Formed in 1979, this Glasgow band centred around 17-year-old Clare Grogan who appeared in the film Gregory’s Girl (1981) directed by Bill Forsyth.
In 1980 Altered Images toured with Siouxsie & The Banshees and subsequently employed the services of their bassist, Steve Severin, as producer. Another champion of their work was the influential UK disc jockey John Peel.
Their BBC radio sessions resulted in the offer of a recording contract with Epic Records, and two unsuccessful singles followed – Dead Pop Stars and A Day’s Wait.
The group completed their debut album, Happy Birthday, in 1981. The title track (produced by Martin Rushent) sold like bottled sunshine and soared to #2 in the UK charts, establishing Grogan as a punk Shirley Temple who captivated the nation with her odd blend of coquette and naif.
From its sparkly guitars, shimmering xylophone and tumbly drums, to Grogan’s giddy yelping glee and the sleek sheen of Rushent’s production, Altered Images’ pop was fizzy and irresistible like lemonade.
I Could Be Happy and See Those Eyes were also hits, but the group’s second album, Pinky Blue, was not well received by the critics.
With 1983s Bite, Grogan took on a more sophisticated, adult image, sacked drummer Tich Anderson and guitarist Jim McKinven, gained Stephen Lironi (guitar, drums) and found new producers Tony Visconti and Mike Chapman. The changes brought another Top 10 hit, Don’t Talk To Me About Love.
Following a brief tour with the addition of David Wilde and Jim Prime, the group disbanded.
Clare pursued an acting career (starring as Christine Kochanski in the TV series Red Dwarf, and in 1997 and 1998 as Ros Blackwell in EastEnders ) and recorded a solo album called Love Bomb. She also later reappeared fronting a new group, Universal Love School.
Meanwhile, Altered Images guitarist Johnny McElhone moved on to Hipsway and Texas.
Michael “Tich” Anderson