Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Bow Wow Wow
Malcolm McLaren persuaded guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman and percussionist David Barbarossa (also known as Dave Barbe), of the then lineup of Adam and the Ants to leave founder of the band Adam Ant and form a new group.
After a six-month long audition process for a lead singer, the band hired Annabella Lwin (also known as Bess Man). McLaren discovered 14-year-old Lwin while she was working a Saturday job at her local dry cleaning shop. She was singing along to a Stevie Wonder song on the radio. The group's sound was a mix of her "girlish squeal," Balinese chants, surf instrumentals, pop melodies, and Barbarossa's Burundi ritual music influenced tom-tom drum beats.
Photo: Laura Levine
Among the regular faces at the band's early London gigs were Boy George, then known as Lieutenant Lush. McLaren was also going to use Boy George (later of Culture Club fame) as a second lead singer. Bow Wow Wow signed to new A&R head Bill Kimber at RCA Records where they had their first U.K. top 10 hit with "Go Wild in the Country" in early 1982. The band's most popular U.S. hit was the New Wave staple, "I Want Candy" (originally a 1965 hit by The Strangeloves). "I Want Candy" was featured in an early music video on MTV. Bow Wow Wow's recording of "I Want Candy" continues to appear in film soundtracks and media and advertising events such as the 2005 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.