversity, an (almost) a capella ballad was released as the next single. "Now Those Days Are Gone" gave the group another top ten hit, reaching number eight in the UK charts. Soon after this they were invited to appear before the Queen and Queen Mother in the annual Royal Variety Performance, performing an old show tune, "You'll Never Walk Alone". Chart success continued with the release of the hit singles, "If You Can't Stand the Heat" and "Run for Your Life". Bucks Fizz's third studio album Hand Cut was released in March 1983, becoming another top twenty hit and certified silver by the BPI. By this stage, although Bucks Fizz faced harsh criticism in the media for their lightweight pop image, the music press were acknowledging the group's highly polished performances and sturdy productions, gaining favourable mentions in the NME and Record Mirror. With an eye to harden their sound, the group's next single "When We Were Young" featured a heavy production and doom-laden lyrics. With a rock-style lead vocal by member Jay Aston, the single became one of the group's biggest hits, featuring in the top 20 of many European countries, including top ten in the UK and top five in France. Towards the end of 1983 however, it seemed that the group's success was beginning to dim as singles "London Town" and "Rules of the Game" failed to reach the top twenty - their first singles to miss. Along with these came the group's Greatest Hits album, which while reached the top thirty and remained on the charts for three months, fell short of expectations.
Early in 1984, the group decided to take time out of the public eye, fearing over exposure for their recent downward trend and instead concentrated on recording, which they undertook in Switzerland for their fourth album. In May they embarked on a 40-date tour of the UK, selling out many venues. In August they revealed their new look and new harder-edged rock sound with the single "Talking in Your Sleep". The break proved to be advantageous as this single returned the group to the UK top 20, peaking at number 15. The follow up single "Golden Days" was released alongside their fourth studio album I Hear Talk. However again, the group saw their fortunes tumble as neither dented the top 40. As Christmas 1984 came around, the group embarked on another UK tour and the release of their next single.
On 11 December 1984, while on tour and returning from a sell-out gig in Newcastle, the group's tour bus collided with some road works and crashed. While no one was killed, several members of the crew were badly injured including all the members of Bucks Fizz. Bobby G was treated for whiplash, Jay Aston was hospitalized for back injuries and severe head pains, Cheryl Baker broke three vertebrae in her spine, but it was Mike Nolan who suffered the worst injuries. Nolan's head was badly injured, suffering internal bleeding and he fell into a coma. After an operation, he was reported to have died on the operating table but placed on a life support machine. He remained in a coma for three days, during which time the British press kept Bucks Fizz on the front pages headlines. Surgeon Anthony Strong at Newcastle General Hospital said that his condition was critical. On 15 December it was reported that Nolan awoke from his coma with the words "I'm all right". Following this, Nolan was ordered not to work for the next six months, although the effects of the crash remain with him today, including epilepsy, short-term memory loss and a 50% loss of vision in both eyes. Following this, Baker and Nolan helped set up the HeadFirst charity for head injuries of crash victims.
On 12 December 2009, The Original Bucks Fizz (Nolan, Baker and Aston) played a concert at Newcastle City Hall to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the accident - the same venue they played the night of the crash. The gig was in aid of HeadFirst. The anniversary of the crash was reported on local BBC News with the members revisiting the crash location.
With Nolan recuperating during the early months of 1985, the group returned to recording and released their next single in June. However, within the band, tensions had mounted to the point that Jay Aston no longer wanted to continue. After early promotion and a concert in Newcastle, she sensationally quit the band, despite still being under contract. Again, Bucks Fizz found themselves the subject of newspaper headlines, where it emerged that Aston had been having an affair with Andy Hill - the husband of the group's creator Nichola Martin. Aston sold her story to the press in an article headlined; "The hateful, bitchy world of Bucks Fizz", while member Cheryl Baker was keen to point out that they were never friends. Aston was sued by management over breach of contract while a replacement member was quickly sought to continue promotion for the current single. Auditions were held at The Prince of Wales Theatre, where 800 girls were seen. Eventually, 21 year old Shelley Preston was given the job and unveiled to the press and TV among much media attention.
In early 1986, the group's contract with RCA expired and a new one with Polydor was undertaken. The first single, "New Beginning (Mamba Seyra)" was released in May and brought the group back to prominence as it became a top 10 hit and one of their most successful singles. After two more less-successful singles and an album, the group took a break during 1987 and regrouped in 1988. After a successful UK tour, the group released their final chart hit, "Heart of Stone" (later a worldwide hit for Cher) and compilation album, The Story So Far. These proved to be the end for Bucks Fizz as a recording band and after a concert tour in 1989, Preston left the group at the end of the year.
