Bow Wow WowBow Wow}}Bow Wow Wow are an English new wave band, created by manager Malcolm McLaren in 1980. McLaren recruited members of Adam and the Ants to form the band behind 13-year-old Annabella Lwin on vocals. They released their debut EP Your Cassette Pet in 1980, and had their first UK top 10 hit with "Go Wild in the Country" in 1982. The band's music was characterized by a danceable new wave sound that drew on a Burundi beat provided by Dave Barbarossa on drums, as well as the suggestive lyrics squealed into the mic by their teenage lead vocalist.
FormationIn 1980, former Sex Pistols manager McLaren persuaded Barbarossa (also known as Dave Barbe), guitarist Matthew Ashman and bassist Leigh Gorman to leave Adam Ant, and form a new group under McLaren's management. As the band embarked on a six-month audition process for a lead singer, Liverpool session musician, music director and talent scout Dave Fishel heard 13-year-old Lwin singing along to the radio at the laundromat where she worked, and convinced McLaren to audition her for lead singer of his new band. Shortly after Lwin joined the group, second lead singer George Alan O'Dowd, dubbed "Lieutenant Lush", was added by McLaren (in an early version of "Mile High Club", Annabella referred to herself as "Captain Lush"). His stay proved short-lived, however. O'Dowd soon formed a new band called Culture Club, and went on to superstardom under the name "Boy George".
EMI RecordsBow Wow Wow signed with EMI Records in July 1980, and released their first single, "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go!", shortly afterwards. Originally only released on cassette, it was the world's first-ever cassette single (a 7" vinyl single was also released several months later). EMI did not promote the "cassingle" due to lyrics ("Off the radio I get constant flow/Hit it, pause it, record and play/Turn it, rewind and rub it away") that promoted home taping during an era when music piracy was a hot button issue. The B-side, "Sun, Sea and Piracy", also promoted home taping, then lying on a beach and enjoying the fruits of this labour. Both tracks were on side 1 of the tape, making the second side blank – presumably so the listener could follow Annabella's lead. Despite its lack of promotion, "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go!" reached No. 34 on the UK Singles Chart and stayed on the chart for seven weeks.
Following a Peel Session on 20 October 1980, Bow Wow Wow released the cassette-only mini-album Your Cassette Pet in November. Your Cassette Pet contained only eight tracks, and was not available on vinyl. Therefore, it was eligible only for the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at No. 58, and not the UK Albums Chart. The most notorious track from the mini-album was "Sexy Eiffel Tower", with excitedly heavy breathing and moans; this was a song that went far beyond the slightly later Cyndi Lauper hit "She Bop", about the subject matter of female masturbation.
Both "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go!" and Your Cassette Pet ranked among the top 10 "Tracks of the Year" for 1980 by NME. EMI dropped the group after their second single, "W.O.R.K. (N.O. Nah, No No My Daddy Don't)" failed to chart.
RCA Records & See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape CrazyIn 1981, after splitting with EMI, Bow Wow Wow signed with new A&R head Bill Kimber at RCA Records. Their first full-length album, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy was released in October 1981. The cover photograph taken by Andy Earl depicted the band recreating Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe with a then 14-year-old Lwin posing nude. The cover caused outrage, and Lwin was almost made to quit the band by the controversy over the publication of the photo. Lwin's mother alleged exploitation of a minor for immoral purposes, and instigated a Scotland Yard investigation. As a result, the band was only allowed to leave the UK after McLaren promised not to promote Annabella as a "sex kitten". Regardless, the band used the same photo a second time on the cover of their follow-up EP The Last of the Mohicans.
See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy produced Bow Wow Wow's first UK top 10 hit with "Go Wild in the Country" in early 1982 (which also used Bow Wow Wow's take on Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe on the sleeve). Around the same time, Bow Wow Wow opened US dates for the Pretenders and the Police. In spring of that year, the band were set to open a European tour for Queen (who were supporting their dance-oriented Hot Space album), but were received poorly by Queen's fans, and dropped off the tour before the dates were completed. In May, they did a Japanese tour with Madness.
The Last of the MohicansReleased by RCA Records in May 1982, the four-track The Last of the Mohicans, produced by Kenny Laguna, contained their biggest hit single, "I Want Candy". The remake of the 1965 hit by the Strangeloves was featured in an early music video on MTV. The single reached No. 9 on the UK Singles Charts in June 1982.
The EP also included a remixed version of "Louis Quatorze", originally from Your Cassette Pet. The Last of the Mohicans peaked at No. 67 on the U.S. Billboard 200, their highest entry on the chart.
Laguna also produced Bow Wow Wow's follow up single, "Baby, Oh No". "Baby, Oh No" was the first single from Bow Wow Wow to chart in America (No. 101), but not in the UK. The lyrics to the song were later reworked for advertising use by the Japanese cosmetic brand Perky Jean by Shiseido.
