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Adam Ant

Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard on 3 November 1954) is an English musician, who gained popularity as the lead singer of 1980s New Wave/post-punk group Adam and the Ants and later as a solo artist. Adam was also a star in America where he not only scored a string of hit singles and albums, but was once voted sexiest man in America by the viewers of MTV. He is also an actor, having appeared in two dozen films or television episodes between 1985 and 1999.

Early life

Stuart Goddard, an only child, was born in Marylebone, London. One of the themes he used in his later work - suppressed minorities - was part of his inheritance; he is of Romnichal stock. His grandfather, Walter Albany Smith, was a full-blooded Romany and a heavy drinker. Home was two rooms in de Walden buildings, St John's Wood. He recalls "There was no luxury, but there was always food on the table." His father, Leslie Goddard, worked as a chauffeur and his mother, Kathleen Smith, was a cleaner, briefly working for Paul McCartney.

His parents divorced when Stuart was seven years old, mainly on account of Les Goddard's chronic alcoholism and abusive behaviour. Stuart's first school was Robinsfield Primary where he created a considerable stir by heaving a brick through one of the chapel windows. Matters were presumably settled to everyone's satisfaction for he continued to attend Robinsfield. He then gained a place at St Marylebone Grammar School, and even became a school prefect.

After taking and passing his A levels, Stuart went on to the famous Hornsey College of Art to study graphic design and for a time was a student of Peter Webb. He later dropped out of Hornsey, short of completing his B.A, to focus on a career in music.

Early career

The first band the young Stuart Goddard joined was Bazooka Joe, in which he played bass. It was at a gig at St. Martin's College, London, in November 1975 that Stuart was witness to the first-ever public performance of the Sex Pistols, who were billed as Bazooka Joe's support act.

After leaving Bazooka Joe and forming a group called the B-Sides, which never gigged, Stuart married a fellow Hornsey student named Carol, with whom he lived at her parents' residence in Muswell Hill. Shortly after, he suffered a nervous breakdown which led to a suicide attempt and hospitalization. Upon his discharge from the hospital, Stuart Goddard renamed himself Adam Ant. He formed the Ants in 1977 after seeing Siouxsie and the Banshees perform at the Vortex club in London's Covent Garden.

Adam and the Ants

Adam and the Ants started off by becoming part of the burgeoning punk rock movement. Adam later acted in Derek Jarman's "punk" film Jubilee in 1977, as the Ants were beginning to gig around London with manager Jordan from the Sex boutique on Kings Road. His debut as a recording artist was the song "Deutscher Girls", which featured on the film's soundtrack, along with "Plastic Surgery" which was performed in the film itself, and was re-released as a single in 1982.

The band made their radio debut on the John Peel show on 23 January 1978. The following day they recorded Deutscher Girls and Plastic Surgery for the Jubilee soundtrack. Touring extensively around the UK, often with Siouxsie and the Banshees, they proved to be unpopular with much of the British music press who disliked their fetishistic lyrics and imagery. The band struggled to find success or even a record deal until 1978 when they were signed to Decca and released their first single "Young Parisians" to confused reviews and little success. Apparently unable to satisfactorily market the band, the label soon let them go. Many of their early recordings and demos would eventually surface on bootleg records. Lester Square left the band to form The Monochrome Set. The Ants went through several lineup changes before eventually settling on the semi-stable lineup of Adam Ant (vocals and guitar), Matthew Ashman (guitar), Andy Warren (bass guitar) and Dave Barbarossa (Drums), before Warren also left to join Square in The Monochrome Set. It would be this lineup that recorded their debut album Dirk Wears White Sox. They also recorded three John Peel Sessions between 1978 and 1979 which were released in 2001 on The Complete Radio 1 Sessions.

Late 1979 saw the release of their debut album Dirk Wears White Sox (1979, Do It Records). The title references Dirk Bogarde. The album was somewhat dark, with post-punk riffs and some vestiges of glam rock, as well as attempts to fuse this sound with funk and soul. Lyrically it attempted to address subjects such as fetishism, historical figures like Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy and Cleopatra as well as art history, particularly the Futurism movement. In January of 1980, Dirk Wears White Sox made history by being the first ever number one album on the first ever U.K. independent labels chart. Its success was based more upon a cult following, rather than commercial success.

The band felt the need to rework their image. So Adam Ant hired Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, to help redefine their image. Together, Adam and McLaren cultivated "Antmusic for Sex People" by dressing the band in pirate outfits and suggested a more accessible and pop-oriented, rhythmic variation on punk. Adam and the Ants moved forward in this direction preparing material for a new album. However, in January 1980 McLaren persuaded all of the Ants to leave Adam, using them as the core members of Bow Wow Wow.

A new version of the Ants was formed with Marco Pirroni (guitar), Kevin Mooney (bass guitar), and two drummers, Terry Lee Miall and Chris Hughes (ex-Dalek I Love You), called also Merrick. Pirroni would become an influential member of the group, co-writing many of their songs with Adam.

