Although they eventually had 20 hit singles in the UK, when Spandau Ballet first got together they weren't a band at all. It was London club-goer Steve Dagger who decided in 1979 that his gang of friends should form a band, and that he would be their manager. With Tony Hadley on vocals, Gary Kemp on guitar, John Keeble on drums and Steve Norman on saxophone, percussion or whatever else they needed at the time, Dagger also persuaded Gary's brother Martin Kemp to learn the bass guitar and join the band.
As darlings of the New Romantic movement, the band's early outfits usually involved frilly shirts and kilts, a look which became a constant source of ridicule in later years. In 1980, however, this was a positive bonus, and the band was quickly snapped up by Chrysalis records, hitting number five with both their debut single 'To Cut A Long Story Short' and the accompanying album Journeys To Glory.
The hits continued throughout 1981, including a number three placing for 'Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)', but by 1982 the New Romantic scene was fading and Spandau's chart positions were dwindling - their second album Diamond only reached number 15, and its accompanying single 'She Loved Like Diamond' became their first flop. In the first of many image changes, the band ditched the kilts and the club music and returned to the Top Ten with poppier singles such as 'Instinction' and 'Lifeline'.
In contrast to the first half of 1982, 1983 was the band's most successful year. Now sporting smart suits and ties, their third album True topped the UK album chart, while the title track gave them their first number one single and also became their only major US hit. The follow-up single 'Gold' almost repeated the feat, peaking at number two.
The 1984 album Parade reached number two and spawned another four Top 20 hits, but a disagreement with Chrysalis marked the end of their time as a major act. They signed to CBS and scored a final Top Ten hit, 'Through The Barricades' in 1986, but as their look and sound drifted towards heavier rock, the hits dried up, and the band called it a day in 1990.
Since the demise of the band, the individual members have been fairly quiet musically. After a mini-revival in 1991 when rappers PM Dawn sampled 'True' for their hit 'Set Adrift on Memory Bliss', Tony Hadley launched a solo career which spawned only a handful of minor hit singles. In 1997, Hadley, Keeble and Norman attempted to sue the band's songwriter Gary Kemp on the grounds that they had contributed to the songwriting process and should be paid royalties, but they lost the case. The trio were last seen touring the UK without the Kemp brothers and unable to use the name Spandau Ballet for legal reasons.
Meanwhile, the Kemp brothers have both turned to acting. They starred together as the notorious gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray in The Krays; Gary appeared in The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston; and after a brush with death when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the mid-1990s, Martin accepted a role in the BBC soap opera EastEnders and is currently the most successful ex-member of the band.