'80s - Kajagoogoo (2011)
‘Crazy Peoples Right to Speak: The Nick Beggs Story!'
Kajagoogoo's light synth pop and pretty, photogenic look made the group an instant sensation in the early days of MTV. Led by vocalist Limahl (born Chris Hamill), the group also featured Steve Askew (guitar), Nick Beggs (vocals, bass), and Stuart Crawford (vocals, synthesizer).
Produced by Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, Kajagoogoo's debut single "Too Shy" hit number one in the U.K. in early 1983; it peaked at number five in the U.S. "Too Shy" and the following album White Feathers proved the band may have shared some similarities with Duran Duran and Naked Eyes yet Kajagoogoo was essentially a synth pop variation of a bubblegum group.
Like a bubblegum group, they were destined to have only one big hit; "Ooh to Be Ah" and "Hang on Now" both were Top 15 U.K. hits, yet neither made an impact in the U.S.
At the end of the 1983, Limahl left for a solo career. Kajagoogoo continued with Nick Beggs as the lead vocalist, releasing Islands in 1984.
In February 2008, the three Kajagoogoo members announced plans to reunite with original members, lead singer Limahl and drummer Jez Strode. They did just this and now tour across the UK at '80s festivals.
Due to his current stay at Rampton Secure Hospital, a high security psychiatric hospital near the village of Woodbeck between Retford and Rampton in the Bassetlaw District of Nottinghamshire, England, Exclusive Magazine recently got to have a very rare one-on-one with Nick Beggs.
Having not spoken in the press for many years, day release granted for concerts and public appearances for charity, with his severe mental impairment, Nick is sadly one of about 400 patients who have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.
Thank you for allowing us on to your Ward and for agreeing to do this interview today "First of all may I say thanks to you and all your readers for taking interest in little old me. I don't get much contact with the outside world, but am very pleased to have chance to chat with you. I was going to reply to your Q & A with a ball point quill that I'd managed to keep hidden from the guards, but they found it!"
OK then, good to know ... and so, taking it from the top and an origin of Kajagoogoo was a four-piece avant-garde instrumental group called Art Nouveau. Was it called that because Classic Nouveau had already stolen the word 'Classic'?! "Well it's funny you should mention that as I came up with both names, but was lumped with the lesser after losing an all-night marathon of Hungry Hippos with Sal Solo. He sure can play. Here's a picture of him and I before the court hearing!"
So, if I had a copy of 'The Fear Machine' on 7" how much would it be worth today? "Well here in the South Wing, a hot piece of property like FEAR MACHINE 7 inch edition could buy you a weeks worth of rolling tobacco or a copy of Hustler. BTW sorry I can't send you any signed CDs, etc. as I need them for soap!"
But, when the band was unable to get a record deal, you advertised for a lead singer, ultimately choosing Christopher Hamill aka Limahl. But why change the name of the band, and for the record (perhaps once and for all) where then did the name Kajagoogoo originate? "The reason for changing the name originally from Art ...... thingy to Kajagoogoo was because I could never spell it right! Kajagoogoo has more of the same vowels in it. You see. Also I thought it up one night after losing a game of Travel Scrabble to Sal Solo. I swear to God, all I was left with was a K, a J, two Gs, two As, and 4 Os. Isn't life full of surprises? Julian always says that."
Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran) produced your first album, 'White Feathers' which spawned the hit singles 'Too Shy,' 'Ooh to Be Aah,' and 'Hang On Now.' That said, and even with subsequent singles/albums under your belt, it has stuck that 'Too Shy' was your biggest worldwide hit to date. Given the world view of Kajagoogoo, is it correct to claim that they were a one hit wonder band, or would you have it stated another way? "I guess it depends where you go in the world. If you were to visit parts of Ireland, you would discover that Kajagoogoo are revered as fertility symbols by an ancient line of Romanies. In the UK their chart success is
commemorated by the giving of hair-care products and in Africa by walking on the dying embers of sugar beat. Were Kajagoogoo a one hit wonder? Well I think you'll just have to ask the Aari Tribes-men of the Omo Valley that?"
It seems that tension was rife after that album, and with Limahl being fired in mid-1983, you yourself took over lead vocals. The first new single thereafter was 'Big Apple,' which I loved, but after 'The Lion's Mouth' interest sadly waned in the band. Had the core of the band's enthusiasm also waned around that time, perhaps? "Bless you for your kind words. It's so hard to find true friendship. But I think you sound like a caring sort of person. Maybe after this is all over you could visit me here in the UK where Kajagoogoo enjoyed 5 hit singles
and ran a successful line of knit wear shops until they went into receivership in the late 90s."