The band signed a major label deal with CBS Records and began recording Kings of the Wild Frontier. That album was an enormous hit in the United Kingdom and the "Antmania" that ensued put the band at the forefront of the New Romantic movement. The album reached #1 on the UK album charts on 24 January 1981. There were several hit singles from this LP, including "Dog Eat Dog" (reaching #4 on the UK singles charts in October 1980), "Antmusic" (#2 in January 1981), which was only held off of #1 due to the re-release of "Imagine" after the death of John Lennon, and "Kings of the Wild Frontier" (#2 in March 1981). In addition, "Antmusic" made it to #1 in Australia for five weeks.

Bassist Kevin Mooney left the band in 1981, and was replaced with Gary Tibbs who joined just in time to record the hit single "Stand & Deliver".

In November 1981, Adam & the Ants released another highly successful album, Prince Charming. The band had two United Kingdom #1 singles. "Stand and Deliver" was the #1 single in the UK for 5 weeks in May 1981 , followed by "Prince Charming", which topped the UK charts, for 4 weeks in September 1981. Adam And The Ants last single "Ant Rap" reached #3 in January 1982. Music videos were produced for the Prince Charming singles, including "Stand and Deliver", "Prince Charming", and "Ant Rap", which were directed by Mike Mansfield. These attracted significant television play, with appearances on the then-new MTV channel boosting the band's popularity in the USA. The band's videos were some of the most lavish of the period, and paved the way for Adam Ant's later acting career.

Breakup

In early 1982, the band received a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist. In March 1982, feeling certain band members "lacked enthusiasm", Adam disbanded the group. Newspaper articles at the time offered various explanations for the motivations behind the split. Initially Adam was quoted as saying that the split was amicable but later he was to say that "the interest just wasn't there anymore. It might have been Adam and the Ants on the billboards but not on stage." In addition, it is said that Pirroni quit as he was tired of touring. A few months after the split Adam launched a solo career (though he retained Marco Pirroni as co-writer). Merrick returned to the band Dalek I Love You.

Solo career

After the split, Ant went solo, taking his songwriting partner Pirroni with him. His greatest chart success was 1982's Friend or Foe album, which included the hit single "Goody Two Shoes" which made it to #1 in the UK and Australia, and #12 in the U.S. Other hits from that album included the title song (which made #9 on the UK chart) and "Desperate But Not Serious".

At around this time, Ant also received an endorsement contract from Honda to promote their new line of motor scooters, where he appeared with model Grace Jones. In the commercial, Ant is being persuaded by Jones to try the new scooter. Ant, who has never driven anything in life, finally submits. The commercial ends with Jones biting him on the ear, which was edited out for the American market, but left intact when it aired overseas. Ant did successfully obtain a driver's license a short time after the commercials began airing.

In 1983, Ant worked with Phil Collins and Richard James Burgess on the Strip album which was recorded at Polar Studios in Stockholm. The single "Puss 'N Boots" reached #5 on the UK charts, but the BBC banned both the video and the song for the follow-up single "Strip," which peaked at #41. Although the Strip album, had some highlights and hit singles, it marked the end of his reign as one of Britain's top pop stars for a while.

In 1985, he worked with veteran producer Tony Visconti on his third solo album, Vive Le Rock. He secured a spot at the Live Aid concert, but was asked to cut his set to one song. He chose his new single, "Vive le Rock. Vive Le Rock was intended to be his ultimate hard rock album but the single underwent a mispressing error and the album received mixed reviews. As a result, Adam decided to end his career in music and focus on his acting career.

Acting career

As the 1980s wore on, Ant's attention turned toward acting, especially television and movie roles. He spent three months in England on stage starring in Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane. He also appeared on American television shows, notably The Equalizer, Sledge Hammer!, Tales from the Crypt and Northern Exposure. He began taking roles in films such as Nomads and Slamdance. He moved to Hollywood and appeared in a wide range of productions and shows.

Return to recording and touring

In 1989, whilst maintaining an interest in acting, Ant returned to America and re-entered the pop music world with the album Manners & Physique, a collaboration with André Cymone, a solo artist and an early member of Prince's band. The album was another moderate success, and featured the UK and U.S. hit single "Room at the Top". "Rough Stuff" became the second single for the United States and Germany as "Can't Set Rules About Love" charted in the United Kingdom.

In 1993, he toured in support of a planned album called Persuasion. On account of a regime change at MCA, the record company made the unilateral decision not to release this album on the basis that Manners & Physique had failed to achieve a gold sales certification. Ant was subsequently released from his contract with MCA and later signed by EMI. Persuasion remains unreleased to this day and, as a result, it has become something of a lost legend among "Antpeople."

In 1995, Adam Ant released his last album to date, Wonderful. The title track was a successful single, as was a tour of the U.S. in support of the album. While Ant and his group (which retained longtime guitarist Pirroni) played in smaller venues than they had played in the 1980s, the houses were often packed with enthusiastic fans. The tour was cut short due to Ant and Pirroni both contracted a respiratory illness. Adam also played three shows at Shepherds Bush Empire in London and did a mini tour of Virgin Record Shops playing selected tunes from the album Wonderful and signing records. Adam and his band also played shows in Dublin, Glasgow, Middlesbrough and Stoke.

