This week in 1982 saw the one and only UK chart entry for Kokomo. Now, so as not to confuse matters, there were two different acts called Kokomo – one was a solo artist and one was a band. In 1961, Jimmy Wisner had a top 40 hit with Asia Minor and he went by the name Kokomo. The other – this week’s clip – was a band from 1982 whose hit was called A Little Bit Further Away.
Kokomo were formed in 1973 and evolved out of another seventies band called Arrival who had two hits, both in 1970 called Friends which reached number six and the follow-up, I will Survive peaking at number 16. Sadly, they didn’t survive after that hit despite recording three more singles, but their record company ripped them off.
Kokomo comprised vocalist and composer Frank Collins, keyboard player Tony O’Malley, bassist Alan Spenner, drummer Tony Beard & backing singers Dyan Birch & Paddy McHugh. Birch was the lead singer with Arrival and had a fantastic voice.
In 1975, on his request, they backed Bob Dylan on the album Desire. They disbanded in 1977 but reunited in 1982 for the hit and remained intact until 1991 when Alan Spenner died.
There have been a couple of line-up changes and a couple of reunions since, but no more chart acts.
Yasmin was born in the Shepherds Bush area of west London. Her mum was English and her father, Winston was from Jamaica and is a former station manager at Leicester Square tube station.
In 1983, she was briefly the lead singer with The Biz before she was chosen to front the single Doctorin’ the House by the production duo Matt Black and Jonathan More who went by the name Coldcut.
She then launched a solo career and her first hit was a cover of the Otis Clay song The Only Way is Up. Her next two singles, Stand Up For Your Love Rights and Fine Time were both top 10 hits. The last of her 12 UK hits came in 1997 with a cover of the Jackson 5’s Never Can Say Goodbye which stalled at number 61.
Billy Squier is an American rock musician who only had one UK hit and he’s 70 this week.
He was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts and initially good piano lessons from his grandfather. After a couple of years he turned to guitar.
His first public performance was in a nightclub in Boston. In 1973, he formed a band called Kicks that included drummer Jerry Nolan who later joined the New York Dolls. Three year later he formed another band called Piper and supported Kiss on their early tours.
In 1980, he supported Alice Cooper which led to him getting a record contract with Capitol Records. In 1981, he recorded the album Don’t Say No which was co-produced by the German producer Reinhold Mack who, the previous year, had produced Queen’s album The Game. The single from it was The Stroke.
She was born in Pontardawe and took singing lessons as a child. She applied to go on the TV talent shop Opportunity Knocks where she won. It was the model Twiggy who saw that TV performance who told her friend Linda McCartney who mentioned it to her husband Paul. Paul signed her to the Beatles’ Apple label and produced her debut single, Those Were The Days which went to number one in September 1968. She spent six weeks there and in doing to knocked off Hey Jude from the top slot.
Macca wrote her follow-up single, Goodbye that went to number two. In 1970, she represented the UK at Eurovision with Knock, Knock Who’s There? where it came second and also got to number two in the UK chart. Following that success, she was given her own TV series called Mary Hopkin in the Land of …
In 1971, she married the producer Tony Visconti and he invited her to sing backing vocals on David Bowie’s Sound and Vision which Tony produced.
Mary’s son, Morgan and daughter, Jessica Lee Morgan are both singers.
Let’s look back at Mary on Opportunity Knocks in 1968 by clicking on the link
Giovanni Giorgio Moroder was born this week in 1940 and celebrating his 80th birthday this week.
He was born in Val Gardena, in Italy but in the 70s moved to Munich and opened his own Musicland recording Studios and launched his own Oasis record label. He is responsible for much of early electronic disco sound especially Donna Summer with whom he scored his first UK hit with her version of Could It Be Magic.
He recorded an early version of Son of my Father (under the name Giorgio) before Chicory Tip and in 1977, under the same name, had a disco hit with From Here to Eternity. He went on to produce hits for Munich Machine, Roberta Kelly, Three Degrees, Sparks, Janis Ian, David Bowie and Japan. He had three UK number ones as a producer – Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, Blondie’s Call Me and Berlin’s Take My Breath Away.
In the latter seventies, he began composing film scores that include Midnight Express, American Gigolo and Superman III. In 1984, he worked with Limahl on Never Ending Story and the same year he composed the theme to the film Electric Dreams of which Together In Electric Dreams was the single – a collaboration with the Human League’s Philip Oakey became a number three hit.