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Interview: Kajagoogoo

PUBLISHED: 09:29 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 15:40 29 October 2010

Emma Lee

Its 25-years since the band imploded at the height of their success, but Kajagoogoo have put their differences behind them and are on a reunion tour. EMMA LEE speaks to the band's flamboyant frontman Limahl.

Further listening: Kajagoogoo

Its 25-years since the band imploded at the height of their success, but Kajagoogoo have put their differences behind them and are on a reunion tour. EMMA LEE speaks to the band's flamboyant frontman Limahl.

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You spend three long years climbing to the top, dreaming of chart success and legions of adoring fans. You finally make it - the number one spot is yours and teenagers up and down the country are copying your hairstyle. Then after eight months it's all over.

Rewind to the 1980s, and that's exactly what happened to Kajagoogoo.

Thanks to a helping hand from Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, 1983 was set to be the Leighton Buzzard five-piece's year. And it all looked so promising.

In February Too Shy topped the UK charts, and went on to reach number one in 23 countries. The band even cracked the notoriously difficult American market, entering the top five. The follow up, Ooh To Be Aah, went top 10 and their debut album, White Feathers, sold three million copies.

However the cracks that started to appear within the group quickly became a chasm and frontman Limahl was told that his services were no longer required. He decided to go it alone, scoring a massive hit with the film theme tune Neverending Story.

Meanwhile, bassist and singer Nick Beggs, guitarist Steve Askew, drummer Jez Strode and keyboardist Stuart Croxford Neale carried on as a group until splitting in 1986.

But a quarter of a century later, they've kissed and made up and are heading out on the Space Cadet tour, which calls at Norwich Waterfront on September 23.

Nostalgia for everything 80s is at its peak - and Kajagoogoo join Spandau Ballet in a growing list of bands from the era who are hitting the road again.

Talking about the reunion Limahl (real name Christopher Hamill - Limahl's an anagram of his surname) sounds as excited as a child on Christmas Eve.

“It took a third party to bang our heads together,” he says, explaining how the reconciliation came about. “A new manager came on the scene and said 'you're all getting too old, sort it out'.”

For music-mad Limahl, being in a band was a dream come true. He grew up in Wigan then was drawn, moth-like, to the bright lights of London's club scene.

“I was the one at the back of the classroom listening to music on a headset when I should have been studying. I was obsessed by music. At first I thought I would be a DJ, I thought it would be cool to play records and get paid for it.”

When he moved to London he formed what in retrospect seems like an unlikely alliance. “I was in a band with Mike Nolan from Bucks Fizz. I was fired from that band as well,” he laughs.

Hanging out in the capital's nightclubs inspired Limahl to become the person he wanted to be. “We had come out of the punk period. It was an optimistic time,” he says. “There was a band called Japan, and they were very avant garde and their fans were very avant garde, and I thought 'this is where I want to be', these are the people I want to hang out with.”

Spotting an ad in the now defunct music paper Melody Maker, he headed to the not-very-rock-and-roll Leighton Buzzard to audition as a singer for a band called Art Nouveau.

Limahl was out to impress and caused a bit of a stir in the process. “I dressed in the most outrageous way - it was the middle of the afternoon and old women were giving me funny looks,” he says.

But it did the trick and he got the gig. It was an exciting time to be making music. “It was a great period. The synthesiser was new. Computers had never been involved before,” he says.

And it wasn't only the music that was experimental. In the 80s image was everything - the more flamboyant the better. And Limahl's two-tone hairstyle was one of the decade's defining barnets. Short on top, long at the back and two-tone, it's been dubbed the 'skunk mullet'.

“That period - 1980 to 1984 - was the best. You had bands like the Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, Spandau Ballet. It was a great time for images. I have a great affection for the fashion,” Limahl says.

“I don't think it was a complete mullet. Obviously it was shorter on top and long at the back but I think it was more of an inbetweeny,” he laughs, defending the gravity-defying do.

“I would walk out on stage and the first four rows would have my hairstyle. That's got to be a compliment if people are copying you.”

Older, wiser and with a slightly more sensible haircut, Limahl says that he's grateful to have had the chance to turn back the clock.

“I just feel really lucky. When you're younger you take things for granted. You think you can conquer the world. Now I can look back with real humility. I hope that we can pick up the pieces and enjoy what we should have had the first time,” he says.

t Kajagoogoo play Norwich Waterfront on September 23.

Further listening: Kajagoogoo

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