Sigue Sigue Sputnik were a British new wave band formed in 1982 by former Generation X bassist Tony James. The band had three UK Top 40 hit singles, including the song “Love Missile F1-11”. ony James sought to form a “fantasy band” after leaving Generation X. He recruited Neal X (Whitmore)and Martin Degville after meeting him in the YaYa clothes shop in Kensington Market where he was working. Degville was a clothes designer and supplied the band’s wardrobe, and YaYa became the band’s base. On their return to London, they recruited drummers Ray Mayhew and Chris Kavanagh, both of whom acquired drum kits from former drummers for the Clash, Topper Headon and Terry Chimes respectively.
Interest in Sigue Sigue Sputnik increased in 1984 after James was interviewed by the NME, with several record companies sending representatives to their next performance at the Electric Cinema in London, and they were invited to perform on The Tube. Sigue Sigue Sputnik were signed by EMI, with the contract reported to be worth anywhere between 1.5 million US dollars and 4 million pounds. The band’s first single, the Giorgio Moroder-produced “Love Missile F1-11”, was released in February 1986, and reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart, number 2 in South Africa and was a major hit in several countries in Europe and Asia. Its popularity was boosted by its inclusion in the John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The samples used in the single had not received copyright clearance, and were replaced in the US version. The follow-up, “21st Century Boy” reached number 20 in the UK and, despite largely negative reviews, the album that followed, Flaunt It, again with Moroder at the controls, went top ten in the UK, and also reached number 96 in the US. The album included paid commercials between tracks, James stated prior to its release that they would sell 20-30 second advertising slots for between $2,500 and $7,000. He explained this by saying “commercialism is rampant in society. Maybe we’re a little more honest than some groups I could mention,” and “our records sounded like adverts anyway”. Advertisements that did sell (including spots for i-D Magazine and Studio Line from L’Oréal) were complemented by ironic spoof ads including one for the Sputnik corporation itself claiming that “Pleasure is our Business”.
It was two years before the band followed this up, and subsequent releases fared less well. The Stock Aitken Waterman produced “Success” peaked at number 31 in late 1988 and the singles that followed peaked outside the top 40. Second album Dress for Excess peaked at number 53 in the UK but sold well in Brazil. The band split up in July 1989, with James joining The Sisters of Mercy later that year. Chris Kavanagh went on to Big Audio Dynamite II joining Mick Jones. Mayhew formed Mayhem Deranged. Degville claimed to have spent the next few years travelling and making a couple of “specialist” porn films.
A collection of early demo recordings from 1984 and 1985, along with three tracks from 1990, First Generation, was released in 1991.
Tony James – space guitar, electric guitar, synth guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, backing vocals (1982-1989, 1995, 1998, 2001-2004)
Martin Degville – vocals (1982-1989, 1998, 2001-2004)
Neal X – electric guitar (1982-1989, 1995, 2001-2004)
Ray Mayhew – drums, electronic drums (1982-1989)
Chris Kavanagh – drums, electronic drums (1982-1989, 1995)
Yana YaYa (Jane Farrimond) – keyboards, space echo, special effects, effects (1982-1989)
1986 Flaunt It
1988 Dress for Excess
2002 Blak Elvis vs. The Kings of Electronic Rock and Roll
2003 Ultra Real