I Want CandyFollowing the success on MTV of the "I Want Candy" music video, RCA compiled an album, I Want Candy to capitalize on their newfound American audience. Yet again, the cover photo (taken by Jim Varriale) was a nude image of Lwin, this time painted gold. Side 1 of I Want Candy contained all four tracks from The Last of the Mohicans and "Baby, Oh No". Side 2 consisted of four tracks from See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy and "El Boss Dicho", the B-side to the "Go Wild in the Country" single. The album peaked at No. 123 on the Billboard 200.
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get GoingIn 1983, RCA released Bow Wow Wow's second full-length album, When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going. At the behest of Ashman, Lwin wrote all the lyrics on the album. The cover photography was by David Bailey, and the album credits gave "a kiss" to "Jim" (James Honeyman-Scott) and John Belushi, who had both recently died.
The lead single, "Do You Wanna Hold Me?", reached No. 47 in the UK,(the band's last charting single in the UK), but fared best on the Dutch charts, where it peaked at No. 3. With the help of a video in heavy rotation on MTV, the song achieved moderate success in the US, reaching No. 77 on the charts.
The group planned to embark on a world tour in support of When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going, but tensions within the group were rising, as the members were suffering from illness and exhaustion after an intense but successful US tour. In September 1983, Lwin was suddenly and unceremoniously fired from the band. She reportedly learned of her ousting by reading it in NME. Shortly after their breakup, they appeared in the 1984 Rob Cohen British-American comedy film Scandalous, performing "Where's My Snake?" and "What's the Time (Hey Buddy)".
Post-breakupThe remaining members formed a new group, Chiefs of Relief, with guitarist Ashman as its lead singer. The group's only album was a 1988 self-titled release, issued in the US on Sire Records. Ashman later played with other groups, such as Max and Rams. He was a member of Agent Provocateur at the time of his 1995 death from diabetes complications at age 35. They released the album Where the Wild Things Are posthumously in 1997, featuring Ashman on guitar, bass guitar and Vox organ.
Barbe later worked on other musical projects such as Beats International, Republica, dance band Chicane, the London-based Faith music collective and Amber Gate. He performed live with Adam Ant in 1995, and both he and Gorman toured with Ant in 2015 for a series of concerts recreating the album Dirk Wears White Sox. He wrote two novels, Mud Sharks and We Were Looking Up.
Gorman went into production after the demise of Chiefs of Relief. In 1989, Silver Bullet's "Twenty Seconds To Comply", which Gorman produced, reached No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart. The Soho single "Hippychick" went top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, and topped both the US and UK dance charts. Gorman earned a gold record for his work on the track. He subsequently joined Soho and toured the US, appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show.
Gorman worked with McLaren again, for whom he co-wrote and produced the 1994 album Paris. The jazz-influenced album sold well throughout Europe, resulting in an album of Gorman's ambient dance mixes being released. The duo proceeded to collaborate on several high-profile TV commercials and two film scores. Gorman wrote and produced music for television for such clients as Coca-Cola, MCI, Nike, Inc., Pepsi and Renault. In the summer of 1997, his remix of Mr. President's "I Give You My Heart" spent three weeks in the top 10 of the UK Dance Chart. He joined the rave band Electric Skychurch in 2006.
Simply calling herself "Annabella", Lwin remained with RCA Records and her first solo release was the 1985 single "Don't Dance With Strangers", produced by the System. She followed that up with the album Fever in 1986. The title track, a cover of the Peggy Lee classic, was produced by and recorded with multi-instrumentalist Jim Lea of Slade. Another single from the album, "War Boys", produced by John Robie, spent six weeks on the US Billboard Hot Dance/Disco, chart, peaking at No. 28. "Don't Dance With Strangers" and "Fever" were included on The Best of Bow Wow Wow, released on 29 October 1996 by BMI.
She formed a new band, Naked Experience, and collaborated with seasoned musicians and songwriters such as Billy Steinberg and Ellen Shipley. In 1994, Sony Soho Square released two singles, "Car Sex" and "Do What You Do", billed as "Annabella Lwin". "Car Sex" made the Top 10 in the UK Dance Chart, while the remixed dance follow-up "Do What You Do" (1995), produced by Steve Lironi, spent one week at No. 61 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1999, Cleopatra Records released Virgin Voices: A Tribute To Madonna, Volume One. It contained a cover of "Like a Virgin" credited to "Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow".
ReformationIn 1997, Lwin and Gorman reformed Bow Wow Wow, adding guitarist Dave Calhoun and drummer Eshan Khadaroo. They embarked on the "Barking Mad" tour in 1997-1998, which produced a compilation CD, Wild in the U.S.A. (Cleopatra Records), that included live material and remixes of previous Bow Wow Wow tracks.
