ABC is an English pop band that emerged in the early 1980s in Sheffield, England. Founded by the trio of singer Martin Fry, bassist Mark White, and keyboardist Stephen Singleton, the band was a pioneering force in the happy-go-lucky, neon-lit era of early-1980s synthpop. While ABC's career peaked early with the acclaim of its 1982 self-titled debut album, the band went on to record six more albums in their career before taking a hiatus in the late 1990s.
ABC's short-lived but exceptionally fruitful career began in 1980 when Martin Fry responded to an ad placed by Stephen Singleton, who was looking for a singer for a synthpop act he was putting together. Fry had previously performed in various bands around the punk and new wave scenes. He jumped at the opportunity to turn to synthpop, eager to try a different approach to music-making. Fry and Singleton eventually met up with Mark White, who had played keyboards and guitar in several local bands, and the three were instantaneously drawn to one anotherâ€™s shared vision for an avant-garde synthpop outfit.
Drawing inspiration from David Bowie, Roxy Music, and other new wave bands of the time, ABC set out to carve out a signature sound for themselves. Applying the colorful spirit of funk well-incorporated into 1980s synth music, Fry, White, and Singleton concocted a glittery dance-pop sound that displayed extreme finesse and ear for detailed production. Taking advantage of George Martinâ€™s AIR Studios, where they recorded their debut album, the band crafted their most beloved unique style, beginning with their self-titled 1982 album.
The self-titled debut featured the hit single â€œThe Look of Love,â€ which became ABCâ€™s biggest hit, reaching No. 4 on the UK Single chart and No. 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The single was propelled by its engaging new wave grooves and plaintive anticipation delivered through Fryâ€™s tight, cutting lead vocals. While the single certainly demonstrated ABCâ€™s knack for crafting infectious little earworms, the bandâ€™s discography is rife with additionally stylish cuts, from the breezy â€œPoison Arrowâ€ to the rolling dance grooves displayed on the ferocious lead-off track of the 1982 album, â€œShow Me.â€
ABC managed to follow up on the success of their debut in much the same manner. In 1983, ABC released the album â€œLexicon of Love.â€ Featuring a vibrant array of styles from Davidson riffs to jazz-funk shuffle beats, the album brazenly established the bandâ€™s royal status in the new wave scene. 17 singles appearing in the UK Top 30 between 1982 and 1990 stand as a beacon to the incredible accomplishments of the band in the studio.
Though never given proper attention due to their aesthetic focus, reigned by MTV, ABC HQ announced that Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley joined Martin Fry in the band lineup for a South American tour in 1999. The tour, which was quite successful for the band, marked the beginning of their fifth studio album project. However, the unfinished tracks, written in Sheffield and London and initially scheduled to follow â€œMillenniumâ€ (1997) into late 2000, were considered a disappointment subject wise and not released until later.
The band experienced a brief period of activity between 2001 and 2004, scoring a handful of live performances in such prestigious music festivals like the Montreux Jazz Festival and Roskilde Music Festival, and releasing â€œLook of Love Vols. 1 & 2â€, two 25-track retrospective compilation box sets. Signing off with a mightily successful headline show at Sheffield Arena in September 2002, ABC soon enough disappeared entirely for many years. After a prolonged period of inactivity, the band regrouped in 2011 to perform at the OneGreenPlanet.com launch event and to play a few dates in the first half of 2012, demonstrating their firm footing in the public memory and media attention
ABC had a significant impact on the 1980â€™s synth and new wave scene. They are best known for their hit singles such asThe Look of Love and Poison Arrow, though they had a number of chart toppers during their wildly successful career. Significant as much for their sound as for the sophistication of their productions, ABC had a significant impact across the musical community as a whole.