Adam Ant - Pop Star
Created | Updated May 25, 2005
The first teen pop phenomenon of the 1980s, Stuart Goddard formed Adam and the Ants at the height of the punk explosion in 1977. In contrast to their later image, their act at the time was heavily influenced by sado-masochism and bondage, and their controversial image caught the interest of film director Derek Jarman, who offered the newly re-christened Adam Ant a part in his punk film Jubilee. The film was released in 1978 and the band recorded two songs for the soundtrack, which led to a one-off single deal with Decca records, and the band's debut single 'Young Parisians' was released in October of that year.
The single did not chart, and the band moved to the independent label Do-It in 1979 to release their debut album, Dirk Wears White Sox. The success of the album and accompanying singles 'Zerox' and 'Cartrouble' on the independent charts brought the Ants to the attention of ex-Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who furthered the band's cause in two very different ways. First, it was McLaren who suggested the band drop their punk image and adopt a Native American look, complete with face paint and tribal drum rhythms. And second, after changing the band's image, McLaren tempted all the other Ants away to form Bow Wow Wow, leaving Adam with a new image but no band.
Written off by the critics, Adam refused to lie down and immediately set about forming a new band. He recruited guitarist Marco Pirroni, bassist Kevin Mooney, and two drummers: Merrick1 and Terry Lee Miall. The new line-up was snapped up by CBS records, who released the single 'Kings of the Wild Frontier' in July 1980. The single gave the band their first Top 50 hit in the UK, and it was followed by 'Dog Eat Dog', which reached number 4 in September. The band's second album, also called Kings of the Wild Frontier, was released in November and reached number 1 in the charts, while the band's theme song 'Antmusic' and a re-issued 'Kings of the Wild Frontier' single both reached number 2.
By early 1981, the image of Adam with his trademark white stripe across his nose was everywhere. The band's earlier Do-It and Decca singles were re-issued and all entered the UK chart, as did 'Deutscher Girls' from the Jubilee soundtrack album.
With ex-Roxy Music bassist Gary Tibbs replacing Mooney, the band began its most successful year with the single 'Stand and Deliver', which entered the UK chart at number 1 in May 1981. Another number 1 hit, 'Prince Charming', followed in September, with a similarly-titled album reaching number 2, and the ground-breaking 'Ant Rap' single reaching number 3 just before Christmas.
End of the Ants
Having achieved so much in the space of just 18 months, Adam decided that the Ants had gone as far as they could. He broke up the band, washed off the make-up and embarked on a solo career, although he retained the services of his guitarist and songwriting partner Marco. His first solo single, 'Goody Two Shoes', carried on where the Ants had left off by reaching number 1 in May 1982, and also gave Adam his first US hit later that year. However, he was unable to maintain the level of success, as his full-length solo debut Friend or Foe peaked at number 5 on the album chart, and the subsequent single 'Desperate But Not Serious' scraped into the chart at 33.
Adam's commercial decline continued with his next two albums, 1983's Strip and 1985's Vive Le Rock, each of which spawned only one Top 20 single. Finding himself overlooked in favour of newer stars such as Wham! and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Adam retired from music and turned to acting, taking a role in a stage production of the Joe Orton play Entertaining Mr Sloane, and later appearing in an episode of the television serial The Equalizer.
In 1990 Adam returned to music, re-uniting with Marco and teaming up with former Prince producer André Cymone to record the album Manners and Physique, which included the comeback single 'Room at the Top', a Top 20 hit in both the UK and US. Since then Adam has kept a low profile, accepting the occasional acting role and recording one further album, Wonderful, in 1995.