The original band members were:
- Martin Fry - vocals/songwriter.
- Mark White - guitar.
- Stephen Singleton - saxophone.
- Mark Lickley - bass.
- David Robinson - drums.
ABC were formed in 1980, and were initially pigeon-holed as part of the New Romantic movement. Their first single, "Tears are Not Enough," made the UK top 20 in 1981, but after the release of the first single David Robinson left the band and was replaced by David Palmer. The band had three top 10 hits during 1982, with the singles "Poison Arrow", "The Look Of Love" and "All Of My Heart." Later that year, the band released their debut album The Lexicon of Love. Heavy on rhyming couplets and tales of unrequited love, the album was a big hit, reaching number one in the UK album charts. Produced by Trevor Horn, the album often ranks among critics' 100 best by UK acts.
Despite their considerable initial success, ABC found it difficult to follow up. Lickley and Palmer left the band before their second album, Beauty Stab, which performed poorly in comparison to its predecessor. Beauty Stab was a dramatic departure from the lush, melodramatic pop/funk of The Lexicon of Love, with the emphasis instead on guitar-based rock. The first single, "That Was Then But This is Now," briefly appeared in the UK top 20, followed by a top 40 showing for "SOS". Stephen Singleton left the band in 1984.
Now a duo of Fry and White, augmented by two non-performing session musicians chosen for their unusual looks, ABC's chart fortunes further dwindled with the 1985 LP How to Be a Zillionaire, which marked another change of style. While the group did score its first American Top Ten hit with the infectious "Be Near Me," at home it could no longer make the top 20.
Following a break while Fry was treated for Hodgkin's disease, ABC returned to the studio to record Alphabet City, which they thought would be their final album. Best known for "When Smokey Sings", a tribute to Smokey Robinson, the album also spawned "The Night You Murdered Love" and "King Without A Crown" as singles. Many critics lauded Alphabet City as a return to form for the group, noting its polished production by Fry and White in conjunction with Bernard Edwards, best known for his work with Chic.
In 1989, the duo issued Up, their fifth and final PolyGram LP. This time experimenting with house music, ABC scored a minor UK hit with the single "One Bettter World", an ode to love, peace and tolerance.
The group then moved to the EMI label, where they recorded the LP Abracadabra, which did at least meet with muted critical approval and appreciation from the band's fan base. "Love Conquers All", the first single, barely placed in the UK chart, though remixes of "Say It" were well received on the dancefloor.
ABC split up in 1992, with White leaving the music business to pursue a career in alternative therapy.
Martin Fry resurrected the band's name in 1997 for the album Skyscraping, an homage to Fry's musical heroes: David Bowie, Roxy Music and The Sex Pistols, among others. The result of a collaboration with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17, the album again met with muted critical approval rather than commercial success.
Look Of Love - Very Best Of ABC was released in 2001. Although essentially a reissue of greatest hits package Absolutely, the album featured two new songs by Fry: "Peace and Tranquility" and "Blame".
Fry periodically tours or performs, often in conjunction with other 1980s nostalgia or revival acts. In 2004, VH-1 tried to get the line-up of Martin Fry, David Palmer, Stephen Singleton and Mark White together for a "one-night only" concert for the show "Bands Reunited". Martin Fry and David Palmer showed up and played together for the first time in more than 20 years; Singleton and White opted not to participate.
Fry and Palmer are working on a new ABC album, scheduled for release in 2006.
- The Lexicon Of Love (June 1982, UK #1, US #24)
- Beauty Stab (November 1983, UK #12, US #69)
- How To Be A...Zillionaire! (October 1985, UK #28, US #30)
- Alphabet City (October 1987, UK #7, US #48)
- Up (August 1989, UK #58)
- Absolutely (April 1990) (compilation)
- Abracadabra (August 1991, UK #50)
- Skyscraping (April 1997, UK #97)
- Lexicon Of Live (September 1999)
- Look Of Love - Very Best Of ABC (July 2001, UK #69)
- Poison Arrow (April 2002)
- "Tears Are Not Enough" (1981) #19 UK
- "Poison Arrow" (1982) #6 UK, #25 US (1983 release)
- "The Look Of Love (Part 1) (1982) #4 UK, #18 US
- "All Of My Heart" (1982) #5 UK
- "That Was Then But This Is Now" (1983) #18 UK
- "S.O.S." (1984) #39 UK
- "Be Near Me" (1985) #26 UK, #9 US
- "How To Be A Millionaire" (1986) #49 UK, #20 US
- "When Smokey Sings" (1987) #11 UK, #5 US
- "The Night You Murdered Love" (1987) #31 UK
- "One Better World" (1989) #32 UK
- "The Real Thing" (1989)
- "Love Conquers All" (1991)
- "Say It" (1991)
- "Rolling Sevens" (1997)
- "Skyscraping" (1997)
- "Stranger Things" (1997)
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