Cuddly Toy (Roachford)

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We all know that bad press can really have an effect on someone’s career and this was certainly true in Roachford’s case. He originally hit the UK music scene in June 1988 and the majority of the music press at the time gave him a hard time. Gary Newby and Brian Bateman of the pop group The Railway Children in their singles review in Record Mirror said of his latest single, Cuddly Toy, ‘He sounds like Phil Lynott. He’s got his way of singing…or not singing but it’s a bit of a rock-out.’ They added that the lyric ‘You gotta feel for me baby was criminal’. Where are they now I wonder?!

Roachford is a band headed by Andrew Roachford. His mother was not best pleased in one aspect when he was born, Andrew explained, “I was born at 6pm on Friday 22nd January 1965 and it was just when my mum’s favourite programme, Ready Steady Go, came on the telly. She went straight into labour just after it started.”

He was born into a musical family with his dad being a drummer in a showband and his uncle Bill, a saxophone player, who was famous for playing on the Kronenberg TV advert. Andrew began writing songs at a young age and then went out on the road with his uncle. One day Bill suggested he sings a number on stage, although initially reluctant, Andrew eventually agreed and sang a cover of Ray Charles’ Georgia On My Mind. He began studying at a music college in London’s Kings Cross and was soon spotted by the Clash’s manager Bernie Rhodes who took him under his wing and used him as a talent scout. Andrew soon lost interest in college and decided to form his own band with some musician friends and named the group after himself.

He sent demo tapes to a number of record companies and it was by sheer luck he got a record deal. “I’ve got Terence ‘Trent’ D’Arby to thank for getting me signed up,” explained Andrew, “He heard one of my tapes one day at the offices of CBS and said ‘Hey man, this is brilliant. Who is this guy Roachford? Sign him up immediately.’ He then invited me on tour with him.”

He got noticed because then it was unusual to see a black kid, as Andrew puts it, with a guitar and having jazz and rock influences.  Cuddly Toy is just a straightforward pop song, “It’s effectively your safe and reliable ‘friend’ unlike members of the opposite sex who can mess you around. Its title was influence by Garfield the cat. He said, “My manager also manages Garfield the Cat and that’s why I’ve got one in my bedroom.” In 1990 Andrew said, “We may be successful but we’ll never be bigger than Garfield as far as my manager is concerned.”

Cuddly Toy reached number four in the chart and it was the only time he would trouble the top ten. His next hit was actually his debut single which had flopped and that was Family Man, this time it reached number 25. He continued throughout the mid to late nineties turning out hits like Get Ready, Only to Be With You and his last top 40 hit in 1998 with How Could I (Insecurity).

He released a solo album in 2003 called Heart of the Matter and the follow up, Word Of Mouth, three years later, was back with the band. In 2010 he and the Canadian actor/singer Tim Howar were both asked to join Mike & The Mechanics as joint lead vocalists. Their only album to date was called The Road and it spent a solitary week at number 42.

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