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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|