School friends Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith formed Tears For Fears after they had spent their teenage years in bands together, including a Mod/Ska revivalist combo called Graduate who issued records on the Precision label, including the novelty single, Elvis Should Play Ska.
After Graduate split in 1981, the duo recorded demos as History Of Headaches. Their new name, Tears For Fears, was drawn from (primal scream therapist) Arthur Janov’s book Prisoners Of Pain.
They signed to Phonogram Records in 1981 while other synthesizer bands, including Human League and Depeche Mode were breaking through into the pop field.
During this time the duo was augmented by Ian Stanley on keyboards and Manny Elias on drums. Their first two singles, Suffer Little Children and Pale Shelter, were morose and unsuccessful but Mad World, produced by former Adam & The Ants drummer Chris Hughes, made #3 in the UK charts in November 1982.
Curt Smith, dressed in long overcoats and sporting a pigtail, was touted in the UK as a vaguely alternative teen idol. The Hurting showcased a thoughtful, tuneful band and it topped the UK charts, supplying further Top 10 singles with Change and a reissued Pale Shelter.
By Songs From The Big Chair Orzabal was handling most of the vocal duties and had taken on the role of chief songwriter.
Shout and Everybody Wants To Rule The World were #1 hit singles in the USA, and the album also reached #1. The song, Everybody Wants To Rule The World was adopted as the theme tune for the Sport Aid famine relief event in 1986 (with a slight change in the title to Everybody Wants To Run The World), giving the band massive exposure.
Tears For Fears took a long break after 1985 and reappeared four years later with a highly changed sound on The Seeds Of Love. They shunned their earlier electronic approach and attempted to weave together huge piano and vocal chords in a style reminiscent of The Beatles.
Its release was delayed many times as the pair constantly remixed the material. The album featured unknown American vocalist Oleta Adams, who the duo had discovered singing in a hotel bar in Kansas City. Orzabal later produced her debut album.
Both the album and single, Sowing The Seeds Of Love, were Top 10 hits in the UK and USA, but the lavish arrangements did not receive the same critical approval.
The chart failure of subsequent singles marked the beginning of the end for the band as a commercial force.
Shortly before the release of 1992’s greatest hits set, Smith left Tears For Fears to begin a solo career (renaming himself Mayfield in 1998). Retaining the name of the band, Orzabal released Elemental, the first album to be completed after Smith’s departure.
A muted response greeted Raoul And The Kings Of Spain in 1995. Orzabal’s solo debut, released six years later, was a much more satisfying release but failed to match the commercial impact of Tears For Fears.
The inevitable reunion was announced in 2003, with Orzabal and Smith signing a new recording contract with Arista Records.
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Vocals, keyboards, bass