Their success was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and before the Spice Girls, they were the biggest girl group in the world even surpassing the Supremes.
The Bands original lineup consisted of Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey.
In the aftermath of punk, three girls came together with no obvious qualifications, but a vision to start their own pop group. These girls next door with attitude, spent the next seven years taking on the music industry. While success was attainable, it came at a huge cost, and almost cost the girls their friendship.
All three were in girl gangs when they were 12/13 years of age. And as with most gangs, people argue and at one point no-one was speaking with Woodward, but Dallin really liked her, so against the gang, one evening in secret, she went to Woodward’s house and the girls made a pact that they would be best friends forever and that they wouldn’t need anyone else.
As soon as Fahey left school she left home wanting adventure. She was tired of living in suburbia and shortly after moving to London, she met Dallin. Dallin saw her across a room and as they dressed identically and had similar hair and features, Dallin knew that this person was going to become a good friend.
Dallin and Fahey went on to study journalism at London University, whilst Woodward tried to get a job with the BBC in London because she thought the job would be glamorous, and was shocked to later find out that she would be working in the finance department. She was chosen for this area, after the managers were impressed with her maths results. They invited her to join the pensions department which wasn’t really what she had in mind, so unfortunately her career in television never took off.
Woodward and Dallin then later bumped into Paul Cook from the sex pistols in a club and both girls were living at the YWCA at the time. And one Sunday morning, the girls got this message over the speaker there saying Paul Cook was in reception, and being little punk girls, they were so excited, so they ran down stairs and there he was. The girls eventually were thrown out of the YWCA for keeping late hours, and Paul Cook offered them a place to stay above the ‘Sex Pistols’ old rehearsal room in Denmark Street. It wasn’t flash, but it was a roof.
After the Sex Pistols broke up, Paul Cook and Steve Jones started another band called the Professionals and they would rehearse where the girls were now crashing. Every so often the girls would join in on the rehearsals as backup vocalists and they also taught the girls some guitar chords. And from this, they got the idea for Bananarama as it was Paul who suggested the girls should get a group together.
Cook ended up producing their first single ‘AIE A MWANA’ and it wasn’t long before they came to the attention of Terry Hall. He was looking though a magazine called ‘Face Magazine’ when he saw a small photo of the three girls who looked really scruffy and they said they were a band, but they didn’t look like a band, they just looked scruffy, but regardless of first appearances, he tracked the girls down.
Hall tried to get the girls to perform on stage together with another group ‘Fun Boy Three’ doing backups for the song “It aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it’ , and they couldn’t sing. They knew when they were suppose to come in and when it was their time, rather than sing, they would burst out laughing.
The next song they all attempted was ‘Really Saying Something’ as the girls had already rehearsed it time and time again in the studio where they were living.
Before the girls knew it, both songs are in the charts and reach #5. They went on to support everyone from Iggy Pop to Paul Weller (Weller would later pen a track that appeared on their first album) and doing various television appearances. They have their pictures plastered all over every music and entertainment magazine in London, but oddly enough, all girls are still on the dole and taking showers at the local swimming pool.
For the next ten years the girls would record some of the catchiest tunes and produce some of the wackiest video clips to sell them. They became internationally hot property after their hit ‘Cruel Summer’ hit the US Billboard Top 10. They would later meet legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro after recording a song ‘Robert De Niro’s waiting’ (talking Italian).
By the time the third single from their forth album was released in 1988, Fahey who had married Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart, left the group after becoming disillusioned with the direction the band was taking. She also felt socially excluded by the other two members of the band who had been best friends longer. After her exit, Jacquie O’Sullivan (formerly from the ‘Shillelagh Sisters) would join the group. Fahey would later resurface in the award winning pop duo ‘Shakespears Sister’ with Marcella Detroit.
Bananarama would go on to record 10 albums that included ‘Deep Sea Skiving ‘(1983), Bananarama (1984), ‘True Confessions’ (1986), ‘Wow’ (1987), ‘Pop Life’ (1991), ‘Please Yourself’ (1993), ‘Ultra Violet’ (1995), ‘Exotica’ (2001), ‘Drama’ (2005), ‘Viva’ (2009).
Since 1992, Woodward and Gallin have continued to perform under the group name Bananarama as a duo. In 2013, Dallin posted on her twitter account that she and Woodward were writing new tracks together.