You then renamed the band Kaja, released a different version of the Islands album under Extra Play, which then produced the US dance floor hit, 'Turn Your Back On Me.' But why the shortened name change in the first place? "On Wednesdays Julian takes me into town on a special day release pass. We often stop for ice-cream and feed the duck. I don't think its real but Julian says it's always waiting for us."
Fair enough ... I think! Anyway, moving on, the band, as Kaja finally split up in 1986, shortly after the release of 'Crazy People's Right to Speak.' Out of pure curiosity, was that album title more personal than we have ever chosen to realize, perhaps?! "I liked the questions you asked earlier more than these ones. Can I answer those ones again please?"
OK, let's move on to new Kajagoogoo. In 2007 you, Steve Askew and Stuart Neale brought the band back again, released the first Kajagoogoo single in 22 years ('Rocket Boy') and even released an album, Gone to the Moon. After all that time away, inclusive of the VH1 Bands Reunited fiasco, what was it finally like to make and sing music just because YOU wanted to? "You're words are starting to hurt my brian. I think I may need to find my safe space. ....... Help ...... Julian .....Make the nasty man stop!"
Then, come 2008, and thanx to a photo shoot for a Retrofest event, the original line-up (as a five piece) was back! So far though only a new EP has been released, so when can we look forward to a brand new Kajagoogoo album in stores? "Yes, that would be nice wouldn't it. I've started recording it already inside my mind. They all come over on Wednesdays and we feed the duck. Limahl is kind. Steve isn't. Stuart never sits down and Jez eats all the cake!"
Also, now that you guys are back performing together on stage - at such shows like Rewind - how is everything behind-the-scenes between you all? "Jez eats all the cake!"
a) I actually met you after your gig, outside the back car park of the club that used to be known as Bailey's (and then Paradise Lost) in Watford, Herts (England). It must have been the mid to late-'80s, but I remember it well! I asked you for an autograph, you said you would go get something to sign on, disappeared into the dark night - and never came back! Thoughts?! "My mother circumcised my action-man when I was only four!"
b)My ex-wife currently lives in Wing, nr. Leighton Buzzard ... my daughter in Aylesbury - do you still live in and around those areas today? "Once I ran away. Julian got into a lot of trouble over it. I managed to get as far as Wing before I was tasered. Maybe you could let me have your ex-wife's address and I'll visit her next time? What flavor ice-cream does she like?"
c)Do you still wear your blonde hair in braided pig tails/pony tails, over your shoulders, headed down your front / back? If so, will there come a time when a more short-haired Nick will come forth?! "We all have crew cuts in here. Funny, but I forgot just how many tattoos I had on my scalp :-/"
"I think I have a Kajagoogoo one round the back under a line that says 'cut here'...........!"
d)Which Kajagoogoo song that when it comes on the radio today you will never turn off - and which one do you turn off immediately ... and why?! "I only listen to the radio station in my head. It's playing the Telly Tubbies theme twenty four, seven. Tinky Winky, LaLA, Poh!"
** e) If I said I had an old audio cassette recording of Johnny and the Martians knocking out some tunes, what would you say?! "You could get a lot of whiz for that in here. Can you send it to me?"
No problem ... it's in the mail! In the meantime, please tell us more about your 'Virtual Stick'! "It's not real. I made it up. The clue is in the title!"
You are also a member of the Kim Wilde band for live shows - so, if you are on tour, on the same festival gig with Kajagoogoo, do you take roles in both groups still? "I never eat before a concert, especially rolls. They give me terrible gas. I like ice-cream. What's your favorite flavor Russ?"
I like Neopolitan ... thank you for asking! Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love penguins ... do you, perhaps? "How dare you! This interview is over!"
Interview: Russell A. Trunk
** Dear Mr Trunk,
I am Johnny from Johnny and the Martians. Firstly I would like to point out that any remaining material from our early sessions is still owned exclusively by JGN Music of which I am the chairman. You may wish also to note that Mr Beggs has no legal claim on any of this material after losing his share in a long and protracted arm wrestle in the autumn of 1975 (I believe the American term is Fall).
There are, of course very good reasons as to why myself, Mr Beggs and our sleeping partner Gary have never recorded since which basically revolve around Personal Hygiene and a eye watering moment playing whilst playing Buckaroo.
(Johnny and the Martians)
JGN Global Inc