Arrests for causing affray and psychiatric hospitalization

Adam was poised to join the '80s-focused Here & Now tour in January 2002, but was unable to do so after he was charged with throwing a car alternator through a pub window and then threatening patrons with an imitation firearm (actually, his late father's World War II starter pistol).

By his own account, he was in an agitated hypomanic state at the time and had gone to a pub in Camden to look for a man (apparently, the jealous husband of a female acquaintance) who had been bothering him with threatening telephone calls. When Ant showed up, some of the pub patrons made fun of his appearance and told him that the man he was looking for was not present. Adam angrily told them he would be back before storming off and finding the car alternator in the street.

Adam was brought to court at Old Bailey, where his father had been tried and sentenced fifteen years previously. The charges against him (which included criminal damage and threatening members of the public) were reduced to a single count of causing affray, to which he pleaded guilty. He was fined £500 and ordered to psychiatric care with a suspended sentence.

In June 2003, Ant was arrested again by police after a conflict with a neighbour resulted in his attempting to smash the neighbour's patio door in with a shovel and then lying down on the concrete floor of a cafe basement with his trousers pulled down, curled up and trying to sleep. Once again he was charged with affray and criminal damage and spent time in psychiatric wards.

In September of that year, he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 and spent a further six months of in-patient psychiatric care. He was eventually granted a conditional discharge by the judge at Highbury Magistrates Court.

Recent activity

In 2003, The successful Antbox was re-released (due to popular demand) but presented in a different form (with the same tracks). Also a television special entitled The Madness of Prince Charming was aired in the UK in 2003 documenting Adam Ant's career and his struggle with mental illness (he was diagnosed as suffering with bipolar disorder). Recently, the TV special was made available on the video file sharing site YouTube.

In 2004 and 2005, six remastered compact discs were released, spanning the years 1979 (Dirk) through 1985 (Vive Le Rock). The CDs include previously unreleased demos and material from the "Ant vault." The project was overseen by Marco Pirroni, and includes a written message from Adam Ant. A limited edition boxset, 'Adam Ant Remasters', was made to hold all 6 of the albums and Redux. This product was re-released with all 7 albums in 2006.

In September 2006, he published his autobiography, Stand & Deliver. Marking the release of the book Adam Ant did a UK book signing, he went from London to Edinburgh. After the success of the first edition the paperback edition was published (a year later, September 2007); it contains a new epilogue which covers the year following the initial hardcover release.

Ant performed a live reading from his autobiography, (it was his first live performance in 11 years) at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London on 24 September 2007.

On 10 September 2008 The Daily Mail give-away for Prince Charming was released with the newspaper and on the back of the cover, it states: Coming soon: Adam Ant Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre via www.adam-ant.net.

In early October 2008 Adam Ant was awarded the Q Music Icon Award. Receiving the award from The Sugababes. He said how flattering it was to get an award that last year had gone to Paul McCartney, and that it was an honour to be chosen for the work that he’d done in the past and that he was looking forward to next year with anticipation, and not only because it would be the 30th anniversary of his first album release.

Future projects

Apparently, Adam Ant will have a new record out next year, with "sources" telling The Sun that labels are involved in a bidding war over the new material. Adam Ant has also expressed interest in working with The Kaiser Chiefs.

Personal Life

Adam Ant has one child, Lily, from divorced second wife Lorraine. Adam didn't drink for 23 years, but he took up alcohol again on his 47th birthday. He said, "My daughter Lily made me realise I should loosen up, live a bit." He only drinks strong beverages after 3pm. He has suffered from serious depression in the past, and spoken candidly about his experiences since.

Relationships

Adam has dated Amanda Donohoe, Jamie Lee Curtis, Vanity (performer) and Heather Graham. Out of all his relationships he only married twice, once to Carol Mills in 1975 (then divorced her shortly) and married again, to Lorraine in 1997 (who gave him one child, Lily but they divorced shortly after Lily's birth in 1998, he still sees his daughter nearly every day at his London home).

Charity

Adam Ant has contributed to many charities throughtout his life. In 2003 Adam and Wonderful collaborator, Boz Boorer teamed with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (now called The Gorilla Organisation) in a reworking of Stand and Deliver as Save the Gorilla. Originally intended as a benefit record for the endangered mountain gorilla, it was never released, due to copyright and licensing issues.

Discography

Adam and the Ants

Adam Ant

TV & Film

Theatre

  • Funeral Games (1996)
  • Be Bop A Lula (1993)
  • West (1993)
  • Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1985)

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Result
1982 Adam and the Ants Grammy Awards: Best New Artist
Kings of the Wild Frontier BRIT Awards: Best British Album
2008 Adam Ant Q Awards: Q Icon

References

External links

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