Black Lace is a British Europop band, best known for novelty party records, including their biggest hit, "Agadoo". The band first came to the public eye after being selected to represent the UK in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest, in which they finished seventh with the song "Mary Ann". With numerous line-up changes, Black Lace went on to have success with lightweight party anthems such as "Superman" and "Do The Conga".
AllMusic wrote, "If you're looking for the band with the least street credibility in the world, whose name alone makes people cringe, then look no further than Black Lace, the equivalent of the naughty seaside postcard, who would record almost any song, whatever damage it did to their image".
- 2 Chart success (1981–1987)
- 3 Later career (1987–present)
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Terry Dobson and school friend Ian Howarth formed The Impact, as a five-piece pop group in 1969, with Alan Barton, Steve Scholey and Nigel Scott. The group also performed under the names Penny Arcade and Love or Confusion.
Howarth left the band for a short while but returned to the line-up in 1974, Dobson also left to be replaced briefly by Neil Hardcastle. Dobson then re-joined and Scott left in 1974; that same year the band adopted the name Black Lace. Howarth left the band for good in 1976, and was replaced by Colin Gibb (born Colin Routh, 8 December 1953).
The now professional four members of Black Lace from 1976 to 1981 were:
- Steve Scholey (lead vocals) – (28 November 1953)
- Alan Barton (backing vocals and guitar) – (16 September 1953 – 23 March 1995)
- Colin Gibb (bass, guitar and backing vocals) – (8 December 1953)
- Terry Dobson – (drums and backing vocals) (29 March 1952)
The band was managed by Keith Mills, and played their first summer season at the Beer Garten, Bottons Fun Park in Skegness, Lincolnshire in 1976. In 1977, they enjoyed further local success playing a summer season at Butlins in Skegness and Filey, North Yorkshire. They released an EP to be sold at shows, and were voted Yorkshire Band of the Year by BBC Radio Leeds, and best clubland group at a show in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
In 1979, Black Lace recorded their first single, "Mary Ann", for ATV music and a recording contract followed with EMI. As the song required a more 'throaty' vocal, Alan Barton was switched to being lead singer, with Steve Scholey moving to backing vocals and bass. The song won the BBC Television's A Song For Europe. Other television appearances around this time included Nationwide, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Top of the Pops and Juke Box Jury. At the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Israel, the band finished seventh and "Mary Ann" peaked at #42 in the UK Singles Chart, one of the lowest chart positions for any Eurovision entry at that time.
The band's follow-up single, "So Long Suzy Baby", failed to stir interest but Black Lace continued live performances, notably at the festivals Sopot in Poland and Golden Orpheus in Bulgaria, and TV shows inEast Germany, West Germany and Spain. By this time Black Lace is said to have played to an international TV audience estimated at over 2500 million people,(The Eurovision song contest accounting for 700 million. but the success was tarnished by a rift between the band and its manager, and a split from their record label.
The band toured Denmark in 1980, supporting Suzi Quatro and working with Tommy Seebach, a Danish entertainer. Black Lace and Seebach recorded "Hey Hey Jock McRay" for the Danish singles market, but an intended 1980 tour of Poland was called off because of political unrest in the country.
In 1981, Dobson left Black Lace and joined the Castleford rock band Stormer (formerly known as Method), who had a recording contract with Ringo Starr. Scholey also departed, leaving the band as a duo of Gibb and Barton. It was this line-up that would give the band its biggest chart success.
The duo played the northern clubs using pre-recorded backing tracks. Initially they used the name Lace, but soon reverted to Black Lace and recruited a new manager, John Wagstaff. They recorded an instrumental single based on the "Chicken Dance" at Neil Ferguson's Woodlands recording studio in Castleford. It was released as "Birds Dance" under the name Buzby in 1981 on manager Wagstaff's own Flair label. However, the record was beaten to the charts by another version of the song by The Tweets released as "The Birdie Song". "Birds Dance" has since been retitled "The Birdie Song" and included on Black Lace albums.
Black Lace's 1983 "Superman" single was their first on under their own name on the Flair label, and a promotional video was shot at Casanova's nightclub in Wakefield. One of the hired dancers was the then unknown singer Jane McDonald. "Superman" reached #9 in the UK chart, but an attempt at a follow-up single "Hey You" failed to reach the chart. Black Lace received a silver disc for sales of "Superman," toured Denmark with Danish stars Laban and Snapshots, and secured a product endorsement deal with the Bose Corporation.
