Happy Monday, Everyone. This week’s feature artist is Simply Red.
Simply Red are an English soul and pop band that sold more than 50 million albums over a 25-year career. Their style drew upon influences ranging from blue-eyed soul, New Romantic and rock to reggae and jazz. From their early days, the main driving force behind the band was singer Mick Hucknall, who, by the time the band was disbanded in 2010, was the only original member left.At the 1992 and 1993 Brit Awards, they received the award for Best British Group.
Pre-history: The Frantic Elevators (1977–1984)
Simply Red’s origination dates from a 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. Manchester art student Mick Hucknall was one of the few young music fans present, along with Mark E. Smith of The Fall as well as original members of the bands Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks. The first incarnation of the band was a punk group called The Frantic Elevators, whose 7-year run produced limited releases on local labels and ended in 1984 upon critical acclaim for their final single, “Holding Back the Years”.
Formation and early success (1985–1988)
After the demise of The Frantic Elevators, Hucknall linked up with manager Elliot Rashman. By early 1985, Hucknall and Rashman had assembled a band of local session musicians and begun to attract record company attention. The group adopted the name “Red” (after Hucknall’s nickname, denoting his hair colour). The name “Simply Red” came about when the manager of a local venue was confused about the band’s name and Hucknall replied that it was “Red, simply Red”. The resulting misnomer was printed on publicity posters as “Simply Red”, and the name stuck.
The initial Simply Red line-up consisted of Mick Hucknall (vocals), David Fryman (guitar), Tony Bowers (bass), Fritz McIntyre (keyboards and vocals), Tim Kellett (brass and live backing vocals) and Chris Joyce (drums). Bowers and Joyce had both previously been members of post-punk bands The Durutti Column and The Mothmen; Kellett had also been a member of The Durutti Column, though not at the same time as Bowers and Joyce.
Simply Red signed a contract with Elektra in 1985, but after recording one track (“Red Box”), Fryman left the group and was replaced by guitarist Sylvan Richardson, who was billed only as ‘Sylvan’.
“Red Box” would eventually see release in 1985 as a B-side to the group’s first single, “Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)”, a cover of a soul song originally recorded by The Valentine Brothers. “Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)” gained international success, reaching the UK and Irish Top 20, then later the American, French and Dutch Top 30, and the Italian Top 5. It was included on their debut album, Picture Book, also released in 1985.