Music – 1980s

Band Aid

Bob Geldof (ex-Boomtown Rats) was watching television in October 1984 when he saw the news reports on the famine crisis in Ethiopia. Driven to action, he used his contacts to get people together. And so Geldof assembled a few colleagues to record a fund-raising record . . . That roll-call in full: Bananarama, Bob Geldof, Culture Club, David(…)

Bangles, The

In 1981, a folk-rock singer named Susanna Hoffs rang up a couple of garage-rocking sisters, from Northridge on the northern rim of the San Fernando Valley, called Debbi and Vicki Peterson. The Peterson girls had placed an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper called The Recycler (the paper of choice if you were in the market for(…)

Barracudas, The

Despite a cheerfully self-deprecating stance, London’s Barracudas offered quite an enjoyable sentimental journey through assorted American traditions on Drop Out. Some tunes plunged headlong into dense, ringing folk-rock – see Violent Times or I Saw My Death in a Dream Last Night for an update of The Byrds on a gloomy day. Surf tunes like Summer Fun and His Last Summer tried a little too hard(…)


Bauhaus were the founding fathers of Goth-rock, creating a minimalist, gloomy style of post-punk, driven by jagged guitars and cold, metallic synthesizers. Throughout their brief career, the band explored all the variations on their bleak musical ideas, adding elements of glam rock, experimental electronic rock, funk and heavy metal. While their following has never really expanded beyond(…)

BB Steal

Craig Csongrady Vocals, guitar Kevin Pratt Guitar, vocals Warren Mason Guitar Peter Waterank Bass Peter Heckenberg Drums Richard Grant Bass Craig Rosevear Drums


As Virgin Records’ first Australian signing, Beargarden were briefly big big news. Their first single, Finer Things, was released in 1984 and promoted via mega tours supporting Culture Club, Simple Minds and other heavyweights. But amidst criticisms of being a haircut band with no real talent, something began to wilt and die in Beargarden. All three(…)

Beastie Boys, The

Coming from white, middle-class, Jewish families, New York rappers Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz, Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “MCA” Yauch were always going to be outsiders in a genre that was rooted in the experience of life in the black ghettoes. March 1987 saw the debut album from the Beastie Boys. Licensed To Ill was originally(…)

Beat, The (UK)

Ska revivalists The Beat were formed in Handsworth (a racially mixed area of Birmingham immortalised by reggae band Steel Pulse with their Handsworth Revolution album) in 1978 in the aftermath of punk. Early pub gigs garnered a devoted following, but also a reputation for privileging musicianship over soul. This was remedied by the recruitment of black(…)

Beautiful South, The

The brainchild of former Housemartins Paul Heaton and Dave Hemmingway, The Beautiful South smuggled political lyrics into jaunty, singalong tunes and acerbic commentary on domestic violence and emotional angst into the charts wrapped in pop-friendly melodies delivered by the trio of complimentary voices – Heaton, Rotheray and Corrigan – which was to become their trademark.(…)

Belle Stars, The

London’s Belle Stars came together in 1981 from the ashes of 2 Tone act, The Bodysnatchers, when it was Rhoda Dakar, not Jennie McKeown fronting the band. They couldn’t really play, but they had a single – a hit single – called Let’s Do Rock Steady. It was ska beat, they were all girls. Rhoda left and the Snatchers turned into the Stars.(…)

Bette Bright & The Illuminations

Criminally underused in Deaf School, Bette Bright blossomed into an exciting performer on Rhythm Breaks The Ice, thanks partly to the help of clever friends. The album was produced by fellow DS graduate Clive Langer and his partner, Alan Winstanley, the team behind the phenomenal early success of Madness. Bright further intertwined the family trees by marrying that(…)

Big Audio Dynamite

Big Audio Dynamite were formed in London in 1984 by ex-Clash guitarist Mick Jones, who was still under contract with CBS. He recruited Dan Donovan, Leo Williams, Greg Roberts and film-maker (and non-musician) Don Letts. Although their 1985 debut single The Bottom Line soon became a favourite it narrowly missed out on a chart placing. The follow-up(…)

Big Bam Boo

This duo formed in the UK with Brit Simon Tedd and Canadian ‘Shark’. They had minor hits for MCA with Shooting From My Heart and Fell Off A Mountain in 1989. Shooting From My Heart also made it to #17 in the American AOR charts. Simon Tedd was a graduate of the Pub Rock circuit, where he played in a combo(…)

Big Black

Chicago’s noise autocrats Big Black were always a contrary outfit. The three-piece of Steve Albini (guitar, vocals), Santiago Durango (guitarist) and Dave Riley (bass) split up after four years – following the release of their second album, Songs About Fucking (1987) – for fear of becoming a parody of themselves. While Songs was their most accomplished record, their full-length(…)

Big Country

Scottish band Big Country – with their big guitars and heroic, anthemic rock – were the polar opposite of the predominant synthesizer groups of the 1980s. Guitarist and Dunfermline lad Stuart Adamson – the unsung hero and sound shaper of The Skids -survived that band’s miserable end to form a down-to-earth rock quartet unhampered by grandiose artistic(…)

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