With the focus on live work and touring, the group continued into the 1990s, now as a three-piece of Baker, G and Nolan. In 1991, celebrating 10 years together, Bucks Fizz released their last album, Live at Fairfield Halls. By this time, Baker had embarked on a separate and successful career as a television presenter and was eager to start a family. In December 1993, she left the group. Early the following year, keen to keep the group active, Bobby G (who was now effectively taking over management of the act) and Nolan recruited two newcomers, Heidi Manton (who would later go on to marry G) and Amanda Swarzc. This line-up continued until 1996 when Nolan left and ex-Dollar star David Van Day joined.
The partnership between G and Van Day proved to be short-lived as the two failed to gel. In 1997, Van Day quit the group during a tour of the Falklands. Unable to come to an agreement with G, Van Day teamed up with Mike Nolan and two new female recruits to form a new version of Bucks Fizz. Unhappy with the situation, G put an injunction on the name, resulting in the second group to go under the name; "Bucks Fizz starring Mike Nolan and featuring David Van Day". Under Van Day's guidance, this version released a newly-recorded "Making Your Mind Up" single as well as an album of re-recorded Bucks Fizz songs. Neither found chart success and the recordings were universally derided by the group's fans.
By 2001, Nolan too had found it difficult to work with Van Day and left the group. With another male vocalist, Van Day continued to tour under the moniker "Bucks Fizz", despite never being a member of the hit-making line-up. By this time, G and co-star (and now wife), Heidi Manton had acquired the legal rights to the name "Bucks Fizz", and brought a case in the High Court against Van Day. In 2001, a judge refused to grant a court injunction against Van Day as he had been operating as Bucks Fizz for five years at the time.
The feud and legal battle between Bobby G and David Van Day as to who had the right to perform under the name "Bucks Fizz" was the subject of a BBC television documentary, Trouble at the Top. The case was settled out of court in August 2002 when Van Day agreed to call his version of the band "David Van Day's Bucks Fizz Show". This group however was short-lived and soon Van Day returned to performing as Dollar.
In 2004, BMG Records released all of Bucks Fizz's original studio albums on Compact disc for the first time, which renewed interest in the group, leading to a brief revival of the band at the end of the year. In 2005, BBC viewers were invited to vote on the most memorable Eurovision moments ever. Bucks Fizz won with the "Making Your Mind Up" skirt-rip routine. A double CD collection of all the band's hits on both RCA and Polydor, The Ultimate Anthology, was also released. In 2006 and 2008, two albums were released featuring unreleased Bucks Fizz material. These were The Lost Masters and The Lost Masters 2, issued by Sony/BMG and were well received by fans. In early 2009, a two-hour documentary was made entitled The Story of Bucks Fizz. It featured in-depth interviews from the original band members as well as management and other behind-the-scenes personnel. A trailer for this show is currently available on YouTube, but no screen date on any channel has yet been announced. Bobby G's Bucks Fizz continues today with the line-up: Bobby G, Heidi Manton, Tammy Choat and Paul Fordham. They continue to tour the UK.
In December 2004, G, Nolan, Baker and Preston reformed briefly after 15 years to be part of 'The Here and Now Tour' of the UK. To distinguish this line-up from G's other group, they renamed themselves The Original Bucks Fizz (despite Preston not being an original member). Due to prior commitments with the current lineup of the group, G could not make all of the dates played, but did appear at some shows. Following this, Nolan, Baker and Preston subsequently performed more shows together as a three-piece under the same title and featured in the Congratulations show, the 50th Anniversary of Eurovision in Copenhagen. In September 2008, Preston, Baker, Nolan and Aston reunited for a makeover show Pop Goes the Band for Living TV, which was screened in March 2009.
In April 2009, Preston announced that she was leaving The Original Bucks Fizz due to other commitments. Soon after it was announced that original member Jay Aston would be joining Baker and Nolan in the group for live shows - the first time she has been a part of Bucks Fizz since 1985. In October 2009 this line-up embarked on their first tour, encompassing 10 venues across the UK as well as a special gig at Newcastle to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their coach crash. The group are also in plans to record a new album, due to be released in 2010 and a live DVD of one of their recent concerts.
There have been 15 members of the group since its formation in 1981. Bucks Fizz operated as a trio between 1990 and 1993.
(Also Jenny Phillips - 2006 - covering Heidi's maternity leave)
|Awards and achievements|
with "What's Another Year"
|Winner of the Eurovision Song Contest
with "Ein bißchen Frieden"
with "Love Enough for Two"
|UK in the Eurovision Song Contest
with "One Step Further"