of the seminal figures of new wave, Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie
Goddard) had several distinct phases to his career. Initially,
he explored a jagged, guitar-oriented post-punk with his group
Adam and the Ants before giving way to a more pop-oriented, glam-tinged
musical direction that brought him to the top of the charts. After
that had run its course, he refashioned himself as a mainstream
singer, which enabled him to stretch his career out for a couple
of years. Once it seemed that his musical career had evaporated,
he made an unexpected comeback in the early '90s as an adult alternative
artist. During all this time, he recorded several great pop singles
and had a surprisingly large impact on alternative rock.
Ant formed Adam and the Ants with guitarist Lester Square, bassist
Andy Warren, and drummer Paul Flanagan in London in 1977. The
group's approach was more theatrical than most punk groups, incorporating
sadomasochistic imagery into their concerts. During this time,
the group's lineup was fairly unstable, with Square being replaced
by Mark Gaumont. The band released their debut, Dirk Wears White
Sox, on the independent label Do It in 1979. Dirk was an ambitious
and somewhat dark album, filled with jerky rhythms, angular guitar
riffs, and elements of glam rock crept into Adam's vocals; Adam
reacquired the rights to the record in 1983, reissuing it in a
resequenced and remixed form, with the tracks "Catholic Day"
and "Day I Met God" replaced by "Zerox" and
"Kick," as well as including a new version of "Cartrouble."
the time of its release, Dirk Wears White Sox wasn't a critical
or commercial success, and the band felt the need to rework their
image. Ant hired Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols,
to help redefine their image. McLaren dressed the band in pirate
outfits and suggested a more accessible and pop-oriented, rhythmic
variation on punk. Adam and the Ants followed his advice, preparing
material for a new album. However, McLaren persuaded all of the
Ants to leave Adam, using them as the core members of Bow Wow
Wow. Adam Ant immediately formed a new version of the Ants, adding
guitarist Marco Pirroni, bassist Kevin Mooney, and drummers Terry
Lee Miall and Merrick (born Chris Hughes). Pirroni, in particular,
became very important in the band's musical direction, co-writing
the majority of the songs with Adam, thus beginning a collaboration
between the duo that would continue into the '90s.
by a relentless, driving beat and chanting melodies, the new band's
first album, 1980's Kings of the Wild Frontier, became an enormous
hit in the U.K., launching three Top Ten hit singles, including
the number two "Ant Music." The band's success was helped
by a series of visually enticing videos, prominently featuring
the skinny, handsome Adam Ant decked out in pirate gear. Prince
Charming, released the following year, retained the same formula
as Kings of the Wild Frontier, spawning two number one singles,
"Stand and Deliver" and "Prince Charming."
Even though the album was a commercial success, the formula was
beginning to wear thin.
Prince Charming, Adam Ant ditched the Ants for a solo career,
retaining Marco Pirroni as a songwriting collaborator and a supporting
musician. Adam's first solo album, Friend or Foe, was released
in 1982 and featured the number one single "Goody Two Shoes"
and the Top Ten title track. Although his next album, 1983's Strip,
had some highlights and hit singles, it marked the end of his
reign as one of Britain's top pop stars.
in 1985, the Tony Visconti-produced Vive le Rock had some fun
moments, but the performance was too studied and the record didn't
earn any hit singles, so Adam Ant pursued a surprisingly successful
career in acting. In 1990, Ant made a comeback with the catchy
hit single "Room at the Top" from the Manners &
Physique record, but the album failed to produce another hit single.
For the next five years, Ant concentrated on acting.
the time Adam Ant returned to recording in 1995, echoes of his
music could be heard in the spiky singles of Elastica, the neo-goth
industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails, and the pseudo-glam of Suede.
Instead of capitalizing on the burgeoning new wave revival, Adam
Ant's 1995 comeback Wonderful had little to do with the stylish,
intensely rhythmic music he made in the early '80s. Instead, the
album repositioned him as a more mature pop-rocker, with crafted
songs that featured acoustic guitars as prominently as electrics.
The album was a moderate hit in the U.S. and the U.K., as was
the single "Wonderful." Stephen Thomas Erlewine
from Stacy: Adam Ant also made appearances on "Northern Exposure"
and acted in a few movies, such as "Nomads".