The band's biggest success came in 1984 with the single "Agadoo" selling over one million copies worldwide, and reaching #2 in the UK chart. "Agadoo" was also a hit in Europe, South Africa and Australia. Having been presented with a gold disc for sales in the UK, the duo recorded its first album Black Lace at Stuck Ranch Studios in Denmark. Around this time their record distribution company went into receivership, leading to Black Lace and Flair Records losing hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid royalties for "Agadoo".
The band's follow-up single was "Do The Conga", written by Peter Morris, who had also penned the Eurovision song "Mary Ann". "Do The Conga" reached #10 in the UK chart, and their album Party Party – 16 Great Party Icebreakers sold over 650,0000 copies in the first five weeks, reaching double platinum status, and leading to the band doing TV shows in Germany, Luxembourg, France and Denmark.
In 1985, the BBC proclaimed that Black Lace was the world's hardest working band—performing more than 65 shows a month—but the punishing schedule meant that the group's equipment truck was involved in several accidents, and Black Lace chartered a private plane to meet TV schedules. As the strain began to show and rifts formed, Barton, Gibb and the road crew stayed in separate hotels. Another single, "El Vino Collapso" was released, with the video shot at the Happy Days Caravan Park in Skegness and featured Paul Bickerdike otherwise known as ElectricStreetPolice the TV & Film composer. The record reached #42 in UK Singles Chart. Further releases "I Speaka Da Lingo" and "The Hokey Cokey" got to #49 and #31, respectively.
Black Lace also participated in recording of the UK #1 hit "You'll Never Walk Alone" as part of the charity ensemble, The Crowd, to raise funds for the families of the victims of the Bradford City stadium fire.
Black Lace's second album Party Party 2 was released for Christmas 1985, and television appearances included a Black Lace special on the BBC Two rock show The Old Grey Whistle Test, plus on 3-2-1,ITV Telethon, Miss Yorkshire, International Disco Dance Championship, Pebble Mill at One and Top of the Pops Christmas Special, Because of such a work load, Barton and Gibb found it necessary to charter a private aircraft to meet the deadlines but the band's success led to a tax demand of over £100,000.
In 1986, Dene Michael replaced Gibb who took time out of live work with Black Lace, to concentrate on other projects. During this time, Gibb promoted Party Party with the singer and guitarist John Strike, playing two tours of Germany, after which Gibb disbanded his new act.
Barton was joined by the singer Dene Michael to continue as Black Lace. Another single, "Wig Wam Bam", reached #63 in the UK chart, but "Viva La Mexico", which was released to capitalise on the1986 FIFA World Cup football competition, flopped when England was knocked out. Black Lace (Barton and Michael) appeared as themselves in the 1986 film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, which featured "Gang Bang" and "Have a Screw", which were recorded by Barton and Gibb the previous year. The band had a UK hit with their album Party Crazy.
1987 saw a switcharound; Gibb returned whilst Barton left to join Smokie. Michael became a full-time member of Black Lace and he and Gibb released the single "Jammin' the Sixties" under the name Barracuda. The record was BBC Radio One Record of the Week, but failed to hit the chart.
In 1991, Michael left the band, to be replaced by Rob Hopcraft. Black Lace released the single "Penny Arcade" penned by Sammy King, which had originally been a hit for Roy Orbison. The band appeared on the BBC's Children in Need programme. Meanwhile, former band member Michael formed a new group using the name Barracuda, but disbanded it shortly afterwards. In 1992, Black Lace toured Australia, but Hopcraft was unhappy with a hits album released by an Australian record company, as it featured a photograph of his predecessor, Dene Michael.
1994 saw the release of the single "Bullshit (Cotton Eyed Joe)", but the race for the charts was won by the Swedish band Rednex, with another version of the same song. An album, Saturday Night, followed.
In 1995, Barton died as a result of a coach crash in Germany while touring with Smokie. Also in that year Black Lace shot a promotional video for the single "Electric Slide" in Benidorm, the first video not to be filmed in the UK, and played on British breakfast station GMTV live from Torremolinos in Spain.
Black Lace played one-off shows in 1996 at DJ conventions in Canada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. Plus they released the Action Party and Best Of albums. Gibb was presented with special 'Agadoo' guitar to celebrate band's 20th anniversary, but in 1996 Gibb was also made bankrupt by the Inland Revenue.
The 15 August 1997 was deemed 'Agadoo Day'. Black Lace played twenty shows in twenty four hours in Manchester, London, Watford, Northampton, Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield, and Leeds, finishing at the Frontier Club, Batley. The event raised over £25,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Peugeot used "Agadoo" in a TV advertisement for the new 106 car, and Black Lace re-recorded the track which spent one week in the UK chart.
