Identical twins Jay (John) and Mike Aston enjoyed cult appeal as Gene Loves Jezabel in the UK goth community but achieved greater success in America.
The pair grew up in the South Wales town of Porthcawl, together with guitarist Ian Hudson. After obtaining a drum machine, the trio became known as Slav Aran for a while, before changing their name to Gene Loves Jezabel and moving to London.
A record label called Situation Two released a collection of their demos in May 1982, entitled Shavin’ My Neck, and live performances began to feature bassist Julianne Regan and drummer Dick Hawkins. Even Jay’s girlfriend, Kim Chambers, swelled their ranks for a BBC Radio 1 session.
Hawkins was eventually replaced by a succession of drummers, including John Murphy (ex-SPK) and Steve Goulding while Juliette Regan left to front All About Eve. Her space was filled by Ian Hudson, who handed the guitar spot over to Albio De Luca in time for the tragic Screaming (For Emmalene) (1983).
Hudson reverted to guitar when Luca and Goulding departed, and Dick Hawkins and John Murphy returned to provide a two-pronged drum attack. Murphy departed again before their third single, the strong, commercial Bruises (1983).
Their debut album, Promise (1983) was promoted by a John Peel BBC radio session. A trip to the USA in 1984 to work with John Cale ensued, before returning for two quick-fire singles Influenza (Relapse) and Shame (Whole Heart Howl).
After an abandoned session with Steve Harley, ex-Spear of Destiny drummer Chris Bell arrived in place of Dick Hawkins, but it was a year before The Cow hit the UK independent charts, preceding the in-demand album Immigrant in June 1985.
After Desire in November, the band left for a massive north American tour, a traumatic time that led to Ian Hudson’s departure, ex-Gen X guitarist James Stevenson taking his place.
The album Discover (1986) came with a free live album and flirted with the charts via a more refined sound, alongside the single Heartache which hinted at a passing interest in dance music.
By now the band had made significant inroads across the USA where they subsequently concentrated their efforts.
It was almost a year before The Motion Of Love, revealing a new subtlety in their music. This was more fully explored on the disappointing album House Of Dolls (1987), housing a more lightweight, club-oriented feel than previously. From it came Gorgeous, a month later.
All was not well in the Jezebels camp and Mike Aston left the group in mid-1989.