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Joe Leeway

Joe Leeway, Bristol, February 1984
Background information
Birth name Joe Leeway
Born 15 November 1955 (1955-11-15) (age 54)
Origin Islington, London
Genres Rock, Dance, New Wave, Synthpop
Occupations Instrumentalist, Songwriter
Instruments Congas
Backing vocals
Years active 1980–present
Labels Arista Records, Warner Bros. Records
Associated acts Thompson Twins

Joe Leeway (born 15 November 1955, Islington, London[1]) is the former multi-instrumentalist, and stylings guru, for the 1980s band, the Thompson Twins. Leeway joined the Thompson Twins in 1980 after being one of their roadies.

Career

He was born with an Irish mother and Nigerian father, but was fostered to an English family in Dartford, Kent, from the age of two. At college he took English and Drama, then he began teaching English, which was how he met Tom Bailey. He joined a theatre group in Cardiff after failing to establish his own company. He spent a year with Young Vic theatre before joining Thompson Twins as a roadie at Tom Bailey's invitation.

Playing bongos and congas, he appeared on the Thompson Twins debut album, A Product of ... (Participation). By the time the band recorded their second album Set in 1982, Leeway had begun contributing to the songwriting process, he wrote a pair of songs for the album completely on his own and sang lead on three tracks.

At that time in 1982, the Thompson Twins underwent a radical change in line-up. Previously an ever-changing lineup of musicians that featured seven members at the time of Set, band leader Tom Bailey reduced the band to a trio by firing everybody except Alannah Currie and Leeway. The reason for this seems to have been more for practicality than any ill will, since the band's direction had been uncertain and unfocused. When a track written by Bailey for Set, "In the Name of Love", became a major hit in dance clubs, they had found their new direction and did not need all of the members anymore. Naturally, the former members who were axed remained somewhat bitter about the decision, particularly since the band went on to international stardom and fortune.

Leeway's main role in the new trio was to assist in writing the songs, contribute background vocals and design the band's stage shows. Leeway's background in theatre made him an obvious and well-suited choice for the latter, and the live shows of the band were always met with success and critical acclaim. However, Leeway later admitted in retrospect that both he and Alannah Currie had very little to do with the actual musical aspect of the band, and that they both were terrified that one day it would be revealed that their musical abilities had been overamplified for the benefit of the group.[citation needed]

Nevertheless, the Thompson Twins enjoyed at least three solid years of worldwide commercial success, beginning with the 1983 album Quick Step and Side Kick (released in the United States as simply Side Kicks). After establishing themselves in the United Kingdom with that album, the band broke worldwide with the 1984 follow-up album, Into the Gap, which garnered critical acclaim and lucrative international sales.

The band began to derail in 1985, when the overextended Tom Bailey suffered a physical breakdown due to exhaustion while working on the next album, which would become Here's To Future Days.

The Thompson Twins were featured performers at Live Aid, where they were joined onstage by Madonna during their set. They also appeared in Madonna's set as well, and this should have cemented their place in pop music profitability. Instead, the completion of Here's to Future Days proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, despite the fact that the album scored several hit singles. The band later suggested that their disappointment came mostly from a more rock-oriented direction that seemed foisted on the band by the album's co-producer, Nile Rodgers, and their record label. Their contract with Arista Records was up for renewal, and after the extensive world tour following the release of the album, Leeway chose to leave the band for a number of personal reasons, mostly due to difficulties with The Twins management. However, the split from the rest of the trio was amicable.

After leaving the band, Leeway dabbled in solo work. He worked up a demo tape of original material, but ultimately, an album never materalized and has forever remained a mystery to fans of Leeway and the Thompson Twins.

He appeared in the 1989 film, Slaves of New York as Johnny Jalouse. Leeway's part in the film was originally a prominent supporting character, but this was changed when most of his scenes were cut. The actress that Leeway had done most of his scenes with was fired from the film, so Leeway's scenes went right along with her. However, Leeway can still be seen in the film singing one of his original songs with an all-female band.

The experience with Slaves of New York seemed to stall Leeway's career as an actor permanently, but he continued to work in the movies in the field of sound design, as well as for commercials for Nike and Pepsi.

As of 2006, Leeway resided in Los Angeles, California, and works in the field of hypnotherapy. He is on the staff at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI) in Tarzana, California, and is also a certified trainer in neuro-linguistic programming.

References

External links

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