80s Music

Artist Profile: Simply Red

Simply Red is a band that was formed in 1983 in Manchester. The band’s frontman, Mick Hucknall was the only original member left in the band since they initially disbanded in 2010. During the peak of the band’s career, they managed to produce ten songs that entered the top ten in the UK Singles Charts such as If You Don’t Know Me By Now and Holding Back the Years. They were also nominated twice for a Grammy Award and they won the Brit Awards for two consecutive years for Best British Group. In this article, we are going to know more about Simply Red’s contribution to the music industry.

Career

Simply Red started as a punk group named The Frantic Elevators and during their seven-year run, they managed to produce limited releases under local labels and it included the hit song Holding Back the Years. But after they disbanded, Mick Hucknall decided to team up with their manager Elliot Rashman and in 1985, they formed a band composed of local session musicians to which they began to attract the attention of several record companies. Originally, the band was supposed to be called Red, which was after Hucknall’s nickname, but Hucknall thought it would be much better if they added the word “Simply” to the band’s name. The band was originally composed of Mick Hucknall on vocals, Fritz McIntyre on keyboards and vocals, David Fryman on guitar, Chris Joyce on drums, and Tim Kellet on bass and back-up vocals.

Mick Hucknall singing
Mick Hucknall singing

In 1985, Simply Red signed a record deal with Elektra Records but after they recorded one song, David Fryman decided to leave the band and he was immediately replaced by Sylvian Richardson. During that same year, they release their song Red Box and their cover of The Valentine Brother’s song, ‘Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)’ The songs gained international success and the band included it in their debut album entitled Picture Book which was also released in 1985.

In 1987, Simply Red released their second album called Men and Women. The album’s lead single, The Right Thing, became an international hit which managed to enter the top 40 charts in Europe and North America. The band released several follow up singles that also gained modest success in the UK. After they release their second album, Sylvian Richardson decided to leave the band and he was replaced by Heitor Pereira.

In 1989, Simply Red gained more mainstream success because of their cover of Harold Melvin & the Blue Note’s song, “If You Know Me By Now.” The song became a number one hit in the United States and is also one of the biggest singles of the year internationally. Along with this newfound fame, Simply Red’s vocalist, Mick Hucknall also became an international superstar and was seen hanging out with Hollywood celebrities and models. However, it seemed to confuse the band’s unity as a band because, in 1991, Mick Hucknall declared Simply Red as a solo project. This led Joyce and Bowers leave the band and they were replaced by GotaYashiki and Shaun Ward.

1991 was the time when Simply Red’s career reach the peak and this was because of the release of their fourth album called Stars. The album became the best-selling album for two years straight in the UK and Europe. Stars managed to produce five top 40 singles such as its title track and Something Got Me Started. Simply Red also started touring to further promote their album. However, after the tour, their bassist Tim Kellett decided to leave the band.

In 1995, Simply Red released a dance-influenced song called Fairground which became a massive radio hit and the band’s first number one song in the UK. They also included the song in their fifth album, Life, which sold more than one million copies in the UK alone. By this time, Simply Red was composed of Hucknall, Kirkham, Pereira, McIntyre, and Dee Johnson.

After the Life album, Kirkham, McIntyre, and Pereira left the band and from then on, Simply Red was just a trade name for Mick Hucknall and a group of session musicians that would vary from gig to gig and track to track. In 1996, East West Records released a greatest hits album which was reportedly against Mick Hucknall’s wishes. The said album featured a new single and a cover of an Aretha Franklin song, Angel.

In 1998, Simply Red released their sixth album called Blue which mostly consisted of cover songs. Despite that, it still managed to spawn four UK Top 40 singles such as The Air That I Breathe and Say You Love Me. After a year, Simply Red released their seventh album called Love and the Russian Winter which did not do well in the charts and the market.

In 2003, the band released their eighth studio album called Home which featured a mixture of original songs and covered such as The Stylistics song “You Make Me Feel Brand New” which became a top 7 hit in the UK. Home reached double-platinum status in the UK and platinum in Europe. Two years after that, they released their ninth album entitled Simplifies which was mainly composed of stripped-down versions of their classic hits.

In 2007, Simply Red released their tenth and supposedly final album called Stay. It featured the single So Not Over You which placed at the 34th spot in the UK charts. After a year, Mick Hucknall released his first solo album called Tribute to Bobby and in 2009, he announced that Simply Red will be retiring after its farewell tour which started earlier that year and ended in 2010. The band’s final concert was held in The O2 Arena in London and it was shown live at different cinemas in the United Kingdom.

In 2014, Mick Hucknall announced that Simply Red would be reforming for their 30th-anniversary European tour which was called the Big Love Tour 2015. And on May 2015, Simply Red released their eleventh studio album called Big Love which featured twelve new songs. After a year, they embarked on the “25 Years of Stars Live” tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of their album Stars in 1991.

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