In 1998, they collaborated with DJ Swedish Egil on the track "Eastern Promise", released as part of Egil's Groove Radio Presents: Alternative Mix CD by Priority Records. They contributed the song "A Thousand Tears" to the 1999 film Desperate But Not Serious (retitled Reckless + Wild in the US), starring Christine Taylor and Claudia Schiffer, and appeared in the film.
Bow Wow Wow performed at the KROQ Inland Invasion festival in September 2003, with a lineup including Los Angeles guitarist Phil Gough (of Novacaine) and drummer Adrian Young (of No Doubt). In September 2005, Philadelphia native Devin Beaman was brought in as the new drummer.
Bow Wow Wow songs "Aphrodisiac", "I Want Candy" and "Fools Rush In" (the latter two remixed by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine) were included on the soundtrack of the 2006 Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette. The band performed on 2 November 2006 at the Maritime Hotel's Hiro Lounge in New York City to promote the film.
In 2006, Bow Wow Wow recorded a cover of the Smiths' song "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish", which appeared on three 2007 releases: a new three-track I Want Candy EP (Cleopatra), compilation album Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before: A Tribute to the Smiths (Cleopatra) and the soundtrack to the film Blood & Chocolate: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Lakeshore Records).
On the 15th anniversary of Ashman's death, the band, featuring original drummer Barbarossa, performed at a tribute concert for Ashman on 21 November 2010 at the Scala in London. The show was headlined by Adam Ant and also featured members of Ashman's other bands Chiefs of Relief and Agent Provocateur.
With a new guitarist (Jimmy Magoon) and drummer (Dylan Thomas), Bow Wow Wow played shows in California and toured the UK during 2011-2012.
In December 2012, Gorman began performing under the name "Bow Wow Wow" without original lead singer Lwin's consent, and launched a new Bow Wow Wow Facebook page. This version of the band included new singer Chloe Demetria of the band Vigilant as well as guitarist Matthew Fuller and drummers Lyle Riddle and Sean Winchester. In 2014, actor/musician Zachary Throne (Sin City Sinners) took over on guitar, and Les Warner replaced Winchester. In a 2016 Washington Times interview, Gorman indicated that he was interested in creating new Bow Wow Wow music with this lineup.
Lwin has continued to perform billed as "Annabella Lwin of the original Bow Wow Wow". Her official website states, "Any shows advertised as Bow Wow Wow WITHOUT Annabella, featuring a hired singer from another band, are done without knowledge, permission or consent. Before you buy a ticket, make sure it is the ORIGINAL voice of Bow Wow Wow!"
Bow Wow Wow's soundThe group's sound was a mix of her "girlish squeal", chants, surf instrumentals, pop melodies and Barbarossa's Burundi ritual music-influenced tom-tom drum beats. They have since been described as new wave, pop and worldbeat.
The degree to which Bow Wow Wow were influenced by—rather than plagiarised—the music of native African nations and tribes such as the Royal Drummers of Burundi and the Zulus has been a matter of debate. It is thought that when McLaren started to advise Adam and the Ants on the direction they should take after Dirk Wears White Sox, he gave the band (the instrumentalists who would eventually become Bow Wow Wow) a variety of recordings of world music from which to draw inspiration. When the Ants dropped out to form Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant took the recordings from the band's early work in this new direction to start his new incarnation of the Ants; thus both bands made music influenced by the recordings offered by McLaren. Among the recordings was one titled "Burundi Black". The story of "Burundi Black" and the origin of the "Burundi Beat" and the associated controversy was detailed in an excerpt from a 1981 New York Times article by Robert Palmer:It was also charged that Bow Wow Wow plagiarised melodies from Zulu jive songs and Zulu pop songs and turned the original Zulu lyrics into English mondegreens, as with the origin of the lines "See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All over Go Ape Crazy!", "Golly! Golly! Go Buddy!" and "Hey i-yai-yo". In answer to this issue, the 1981 Times article offered the following statement in Bow Wow Wow's defence:In an RCA radio promo vinyl recording, guitarist Ashman responded:
LegacyThe Red Hot Chili Peppers name-checked the band on their 1992 single "Suck My Kiss", which included the lyric "Swimming in the sound of Bow Wow Wow", and Peppers guitarist John Frusciante has listed Ashman as an influence.
No Doubt's Adrian Young said of the opportunity to play drums for Bow Wow Wow from 2003–2005, "It is a dream come true to play with a band I grew up idolising. I feel like a kid back in the sand box".
Film director Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from Lwin when conceiving the style for her film, Marie Antoinette. Said Bow Wow Wow's tour manager in 2006, "They actually based Marie Antoinette, from a styling point of view, on Annabella Lwin. They drew parallels from the fact that they were both young girls who found fame and fortune at a ridiculously early age."
On 25 May 2018, Cherry Red Records released the three-disc set Your Box Set Pet (The Complete Recordings 1980–1984).
Bow Wow Wow Band
Annabella's Bow Wow Wow