A 1999 Black Lace charity reunion concert was organised by their former drummer, Terry Dobson, to celebrate twenty years since the band represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. Live television interviews took place with ITV's Calendar, and the BBC's regional news programmes, on the day of the event. The late Alan Barton's son, Dean, took Alan's place in the band, but original member Steve Scholey declined to attend.
In 2002, Colin Gibb emigrated to Tenerife. Semi-retired, he played 'Black Lace' party shows in hotels and restaurants on the island, occasionally visiting the UK for TV appearances. In 2003, an adult-themed album called Blue, originally recorded in the UK years previously by Gibb and Michael, and 'banned' by their own record label) was released in Tenerife. In 2004, Gibb took the 'Black Lace' show to mainland Spain, to star at 'The King Lives On' cabaret bar on the Costa Blanca, returning to Tenerife for contracted shows in 2005. In 2007, Gibb married in the UK his long-time girlfriend, Sue Kelly. In 2008, Gibb was invited to play bass with the Tenerife based, five-piece rock band The Phoenix, and with the duo To The Limit. More recently, he played in the blues rock band Traveler, in addition to performing the Black Lace Show.
In 2009, Michael started performing again as Black Lace alongside a new addition, the Liverpudlian singer Ian Robinson. They released a new mambo version of "Agadoo". In the accompanying video Bruce Jones, played a cameo role and directed the event. Roy "Chubby" Brown and Kevin Kennedy also made cameo appearances in the video, as did several members of the cast of the ITV situation comedy,Benidorm. On 4 November 2009, the new incarnation of Black Lace was filmed by the British airline easyJet, performing a re-written version of "Agadoo", launching a new air service between Gatwick Airportand Agadir in Morocco, for release on the video-sharing website, YouTube. Dobson's book, And Then Came Agadoo, was published by Authorhouse in November 2009.
Michael and Robinson recorded a new version of "I Am The Music Man" for the BBC Children in Need appeal in 2009. In 2010, they recorded yet another version of "I Am The Music Man", this time entitled "We Are The England Fans", as an unofficial England supporters' song to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2011, Michael and Robinson recorded a television advertisement for The Trainline.com. This led to a new recording of "Do The Conga". In December that year, Michael teamed up with Crissy Rock and recorded a Christmas single called "Christmas Time" and an accompanying video. In 2012, Michael recorded two solo records, Life Force, and The First Christmas Light, both of which failed to reach the UK chart.
In 2013, Gibb teamed up with Phoenix musicians Kevin Alan and Paul Marley to form the trio, We'll Be Back. Kevin Alan died in November 2013.
- 1979: "Mary Ann" (UK #42)
- 1979: "So Long Susie Baby"
- 1980: "Hey Hey Jock McRay" [Denmark only]
- 1982: "Birds Dance" (aka "The Birdie Song") (As 'Buzby')
- 1983: "Superman (Gioca Jouer)" (UK #9)
- 1983: "Hey You"
- 1984: "Agadoo" (UK #2)
- 1984: "Do The Conga" (UK #10)
- 1985: "El Vino Collapso" (UK #42)
- 1985: "I Speaka Da Lingo" (UK #49)
- 1985: "Hokey Cokey" (UK #31)
- 1986: "Viva La Mexico"
- 1986: "Wig Wam Bam" (UK #63)
- 1990: "I Am The Music Man" (UK #52)
- 1991: "Jamin the 60's" (As 'Barracuda')
- 1992: "Penny Arcade"
- 1994: "Cotton-Eyed Joe"
- 1996: "The Electric Slide"
- 1997: "Macarena"
- 1997: "Agadoo – 106 Mix" (re-recording) (UK #64)
- 2000: "Follow The Leader"
- 2009: "Mega-Mega Mix" [Spain only]
- 2009: "Agadoo Mambo"(Dene Michael)
- 2009: "Music Man 2009" (Dene Michael)
- 2010: "We Are The England Fans"(Dene Michael)
- 2011: "Do The Conga (Trainline mix)" (Dene Michael)
- 1984: Black Lace
- 1984: Party Party – 16 Great Party Icebreakers (UK #4)
- 1985: Party Party 2 (UK #18)
- 1986: Party Crazy (UK #58)
- 1987: 16 Greatest Party Hits
- 1990: 20 All Time Party Favourites
- 1993: Action Party
- 1995: Saturday Night
- 1997: Greatest Hits
- 1998: What a Party
- 2000: Black Lace's Greatest Ever Party Album
- 2006: Black Lace: Greatest Hits
- 2007: The Blue Album [Spain only]
- 2010: The Blue Album – Banned in the UK [World-wide distribution]
- 2013: The Blue Album – Banned in the UK – 'Re-Release' [World-wide distribution]